Legacies, Individuality, and Hope: About “Star Wars”

Every now and then, I expand my dialogue about storytelling by going beyond the boundaries of books and out into the mediums of TV and film. I do so by doing these analysis pieces once in a while about a TV show or film that has reached a significant time in its history (i.e. series premiere, series finale, film release, anniversary of a release, etc.). Previously, I shared my thoughts about the beloved Studio Ghibli film, “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” Today, to commemorate the final entry into the Skywalker saga, I shall discuss my latest takeaways from this beloved space opera, “Star Wars.

WARNING: There will be SPOILERS from “The Rise of Skywalker.” Stop reading now if you haven’t seen the film yet and do not want it spoiled for you.

Another two years have passed since last writing in  depth about this saga. We were about a year into the current state of the political climate and the sequel trilogy of “Star Wars” were uncannily emulating its tone in many ways. Now, we are entering a turning point. We are about to enter a new decade, and in 11 months, another presidential election will take place. But it seems that we are getting a sneak preview of what’s to come already, with Donald Trump becoming the third U.S. president ever to be impeached. While the odds of him being removed from office don’t look as good, as one of the main themes of “Star Wars” has shown over the years, it’s never wrong to hope.

“The Rise of Skywalker” is the last film of this 40+ year saga, and even before the opening crawl started, you can probably guess that this film is to end on a good note. But that doesn’t mean the odds are against them, especially with Palpatine back in town. The fact that the Empire (and the First Order) is brought to a permanent end was incredibly reassuring to see and that people will come to fight if good people are leading the way.

Hope, while a prominent theme throughout the films, isn’t the only one. Another main theme that has been featured throughout is the duality of legacy and individuality. Rey is given quite a bomb when she learns that she is the granddaughter of Palpatine, and that her parents were killed protecting her. That’s a detail that can make anyone go mad, to the point where she nearly isolates herself on Ach-to. How thrilling it is to see the message come around that it doesn’t matter where you come from or who your family members are. It’s all about who you choose to be (which, by way, is the same message addressed in “The Last Jedi”).

Now this message can go both ways. You could be the granddaughter of of the most evil Force user the galaxy has ever seen, and still pledge your allegiance to the Light Side of the Force. You could be the son of a strong-willed princess and nephew of a powerful Jedi, and still wind up on the Dark Side of the Force. And yet even in those scenarios, it’s never too late to keep redefining your own destiny, regardless of whether or not you even have the desire to continue on what your ancestors started (which, by the way, you should never be pressured by anyone to do). As Luke Skywalker says to Rey: “Some things are thicker than blood.” Now while that might not always fly as well in cultures where there isn’t as much importance placed on individuality, at the end of the day, let’s face it: Individuality is also human nature.

“The Rise of Skywalker” has gotten mixed reviews in the short time it’s been out in the world. While I personally like it (as of this writing, I’ve already seen it twice), that doesn’t mean I don’t have any complaints or questions about it:

  • J.J. Abrams was wrong for completely sidelining Rose. After all the cyberbullying that Kelly Marie Tran went through in the aftermath of “The Last Jedi,” minimizing her role in this final installment has only adhered to the toxic voices of the internet who hurt her.
  • I feel iffy about the fact that Abrams had Leia die onscreen. While maybe that was foreseen due to the death of Luke in the last film and Han’s death in “The Force Awakens,” the fact that the actors were to grieve her – and ultimately the late Carrie Fisher – all over again was hard to swallow. Notice how you don’t even see Billie Lourd at all in the scene where the Resistance pay their respects to the fallen general.
  • The kiss between Rey and Ben — No. If their relationship had been developed better, I can see that. But seriously, they were trying to kill each other less than an hour or so ago. A hug would have sufficed in my opinion.
  • What the hell did Finn want to say to Rey?
  • Is Finn Force sensitive? It sure seemed like it in this installment.
  • With the fact that Rey permanently defeated Palpatine, is the whole prophecy regarding the Chosen One out the window? Was it ever Anakin? Was it ever Luke? Or were they carving the path for who was to really come? I await to see the debates for this one…

Otherwise, I think this was a solid “Star Wars” film. While it’s not the best one of them all, I like it a lot more than what other critics have been saying about it. While I’m aware of the politics behind the scenes, especially regarding the different visions the directors had, I had a good time watching it, and I definitely am open to watching it again. “Star Wars” has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, and whenever I’m wrestling with my own demons about the political climate or about who my own family members are, I have the themes of legacy, individuality, and hope I can turn to in this mind-bending saga.

(Also, on an unrelated note to everything addressed above, I believe this was the only film in the sequel trilogy that had quite a few fractals in it, and fractals are always a win in my books.)

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