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Star Wars Fan Linkbait

Star Wars Logo With Red Question MarkI really enjoyed Star Wars when it came out. In the summer of 1977 I was ten years old and had read the novelization and the Marvel comics adaptation before I actually saw the film in the theater — at Grauman’s Chinese, in Hollywood. It was the loudest movie I’d ever seen. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Over the decades, especially in light of the prequels, I, like many folks, have cooled on the Star Wars franchise. It’s kind of quaint to me now — a series of kids’ movies with their place in history, but nothing to get too worked up over. Still, it’s part of my cultural mythology, and so, a few days ago, my mind wandered into “Star Wars” territory. Not for the first time, I reflected on the following:

They Just Don’t Make Sense

If you’re a “Star Wars” fan, there are a number of things that just don’t make sense if you view the films in episodic order:

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi deliberately and blatantly lied to Luke Skywalker concerning his origins and connection to Darth Vader. Two movies later, when Luke calls him out on this, Kenobi glosses it over with “…what I told you was true… from a certain point of view,” and Luke is, astonishingly, okay with that.
  • Why doesn’t Obi-Wan Kenobi acknowledge that C-3PO is obviously the droid Anakin Skywalker built as a child?
  • In the prequel films, we see Jedi and Sith lords dueling with blinding speed, super-human dexterity and Force-powered telekinesis. In “Revenge of the Sith” Obi-Wan and Anakin exhibit all of those talents in their own climactic battle. Nineteen years later, when Anakin and Obi-Wan have their final battle, they move like slugs in comparison to their former prowess.
  • There is no one in the galaxy as supercharged by the Force as Anakin Skywalker. And yet, he fails to sense his own children, even though one of them is living with his half-brother in Anakin’s own dead mother’s house, which just happens to be no more than a few hours away from his former master’s home… and the other is being presented as the daughter of a prominent member of the opposition Senate.

As reasonable people who recognize that the “Star Wars” films are not documentaries, we could chalk this up to young George Lucas not having the slightest clue that he’d actually get to make five other “Star Wars” movies, so continuity was not as much of a concern.

But for fans… for fans, finally seeing the real story played out in all its bargain-basement Shakespeare tragedy, woodenly-acted, CGI trainwreck glory, well… the story presented in the “Star Wars” movies just doesn’t make sense. Unless you think of it like this:

It’s A Trap Conspiracy!

Behind the story arc of the “Star Wars” films is a Jedi conspiracy bent on eliminating the only person who stands in the way of their dominion of the galaxy, Senator Palpatine, and to destroy the Sith cult entirely. The two people who execute this plan across an entire galaxy and over the course of more than twenty years are Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi… with some help.

The End Justifies The Means

Let’s look at the state of affairs at the end of the six “Star Wars” films:

  • Emperor Palpatine, apparently one of only two Sith lords (counting Darth Vadar) and outwardly the strongest, is dead. There is no representative of the so-called “dark side” of the Force.
  • The only Jedi left in the galaxy, Luke Skywalker, is the son of the strongest Jedi the galaxy has ever produced.
  • Luke Skywalker, hero of the rebellion, has considerable influence and power in the new republic that is poised to regain control of the galaxy, and he’s mentored by the spirits of three powerful Jedi, including his dad, the most powerful of them all.

At the end of “Return of the Jedi” — a title that says it all, really, and was originally, and rightfully, to be called “Revenge of the Jedi,” I believe — the Jedi / “light side” is in total control of the Force in the galaxy… and their most powerful living member is in a perfect position to build a new Jedi order with no opposition.

Eliminating the representatives of “the dark side” and setting up a ruling class deeply indebted to the only living Jedi (and his apparently latently-powered sister) was the goal of the Jedi — specifically, the long-lived Jedi master Yoda, who naturally took the long view — once they discovered Anakin Skywalker. No cost — not the loss of the entire pre-Imperial Jedi order, not the murder of several children, not the obliteration of an entire planet… certainly not a mere twenty-odd years of Imperial rule — was too high a price to pay to ensure the order and stability of an entire galaxy of worlds under a new, Jedi-influenced order.

But What About Darth Vader?

I’m going to spell it out as simply as possible:

Anakin Skywalker was faking it.

He never “went over” to the “dark side,” because such a concept really has no objective meaning to the Force, which is simply “an energy field created by all living things (apparently accessed via a high concentration of midi-chlorians in the blood) that binds the galaxy together.” Any notion of “light” and “dark” must be dogma.

Anakin was not seduced into evil by Palpatine. Anakin — and Yoda, and Obi-Wan — recognized that Palpatine was a very powerful enemy, possibly more powerful than anyone but Anakin himself. Palpatine needed to be taken down, but more importantly, circumstances in the galaxy needed to become so awful that people would pine for the days of the so-called Republic — days that were part of living memory for most adults. So Anakin allowed himself to become Darth Vader, and played that role for close to twenty years, until his own necessary martyrdom.

The Thing That Clued Me In

When I was in the middle of my free-form thinking about Star Wars the other day, the thing that sent me down this path was the final duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. I mentioned it earlier — the difference between their fight at the end of “Revenge of the Sith” and their fight in “Star Wars” is absolutely inexplicable… unless you realize that it was a sham with several goals:

  • Move Obi-Wan Kenobi into the spirit world, where he would be come “more powerful than you could possibly imagine” and be in a position to psychologically manipulate and mentor the conspiracy’s puppet, Luke Skywalker, no matter the time or place.
  • Give Luke Skywalker a visceral, personal, complex and powerful emotional connection to Vader, so that his eventual Stockholm Syndrome would be that much more of an influence on his actions.
  • Cement Skywalker’s hatred of the Empire and commitment to the future new republic.
  • Inspire Skywalker to develop his own latent power with the Force — something Kenobi would still have to take a direct hand in during “The Empire Strikes Back” — so that the human gun would have the firepower to be useful when the time was right.

