I have to confess that I went to see the new Star Wars film without having seen any film previously except for the first part of the Episode 4 to look out for the caves which we visited in Matmata, Tunisia – a trip we certainly won’t be repeating any time soon! So when Brother 1 suggested a pre-Christmas sibling trip to the cinema, I was flying blind (Brother 2 was a bit of a Star Wars newbie too, so thankfully I was not alone). I figured that if the film was any good, I could get by without having seen any of the previous films, so off we went!
As we sat down, the hubby says to me “all you have to remember is that the goodies are white.” A statement which he promptly retracted during the opening scenes as the storm troopers, er, trooped in. Yes, we know the cliché white = pure, black = evil, but it was slightly(!) more complicated than that. Obviously (if you’ve seen the film) I didn’t need any further assistance in working out who was good and who was not. @debsnet has a more detailed analysis of the light and dark here: Light in the darkness & darkness in the light: Yin & yang in The Force Awakens. As the astute @debsnet highlights, it is in the individualisation of the Storm Trooper (with the mark of blood on the helmet of one) that its capacity for good is revealed, and it is no longer an automaton of ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ or whatever you want to call it. In fact, it is in its human face that good comes to fruition.
What I want to focus on here, however, rather than the dark and light, is the force itself. The idea of an invisible force in the world is, of course, not a new one. In fact, I think the idea of some sort of spiritual presence, without the dogma of specific religions, is a common belief today. It follows the oft-reported ‘spirituality’ over ‘religion’ phenomenon, particularly amongst younger members of society. I’m thinking, for example, of the reporting of spirituality of Australian youth, as in Dr Andrew Singleton’s video here.
In Star Wars, The Force is a form of energy that some are honoured to be able to tap into. The funny thing is, some have it and some don’t. So one’s ability to use The Force is controlled by external forces (if you will pardon the pun). And it seems to be hereditary (well, we can probably work out where the next film is going…): “The Force is strong with this one.” I wonder whether this was intentional, though, as there are moments of hope even for the ‘baddies’! Though, they always seem to revert to type (in my short experience).
I’ve read that George Lucas did not intend for The Force to represent God, but in an interview (which I’ve not actually seen, so I’m believing the internet, which I know is very dodgy at the best of times) sought to awaken some sort of spirituality in those who watched the film. In other words, Lucas aimed to make people ask ultimate questions. The inclusion of “Jedi” as a religion in the 2001 UK census – a (tongue-in-cheek?) ‘religion’ with almost 400,000 followers, suggests he has achieved his aim.
Ultimately, for me, the idea of The Force awakens a sense of mystery in the unknown. It enables physical and mental development, and is a source of strength for those who use it. So is the force some sort of mamby-pamby spirituality? No, I think it goes beyond that. It is the deep striving we have towards the ultimate when we strive for ultimate good. It is the energy that enables to overcome great evil. It is the ability to do the right thing in the midst of darkness. In short, it reflects that fact that, whatever our religious beliefs, we are a species who has the ability to reflect consciously ethically upon our behaviour.
The Force is with you. Use it.Embed from Getty Images