Played by legendary actor Max von Sydow, Lor is an intriguing new character who has little screentime, yet the casting of such an iconic and brilliant actor works to immediately convey the importance and gravity of this character. He brings with him a dignity that also gives greater emotional weight to Lor’s death. It feels as if he is someone we should already know, which gives us the sensation of a serialized adventure that the original film captured.
Lor’s purpose in the plot is to convey the current state of the galaxy, the necessity of the Jedi to keep balance in the Force (a concept I will discuss further in an article for Luke), to deliver the map of Luke Skywalker’s location into the hands of the Resistance, and to give us our first hint at who Kylo Ren really is. Though he is a new character, Lor represents our first connection to the previous generations of the prequel and original trilogies. He is a living link to the “myths” and “legends” of the past, someone who still thinks of General Leia as “royalty.”
When he is confronted by Kylo Ren, we discover that Lor knew him before he took that name. Lor reminds Kylo that he did not come from the dark side and cannot deny his family. The ruthless Kylo agrees – likely thinking of his grandfather, Darth Vader – and then coldly cuts down the unarmed Lor. His death at the hands of Kylo Ren is an important step on Kylo’s path. He so easily cuts down this link to his past, mirroring the ruthless evil of Vader.
More information about Lor can be found in the Visual Dictionary and Lor’s Databank entry on StarWars.com. During the days of the Empire, Lor, though not Force-sensitive, was a member of the underground “Church of the Force,” a loosely connected group that believed in the ideals of the Jedi and awaited their return. Though I still think the name seems a little out of place, I am very intrigued by the idea of an underground religion of non-Force users who still believe in the Force despite the destruction of the Jedi and the suppression of their beliefs. It brings to mind characters such as General Dodonna and Admiral Ackbar using the Jedi phrase “may the Force be with you.”
We also learn that Lor was a “legendary traveler and explorer” who helped Luke recover Jedi lore that was suppressed by the Empire, including the locations of lost Jedi temples, which perhaps explains how Lor came into possession of the map.
Lor retired from his adventures to Tuanul village on the desert planet Jakku, which was home to other members of the Church of the Force. Some fans wonder if Lor knew of Rey, possibly watching over her in some way. I see no real evidence of this, but it is a curious coincidence that they are on the same planet. And he would certainly have been a better caretaker than Unkar Plutt.
I look forward to learning more about Lor San Tekka and his connection to the prequel and original trilogy eras and would love to see novels from his perspective. It is also possible that he could make an appearance in one or more of the stand-alone films.
Until next time: May the Force be with you. Always.