Resolving Other Problems

I just explained why Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi fight like a couple of uncoordinated children playing with sticks in “A New Hope.” Let’s look at some of the other inconsistencies I mention above:

  • Why does Luke accept Obi-Wan’s weak excuse for lying about Luke’s parentage? I think this must partially be due to Skywalker’s psychology. Luke is an orphan who, despite being raised by his Aunt and Uncle, never felt connected to anyone until he fell in with Obi-Wan. “Old Ben” introduced him to a whole galaxy of adventure and personal potential. The idea that Kenobi could be a manipulative monster fanatically, ruthlessly committed to his cause and willing to say or do anything… that’s just not acceptable to Luke Skywalker’s fragile, optimistic psyche. Also, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Obi-Wan (aided by spirit Qui-Jon?) used the Force on Luke to get him to go along with whatever Obi-Wan said.
  • Why doesn’t Obi-Wan acknowledge that he knows C-3P0 and, for that matter, R2D2? I think this one is obvious. He doesn’t want to come anywhere near the truth of things.
  • In a way, C-3P0 offers a clue to his connection to Anakin Skywalker and, in doing so, suggests his ultimate loyalty: remember, C-3PO claims to be expert at “human-cyborg relations.” Not “human-droid” relations. His builder, Anakin Skywalker, is the cyborg in that equation. Bonus: could the risk of C-3PO’s memory wipe being imperfect be why the droid was dismantled in the cloud city during “The Empire Strikes Back,” I wonder..?
  • Finally, the reason Anakin Skywalker doesn’t sense the location of his kids should be obvious: he did know where they were, but kept this knowledge buried to hide the truth from the Emperor: The boy was being groomed to become an assassin, and then to stand as the living representative of Anakin, Yoda and Obi-Wan in the new republic. The girl… well, she was too involved with the public face of the political opposition to the Empire to be of much use. As we’ve seen and determined, the conspiracy is not above sacrificing relatives and loved ones to the cause. Physically and psychologically torturing her was hardly worth thinking about.

Now You Can Enjoy The “Star Wars” Series

With all the pieces in place, you can finally enjoy watching the “Star Wars” films in episodic order without having your suspension of disbelief shattered again and again.

You’re welcome.

What’s that? You want a second opinion? Try this.

What’s This All About, Really?

I love storyworlds with deep, rich, complex, interweaving arcs. I’m such a fan of long-term continuity, all of my own storyworld creations are threads in a larger weave that covers billions of years and the entire multiverse. It’s possible my subconscious drove me to make sense of “Star Wars” because the childhood fan in me is a little disappointed at how the six films turned out.

Doing so has been a fun exercise, and a reminder I’m alerted to again and again when I study storyworlds and franchises: make sure the pieces fit together, and don’t lose sight of the big story.

Let Me Have It

Okay, the time has come. I know there are some very… energetic… fans of “Star Wars” who follow my work. It’s possible some mega-fans might even find this post while bopping around the Internet, and might take exception to my explanation of how to make sense of the “Star Wars” saga. I welcome your comments!

One thing, though — remember that I’m only dealing with the six “Star Wars” films, here. You can’t make an argument that depends on outside sources like the comics, novels, video games, television shows, or amusement park rides or anything. Okay?

Okay! Your turn: what do you think of my attempt to make sense of the “Star Wars” films? Leave a comment on this post!

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89 Comments

  1. Well done. Love your take on the series. I need to watch them again now with your reasoning in my mind.

    That does fill those pesky plot holes very well.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks, Eban! Spread the word! Maybe we’ll get to see a fan re-cut that tells the story with the conspiracy emphasized..? Hey, Topher Grace, you busy..?

  2. Those inconstancy’s have always bugged me, especially Obi-wan saying ‘I don’t recall ever owning a droid’ when he did! For years! And this droid saved his life many times over! I wonder how George Lucas even tried to justify this in his mind, did he forget that he had Obi-wan not owing a droid? Very frustrating as a Star Wars fan, makes me wonder how I’m going to explain it to my kids when they see the movies (still not sure if I want to show them Episodes IV-Vi or I-III first) and I think your reasoning is what I’m going to go with.

    What do you do when you come across an inconsistency like that in your writing? When I was writing the one of my books I had forgotten that I gave the Captain a brother in the first book but made her an only child in the other book written a few years later, didn’t discover that till it was too late to change in the first story so I had to rearrange some dialog to make it fit, if i hadn’t caught that I’m not sure how I would have fixed it, or if I would even try.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Timothy! Always nice to see your comments.

      I’ve learned the hard way, more than once, to do everything possible to avoid inconsistencies in my writing. The price, more than once, has been deep discouragement and, at least temporarily, shelving projects. Not good.

      So these days, I outline in detail, and I spend a great deal of time thinking about the story before the first draft is written. When it comes to stories within larger arcs, well, if I’ve written an published something that contradicts something I had planned I have the option of writing and publishing a supplementary piece (short story, for example) that must fill in the holes and correct stuff without invalidating what’s already out there.

      It’s a bitch. To be avoided.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Aaron Aaron

      Obi-wan never did own a droid. R2 started out as Padme’s then went to Anakin. Obi-wan adeventured and interacted with R2 but never owned it.

      • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

        Thanks for the comment, Aaron, and the clarification!

      • Timothy P. Callahan Timothy P. Callahan

        He still should have recognized them. That’s all I’m a sayin.

        • Alan Alan

          Maybe. But remember that for most of the SW era droids were considered more possessions than persons. You’ll notice any of the characters in SW completely disregard the presence of droids. Would you recognize one of your friends old cars if you saw it 20 years later even if you parked next to it? Unless it was pretty unique I don’t think so. By all accounts nether r2d2 or c3po were very unique as far as droids go.

    • Samantha Gray Samantha Gray

      I recently read a blog that suggested watching the movies IV, V, II, III, and VI with I being either skipped altogether or in between V and II.
      I thought it was a great idea.

      • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

        Thanks for the comment, Samantha! Rod Hilton’s approach is pretty cool!

  3. I agree with you, it doesn’t make sense. But I feel it stems more from Lucas attempting to make every little thing in the prequels connect to the original series. Making everything and everyone related. The only thing missing was having Han Solo as Qui-Gon’s nephew.

    What always got me about the lightsaber battles was Obi-wan saying, “…from a more civilized age”. But, the prequel lightsaber battles are much less ‘civilized’ than the battle in A New Hope.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Larry, Obi-Wan referring to “a more civilized age” is a huge hint regarding his involvement in the conspiracy and his fanatical commitment. Naturally he feels the days of the Old Republic (influenced and advised by the Jedi Council) are “a more civilized age,” since he’s been working covertly with Anakin and Yoda for the last twenty years to bring about a return to that status quo..!

  4. It’s not an inconstancy! Obi-Wan tells his lies or from his “certain point of view” to protect Luke. Hell, when we first see Luke he’s arguing with his Uncle about wanting to join the Empire. The Force is not Black or White, people make mistakes no Jedi or Sith is complete good or evil.

    And about the prequels they are back stories and bonuses, just be glad you ever got to see them! The whole point to the prequels is to see the fight between Obi-Wan & Vader. And it was the greatest fight of all time! ILM is the cornerstone of all FX that you witness today, “oh but it doesn’t look real, they used to much CGI” Guess what it is not real, it’s a movie, all movies are fake. Suspend your belief little and enjoy it like when you were a child!

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for your impassioned comment, Jason. You’re obviously a super-fan!

