12/13/2017 0 Comments
Only two this time:
Star Wars Best Narrative Arc: My Theory of Balance Between The Jedi and Sith, Dark and Light, Darth Vader, Luke, Rey, and The Last Jedi
My favorite narrative within the Star Wars universe may seem a bit obvious, which is of course, the battle between dark and light, the Jedi and the Sith—but I believe it is the crucial element to the franchise’s success and failure. It is essentially both a success and failure in storytelling as the story and narrative backbone is there in the original series (4,5,6) then muddled and glossed over in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, and I think (I hope) to reappear in the The Last Jedi released on the 15th. George Lucas wrote nearly the perfect story, only it was essentially obscured by bad acting and Jar Jar Binks and Anakin acting all emo in the prequels.
I first came across this theory, i.e., “George Lucas Nearly Wrote the Perfect Prequel Trilogy. He Just Didn’t Realize it,” by Games Radar writer James Houghton. The gist is this: The entire Star Wars universe exists in a clear black/white binary which is very obvious in the originals and then more complicated and less obvious in the prequels. The Jedi and the Sith are both good and bad; the Jedi in the prequels exist in a slightly fanatical/dogmatic/militaristic type rule, and the Sith want self-expression and freedom not granted by the Jedi. Hence, the omnipresent idea of “balance” throughout the series. Only in the prequels, Anakin’s behavior and decision to choose the dark side and hence make one of the most enigmatic and compelling villains ever—Darth Vader!—is obscured by loads of bright CGI colors, a soap opera-like love story, Hayden Christiansen’s moody face, lots of talk about trade negotiations, unexciting battles where there is no narrative tension about who is going to win, and just poor direction. You see, Lucas had the story the whole time, it just got lost in the haze. I don’t know if it was Lucas’ fault or not, or the behemoth of opinions and financing from production companies and producers, or one other of the million things can go wrong once a movie goes from the script to filming and editing, and starts to play in theaters. Maybe it was clearer in the original draft of Lucas’ prequels? I don’t know. Somewhere though, this idea of balance and who was really good and bad started off strong and got lost in the prequels.
Richard Brody, film critic for The New Yorker, says of Lucas and the prequels, “I suspect that the world-making, the narrative architecture of the self-extending mythological power of the “Star Wars” series, got in the way of its own realization. Could the word be too sacred to Lucas for him to subordinate it to the profane cinematic image? Could the import of the invented mythology be too great, in Lucas’s mind, for him to subject it to the ambiguities of visual transformations? Did he know, or surmise, that the enduring authority of the series would be based not in his direction—however original and distinguished—but in his stories? And, if so, did he conclude that he wasn’t prepared to submit them to the all-too-readily misunderstood realm of the image?”
But, as we see from–gasp! It’s coming so soon!–this new The Last Jedi trailer, Luke states, “It’s time for the Jedi to end.” Why? I personally don’t think Luke or Rey will turn to the dark side (or have turned). Perhaps Rey will turn dark, for a second, then return. Or perhaps Kylo Ren will turn light. Any of these things could happen. However, I think it’s time for both the Jedi AND the Sith to end. Perhaps neither the Jedi nor the Sith held all the answers–the Jedi too dogmatic and evil and controlling in their own way to keep “peace,” the Sith too evil and passionate and averse to democracy. Maybe it really is about balance or about having no light and dark sides at all. Perhaps it’s about a way of making them co-exist. Is that not why Darth Vader was/is the most powerful Jedi/Sith? Maybe then, following this theory, Kylo Ren and Rey will become “grey Jedi,” like Qui Gon Jin, both light and dark. I mean if that’s the case, isn’t this the most compelling narrative to exist within the Star Wars universe? Or why we love Darth Vader? Because they become characters who are both light and dark, Jedi and Sith?
So, my vote for best character/narrative arc would be (obvious I know), the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader and the reasons/philosophy behind it. After all Anakin is the embodiment of someone who has had to grapple with both the light and dark sides of the force and himself. Luke did for a second, at the end of Return of the Jedi, and rumor has it that Count Dooku had a similar thing happen a long time ago. But really the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into the villain Darth Vader and his battle between the two is the most compelling narrative arc of Star Wars, only obscured, as mentioned above, by the less than stellar direction of the prequels. However, if The Last Jedi returns to this idea of balance in the force this Thursday—between the Jedi and the Sith, the Dark and the Light—we could see a lot more plot twists, a lot more ambiguity, and a lot more compelling narrative arcs with Rey and Ren and Luke. Who knows. I guess we’ll find out on the 15th, this Thursday.
Next up: Sam