Tag Archives: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Balance of the Force: Light vs Dark

Balance of the Force: Symmetry

Balance of the Force: Symmetry
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“The Jedi were real!”

“Used to wonder about that myself.  Thought it was a bunch of ‘mumbo-jumbo’.  A magical power holding together good and evil, the Dark Side and the Light.  Crazy thing is, it’s true.  The Force, the Jedi…all of it.  It’s all true.”

SWReport Balance Han Force Light Dark

The words of Han Solo, uttered in the same place where he had denied the idea that some all powerful Force controlled everything, renouncing the Jedi and their ways as “simple tricks and nonsense”, carried with them the weight of a teacher, a mentor, a father-figure to Rey in The Force Awakens.  And rightfully so, because the audience as well as Rey needed to understand what was at stake in the galaxy. Continue reading

SWR Balance of the Force 1

Balance of the Force: Harmony

Balance of the Force: Harmony
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“May the Force be with you.”  Nearly forty years ago, movie-goers emerged from theaters with the phrase in their minds and on their lips.  For decades, it has prevailed in pop-culture, eventually leading to “May the Fourth” being regarded as “Star Wars Day” globally.  The Force has become part of our language, our heritage, and, for some, our mythology.  This pervasive concept struck a chord in the twentieth century that continues to intrigue the masses today.

Shrouded in mystery, elevated in mythology, the Force is the singular aspect of Star Wars that fuels imaginations, inflames passionate debates, and drives fans to theaters and television screens time and again to visit that galaxy far, far away.  From Old Ben’s vague explanation of the Force to Luke to Qui-Gon’s specific description of how the Force is sensed through microscopic midi-chlorians, viewers have learned about the Force through dialog and demonstration as characters on-screen have divulged what lies in the minds of George Lucas, Dave Filoni, Lawrence Kasdan, Christian Taylor, and other creators of the movies and shows in Star Wars canon.  Every revelation about the Force presented to audiences brings more questions as fans want to know more about this mystical energy field.  Fans want to know what the Force is, who can use it, how it works, and, of course, what “Balance of the Force” really means.

When Qui-Gon Jinn stood before the Jedi Council beside his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, he revealed that he had discovered a vergence in the Force — a boy he believed may have been conceived by midi-chlorians.  Mace Windu countered, “You refer to the prophecy of the One who will bring Balance to the Force.”  This revelation of an ancient prophecy which may or may not relate to Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader penetrated the minds of fans and has generated debates and discussions (and essays like this one) for seventeen years.  What do we know and what can we infer about this “balance” from what we’ve seen on-screen in movies and television programs?

Obi-Wan explains the Force

Balance of the Force: Harmony
For those of us who saw Star Wars in order of release, rather than in chronological order, the Force was first mentioned by Obi-Wan Kenobi on movie screens in 1977.  “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power.  It’s an energy field created by all living things.  It surrounds us.  It penetrates us.  It binds the galaxy together.”  The words resound with the depth of hidden meaning in simple statements that sound as if they’ve been memorized from a catechism in the early years of a Jedi’s training.  For the moment, they satisfy the curiosity of young Luke, but on further reflection, there is much left unsaid.  However, the idea of balance is inherent in the harmony implied.  All living things touch the Force as well as create it.  The unity of the galaxy is dependent on each of the myriad components of the Force operating together in concert — each one gives and takes as the Force flows around and through everything.  Although all living beings contribute to and participate in the Force, Ben later explains, “…a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.”  Years later, on Dagobah, Yoda reiterates the same picture of harmony in the Force: “Life creates it, makes it grow.  Its energy surrounds us and binds us.  Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.  You must feel the Force around you.”

Yoda explains the Force

This idea of harmonious balance between all living things continued in the prequels.  When Anakin asked the question for all viewers, “What are midi-chlorians?”, Qui-Gon explained, “Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells, and we are symbionts with them — life forms living together for mutual advantage.  Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force.”  While some fans charged that this seemingly scientific explanation removed the mysterious nature of the Force, Qui-Gon’s words did no such thing.  He simply expanded this idea of the unity of all living things inherently linked to the Force.  In the first episode of The Clone Wars, “Ambush”, Yoda encourages the three clones with him by explaining that each of them the nature of the Force and their connection to it as individuals, even though they may not sense it, “All around us is that which we need to prevail…In the Force, very different each one of you are…Clones, you may be, but the Force resides in all life forms.”