      I’ll address your comments in reverse order:

      • In order to enjoy all six films in episodic order, unfortunately, one has to do more than suspend one’s sense of disbelief. One has to flat-out ignore plot holes and inconsistencies.
      • I know it’s not real — I make that point myself, in the post. My argument presents a way to fix the storytelling flaws of the six films.
      • I don’t think I ever said the CGI didn’t look real. Can you show me where I said that? If you’re referring to the phrase “CGI trainwreck,” I didn’t mean to imply the CGI didn’t look real, simply that the films depended upon it to their detriment. Perhaps I was imprecise in my choice of words.
      • You’re entitled to your opinion that the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan is the “greatest fight of all time.” I guess you mean “ever seen in a movie,” but even on that point, I disagree. But that’s the great thing about opinion — we both get to have one, and be happy in it.
      • Was the whole point of the prequels really just to see the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan? Have the filmmakers made that claim? Seems like they padded it with an awful lot of other stuff just to get there…
      • I’m happy for you if you feel glad that you got to see the prequels. Personally, I think they’re fun if there’s absolutely nothing else to do and there’s also nothing else worth seeing on television when they’re on. But I could have lived my whole life with the original (and I mean original) three films.
      • Regarding your statement that no Jedi or Sith is complete(ly) good or evil — that lends support to my assertion that the “light” and “dark” sides of the Force are dogma, so I I reckon we agree on that, at least.
      • If Obi-Wan is hoping to protect Luke and sway him from joining the Empire, why not tell him, “Yeah, tough luck — the Emperor’s right-hand man is your father, and the same guy is pretty much directly responsible for the death of your mother. He’s a right git, so you might want to reconsider joining the Empire. Let’s take these droids to the rebel base and make that bastard pay hard, what do you say?”

      Thanks again for your comment! This is a fun discussion.

  5. Jodo Jodo

    Interesting opinion. I don’t agree with any of it. It’s flawed and ridiculous.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Jodo! Care to elaborate on how it’s flawed and why it’s ridiculous? Otherwise your comment doesn’t really add to the discussion!

      • Nick Daniels Nick Daniels

        I agree with Jodo. And I’ll tell you why: The key message here isn’t that the Jedi figured out a way to survive, it’s that their arrogance allowed them to be destroyed and their failure allowed the galaxy to suffer untold misery at the hands of the empire until their “last hope” could arise to stop them. Obi-Wan didn’t lie to Luke so he could manipulate him into fulfilling his plan, he did it so Luke could redeem the Jedi and put right what they had allowed to go so wrong.

        It’s about redemption not control.

        OH and Luke isn’t the last force practioner in the galaxy. Let’s not forget the Emperors Hand or C’baoth the insane Jedi clone, or the Fell.

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          Thanks for the comment, Nick… but you’ve really only addressed the question of the Big Lie. What about all the other inconsistencies I point out?

          As for the other force practitioners, remember, as I laid down in the post, we’re only considering the movies here, not related transmedia material.

  6. Matt,

    Have you played or read The Force Unleashed? I ask because there is an implication in that game that Darth Vader is responsible for creating the Rebellion itself, which would support your reasoning.

    Well done, sir. Now, explain The Dark Crystal to me.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Hi Chris!

      Is “The Force Unleashed” the video game where you play Vader’s new apprentice? Sort of “Episode 3.5?” I played it for a few hours back when I briefly had a Gamefly subscription, but didn’t get very far before I lost interest.

      Intriguing, though… especially since that game is considered canon, isn’t it..?

      As for The Dark Crystal… maybe I should watch it again! It’s been years, and I remember being happily creeped out by it. I’ll put it on the list!

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          Maybe I should call George and see if he’s hiring any writers…

  7. Tim Pratt Tim Pratt

    Are you familiar with A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope, a theory that covers some of the same territory?

    I like your point that “the dark side” has to be merely a dogmatic construction.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Sure am, Tim — I blogged about it back in 2007 and linked to it in this post. I love the bit about Chewie and R2D2 meeting “in the back rooms of space stations and cantinas across the galaxy” to play chess for twenty years.

      Regarding the attachment of ethics to the Force: I figure the Jedi and Sith had to do that to lend credence to their religious war.

      Thanks for the comment, Tim! Nice to see you here.

      • Tim Pratt Tim Pratt

        D’oh, sorry, missed that you linked it here — reading too quickly. It’s always fun to assume there are no errors, and that everything is intentional, though with some fictional worlds that’s harder than others…

    • Dante Dante

      I’m curious about this. There’s a lot of talk about the ‘grey’ Force (if you’ll excuse the pun).
      But in the movies alone we see the corruption it causes and the different paths it leads it’s practitioners down. I personally stick to the straight story of light and dark, your actions defining the source of you power. It makes sense to me since we’re told life creates it and there’s clear good or bad in everyone. But if the Force corrupts that would imply it can reason or has purpose doesn’t it?…

      Know I’m gonna go read them links now cos I suddenly feel like maybe y’all and talking bout what I’m harpin on ’bout… σ(^_^;)

  8. Marty Marty

    Matt, Epic, epic win, man. Totally ties the whole thing together, and lets me watch the damn movies in peace.

    Yoda planned the whole thing out in his scaly little green skull, and was ruthless enough to see it through.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Aw, thanks, Marty! I’m pleased to be able to bring you some peace… while watching “Star Wars,” at least.

  9. Great article! makes sense of most of the SW saga quirks… still I was hoping for some reason not to hate Jar Jar Binks.Maybe on your next mind wandering? 😉

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Rogelio! But… Jar Jar Binks? What’s that? Maybe I blocked it out. 😉

  10. Eric Eric

    I’m more of a “new breed” fan, I only watched star wars for the first time when I was 22. It never really appealed to me until I started reading the novels. I would much rather INCLUDE “outside sources like the comics, novels, video games, television shows” provided they are approved as canon by Lucas Arts than reinterpret the story from the movies based on the lack of choreography / imagination in the original movies.

    The novels are really great and I think would do a lot more to inspire fans than you give them credit for (ie. none). There is even a novel about the death star which explains how the exhaust port vulnerability came into being. The novels really do make the movies make a whole lot more sense 🙂

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Eric! It’s not that I’m not giving the novels credit; I’m sure they’re awesome. In fact, I read the first “Star Wars” universe novel (that wasn’t actually “Star Wars: From The Adventures of Luke Skywalker”) when it first came out, and it was awesome.

      It’s simply that this post — and this argument — deals with the films and the films alone, because the number of individual people who saw the movies far outnumbers those who also took in the transmedia elements of the franchise. The point here is to make sense of the “Star Wars” films.

      So, given that… what do you think of the conspiracy theory?

  11. Dante Dante

    A, uh, interesting take on the massive amounts of stupidity Lucas injected into the franchise with his prequels. But you do over look a lot of key elements that would hurt some of your arguments. The ANH duel between Kenobi and Vader for example: back in the day they were in top condition. Twenty years on Kenobi is an old man and Vader is mostly machine, that doesn’t function any where near as good as his body. Perhaps that’s why they’re slow? And if Anakin was faking its the biggest bluff ever because he traps himself in a cybernetic body, his connection to the force diminished. If he was part of a conspiracy to over throw the galaxy wouldn’t he still want his full power?
    And Luke: he believed Ben because he wanted too. He’d been orphaned so often he didn’t want to keep losing the ones he loved and if Anakin really wasn’t in on some bizarre conspiracy he was telling the truth by perspective and was protectin Luke from a painful truth before he could handle it. He shoulda been straight up but even Jedi make mistakes. Theres no way it’s any kind of Stockholm syndrome because the syndrome is discredited and used too generically to be valid.

