Let’s get my credentials straight first; As is the case with anyone who has any decent taste in cinematography; the Empire Strikes Back is in my film top 5 as well. I’ve seen The Phantom Edit, I own the Lego Millennium Falcon and I intend to teach my sons about exceptional sci-fi by the Machete Order (IV, V, II, III, VI) as any responsible dad would. However, I can nor remind blind towards nor remain silent about the fact that there is something missing in the Jedi saga: proper emotion.
As far as emotion is present in any of the films; it’s archetypical or theoretical, never believable. Many film critics were very negative about the way the romance between Queen Amidala and young Anakin Skywalker was portrayed. Immature, bland and unworthy of the Star Wars franchise. Had they actually looked at al other ‘normal’ behaviours of the characters in the first three films, they should not have been so surprised. It’s like George Lucas has no actual first hand experience with emotions. he seems to have merely copied what he’s seen people do when going through an emotion, without actual understanding. That would be considered typical autistic behaviour.
Deep space, flat characters
For example, take the moment when Luke finds out about the death of hid care-takers. Does this, somewhat disturbing, discovery lead to any noteworthy emotion? No, it leads to Luke returning to Obi Wan (who he barely knows) straight away to join him on some sort of quest. The death of Obi Wan himself is far more disturbing to Luke. And what about the childlike infatuation Luke had with Princess Leia? Speaking of which; should you be the only survivor of the destruction of planet Earth, I hope you take it as easily as she does. Seen Bobba Fett’s response to his father Jango being killed at the Battle of Geonosis? Was that heartbreaking to watch? Nah. Remember when Luke is trying to find out if han has any romantic interest in Leia in the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon? Easy there sailor. None of y’all have actually know each other for longer then, say, a couple of days.
The idea of emotion
The Star Wars films are full of the idea of emotion, but void of the actual thing. Typically the stuff a beta-geek loves; a feelings-algorithm instead of the actual thing. In the end Vader loves his son too much to still obey the Emperor. That makes sense. But please don’t show us the actual emotional struggle Vader would have to go through at that point. Let’s hide that behind his mask.
A lot of the philosophy of the Jedi is to control emotion: no anger, no fear. And as already discussed, there’s not too much room for sadness either. No difficult moral decisions or gray zones, but white (Luke’s outfit) versus black (Vader). An epic, yet binary battle of good against evil. With good prevailing in the end because Vader is not all bad. We, as an audience do not get to understand why Vader is not all bad. We need to learn that from other Hollywood films and fairy tales.
As a child I wondered why we never heard from Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher again after these blockbuster films. I used to think it was because no matter what part the played, we’d still see Luke or Leia. Now I have a different explanation. I guess they’re just not exceptionally good actors. They played their parts well enough for Lucas not to notice and for parts V and VI directors Kershner and Marquand were sort of stuck with them. And perhaps Kershner managed to get the best out of them. The one character who was also interesting on an emotional level form A New Hope was Han Solo. Ever thought; “Hey why is Han wearing such a funny hat?” when you watched Indiana Jones? Of course not. Ford’s an excellent actor. He managed to make his character real, even when Lucas did not.
Does any of this matter?
So, at the end of the day, does any of this matter? I guess it doesn’t. The films are still epical and worth watching and loving over and over. But I think it probably does help to appreciate the films more, when you’ve thought about them more. Which is what I intended to get you to do with this post.
May the Force be with you.
Managed to write about Star wars without mentioning Yoda…