Has the Jedi mysticism in Star Wars been lost over the years

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The years have not been kind to the Jedi, a once benevolent group of mystics whom occasionally had to do battle with the forces of evil to create balance in the universe. Remember when Star Wars was just about Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Darth Vader? It’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to say those names and actually feel that same level of honor, one might feel, being inducted into a secret society.

This was another one of my random thoughts, I had while slinging hash at my job, and thought “hey…maybe there’s others out there who feel the same way”…so I decided to expound upon it.

Call me crazy, but when you watch Star Wars: A New Hope, didn’t you get the sense that the Jedi’s were still a bit aloof, even when they were accepted by the Republic? They still seemed nomadic in their ways and very hard to understand at times and like searching for a new Dalai Lama, a Jedi seemed, to me, to be very…very hard to come by, even before the slaughter, but not anymore.

How many Jedi’s does this Star Wars really need?

For me, the answers simple, but for those hellbent on making JEDI-star-wars-jedi-23833947-1024-768money off this franchise, the answers “there can never be too many”. Now with the Star Wars :The Old Republic MMORPG, everyone and their uncle can be a  Jedi, as if in Ben’s time, they were just handing out lightsaber’s  like government cheese.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t read any of the spin off novels and comic books, except Timothy Zahn’s “Heir To The Empire”, but hasn’t this always been about the movies and not the books?

Sure, I too envision a world of yet unheard of Jedi, all with new and fascinating force skills, and belonging to interesting new races, but one must draw the line between recklessness and tangibility…yes, even in fantasy, this is what makes fantasy great. Isn’t it?

I didn’t need to see the Jedi Council in “The Phantom Menace”. Why couldn’t it have been just another level of the myth, one that we all subscribed to, but didn’t literally have to see? I mean can anyone, outside of the hardcore, name the members of the council or the race they belonged too? I know I can’t.

Councilrots

This wasn’t the only thing that bothered me, assuming the Jedi were the Templar’s of their time, there was nothing to suggest a monk lifestyle other than the robes they wore, which brings me back to Ben, in the first film. He was unlike any of the so-called Jedi we saw in Episodes I, II and III. He was like the “Oracle” in The Matrix. Simple, careful, always aware of his emotions and above all…humble. Certainly not the order we saw in the prequels with their spacious penthouse view of Coruscant. There’s nothing about the Jedi’s in the new movies that says ancient or mystic. In that way, I could see why something like the Sith would want to destroy them, but I highly doubt George was thinking about this when he embarked upon creating that reheated piece of fodder known as ‘the prequels”. He was just going for flash, forgoing any of the mysticism we became fond of in “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return…” and replacing it with smoke and mirrors. Now everyone has the force, Leia, Han Solo, their kids and all the while, the ones who’ve remained more benevolent, clandestine, and shrouded in secrecy is the Sith.

I will even go as far as saying that “the “Sith” is the last bit of true Star Wars left, ironically enough”.

They are the one’s Hollywood unknowingly have made an “anomaly” in all this mess. We got bit’s and pieces of who they were in every film, but no visit to their planet or meeting with the council or glimpses into what it takes to become one. Again, if you’ve read any of the Dark Horse comics, you already know a lot about the Sith, but for the majority of moviegoers, there’s nothing. This is the model the Jedi’s/George Lucas, should’ve followed before he decided to blanket the screen with so many meaningless characters and colorful light sabers. This over saturation made the loss of their kind even more unceremonious than it already was. Not only were thousands of Jedi slain, we only knew the names of only a handful of them.

Machiko_Kyo_in_Rashomon

What’s real important to understand is that when George Lucas wrote A New Hope, back in the seventies-he, as a film student, was deeply into Akira Kurosawa films like “Rashomon”, “Seven Samurai” and “Ran”. He peppered “A New Hope” with all sorts of Japanese inspired aesthetics like Luke and Ben’s Hakama garb and even replaced Samurai katanas with light sabers. The colors white and black, used in the Tao symbol for balance, are also represented throughout the film, demonstrating duality and then there’s Yoda, who was essentially a small green version of Pat Morita from The Karate Kid. Course there’s the blatant Nazi symbolism embraced by the Empire, but I  wont to get into that.

What I’m saying is it took Luke Skywalker three films to become a full fledged Jedi. He had to learn how to control his emotions and discipline himself, a fact that was done away with with the introduction of Medichlorian’s in the prequels. The images of Luke doing the handstand in the swamps with Yoda and him taking the shots from his impromptu blast-shield training on the Falcon, are still etched in my mind. Now, no longer is this rigorous training necessary when your born with this ability. Really? Could they have made the Jedi anymore elitists?