SWReport Balance Ambush

With this picture of the essential harmony of all living things in the galaxy connected by the Force, we gain some insight into what balance means.  Through the give and take of each living thing, the currents of the Force flow between every component part, linking distinct individuals together for the benefit of all through the penetrating, surrounding presence of the Force.

SWReport Balance Aleena

Nowhere is this harmony more evident than in examples of this recurring theme throughout The Clone Wars.  One example of this harmonious balance between living things is seen in in an episode which was initially disdained by many and likely largely forgotten.  in “Mercy Mission” from season four, while C-3PO and R2-D2 investigate the cause of earthquakes on the planet Aleen, they travel below ground and discover the source of the disruptions is due to a disturbance in the peace between the surface and underground realms.  Orphne, a peculiar entity seemingly composed of tiny, luminescent creatures, tells Threepio of a covenant between the Aleena and the subterranean world, saying, “We survive because the ground keeps us apart…Without going through the natural filtering process, the surface air is deadly to us.”  Those who dwelt underground believed the Aleena had broken the seal that separated their two worlds, responding by causing the earthquakes that followed.  This corresponds to what Kindaloo had already told Threepio when he rebuked the ‘droid for entering the subterranean realm:  “Why have the surface dwellers destroyed the peace?  The ground shakes to keep out the foul air which poisons and destroys us.”  It is notable that the surface dwellers were blamed for destroying the peace — the balance that had long been maintained between the two worlds — even though no evidence of this was ever mentioned in the episode.  Also intriguing was that Kindaloo seemed offended by the presence of the ‘droids, emphatically declaring that they did not “belong”.  Could this have been a reference to the idea that ‘droids, as mechanical beings, do not have a connection to the Living Force?

SWReport Balance Kindaloo

In the third season, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka experience an unexplainable phenomenon called “Mortis”.  In “Overlords, we discover that Mortis was “unlike any other, a conduit through which the entire Force of the universe flows.  This planet is both an amplifier and a magnet,” according to Obi-Wan’s vision of Qui-Gon Jinn.  On this unique world, days passed like seasons, as plants emerged with new growth every morning, matured, aged, and lost all signs of life as evening drew its last light.  When night fell, storms prevailed and visions emerged as the sleep of death overshadowed its domain.  This “conduit” of the Force reflected balance between life and death, as well as darkness and light.

SWReport Balance Mortis

Later, in the sixth season, Yoda learns more about this natural cycle of life and death as it is reflected in two distinct aspects of the Force which were sometimes alluded to but not previously explored.  In “Voices”, Yoda hears Qui-Gon’s voice while he is meditating.  Qui-Gon claims to be part of the Living Force.  When Yoda confesses that he has heard a voice from beyond the grave, Ki-Adi-Mundi responds, “The dead are part of the Cosmic Force and lose their individuality.”  The Living Force and the Cosmic Force are aspects of the Force that had been given little more than passing mentions previously.  On Dagobah, Qui-Gon’s disembodied voice instructs the old Jedi Master about these aspects of the Force: “Living beings generate the Living Force, which in turn powers the wellspring that is the Cosmic Force.  All energy from the Living Force, from all things that have ever lived, feeds into the Cosmic Force, binding everything and communicating to us through the midi-chlorians.”  In “Destiny”, Yoda reaches a planet inside which, he says, “life emanates.”  On this planet, he encounters five priestesses who again explain the balance between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, saying, “When a living thing dies, all is renewed.  Life passes from the Living Force into the Cosmic Force and becomes One within it.  One empowers the other.  One is renewed by the other.”  After passing the various trials required by the priestesses, they inform the old Jedi that he would “learn to maintain [his] consciousness after death.  Enlightenment, spirit, balance.  There is another Skywalker.”  Yoda would be trained to retain his identity and individuality even after he died — perhaps in doing so he could help this unknown Skywalker…

When considering this harmony between all living things relative to both the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, the extreme positions of both the Sith and the Jedi seem to be disrupting this Balance of the Force.

