Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Star Wars as Homeric Legend

Just come across this article from 1999 which lays out some of the problems I have with the shallowness of the Star Wars films.

The author lays it on a bit thick occasionally. He makes the obvious case that Vader is an unjustly redeemed monster and then abruptly lumps Yoda and Obi Wan in with him for the heinous crime of being a bit vague and mystical. Similarly the tone of the article shifts rapidly from rational to demagogue as you approach the conclusion.

However, the aristocratic division of the galaxy between Jedi and Sith champions is a solid way of summing up the Resistance vs Empire background of the original trilogy. Perhaps Boba Fett and the other bounty hunters were so popular because they weren't dull yet nigh-omnipotent heroes or villains. They could create human stories and even when they were fighting for the wrong side you felt a bit sorry for them when they were eaten by a Sarlaac or witnessed their father being decapitated in front of them.

If anything the franchise has got more individual-centric since the article was written. Holding a democratic position of power is a status applied only to tangential love interests such as Amidala while the main characters hold their position by virtue of their supernatural powers, genes and strategic command of violence. By the Force Awakens Disney barely even bothered with the traditional galactic politics of the series. We are entirely preoccupied by the travails of Finn and Rey. They may have rags to riches/redemption story lines but they only qualify for them by virtue of their nascent connection to the Force.

Still it may be that such a reading is too deep. Jedi can be seen as superheroes or demigods in space but equally they epitomise the fairy tale trope of the lost prince who must regain his rightful place in society. George Lucas was only ever really writing romantic origin myths for a new century.