Star Wars and the Prophetic Imagination

27 08 2009

yoda_biggerSpike TV has been running a series of all the Star Wars movies this week. Although I am fairly familiar with the original three episodes, having watched them every year on youth choir tours, I never had seen the newer films. So, I was rather (and idiotically) enthralled (“No, Anakin!! Don’t go to the Dark Side!!”)

I guess I have had Brueggemann on the brain, but last night’s episode (The Revenge of the Sith) seemed to be a great science-fiction exploration of imperial consciousness vs. alternative consciousness.  Here’s why (and in this analogy, I will consciously try not to equate “the force” with God):

Anakin’s decision to explore the “Dark Side” originally stems from his desire to keep his wife alive, after he has visions of her dying during childbirth.  Wise Master Yoda’s advice is as follows: “Death is a natual part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not, miss them do not … Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

The chancellor, on the other hand, tells him a story about defeating death and attaining immortality.  This is the more attractive option to Anakin, so he embarks on that path and embraces the Dark Side.

vaderLater in the movie, the Chancellor tricks the Senate into believing the Jedi have gone rogue.  In order to protect the universe, he declares that “the Republic is now the Empire!!”  (I don’t think that’s the exact quote, but it’s something like that).  The new emperor”rescues” Anakin — now renamed Darth Vader — from a horrible lava burn and recreates his body as the robot with the heavy-breathing mask that we all know so well.

It’s just a shell.  Anakin’s body was badly burned and he was on the brink of death.  But the Empire-consciousness cannot accept the idea of death.  It trades in the richness and beauty of life for a cheap, robotic immortality.  An immortality that can be controlled.  A status quo.  A seeming permanence.  A squelching of hope.  A silencing of song.

And in this story, too, hope comes from prophecy — specifically, the prophecy about a certain Skywalker Jedi who is destined to redeem the universe.

But that’s a whole other episode, for some other day.

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