SWReport Balance Witwer

The Sith are marked by their unrelenting desire for power.  Sam Witwer remarked in “The Mind of Maul”, a featurette on starwars.com, that the Sith cling to life because that’s all they have.  For years, fans of Star Wars have accepted that the Sith have no expectation of anything beyond this life.  Therefore, to retain their power, they seek to extend their own lives.  This, even Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Darth Sidious himself, admits “some consider to be unnatural,” while telling Anakin the Sith legend of The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise. “He became so powerful, the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power…Ironic, he could save others from death but not himself.”  To the Sith, death was to be avoided, for that would mean the loss of power.  As the final temptation to lure Anakin to the Dark Side, Sidious promised the confused Jedi, “To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we could discover its secret.”  Cheating death would disrupt the balance between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, refusing to return the Force of life to the wellspring of renewal and rebirth.  The thirst for power and selfish passion of the Sith had tipped the scales.

SWReport Balance Jedi Loophole

But the Jedi were complicit, as well.  Though they gave lip service to the relationship of all living beings united together, they held themselves aloof from others, forbidding Jedi to form attachments and develop relationships.  They resided in their ivory towers and Jedi temples as guardians of peace, failing to recognize that in doing so, they, too, had disrupted the balance by failing to fully interact with other living beings except to solve problems and find promising young pupils to train as Jedi. Anakin, frustrated at the Jedi doctrine, strove to find a loophole, telling Padme, “Attachment is forbidden.  Possession is forbidden.  Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is central to a Jedi’s life.”  Later, when counseling Anakin about his visions of Padme’s death, Yoda displays this calloused view towards others:  “Death is a natural part of life.  Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.  Mourn them do not.  Miss them do not.  Attachment leads to jealousy.  The shadow of greed, that is.”  It seems that through their understanding of the relationship between the Living Force and the Cosmic Force, the Jedi had forgotten that life consists of more than simply being born of the Force and returning to it at death.  Life is to be experienced in relationship to other living beings.  Their cold devotion to doctrine may have disturbed the harmony between all living things.

Both the Sith and the Jedi expressed and demonstrated extreme views which could effectively unbalance the status of the Living Force and the Cosmic Force.  Bringing balance to the Force may imply a return to the peaceful, harmonious relationship of all living beings to one another.

Keep watching StarWarsReport.com for the next article in the “Balance of the Force” series addressing the symmetry between the Light and Dark sides of the Force and what that may entail in bringing the Force into balance.

 

Attack of the Clones: Act I- TWL #184

WampasLair_SquareKarl and Jason break down Act I of Attack of the Clones from the opening crawl to the departure from Coruscant. Then stick around for their announcement about a new segment coming to the show called “Tales of the Lairians”! z

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Han Solo becomes Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Force Awakens

The Fool Who Follows Him

Star Wars: Before and After The Force Awakens
The Fool Who Follows Him

We all remember the witticism of old Obi-Wan in A New Hope when the Jedi Master berates the Force-denying smuggler with his pointed proverb: “Who is the more foolish: the fool or the one who follows him?”  Of course, Han follows Obi-Wan to the control room on the Death Star (though his snide remarks about “that old fossil” clearly show that he is attempting to distance himself from their default leader), then uses Kenobi’s instructions to argue against marching into the detention area to rescue the Princess.  In a classic bit of irony, the lonesome smuggler actually defends following the one he had only minutes ago called a fool.

As the heroes make their way to the Millennium Falcon, Han shows his appreciation for the old man once he realizes that Obi-Wan had successfully completed his mission of shutting down the tractor beam.  The relieved look on his face as they escape the Death Star speaks volumes.  But that’s not all.  Han had just witnessed the self-proclaimed Jedi selflessly sacrifice himself so he and his companions could deliver the plans to the Rebellion.  Maybe Han still thought Obi-Wan was a fool for trading his life for others, but Han hadn’t finished following him.

