The Last Jedi is my favorite Star Wars movie. I could gush about it all day. Canto Bight, Rose, D’acy, the duel on Crait, Finn and Rey’s hug, the scene in the novel where Rey and Luke dance, the themes, the emotional release, the technical prowess of it all. Marvelous! But for all that, there’s one scene in which I find no joy.
It feels a little odd. I’m looking at something that’s a technical and choreographic marvel, at something where the actors deliver stunning performances, at something that hits the right emotional beats of a story, both in its own subplot and in the interwoven narrative of the movie as a whole. I’m looking at such a well-executed scene in my favorite Star Wars movie, and I cannot like it. I have never liked it. Not the first time I watched it, not the last.
I don’t like the throne room battle sequence.
It’s purely an emotional reaction on my part, I can admit to that. I dislike the throne room battle on a gut level. And that’s okay, because emotional reactions are a critical part of the conversation around this movie. If we’re not honest about our emotional reactions, we’re not going to get anywhere.
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In the Star Wars Rebels finale, there’s a masterful use of Kevin Kiner’s score, which flips its meaning on its head.
Grand Admiral Thrawn is once again pontificating on his art collection, explaining to Ezra Bridger that even though his homeworld of Lothal is about to be destroyed, at least some of the culture will be preserved. It will be safe in the hands of the Empire. Ezra is less than grateful, and counters Thrawn immediately:
You think you can take whatever you want. Things you didn’t make. Didn’t earn. Things you don’t even understand. You don’t deserve to have this art or Lothal.
As Ezra erupts into this speech, Thrawn’s theme begins building in the background. This track is primarily used to highlight when Thrawn is closing in on victory, usually as a result of his deductive capabilities. Here, it’s building to Ezra’s victory, a moral voice slapping down Thrawn’s entitlement to cultures not his own.
It’s a re-appropriation of art on a meta level, as Ezra stares into the face of colonialism. » Read more..
Like many Star Wars fans, I think it’s high time for us to have ourselves an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie. There are so many areas worth exploring with this character, some of which had been explored and then wiped clean by the Disney buyout. I know I’d personally love to see more stories that focused on Obi-Wan and Bail, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka, Obi-Wan and Satine, and Obi-Wan’s Padawan days – all stories that I’m interested for a variety of reasons.
Ultimately though, what most have been clamoring for is some Tatooine-based, post-Order 66 drama. And I cannot bring myself to disagree, especially since my two favorite pieces of Star Wars fiction take place in those years. “Twin Suns” is obviously off the potential-Kenobi-movie table, for a number of reasons, not the least of which would be the need for a digitized Alec Guinness Obi-Wan, à la Rogue One‘s Tarkin, for the entire movie. Additionally, “Twin Suns” functions first and foremost as an Ezra Bridger AdventureTM, which requires the context of Star Wars Rebels, and that’s not even getting into its deliberate parallels to previous episodes in the show or the intense symbolism from The Clone Wars.
Kenobi however…now there’s some ripe pickings for a movie.
The Legends novel by John Jackson Miller takes place shortly after Obi-Wan’s arrival on Tatooine and his delivery of Luke to the Lars homestead. While it’s only sparingly told from Obi-Wan’s perspective, the things he says and does, and the things he does not say or do, along with the parallels to other characters’ lives, all manage to paint a perfect picture of how he is coping with the aftermath of Order 66 and Anakin’s betrayal. The stakes in which he finds himself involved are on a distinctly small-scale – the internal drama of a moisture-farming community – but it all becomes a reflection of the fall of Anakin and the fall of the Republic. The pieces that we do receive from Obi-Wan’s point of view are his meditations with Qui-Gon Jinn. From there we see how he’s struggling with Anakin’s betrayal, his own failures, and the need to set aside his Jedi mantle for the time being.
While I don’t expect Lucasfilm to pluck the plot wholesale from Miller’s novel, there are core elements of the story that deserve to be realized on the silver screen. » Read more..
Second Look is Eleven-ThirtyEight’s biannual tradition of highlighting some of our most interesting older pieces. In recognition of Luke Skywalker’s electrifying return to the saga in The Last Jedi, this time around we’ve declared it Luke Week! Every day this week you’ll find a different piece taking a closer look at Luke’s character and legacy—some recent, some less so—back on our front page for another moment in the spotlight. – Mike, EIC
It’s almost timeless in its use. In Beauty and the Beast, a prince and his castle were cursed for failing it. In Tales From Watership Down, the folk hero El-ahrairah tested the integrity of a warren through it. In Hebrews 13:2, the Bible says that some have entertained angels by passing it.
This is the test of compassion.
It’s the moment when a character encounters an individual who is undesirable to or unvalued by society in some way. Helping or showing compassion to this individual appears, on the surface, to pull time and effort away from the character’s goal. The test is: will the character divert from their path to help this individual, or will they continue on their way? Their choice in this matter reveals their true self and results in consequences.
Probably the most iconic test of compassion in Star Wars takes place in The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke is tested by Yoda, who is currently concealing himself as an annoying local. When Luke’s impatience overrides, at last, his mask of politeness, he fails the test, which nearly costs him his Jedi training. By the time Return of the Jedi rolls around, he’s learned his lesson and applies it on a much larger scale, twice.
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Mike: Last week we ran a guest piece from Abigail Dillon discussing her love of the From a Certain Point of View story “The Baptist”, focusing specifically on Omi the dianoga’s status as one of the very few “monstrous” female characters in Star Wars. In our earliest discussions of the story, Abigail had a more expansive analysis in mind, having been taken not just by Omi but by how Nnedi Okorafor “ascribed meaning” to A New Hope‘s trash compactor scene. I was just starting FACPOV myself at the time, so I jumped ahead to “Baptist” in order to more fully imagine what sort of material might be written about it—and I was, frankly, less impressed than she was.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was an excellently-written story and I loved the picture Okorafor paints of dianogan psychology and culture, and Omi’s perspective in particular. But at the titular baptism, she lost me. I’m keenly aware that this reaction was borne out of my own history with Star Wars as much as the work itself (and seems to be the minority opinion within my circle of fandom), but as soon as I realized the significance of what was happening all I could think was “Skippy the Jedi Droid”—the old Legends comic story in which R5-D4 is secretly a Force user and fakes his malfunction so that R2-D2 can continue his mission. While it was nothing more than a silly little tale that served to underline Star Wars Tales‘ non-canon status, over the years Skippy became a poster child for the Expanded Universe phenomenon of ascribing outsize significance to every little thing that happens in the original trilogy.
So with the reboot clearing away Jedi aspirant BoShek and Death Star IG-88, I went into FACPOV expecting more emphasis on basic storytelling and less on “the tallest Jawa is really Boba Fett”. And by and large, I got that—but even now that I’ve read the whole book, Omi still stands out to me. As I said in our group piece on FACPOV, some of my favorite stories were the ones in which a bit player furthers the heroes’ quest not because the Force demanded it but out of a simple act of kindness (which from a certain point of view is the Force’s way of demanding it). As it happens, the new R5-D4 story, “The Red One”, is maybe the perfect example of this: Arfive is hinted to have some rebel connection in his past, but he isn’t anything special, and he doesn’t receive any visions that convince him to let Artoo take his place; indeed, to do so almost certainly means consigning himself to the scrap heap. Nevertheless, Artoo makes his case and Arfive simply chooses to believe him—and is rewarded for it with at least a slim chance of survival. » Read more..