Episode I: Why? Why? Why?

June 2002 (Prior to ‘Episode II’.)

Although, Star Wars: Episode I had really cool special effects, it didn’t shed any star light on how cherub-cheeked Anakin Skywalker became the dark lord Darth Vader. Maybe II will at least reveal the reason he wears the high-tech breathing apparatus with a low-tech Nazi helmet.

Producing a “prequel,” however, does take a double-edged light saber to much of the suspense! I wonder what little Anakin will become when he grows up?! Will he turn to the dark side of The Force?! Will he succeed in crushing the rebellion? Hmmm?

I hope the long-awaited movies will shed some starlight on other important questions as well:

For instance, where do space royalty go for their hair and makeup? The Princess Leia look of two bagels bouncing on the sides of her head never really caught on in this galaxy. In the new film’s fashion statement, Queen Amidala apparently had her makeup done at Ringling Brothers.

How do light sabers work? Shouldn’t two beams of light—even if they’re super-energized from a galaxy far, far away—pass right through each other?

Why did Episode I‘s villain, Darth Maul, look like he was Trick-or-Treating as the devil? (Is there an apocalyptic significance to his seven horns?) Why does Jedi master, Yoda, sound just like “The Muppet Show’s” Fozi Bear? (Okay, okay, I know Frank Oz does the voices for both, but why?!)

Why Jar Jar Binks? Why?!

How does Lucas come up with spaced-out names like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Grand Moff Tarkin, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Jar Jar Binks, Boba Fett, Jabba the Hut, and Chewbaca? Perhaps a drunken Scrabble game? And why, in a galaxy far, far away, is no one ever named Jim?

Hopefully the long-awaited episodes will also shed some light on The Force.

The Star Wars creator admits he is fascinated with the search for something or someone beyond our world. “It is still the most fascinating search—what is it all about—why are we here and how big is it and where does it go—and what is God and all that?” As Yoda would observe, “Confusing, the Force it is.”

Star Wars may be the biggest movie and marketing machine in the Milky Way precisely because the series deals with the big questions of the universe—along with the really cool licensed characters and computer graphics!

Is there a force for good and a force for evil? Why does Anakin Skywalker turn to the dark side of the force and become Darth Vader?

What force or forces determine who we become? Can we overcome those forces and be redeemed? Yoda—and many sociologists—would think not. If you once start down the dark side, it will forever determine your destiny,” the Jedi master tells Luke Skywalker.

And yet, in Episode VI, Darth Vader, who has spent most of his screen time trying to skewer Luke with a light saber, saves the young Jedi knight and destroys his evil boss.

And is God simply a Force who, as Yoda instructs, “. . . surrounds us. It’s between you and me, it’s in the rock, it’s everywhere”?

Lucas points out in a recent interview with Bill Moyer in TIME, that he merely wants to raise the questions not provide religious parables. Obi-Wan is not a Christ figure, although he does sacrifice his life and come back to life. The Sith lords, who all go by the name Darth, are not Satan-figures, although the current incarnation certainly looks like a cartoon version of the devil with red face and horns. And the Force is not God!

But Star Wars does raise cosmic questions that we deal with each day right here on the third planet from the Sun. But for a real discussion of the issues of good and evil, rebellion and redemption, as well as supernatural forces of good and evil, I’d suggest a church rather than a movie theater.

Granted, there are no computer-generated characters or light-saber battles at your local house of worship. You may, however, see a few Princess Leila hair styles! But you will find people who are searching for answers to the big questions.

And if you’re a person of faith, Star Wars will give you ample opportunity to discuss your beliefs over the water cooler or barbecue grill.

So, may The Force be with you!

Finally, why didn’t Lucas simply produce these films in order?!

Copyright © 1999, 2002 James N. Watkins. All rights reserved.

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