This weekend came and passed. What changed the usual day off was May the 4th gracing our normal Saturday routines. If you’re like me in a religious sense, you semi-piously inserted your Blu-Ray copies into the player with utmost reverence for stunning picture quality. Most likely, many flipped on the television to see the marathons of their favorite film series lighting up the room with all its visual grandeur and majestic storytelling. A young knight gifted with mystical talent and predestined for greatness is besmirched by the taint of evil plaguing his family, which withholds his ascent to true heroism. STAR WARS has always been the classic good-and-evil story that everyone loves, and if its non-official annual celebratory holiday is any indication, it is a fixture in pop culture indefinitely.

STAR WARS may be the finite and ultimate epic adventure of our time. Historically, anyone with claims of other media fixtures almost loses instantly to Disney’s golden goose. But, it has never been perfect. Narratively, STAR WARS cannot claim complete cohesion. The quality and threads/arcs have taken strange turns and controversial dips in quality from time to time. The analysis would claim the series has a personality disorder. Whether you agree with where the series has gone or not, you must ask—what exactly ties this massive tapestry together instead of letting it fall apart like shreds of logic? Stories bind themselves to the tiny details of holding the most important knots together, and STAR WARS isn’t exactly the most subtle work of art in the business.

A New Take on STAR WARS, 40 Years Later

In the middle of my ritual rewatch of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, something seemed to stick out to me. The initial twist of Darth Vader being Luke’s father all along was never an intended arc for either character. George Lucas has claimed that the twist wasn’t conceived until the final draft of EMPIRE’s initial story drafts. But, in the middle of this viewing, something smaller and important that has plagued my perpetually STAR WARS-ridden mind suddenly came forward much stronger than ever. You could say it was profound but I don’t want to lose all credibility here and now.

star wars
Courtesy of LucasFilm

Accidental Magic

For years I’ve squandered on the scene of Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker in A NEW HOPE, the scene where Luke has revealed the “truth” of his father: Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi war hero struck down by the pupil of his closest friend, a betrayal most personal and tragic. We all know this was retconned into being a lie on Obi-Wan’s part, himself changing his story with a straight face in JEDI. On the contrary, if you have devoted an unnatural amount of free time rewatching the original trilogy, you’ve noticed an exceptionally minute and lightning-quick detail that happens in that hut scene. If you blinked, you most certainly and literally would miss it.

Reminiscing on days gone past, Obi-Wan almost seems overjoyed by memories of his old friends and battles. But when Luke unexpectedly asks, “How did my father die?,” a flicker of sadness and knowing flashes across Sir Alec Guinness’ face before he begins his famous lie. There’s a flicker that hints at, now with the entire story in our heads, something more dire and tragic than even the very lie fabricated to hide it away. It’s a small moment of truthful decision-making for the actor. But within the grand scope its importance largens to an epic measure. How? What are the odds of Guinness making that choice when he couldn’t know the truth about Anakin during filming? To me, they seem astronomical. Seemingly, Obi-Wan’s slight falter is the greatest gift of this trilogy.

The Lesser STAR WARS-es

Daddy Lucas isn’t a perfect man, everyone knows this. His time with STAR WARS has developed into a severe divide of loyalties involving his devoted fans. Many claim Lucas has taken pressured and headstrong creative attempts that have effectively ruined a great deal of mysticism and grandeur that surrounded the original trilogy, and the opposite argument. It’s, unfortunately, true though. The prequels were a prolonged exercise in pandering that really hurt the image of STAR WARS for awhile.

star wars
Courtesy of LucasFilm

While popularity never waned, STAR WARS did become a franchise solely bought out by the blind devotion of people who felt only obligated to see it. The prequels received poorer critical reactions then their predecessor series did. Audiences soon fell into realizing that perhaps the story should not have been told in the first place.

Were They Worth It?

Lucas’ inability to write a coherent plot and exceptionally poor dialogue choices that almost irreparably damaged character dynamics made the prequel trilogy a true chore for many STAR WARS fans to enjoy. Scenes drag on for too long. Visuals have primacy with an overindulgence of CGI. Boring and brooding conflicts yield almost no effective emotional moments in this very long trilogy. So what makes it stick? What even keeps it in the public eye?

Anakin’s story is what keeps everyone grounded in their seats. Whether we know what’s going to happen or not, we want to see how it will come full circle. You cannot deny that the main reason you were even there was due to your vested interest in seeing the fabled hero become that tragedy. Such a tragedy that brought perceived fear into Obi-Wan’s eyes in that hut for a flash of a second. Could it be that something so fleeting and incidental on this actor’s face to united this series and solidified it as the movie franchise to end all movie franchises?

The X Factor

Call it part of Lucas’ ineptitude or credit him with writing a twist that would forever save the series. I, for one, am in awe at how something so detailed yet incredibly subtle to the point of vagueness can possess the weight to dwell on my mind forever. That’s right, there is the inherent magic that STAR WARS will always have. It may not be perfect. It may have hit a few speed bumps and continued towards more down the road. And it may crash and burn off sheer ambition with how far its story may be (unfortunately) willing to go. Nothing is certain, but that is exactly what makes STAR WARS so special.

Courtesy of LucasFilm

Smaller foundations like Obi-Wan’s gestures can be found in its entire ground floor, which is the original trilogy. Moments of performative humility by a wonderful cast, moments of awe at the spiritual essence that is the Force, moments of pure and basic human struggle with epic battles, and all complete with believable stakes. Much of that is due to wonderful creative compliance and teamwork throughout those years. But you could say that much could even be due to sheer, magical luck. I don’t know. I don’t think there’s even going to be a moment of knowing, per se. What makes STAR WARS special, to me, is exactly never wanting to know.

 

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