Look, for every short coming the Star Wars franchise has faced in the last decade, there are a million more yet to come, but can we at least agree that the franchise has lost that bit (I use that term lightly) of magic that made the original great? No artist, I know, has ever finished a song, painting or script, without stepping back several times to look at what he or she has done and asking themselves “It this still me?”, “Is this still inspired?” These are questions, I’m afraid, George never asked himself, instead, as if he had no idea what he’d created two decades ago, he proceeded to go more west with the storyline than east, like he originally intended.

I won’t even ask you if whether approaching Star Wars from A New Hope point of view, is even worth it anymore, but it would be nice if the reigning science fiction/fantasy mutilator J.J. Abrams, would take this into consideration as he begins work on Star Wars Episode VII, but given his track record with Star Trek, I ‘d say don’t count on it and with that I leave you with the immortal words of C3PO…”We’re doomed.”

Lukesaberanh

Published by Jeffrey Lamar

I’m an actor,musician and writer who's blended his love for all three into this blog.

5 thoughts on “Has the Jedi mysticism in Star Wars been lost over the years

  1. Hey, thanks for the well thought out article, I loved reading it. I have to admit I’m divided; I’m with you and against you all at once, although I think it has less to do with you and more to do with the fact that I too feel a little uncertain as to the future and “recent-past” (less and less recent admittedly).
    I still recall being a child and sitting in my Aunties house watching the last few minutes of Empire and being totally floored by it. I can say for certian that I’ve lost that particular child-like away for the massive spacecraft and mystical warriors-scholars that the Jedi had always seemed to be for me.
    For my own part, when I saw the “new” Jedi in episodes 1-3 I was pretty excited, and I would kind of disagree with you that there are too many, after all if we only look at them as being a sliver of a fraction of a world-wide population and Earth has about 7 billion people. In a galaxy where there are (presumably judging from the content given to us through games, comics, novels and even the movies themselves) potentially thousands of “earths” I’d say that if anything I thought there should have been more Jedi.
    However, I really thought, I think like you did Medichlorian’s really ruined a lot for me. I thought you were right; so much of what made it difficult for Luke’s struggle was about how hard he had to train in spite of simply having the “gift” of the Force.
    When I heard that Disney had bought Lucas’ legacy I have to admit for a few days I was *very* excited as the endless possibilities of what *could* happen spiraled out before me in my mind. Many of the books, comics and video games that I’d come to love even more than the original films seemed to suddenly have the very real opportunity to have a least a chance of seeing the light of day on the big screen.
    I know for my own part I imagined dark councils and Sith Lords pulling the strings behind a veil of fear and uncertainty as they pulled strings through the last vestiges of the Empire, using their influence and their own Force-inspired power to start crushing the fledgling New Republic and, by proxy, the infantile new Jedi Order.
    Then I read that J.J. Abrams was going to direct.
    A little piece of my soul was returned to the unimaginative prison it had been freed from.
    I really don’t hate the stuff Mr.Abrams does. In fact, sometimes I like them just fine. I however was not too big a fan of the new Star Trek stuff, I thought it was almost like a conflict of interest for him to have so much control in two of Sci-Fi’s biggest properties and I have trouble seeing him doing a movie about a group (“large” or “small”, me or you) of cerebral warrior-scholars who defend the galaxy from a threat most people don’t even know exists. I’m worried that we’ll see more about exploding star ships made for five minute eye-candy and faux political maneuvering in a mythical space opera then we will Lightsaber battles or the conflict of a characters(s) who find themselves locked in a personal struggle for reasons that would truly cause us angst.
    So, I agree. Star Wars has lost the “magic” it had when I was a child. For myself, I’d hoped to get it back but at this point it isn’t looking too good. In fact it’s looking rather bleak.
    Again, thank you for the article, it was a pleasure to read.