Becoming Obi-Wan
One of the first criticisms of The Force Awakens voiced immediately after the opening of the film was that it was “unoriginal” and a “remake” of the first Star Wars movie.   Undeniably, the newest addition to the saga not only builds on the installments that preceded it, but it also repeats elements of not only A New Hope, but also The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Regardless of whether this ranks positively or negatively in fans’ assessment of the movie, repetition of familiar aspects of previous episodes of the saga has always been a key component of Star Wars.  In fact, when movies have departed too far from the familiar, fans have cried out with consternation, declaring (often about the prequels) that the movies weren’t “Star Warsy” enough.

That being said, Han Solo’s role in The Force Awakens not only adds depth to his character (as formerly noted here), but it essentially performs the function of Obi-Wan’s character in A New Hope.  Han Solo not only follows the “fool” initially, He follows Kenobi’s example nearly forty years later on screen.

When Ben Kenobi encountered Luke on Tatooine, he asks the old hermit whether he knows of an Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Similarly, when Han Solo finds Finn and Rey in the belly of the Falcon, this next generation of heroes make a similar inquiry about his identity.  “You’re Han Solo?” Rey asks him.  His response?  “I used to be.”  Though not identical in dialogue, Han’s statement is eerily similar to Kenobi’s “Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time,” foreshadowing things to come.  Finn and Rey rapidly fire off their own speculations about the old man standing before them, wondering if he really is the Rebel, the smuggler, and the war hero they had heard about in stories.  “You knew my father?” mirrors Rey’s immediate recognition that Han knew Luke Skywalker.

And that is just the beginning of the similarities.

Obi-Wan uses the Force to influence the Stormtroopers at the roadblock to let them pass in Luke’s land speeder while Han defends his own prowess at talking his way out of trouble to his old friend and cHan Solo becomes Obi-Wan Kenobio-pilot Chewbacca.  Obi-Wan takes Luke to the Mos Eisley cantina to secure passage to Alderaan while Han takes Finn and Rey to Maz Kanata’s palace to find them a ride to D’Qar in an ironic twist of fate that allows Han to sit on the other side of the table than when he had first been contracted to smuggle the droids for 17,000 credits.  Perhaps the most notable similar incongruity is evident when Han reveals the truth about the Force to his passengers while Rey occupies the same seat where Han had confidently referred to the Force as a “hokey religion” that could in no way control his destiny.

Destiny, of course, is a recurring theme throughout the Star Wars saga from multiple interpretations of an ancient prophecy to a son’s inevitable siding with his father to a possible explanation of how Han has now become the very fool he derided so many years previously.  Had Han merely been a player on the stage, directed by the Force he had so vehemently denied to become an active apologist for its existence?  Or is Han simply becoming like the old man he had once called a fool — the old man whose name he had bestowed on his own son?  A son who sensed Han’s presence on the base just like Darth Vader had sensed his old master on the Death Star.

Which really cuts to the heart of the matter.

More than thirty years had passed since the “fool” had shut down the tractor beam and given his life so others could be saved, and Han has never forgotten it.  He remembers the battle between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan.  He had seen the red blade slice through the old man’s cloak.  Now he faces his own destiny — saving his son.  Saving Ben.  That haggard looking man sitting next to the kid in the cantina hadn’t been a fool after all.  He had believed in something greater than himself because he knew it was real.  Han knows it, too.  Loyal to the end, Han chooses to risk his life for his family.  He sees his son.  He draws more closely to him.  Willing to do “anything” to help his son, he sacrifices his life for the good of the galaxy and in hopes of bringing his son back to the light.  As the lost disciple struck out against his “foolish” master, the son strikes down the father.

“Who is the more foolish: the fool or the one who follows him?”

Ultimately, Han becomes more than Obi-Wan was.  The Jedi had been trained from his youth to trust in the Force.  The smuggler had learned about the Force after flying “from one side of this galaxy to the other” and seeing stranger things than he could chalk up to simple tricks and luck.  He had, in turn, imparted his knowledge of the Force and his wisdom to others before facing his own bitter end.

Crazy Old Wizards- TWL #166

WampasLair_SquareKarl and Jason break down the three characters who invite our heroes of the sage to begin their Hero’s Journies: Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Maz Kanata! They look at how these wise, older characters invite our heroes to begin their journeys!

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