    I’m with you on one front though. This Skywalker family. Okay maybe Yoda did some voodoo on Luke and Leia to hide their presence from Vader, it stands to reason and hiding Luke at the Lars was brilliant because Vader would never return. Evil doesn’t like to remind itself what it is and he would have fully turned from that life when his one truly important thing was lost to him by his own hand, Padme.
    What boggles my mind is Leia could remember her mother!

    As for 3PO he was dismantle for scrap on Bespin that much should be obvious. But Kenobi never spent very long with either droid in the films. And since he was to forgo possessions, except lightsabers hmm?, he went through a slew of droids all very similar in appearance and design, could you recognize every person you’ve spoken in passing too or what public bin you used twenty years ago? Droids are rampant in Star Wars so it stands to reason some who had no interest in them would not recognize them later on. If something isn’t important to you, you just forget it and move on.

    It’s a nice thought, but with some misguided psychology and you miss the bigger picture in some places. But, to be fair, whose to say I’m right and you’re wrong or vice versa. I think we can all agree Lucas rewrote the prequels in the ninties and paid no care to what the fans wanted, just how many toys he could make.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Dante! Great observations. I’ll address some things in reverse order:

      • C-3PO was apparently obviously dismantled for scrap… but why? From a storytelling point of view, it was a set-up for comic relief and little more. But considering it “in-world,” it’s a glaring oddity. Even when I first saw “The Empire Strikes Back,” that bugged me.
      • Great point about Leia remembering her mother. Constructed false memory, perhaps?
      • We basically agree that Luke accepted Obi-Wan’s glossing over of the Big Lie simply because Luke wanted / needed to. I threw in the Force influence on Luke’s mind as icing on the cake, but it’s true, simple psychology is enough.
      • Yes, Anakin made more sacrifices than anyone involved in the conspiracy — he’s a fanatic and insane, with a deep need for control and a strong martyr / messiah complex. His own power doesn’t matter to him, only that the objective is achieved.
      • I just can’t buy your explanation that the duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin during “A New Hope” was slow and sluggish because he was mostly machine and Kenobi is an old man. First, it’s well established in the “Star Wars” films that cyborgs are as good, if not better than, full-biologicals (Grevious, for example). Plus, Anakin has the advantage of access to the best technology available. As for Kenobi’s age… it’s only been 20 years. He’s supposed to be sixy, tops (another problem is the apparent age of Obi-Wan at the end of “Revenge of the Sith” and in “A New Hope”). We’ve seen (Dooku, Yoda) that age is not an issue when it comes to being bad-ass if you’re Force-enabled.

      Thanks for going even deeper down the rabbit hole with me, Dante! Cheers.

      • swampwiz swampwiz

        Count Dooku didn’t bounce around much, but he was up in age. But then Mace Windu was amongst the greatest of warriors, and he didn’t bounce around much. OTOH, Palpatine as a 50-something did some spin moves against Windu. And of course, Yoda wrote the book on bouncing around, at age 900!

        It seems that a Jedi only uses his moves if he thinks it is at an advantage, and there is room to maneuver. The duel in Episode IV was in a small room, so maybe both sensed that moving around would not be worth it.

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          Thanks for the comment!

          Y’know, I just re-watched the lightsabre duel in “A New Hope”, and I gotta say, I can’t buy that they didn’t move around so much because there wasn’t any room. Sure, the fight started in a corridor, but they maneuvered each other to the entry to the hanger where the Millennium Falcon is berthed, where there is all kinds of room to bounce around and throw things at each other. They don’t… because the fight is a sham.

          Heck, if it had been anything but a sham, when Obi-Wan glances into the hanger to make sure Luke is there — taking his eyes off his opponent — Anakin should have sliced him in half. Instead, Anakin waits until Obi-Wan shuts off his lightsabre and obviously prepares to be translated. He’s not killed — he’s translated into Jedi heaven. Which was (part of) the point of the fight, and Anakin is obviously in on it.

    • April April

      about Leia, maybe she wasn’t remembering Padme, but using her latent jedi abilities to pull the memory from her father.

      • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

        Thanks for the comment, April! I’m no “Star Wars” expert, but others have said (even in this comment thread) that the Force isn’t good for fine-grained, super-specific “esp”-style psionic ability like what you mention. Others might have better insight… but remember, gang, keep it within the movies for your arguments!

        Thanks again!

        • Alexander Kahoun Alexander Kahoun

          I agree with your point that the Force isn’t fine-grained like that, but it’s no false memory. Keeping within the confines of the films. We all know that Senator Bail Organa had a wife, as he stated that he and his wife always wanted a daughter. No one said that she was remembering Padme at all, she was mostly likely remembering her foster mother.

          • Dante Dante

            Hey, okay, I gotta admit you make some fair points in there, let me see if I can’t counter.

            First off, C-3PO was most likely dismantled in order to hide the fact he had been attacked and the best place to hide him was among the other scrap metal so he would be harder to identify and therefore the Empire’s presence (because we know it was Stormtroopers that shot him) could be hidden for longer.

            I can’t argue the Leia thing, because we don’t know when Breha died. It’s assumable that she was killed when Alderaan was destroyed by the first Death Star. So Leia would have known her adoptive mother quite well, so when Luke asks “do you remember you REAL mother” she wouldn’t mix up her memories. It’s a deep inconsistency and I don’t think between us we could ever spin doctor it.

            And the big one: Anakin’s devotion to the conspiracy.
            Can you give a reference for any scene when Anakin (before becoming Vader) tries to martyr himself? I can’t honestly think of any point when he does. When he finds mum dead for example he doesn’t act like a messiah he goes on a rampage, that shows a clear need for his own power. Also Anakin at several points during the movies, especially when discussing the Jedi council, believes he is stronger and greater than even Windu, that is clear ego. If the objective is the most important thing and we have proof he holds himself in high esteem (ego-maniacal) he would never willing give up his power as he could consider himself the best way to achieve the goal. Therefore he couldn’t be part of the conspiracy, also if Padme was as important to him as he often shows we would never give her up.

