The more I reflect on the Sequel Trilogy, the more I realize one thing … It’s kind of profound — seriously.
When news that Disney bought the rights to Star Wars broke around the world, all I could think was “dear gawd, make these movies mean something.” My fear that Disney was going to over-process this treasure completely consumed my excitement. Episode VII was coming — a life-long dream … and I didn’t care as much as I thought I would.
After all … I read almost all of the Expanded Universe novels. I got what I wanted — I read about the New Jedi Order, and the Imperial Remnant. I met new heroes, villains, and rogues. I went to new planets and discovered strange beings.
I had no idea what these news films would bring — especially since Disney made the (wrong) move to extinguish all of the Expanded Universe.
My worries eased minutes into The Force Awakens, when I realized this film was about something. In a stroke of pure genius, this film was simply about millennials and everything they endure, and how is effects culture: family dissolution, a sense of non-belonging, and the loss of transcendent ideals.
These characters are all suffering psychological conflicts, which resonate because of how the Dark Side is portrayed. It’s not something abstract, but rather a terrible ideology formed by a belief structure way beyond anything they can imagine.
Like young people now in a world of the Patriot Act, they wander amidst insurgent threats, and ever-growing reminders of cultural icons and past glories.
They are lost … morality is gone, and the Force is a legend!
This translates well into Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, a tale specifically about losing and regaining faith, and separating the spiritual from life. This is a grand film about secularization, and it hits hard.
At the end, we’re left with strong characters, who haven’t changed so much as the broader landscape has. It such a sweet ending that it allows The Rise of Skywalker to be the adventurous blast it was — full of the power of forgiving love. It’s about finding faith and hope.
The film is an absolute gift, topped off with the most profound Catholic imagery I have ever seen in a film. When Rey passes out, and about to be killed by the cloned Palpatine, she is powered by the Jedi of the past.
It’s the Communion of the Saints, and it took away by breath. It was a moment in my cinematic experience I will never forget.
Then, that got me thinking … this series had — along with Rey’s Communion of the Saints — my favorite moments in the entire saga.
- Luke’s appearance in The Face Awakens is the best single scene in the entire saga. To make the craftsmanship even better, the crew actually went to Skellig Michael to film, and the imagery is UNMISTAKEABLE. This is where the monks hid the sacred texts from the hoards of invaders in the Emerald Isle to save all of mankind. Wow!
- Broom Boy in The Last Jedi: This scene took the mythology to an unimagined level. The entire last segment reminded of us of one of those old Kenner toy commercials, but that may’ve been the greatest moment in Star Wars. It mythologizes US — the ones who are actual storytellers in this revolutionary saga.
- Luke’s sacrifice in The Last Jedi: Built with John Williams’ best piece for a specific scene in the entire saga, this is THE moment I waited for all those years reading all of those books. To see Luke do something so absolutely incredible and shocking made all of this battles with resurrected dark lords, super weapons, and warlords pay off. So, I understand why so many people were miffed that they didn’t get to see Luke at his Jedi fighting prowess — and that definitely is drawback of waiting so long to make these films, but that was where he was at this point of his life.
If it was my choice, I would’ve loved to see George Lucas finish off the Skywalker saga, and hand it off to someone, but that didn’t happen. What did happen was that we got Star Wars back in theaters, and I can share it with my child.
I am greatly thankful for that.