The Force Re-Awakens

StarWarsMoviePoster1977In a galaxy long ago, in a galaxy far, far away… The year was 1977 and the Joseph Campbell-inspired Star Wars was like nothing we’d ever seen before. The film captured the essence of good versus evil in what, for the time, were realistic scenes in space. Many of us were in awe. Some worshipped. In fact, some six films later, an only quasi-ironic Star Wars religion does exist (Jediism) and its adherents must be buzzing after yesterday’s announcement that a new Star Wars movie will be released next year. What particularly caught my attention was the New York Times article on the event. Peppered with religious language, the trailer review (have we come to this?) by Dave Itzkoff plays on the fact that fans are nothing less than religious about the movies. I have to admit to falling a few movies behind. I’m a lapsed Jediist, I guess.

The new movie, The Force Awakens, will be directed by J. J. Abrams, and that seems to be a prophecy for a positive outcome. It also provides me with a goal; I need to see the episodes I, II, and III that I somehow missed early in the new millennium. Some see, to borrow Itzkoff’s language, the original trilogy as being canonical. The original novelizations—all of which I read as a teenager—were written by various guest writers with names like Glut and Kahn (the latter somewhat prescient for the upcoming Star Trek movies of the time), recording the sacred texts of the nascent religion. Rituals developed, light-sabers were purchased, and imagination became the vehicle for theology.

Behind it all, of course, is the force. This is a deity for a rationalist world. Even today we know that things don’t always turn out the way they should. Juries make the wrong decisions, computers still crash, even even two space shuttles—highly sophisticated though they were—failed and exploded during routine operations. Many find the white-bearded God untenable, but somewhere out there amid the comets and stars, there seems to be a moral force guiding us in the constant struggle of good versus evil. Heaven is still over our heads, although lost in the darkness of space. Less than 90 seconds of film footage have lit up the web with speculation, critique, and yes, reverence. We may have become the consummate secular society, but there is still always room for the force. Indeed, The Force Awakens may contain a not-so-subtle message for those who have ceased to believe that its personified form still exists.

3 responses to “The Force Re-Awakens

  1. The Force seems to me to be like a karmic chi, able to control destinies but is also controlled by those enlightened to use it. It definitely has some kind of Yin-Yang property to it.

    BTW, I am not a fanatic but I shed a tear watching the new trailer. I felt nostalgia, it’s like I was eight years old again, watching the Ewoks for the first time. That got me hooked on the SW universe. I watched all of the original films on betamax. And I re-watched it again when it was digitally enhanced in the late nineties.

    And then Jar-Jar Binks happened…. I was so thoroughly incensed that I never watched the next two films. But with the new trailer, I think JJ Abrams may have righted the balance of the Force.

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  2. The good, The evil, The light and The dark. I think that about covers it, don’t you? I get a quickening watching the trailer. I will be psyched to actually sit in a theatre and hear that intro musical theme, and hopefully, have that same spiritual experience feeling again I did several times over watching the films for the first time. I hope they don’t screw it up. I think it is something to have witnessed the original in theatres in the 1970’s and 80’s and be able to experience the re-awakening now. Several generations sitting in the same theatre having similar awakenings.

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  3. Thank you Dan and Jeremiah. You’ve both touched on something I was hinting at–there is a spiritual quality to the original movies that many saw lacking in I-III. I have high hopes for J. J. Abrams’ work, in any case. Hopefully the force will indeed awaken.

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