            The duel, well, I agree it ain’t an issue of space. First off you can’t really compare Vader to Grevious because built with two different purposes in mind. Grevious as a battle robot, and Vader to still look human. As Vader has a human frame we must compare him to like frames. C-3PO or the Super Battle Droids. None of which move well at all, so he should consider himself lucky, but bear in he is also heavily armoured, we know this because his shoulder resists a lightsaber blow in ESB. So he would be heavy and doesn’t have access to the same technological options.
            As for Obi Wan, you can’t compare him to Yoda because we don’t know when Yoda reaches maturity. He’s an alien so his bio-mechanics are different. Obi-Wan has been on his own for twenty years without a sparring partner and has most likely been meditating his way to a higher understanding of the Force. He himself says “I’m too old for this sort of thing.” Clearly stating his age is an issue to his combat prowess. The Force is mysterious and we cannot say for sure that it can bolster a human in ways that would allow him to move like Yoda, as Count Dooku at no point does. Yes he twirls, but never flips.

            Thanks for your straight talking reply Matthew, you really do make for interesting and fun debate on the problems created by Lucas.
            (can you sort out the mess that is Mass Effect 3 [sorry, just finished it and I’m being bitter XD])

          • Dante Dante

            Sorry, just re-read my nonsense and loads of mistakes!

            *HE* wouldn’t let Padme go.

            Both Grevious and Vader are built with different purpose in mind.

            and

            But bear *in mind* he is also heavily armoured…

            Yadda yadda, yes my fingers don’t type fast enough to keep up with my brain… XD

  12. John John

    Are you sure you’re not a sith Lord?

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Mostly sure, John.

  13. Alexander Kahoun Alexander Kahoun

    You have an interesting point of view and I respect your opinion. The only point I disagree with you on is that Anakin was faking it. I do agree that the whole light/dark side bit is dogma and nothing more, but I don’t think he was faking it. In my own personal opinion Anakin was not Palpatine and therefore not capable of being completely evil. Palpatine had his own agenda as you said and was an extremely dangerous opponent to the Jedi. It was Anakin’s internal conflict with his actions that crippled him. This could explain why he couldn’t sense his children, whom he believed were never born. Instead of focusing on using the Force and furthering his mastery of it, he was constantly in a state of internal conflict and was inwardly focused at all times.

    Also, to further your point that Luke was used by Yoda and Obi-Wan, which is dead on. I’d like to add that if you look at the prequels and how Jedi were trained you’ll notice a distinct difference in how Luke was trained. Obi-Wan was toying with Vader in ANH waiting until Luke could SEE him fall at Vader’s hands and so he could mentor Luke as a spirit. Also as you said, to cement Luke’s hatred of the Empire. Both Yoda and Obi-Wan were training Luke for one purpose, to be a weapon to take out Palpatine and Vader, not to be a Jedi. They could mentor him in re-establishing the Jedi for them after he had achieved his primary goal of taking out Palpatine and Vader. They had hoped that Vader wouldn’t reveal his identity to Luke but took precautions in case he did by making sure Luke hated the Empire. To make it even more twisted, they kept Leia’s identity secret because she was their backup plan if Luke failed. Her identity was revealed to Luke only before he was going to attempt to accomplish his primary goal of assassination. It didn’t matter if the Emporer or Vader discovered her at that point as it would force Leia to turn to Obi-Wan and Yoda if Luke failed.

    All that is my opinion, but wanted to throw it out there since your’s got me thinking. 🙂 Excellent post sir.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Alexander!

      Great job — you’ve removed the need for Anakin to be involved with the conspiracy, and kept it feasible, and did it in two paragraphs, so you get points for brevity! 😉

      But! What about the point that sent me down this crazy path in the first place: the lousy fighting skills exhibited by Anakin and Kenobi is “A New Hope?”

      • Manny Manny

        its theatrics and nothing else. The real battle was the intent between the two.

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          Nice!

      • Alexander Kahoun Alexander Kahoun

        Again, purely my opinion here, but I would say that the reason the fight moved like slugs in ANH is because of the opponents and the results of their last battle. The last time Vader squared off against Obi-Wan, he lost big time. Vader isn’t about to make the same mistake again. He’s going to proceed much more cautiously. Obi-Wan on the other hand, as we’ve both said, always intended to lose this fight and have Luke witness it. His goal was merely to keep the duel in an area within clear line of sight of the Millennium Falcon and to keep it going long enough for Luke to get there and see him lose.

        Now going into the Expanded Universe a bit for some background on Lightsaber styles, you will find Obi-Wan was a known master of the Soresu form. Soresu relies on extended fights, outlasting your opponent, it is said to be the ultimate defensive form. Vader on the other hand was a master of Djem So, which was a highly aggressive form of lightsaber combat the originated from the Shien technique but had more of a focus on dueling. In their first duel Obi-Wan’s Soresu was the counter to Djem So and was why Anakin lost, on top of his complete arrogance.

        Now back to the duel in ANH, Vader hasn’t had a chance to figure out a new technique to fight against Kenobi’s Soresu form, cause there’s no one left to teach him, plus there isn’t really a lot of Soresu practitioners left since the Empire wiped them out. So here we have Vader knowing he’s at a disadvantage with his choice fighting form, he’s going to proceed with much more restraint and not allow Kenobi to draw him in. Kenobi on the other hand isn’t jumping in or pushing the attack either. This is confusing to Vader and he doesn’t want to so quickly fall into a trap or feint, if you will. The result is Obi-Wan toying with Vader, keeping him confused and off guard so he will not realize that Luke and the others are escaping. When Obi-Wan finally sees Luke, he gives Vader the opening he’s been craving for 20 years. Again, just my opinion on it and I do like yours as well. 🙂

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          Hi Alexander,

          I’ll grant you the idea that Anakin might be a little leery of meeting his old master after all these years, and that could slow him down. Meeting the one dude who proved he could beat him… Lots of bad juju there, for sure!

          The rest of your comment, dealing with technique and all that stuff, I have to disregard because it doesn’t have an impact on what we see in the film — it relies on outside information.

  14. Brian Balke Brian Balke

    Hey! I think your theory fails to take into account the fact that the Force spans all levels of reality. “From a certain perspective” it was necessary for Obi-Wan to lie to build dramatic tension in the original story-line, thereby sucking millions of movie-viewers into the theaters to build power in the Force in this reality. This made it possible for Obi-Wan to manifest far superior combat capabilities, through a kind of reverse causality, in the prequels.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Brian Balke gets a no-prize for blowing all our minds. Props.

  15. Alexander DiMauro Alexander DiMauro

    Well, for a REAL Star Wars fan, there were only 3 movies…so there go some of the inconsistencies right off the bat. 😉

    But, yes, you could spend a lifetime poking holes in the plots of Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc., etc…take any Star Trek ‘time travel’ episode, and you could basically write a book on everything wrong with each one!

    But, ultimately, at some point, you just have to give in, suspend all logic, and just enjoy!

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Well, for a REAL Star Wars fan, there were only 3 movies…so there go some of the inconsistencies right off the bat.

      Can I get an amen?

