Welcome, dear readers, as ever.
We had been progressing through our big review of the final Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker,
when we paused to post a brief elegy for one of our heroes, Christopher Tolkien,
who died, age 95, earlier in January.
We continue now with the third part of our review.
We began with the idea of literary trilogies, like The Lord of the Rings,
although, as we know, it wasn’t conceived as such, it has come to be considered so.
In such groupings, the pattern tends to be that a situation is set up in the first, is developed in the second, and is resolved in the third, in a pattern familiar throughout the western world, from wishes to fairy tales.
The first Star Wars trilogy–The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith—
has brought us several situations, in fact:
- a galaxy in turmoil—revolt which becomes civil war
- a turmoil secretly created by a figure who originally posed as a defender of order, Senator Palpatine, who, in reality, is the evil Sith, Dark Sidious,
- and who has done this not only to achieve power, but to destroy the opposite of the Sith, the Jedi.
In the process, he has turned what some of the Jedi hoped was their savior, who was to bring “balance to the Force” (the mystic power which forms the universe), Anakin Skywalker, into his monstrous apprentice, Darth Vader.
So, we begin the second trilogy, the original trilogy and, in some people’s opinion, the most successful.
For ourselves, as we’ve already expressed, we are very reluctant to be judgmental. Huge amounts of creativity and just plain hard work went into the whole process, and, because it’s meant to be seen as a series of nine films, we will continue to try to understand it as just that: a trilogy of trilogies.
So here we are, at the opening of the second trilogy, with IV, tantalizingly subtitled, A New Hope.
The third of the first trilogy, The Revenge of the Sith,
ended with what seemed like the total success of the new galactic emperor, Darth Sidious.
He was now sole ruler (although the Senate still seemed to exist for the moment), had almost totally destroyed the Jedi, and had turned the hope for balance into his enforcer.
At the same time, that enforcer’s children have survived, unbeknownst to him, or the emperor, growing up to be, on the one hand, a princess, Leia,
and, on the other, Luke, a farmhand.
Their paths cross when Leia, a spy for the rebellion against the Empire, hides a message in a droid, R2D2,
and, while she is captured, the droid escapes to the home planet of the farmhand, Tatooine, along with another droid, C3PO.
Luke is intrigued by the message (cunningly broadcast by R2D2)
and the story sets off on a rescue mission, picking up, along the way, one of the few surviving Jedi, Obi-wan Kenobi,
as well as two smugglers, Han Solo and his friend, Chewbacca.
Obi-wan reveals that Luke is, in reality, the son of an old friend, a Jedi, who was “murdered” by his apprentice, and gives Luke his father’s light saber. And, at that moment, we see the beginning of the prophecy suggested in the title: if Leia, the princess and spy, and Luke, the farmhand and possible Jedi, can be brought together, they may then become the basis of a turn in the plot and the emperor and his minion, Darth Vader, may not be so secure as they believe.
The princess is rescued, of course, from the technological threat to the galaxy, the Death Star,
and Luke sees Darth Vader for the first time, apparently striking down Obi-wan.
The story does not, however, now bring Luke and Leia into direct confrontation with Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. Instead, we see Luke, feeling the effects of the Force, become the agent of the destruction of the Death Star.
And so we see, as well, that that subtitle may be true.
In the second film of this trilogy, however, The Empire Strikes Back,
although the Emperor’s plans have been pushed back, the rebellion has not yet succeeded. Instead, its forces, hunted by imperial fleet elements, have fled to a tiny planet on the edge of the galaxy, in the area called the Outer Rim. Their hiding place is discovered, however, and, in a desperate rearguard action, they’re forced to flee.
As they do so, Luke doesn’t join the retreat, but, instead, heads off to Dagobah, where he is to be trained as a Jedi by Yoda, one of the tiny number of surviving Jedi.
This would seem to continue the pattern of the previous film: Luke will be the “new hope” which will successfully confront the Empire. Then, in mid-training, Luke has a vision of his friends in trouble on another planet, Bespin, and he leaves Yoda to rescue them. It’s a near-disaster, as, although with the aid of a new character, Lando,
some of his friends are rescued, Han is captured
to be sent off to his one-time employer, Jabba the Hutt,
and Luke is faced with Darth Vader, who not only defeats him in a duel, cutting off his right hand, but reveals that he is Luke’s actual father.
And so, the promising build of the first film has come nearly crashing down at the end of the second. This is a trilogy, however, so that “new hope” is still there. After all, although Han is a prisoner, Luke has been rescued and given a bionic hand, and, in the third film, The Return of the Jedi,
we see that new hope once more as Luke works out the retrieval not only of Han, but of all his friends, as well as the destruction of Jabba the Hutt.
When Luke attempts to return to Yoda to complete his training, however, he finds a dying teacher
and, soon, a resurgent Death Star.
The conclusion of this trilogy isn’t so predictable as its destruction and the eventual death of Darth Vader, however. Luke, unlike his father, doesn’t suffer from the same flaws of fear and anger. Instead, he confronts his father in a scene in which, ultimately, his insistence that there is still good in him comes true and Darth Vader turns back into Anakin Skywalker while destroying the Emperor, dying in the process.
But that new hope, promised in the first episode of the trilogy, has come true, it seems. The Emperor is gone, Anakin has been saved, and, with the general celebrations throughout the galaxy, the suggestion is, at least, that the Empire is gone as well.
All of that being the case, what is there to do in the third trilogy?
As always, thanks for reading and
And that second Death Star was destroyed, of course, but by a secondary character.