    1. First off, thanks for visiting and commenting on this article. I wasn’t going to write it, until one day a friend and I were having a conversation about the Sith, than one thing led to another. I agree with you about too much control. How can one man, whose already proven he can destroy science fiction with a single lens flare, be given so much, when I could name a handful of directors who would be better suited? I’ll tell you why, because J.J. has no fucking idea how deep this rabbit hole goes. He has no idea how quickly Hollywood is gonna throw him under the bus if Star Wars VII is anything less than absolutely amazing. But are we giving the fans and future fans more credit than they deserve? Perhaps we should be the ones jumping down Disney’s throat when they did “Clone Wars” and now “Rebels”, which is slated for the beginning of next year. Maybe we don’t even matter anymore, we being the thirty-forty somethings, cause it’s all being geared toward the kiddies. But J,J, is not a kid and nor are the parents who will be taking their broke ass kids to the theater to see these films. But then why this obvious sacrilege for something we hoped J.J. held so dear (Khan, Spock “the unemotional intellect”,Kirk (the way more competent than Chris Pine)…etc. Someone in Hollywood doesn’t care what we think or at least doesn’t seem to care. The suits will never have a fucking clue. You know how many networks passed on Breaking Bad, “again” the suits will never ever get it. But J.J. does or does he? Cause we thought George got it too and he created the damn thing. William…let’s pray about it.

      1. lol, you bet I’ll be praying. As to the rest, too true. It simultaneously cracks me up and makes me crazy when stuff happens, like pretty much an embargo for Netflix with hollywood execs pulling licenses and screwing with what has proven to be a much more viable, effective and preferred delivery system for movies and T.V. shows. How does the preferred method of delivery get the axe in a capitalist society? I’ve got no real idea, it can go so many different directions; but I guess that’s a whole different topic for me to rant about later. lol.
        Still, I guess we end up in a place where we have to choose, is something better than nothing? Should we go see what could be a disastrously boring Star Wars film, laden with plot hooks that are about as effective as using thumb tacks for fishing and bankrolled by a company that will want to make a blanket film that will make ages 1-100 pacified enough to pay their 10 bucks, buy their popcorn and sit through it for two-ish hours, rather than firing off toward a target audience of 30-50ish fans.
        I’m sure in the end I’ll go watch the show, Hell, I’d watch the damn thing if they cast Mickey Mouse as Boba Fett and put in Scrooge McDuck in as Jabba the Hutt. But I’ll die a little as one more piece of my childhood takes another hit from men in suits who seem to make all the choices.
        In times like these I recall watching an interview with the creator of The Crow and listening in horror as he recounted the story of how one exec said they should make a musical out of it and cast Micheal Jackson as the lead. lol, holy freakin crap.
        Either way, all in all, thanks again for writing the article. It’s always nice to see that someone else feels jaded about the way things are going with something that seemed so… i dunno, sacred.
        I guess in the end; what seems most messed up in regards to Star Wars for me was that when the first teaser came out for the Phantom Menace I recall thinking something like “Wow, that’ll have to be great, look at the advances in technology we’ve had, look how far we’ve come. Imagine seeing that story with all we can do now.” Then they came and the tech was awesome, the effects were amazing, the designs superb but man… the story. lol.
        Oh well, I’ll just keep praying. Sometimes we get a gem when we least expect one (I know when I read about Lord of the Rings in a Wizard magazine as a young adult I was horrified that someone was going to ruin it; I may have even face-palmed).
        Thanks again man, it was great to read your thoughts, I’ll be sure to drop in on your stuff later as well. I wish you all the best with your artistic endeavors. I noticed your credentials including writing, please drop me a line if you ever decide to fix Star Wars, lol.

  2. You have a perspective on the films that I admire very much. I read a few of the added novels and have gotten a broad knowledge based on the more franchise productions. In taking all into consideration. Obi-wan and Yoda (and, let’s say, every other jedi who was forced into exile who was able to meditate on the force) had a true grasp on the Force, which was essentially Gnosticism, when bringing this shit into context with the real force users of this world. The republic was a corrupt government. But so were the seperatists and the the empire. THe jedi order was evil because they got caught up in the physical/ man-made asects of the galaxy while they should have been focusing of meditation. I mean, I comlpetely agree with you that the jedi were misled and wrong in the prequel which therefore goes for the old republic order and so on. But throughout I do see truth. Balance is what it’s all about. YOu can’t have dark without light. Dark side and Light side are both to be studied if one intends to study the Unifying FOrce. But people get caught up in the christian-view of god and all that so we have jedi as good and sith as bad. THe sith were focused on world domination and so on so we shouldn’t get caught up with that. (But in a way the jedi were focused on that too). Bottom line is you’re completely right about the whole thing turning to shit. the perspective to take when studying the force is that of the mystical Jedi and the mystical Sith. Fuck the physical world and let’s get the Divine Truth from the Force. I think the later star wars productions gave a direction to be able to produce more perspective on the sith and all this because it sort of gave it a general outline to be molded and that can be good and bad. I say just take what you will from all of it and eliminate what you see as bullshit and then we can apply the Unifying Force Jedi and Sith to real life.

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