      Thanks for the comment, Alexander! Believe me, the time it took to write the blog post, and the absolutely fun time I’m having replying to the surprising response to it, is the most I’ve spent on the “Star Wars” problem. I’ve got my own storyworlds to work on!

  16. j lantern j lantern

    This is a great reimagining of the Star Wars “saga” I’ll bear it in mind if I ever watch the movies again.

    There are still two things that bother me, though:

    1. How was destroying the Sith supposed to bring “balance” to the force? You’d think you’d need equal parts light and dark.

    2. Why is everyone celebrating at the end of ep 6? Isn’t there still a rather formidable imperial navy to contend with?

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Hi Jack — thanks for the comment! My thoughts:

      1. I think the prophesy is bullshit; it’s religious dogma like the idea of a dark and light side of the Force.
      2. With the Emperor dead, we can assume the senate will be re-instated. The functionaries of the government — including the crews of the Imperial navy — will see a different signature on their paychecks, but they’re soldiers and they’ll do their jobs just the same. Higher level governors might be eliminated / replaced, but the formerly Imperial navy wouldn’t be a problem, I should think.

      Thanks again!

      • j lantern j lantern

        Very plausible 😉

  17. Chris J. Chris J.

    Oh, wow! Thanks for this! I had already come to the conclusion that there was something wrong with the Jedi, and this explains what they’re *really* about. I just thought they were kind of dumb, you know, didn’t have a good grasp of logic. (You’re going to turn away the most powerful child you’ve ever seen because you’re “afraid”? Really? I thought fear was bad.) And I wondered why all of the Jedi were warriors. Why isn’t there a healers’ branch? It seems like an energy field that is produced by all living things (and midichlorians) should be useful for healing. And then it turns out the Sith can and will use it for healing. Why not the Jedi? And then, at the end of episode III, the Jedi turn to necromancy. I’m embarrassed it took me that long to see how corrupt they were, but at least now your post gives a plausible explanation for their corruption. It’s always about power, one way or another.

    By the way, I think the funniest line in the whole series is when Obi-Wan says to Anakin during their big fight, “Only the Sith deal in absolutes!” Oh my Bob, the irony.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Chris! Great point about the use of healing powers.

      I think I first recognized the Jedi were far from altruistic and much more concerned with establishing their own agenda in “The Phantom Menace,” when Qui-Jon is so mission-focused he turns his back on slaves. In fact, this makes us think of two possibilities (both of which could be correct):

      • The culture of “Star Wars” considers slavery acceptable
      • The Jedi wanted to leave Anakin’s mother in bondage so that the kid wouldn’t be influenced or distracted by her presence.

      Both of these are rather sinister, and in keeping with the overall theory. What do you think?

      • Chris J. Chris J.

        “Culture of ‘Star Wars'” seems pretty vague, but looking at Jedi culture specifically, they seem to believe that the end *always* justifies the means, so in that context, yeah, of course slavery is acceptable if it serves their needs. And I think one of those needs is not just preventing a kid from being influenced or distracted by his mother, but being able to use her situation as an emotional stick to beat him with, as Yoda does when Anakin first meets him.

        Sinister, check. In keeping with overall theory, check.

  18. Manny Manny

    To me the biggest inconsistency is Padme Amidala, and her weakness in the end.

    How is it that the arguably most strongly principled, and positioned woman in the galaxy could have so weakly given up on her twin babies at the time they needed her strength the most?

    The connection between her heartbreak and Anakin’s paranoia over a vague and unreasonable vision of a troubled childbirth is simply weak and does not explain a trigger to violent means. Concern, however unfounded breeds love not evil. Lucas wanted nobility in Anakin but it comes at the price of finding a believable motivation for what actually happened.

    Unrequited love is a time honored recipe for evil.

    In fact, before the movies were filmed I was hoping for and expecting a serious love triangle between Padme, Anakin and Obi Wan. This could have been the emotional bulwark for the entire epsiodes 2 and 3. There was a hint of jealousy in Mustofar but it was too little too late. Anakins anger as explained had was based on platitudes. If anything I wanted Padme to take Obi Wans light saber during the final battle and behead Anakin herself. The simple fool deserved it.

    But imagine, if there had been a real love triangle, and Padme had been chosen Obi Wan over Anakin. Anakin in anger could have credibly held his index and thumb just so, from anywhere in the universe and angrily choked the life from Padme just as she was giving birth. In this scenario, she would not have given up and she would have fought heroically to preserve Luke and Leias life as she was giving birth.

    Then we would have better understood Darth Vader seeking atonement through Episodes 4,5 and 6. His pain and desire to set things right would have had an honest emotional attachment

    But alas, it was not so. So here we all are scratching our heads wondering how to make sense of what we have.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Brilliant, Manny. You’ve presented us with a “Star Wars” saga that is character driven, rather than plot and message driven. The intentionally archetypal nature of the principle characters in “Star Wars” is at once a big reason for its univeral appeal, and its ultimate failure to be resonant on a deeper level.

      Thanks for the comment!

  19. Br.Bill Br.Bill

    Do you realize that, in this scenario, Vader’s sacrifice makes him a Jesus figure?

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Br.Bill. Even without my theory, Vader is a Jesus figure, I’d say. He’s martyr and savior in any interpretation, to be sure.

  20. Alan Alan

    So he killed a room full of children and he was faking? He blew-up planets of billions of people and he was faking? He tried to kill his own son and daughter and he was faking?

    Here is another possible explanation building on what you have so far.

    Anakin was the most powerful agent of the force the universe had ever seen. Perhaps he knew the power and destruction the dark-side would visit on the universe. He knew it would take a tremendous sacrifice to stop them or his own family and loved ones would not be safe. He knows that he could not just “fake” being a bad guy or Palpatine would surely sense it. Anakin decides on his own to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his family, and yes the universe. He decides to delve into the darkside to destroy it from within. He knows that doing so, with the knowledge he has would also endanger his family. Anakin uses his force powers to alter his mind and his memories selectively removing memories that would endanger those he loved. He also alters key pathways so that after a time his conscience would return enough to complete his plan. Then after his mind is altered he begins his journey into the darkside. It’s the ultimate sacrifice. He knew it was risky but he also believed it was the only way to have a chance.

    This is a variation of what you have laid out to fill in the last bumpy spots. He never senses the full nature of Leia and Luke because they are not aware of their own origins, and his own memory has been blocked by his previous mental force rewiring.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Alan. I’m not sure using the Force to do a little brain surgery on himself would be necessary for Anakin to do all the nasty things he did. History has shown us that folks are capable of doing horrible, horrible things for what they believe is the greater good. Crazy fanaticism is the edge of Occam’s Razor here.

      • Alan Alan

        You’re missing my point.
        The point was not that he needed to do this in order to do evil -he removes the memories of those he cares about in order to protect them. Protect them both from himself and others using the information. I think once he goes deep into the dark-side he becomes a danger to everything he then cared about. And yes, I agree the dark-side transforms him into an agent of evil. This is precisely why he cannot go down this path with the memories of his loved ones intact.

