For the last few weeks, although not being an ardent Star Wars fan myself, I couldn’t help getting swept up in the enthusiasm engendered by its many devotees – so much so that I participated in a back-to-back Marathon of the old films in order to prepare myself for ‘The Force Awakens’.
I discussed the aesthetic and artistic merits of episodes 4,5 and 6 with a colleague at length, who assured me that this is actually irrelevant. The key point he made was that the world has embraced these films in a remarkably unique way, and the culture surrounding them has become part of the reason its so enjoyable to watch the familiar characters and settings over and over again. Starting each film with this kind of prior expectation and knowledge is rarely possible elsewhere. Thinking further, there is more to these films than simply good verses evil, and ‘The Force’ plays a key role in simplifying the broad spectrum of of right v wrong/good v bad we are required to navigate in our daily lives.
‘The Force’ has condensed and neatly packaged the ethical quagmire that world religions have been struggling with for centuries. It has a clear light and dark side, the proponents of which are limited to to either committing evil or virtuous acts whilst defining themselves within either category. BUT the interesting thing is that whilst defined as either ‘light’ or ‘dark’, characters always seem to struggle with their temptation to move onto the opposite side. Consequently a moral (non black and white) gamut exists within the film, and the characters instantly have depth. This is why the family aspect becomes so intriguing, because the films explore the relatable idea that ‘blood is thicker than water’. Throughout the saga it has often been the strength of family bonds that have pushed people either to the light or dark side. I would argue that the family drama (when played right) is actually the most compelling part and is perhaps a throwback to Ancient Greek tragedies (although this might be wishful thinking).
Lastly I would like to briefly explore philosophically the scientific universe in relation to the force. These are entirely my own thoughts, but I have read in The Guardian that the Force would in theory be possible given the amount of dark matter in the universe (but I’m not talking about this). I would like to imagine a future for us in which there is in existence a galactic empire. What ‘The Force’ does is marry science and religion. Stay with me. There are obviously questions at the moment that science can’t answer about the creation of the universe. What exsited before the big bang? What is the true nature of dark matter? etc. I am assuming these big questions would still exist in a Star Wars like universe that is only set in one galaxy. ‘The Force’ is actually very scientific and fundamentally useful; it would not be possible to police an empire or republic that size (which the Jedi / Sith do) without being able to manipulate matter and energy. Because it is impossible to comprehend how to do that, the Jedi / Sith have found a way of simplifying it in terms they can understand. It’s a way to explain the unexplainable. Also I am assuming that ‘The Force’ was discovered through exploring the universe in technologically advanced spaceships, science has perhaps answered some fundamentally religious questions here.
2001: A Space Odyssey takes this idea further.
Anyway, ‘The Force’, probably helps to answer some of the big questions about the universe whilst still being scientific. An appealing thought.
The best part however, is the family drama.