        He does this on his own and he does not include anyone else in the plan. In this way he makes himself a living time-bomb planted in the dark-side.

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          Ah, okay, I see! Yeah, I like it. Nice branch to the theory!

  21. More than the inconsistencies, it’s the CHANGES that irk me the most. I don’t give a hoot that when technology (and finances) caught up with Lucas’ vision, he could make the movie he always wanted. Once Star Wars went public it ceased to be HIS movie and became MY movie. What I saw on the screen then, and what I still see, is MY vision, synthesized from everything I’d ever seen, ever read, including Star Wars itself. When he added or tweaked scenes, he fracked with MY vision, MY universe. The (attempted) comic Mos Eisley scene not only added nothing, but took away a lot; and, Jabba was one bad-ass guy, someone to be feared, until Lucas had Han totally dis the guy by literally stepping on him in front of his cohorts, after which Jabba inexplicably lets Han go free–what happened to the bounty? Adding insult to injury, the changed version was visually superior, but the original–on a separate DVD packaged in the same case–was visually inferior.

    The inconsistencies also frack with my vision–they are themselves a kind of change to the story–but to a lesser extent since each installment is consistent within itself; sans future changes.

    Given that, while I find some major flaws in your explanation, I am reluctant to criticize them. After all, Star Wars is YOUR vision, now. Whatever delight YOU derive from it, in whatever manner, is okay with me.

    I enjoy the Star Wars films not for the story–which can be told in one short paragraph, nor the dialog–which is at times pretty lame, but for the visuals. In 1977, I felt a kinship with Luke Skywalker; a young man with little experience suddenly seeing a vast universe for the first time. How exciting! After that, it was all downhill. Lucas was never again able to capture that feeling of novelty on film. But that’s where I live in the Star Wars universe, on film and in print, even today. Yes, I have to ignore some things, but I can do that because it’s MY story, a long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away!

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Paul! I appreciate your passion for the “Star Wars” films and franchise.

      Something I always find puzzling, though… why is it that fans are upset with Lucas when he makes changes to his creation, but Lucas doesn’t get upset with fans when they do the same? In fact, he encourages it.

      Looks like everyone’s allowed (within copyright and licensing limitations, of course) to have THEIR “Star Wars.” Even George Lucas. 🙂

      As for me… like I said in the post, I recognize that the films have a place in cultural and cinematic history, but they’re basically like many children’s films to me — cute, fun, a little contrived, and ultimately disposable.

      • > Thanks for the comment, Paul! I appreciate your passion for the “Star Wars” …
        > … why is it that fans are upset with Lucas when he makes changes to his creation … ?

        Because Star Wars had a huge emotional and psychological impact on me, and I’m sure most early fans. Regardless of the change, I feel a strong visceral response; strongly negative when the changes are inane, such as they are. No work of art is complete. The mind’s eye completes the imagery, interprets the story, even distorts its creator’s intent according to an individual’s experience, knowledge, and personality. Once so adapted, it exists anew in the mind of the beholder, who now owns it. At that point, any outside change becomes viscerally insulting, unless it miraculously imbues the essence of one’s own adaption. You can please some of the people …

        > … but [why doesn’t Lucas] get upset with fans when they do the same?

        Doesn’t he? That’s a question of Lucas himself. Nevertheless, he keeps tight control over the whole franchise, albeit in a public manner that does not alienate his fans.

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          I agree that a creation isn’t art until it’s experienced… but if “the mind’s eye completes the imagery, interprets the story, even distorts the creator’s intent,” then the adapted story is not the story the creator created… it’s the individual, unique experience of the, um, experience-er, if you will. Indeed, you can please some of the people some of the time, but if what you say is true (and I think it essentially is) no artist will every be able to please their audience.

          Which is why, not for nothing, I don’t think that’s the artist’s obligation at all. I think artists — let’s be specific and say “storytellers” — have one obligation, and that’s to the story they’re telling. I wrote about the writer’s responsibility a few years ago… not perfectly related to this, but in the same ballpark, if you’re interested.

          As for Lucas’ tolerance for derivative works, yeah, since 2007 LucasFilm has actively and publicly encouraged mashups and other derivative works, so long as they’re non-commercial in nature.

          Thanks for following up — I love that the discussion, at least in our little thread, is turning out of the rabbit hole of minutia and toward the larger, underlying questions of creativity and storytelling. This is fun for me!

  22. Jim Jim

    “Obi-Wan Kenobi deliberately and blatantly lied to Luke Skywalker concerning his origins and connection to Darth Vader.”
    He didn’t lie, he deceptively expressed his perspective. From Kenobi’s perspective Anakin is “dead” to him. Like if you were to disown your child and saying “you’re dead to me”.
    Kenobi is so disgusted by Anakins actions that he psychologically doesn’t even consider them the same person which helps to alleviate some of the betrayal he has always felt.

    “Why doesn’t Obi-Wan Kenobi acknowledge that C-3PO is obviously the droid Anakin Skywalker built as a child?”
    There’s no proof of this. Maybe someone reverse engineered Anakin’s robot and mass-produced it?

    “In the prequel films, we see Jedi and Sith lords dueling with blinding speed, super-human dexterity and Force-powered telekinesis.”
    If it were a documentary I’d agree with you. But back when the original series was produced they didn’t have all the special effects and battles were more simple. Nowadays all the kids want epic dynamic battles and focus less on the story.
    The fact that Kenobi sacrificed himself in that battle still bugs me though.
    I suppose he thought that if he tried to get away Vadar would have somehow disabled the ship or pursued the ship more vigilantly.
    He also knew that he could still guide Luke from the dead and become “more powerful” so he let himself be struck down.

    “And yet, he fails to sense his own children, even though one of them is living with his half-brother in Anakin’s own dead mother’s house, which just happens to be no more than a few hours away from his former master’s home…”
    I can think of no example where someone from the force can detect someone galaxies away. A major “disturbance in the force” is detectable from such long distances (like when Yoda detected the elimination of an entire world) but not the mere presence of an individual.

    “…and the other is being presented as the daughter of a prominent member of the opposition Senate.”
    Okay…you have a point there. You’d think at some time she’d be in proximity to Vadar.
    Perhaps he knew his kids were alive. Perhaps even though he was a “bad guy” in general, he suppressed his ability to “search his feelings” so he could overlook his kids and not be forced to turn ’em or kill ’em.

    “Any notion of “light” and “dark” must be dogma.”
    Agreed

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Jim!

      I’ll grant you, person-to-person detection might be asking a bit much of the Force (even though it’s all set in one galaxy, not “galaxies; a quibble), but not sensing Leia — or the Emperor, even better, not sensing Leia — is ridiculous. And once they figured out Leia, it should have been simple to figure out she was a twin, and start looking for the boy in the most obvious places (Tatooine) first.

      Regarding C-3PO… c’mon! At the end of “Revenge of the Sith,” they talk about wiping C-3PO’s memory… and I believe they’re on Leia’s future step-father’s ship when they talk about it. It’s the same ship, nineteen years later, that carries the droids to Tatooine. It just stands to reason that it’s the same protocol droid.

      He didn’t lie, he deceptively expressed his perspective.

      Spoken like a true Jedi. And really… saying “A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi knights. He betrayed and murdered your father,” is not “deceptively expressing his perspective. It’s a lie, carefully constructed. You’re stretching farther than I am, on this one!

      Thanks again!

      • Alexander DiMauro Alexander DiMauro

        “not sensing Leia — is ridiculous. And once they figured out Leia, it should have been simple to figure out she was a twin, and start looking for the boy in the most obvious places (Tatooine) first.”

        Let’s remember that what they are sensing is the force, not the individual. Even if Leia was Vader’s daughter, she was not open to the force. Even Luke, only after he trained with Yoda, was he able to be detected by Vader. At no point on the Death Star in Episode IV, did Vader really ‘sense’ Luke, only Obi-Wan: “I sense something, a feeling I have not felt since…”

        So, I think the person has to have been opened up to the force before another Jedi can sense them. Just a thought.

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          That’s fair, Alexander. But! Luke was already, it seems, inherently open to the Force before he started hanging out with Kenobi. It’s established that he’s a “pretty good” pilot and can shoot small animals in confined spaces (womp rats, or whatever), a skill that, while he seems to shrug it off, might have required a degree of Forciness.

          Likewise, young slave Anakin, never “opened” to the Force, showed it manifesting in his advanced mechanical affinity and his remarkable skill with a pod-racer for one so young.

          It seems pretty clear that Leia got the short straw when it came to midi-chlorian counts. Perhaps she just doesn’t shine as brightly as the others.

          • Alexander DiMauro Alexander DiMauro

            Considering that, to me, the prequels never happened, midi-chlorians have nothing to do with it! Argh!

            Getting back to Leia. She did have a connection to the force as she revealed in Return of the Jedi. She could sense that what Luke was saying was true. And, if I remember correctly (it’s been a while), some novels even expanded on this and she and Luke opened up a new Jedi school. But, as you said, you’re not covering the novels!

            But, overall, I do agree with you. It is a bit of a plot hole. But, hey, it happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, so some of the details are bound to be a bit sketchy! 😉

        • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

          One other thought — I’ll grant that Anakin might not have been able to say, “Hey, I smell the Force, and it’s got a distinctly Skywalker odor about it… are you my daughter?”

          But (again, assuming Leia has enough Force in her) either he or the Emperor (especially?) should have sensed her presence vis a vis its impression on the Force when she was nearby.

  23. Steve Steve

    Re: the Vader/Obi Wan fight: After Anakin gets his limbs lopped off he loses a good deal of his power, as the result of less midi-chlorians (he now has less cells in which they live). Obi Wan by that point is supposed to be old, though Ep. III plus 20-30 years doesn’t really translate to “old and decrepit.” So that fight, between an “old man” and a cyborg who haven’t used lightsabers in a while, might be a bit more limited. (not that I agree with that logic, but in 1975 it’s harder to do a lot of fancy jumping around if you’re already way over budget). Obi Wan also was just delaying to let Luke escape, and gave up.

    Not recognizing the droids makes perfect sense to me…there are probably millions of each model in the universe.

    A point I’ve not seen discussed much if at all…Anakin as the Chosen One is supposed to “bring balance to the Force.” He does, by helping kill all the Jedi. Only two Jedi and two Sith are left (ignoring a few random ones in books that might balance out anyway).

    I believe the entire six movies are about the fall and redemption of Anakin.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Hi Steve — thanks for the comment!

      I’ve seen the argument elsewhere in these comments that Anakin is less powerful in the Force because he has fewer cells to contain midi-cholorians… but Anakin’s whole-body count is “over 20,000 — even Master Yoda doesn’t have a midi-chlorian count that high.” Even losing most of each arm and leg, Anakin should still have been tremendously powerful.

      Also… what leads you to think Anakin and Obi-Wan hadn’t used their lightsabers for a while? Kenobi showed how fast and adept he could be if he wanted to at Mos Eisley spaceport.

      The concept of the Chosen One has been discussed in this thread… I believe the prophesy, like the idea of a light and dark side of the Force… is Jedi / Sith religious dogma.

  24. Lilith Lilith

    It’s obvious that Lucas didn’t have the prequel in mind when he penned the original. Then he (or one of his co-writers) got too clever for his/their own good. Note that in Episode IV at the beginning of the final fight between Vader and Kenobi that Ben calls him “Darth” as if it were his first name. Then, in the prequels we see the same term being used as a title (or rank?) Of course, things may be used syntactically differently in galaxies that are far, far away.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for the comment, Lilith! I guess we could give Kenobi some slack… calling Vader “Darth” might be like calling someone “General” or “Asshat” or something.

      To keep it within the conspiracy theory, Kenobi was probably tempted to use his first name… but calling him Anakin would have given everything away if the wrong people were listening. Still going for the “familar,” he used “Darth.”

      Yeah! That’s it!

  25. Alexander DiMauro Alexander DiMauro

    Seeing all these comments certainly justifies the article title: ‘Star Wars Fan Linkbait’! It really is interesting to read what everyone has to say, some great perspectives. Knowing that I’m not the only one thinking about all of this makes me feel a little more ‘sane’.

    Anyway, to be completely honest, some of the strange plot holes aren’t really what bother me the most from the prequels. Just like you can find hundreds of continuity errors in most movies, plot holes across sequels are usually a given, too. What really bothered me about the prequels is how ‘stale’ they felt. The actors were likely technically better than in the first three, but there was an almost complete lack of emotion. In the original three, the actors were allowed to ‘act’ more. It would take too long to go into too many details, but one perfect example is in Return of the Jedi. The final fight between Luke and Vader. That final moment when Vader had to choose between his son and the Emperor. I mean, Vader has this dark, emotionless mask, and yet in that moment, there was INTENSE emotion. When he looked back and forth in conflict. It was a magical moment in which he managed to pull out these intense emotions from an emotionless mask.

    Fast-forward to the prequels. Qui-Gon Jinn dies. Anakin is completely emotionless. Doesn’t seem to even care. He only asks, very selfishly, ‘so what will happen to me?’, or something like that. No emotion whatsoever in that scene, and they weren’t even wearing masks.

    Plot holes are one thing, but I just didn’t ‘believe’ in the prequels. They didn’t have the same impact, they didn’t make you care for the characters as much as in the first three.

    And then there were the ‘midi-chlorians’. Oh please! Sorry, but, that was really weak. He destroyed the mythology behind ‘the force’. And, I think a big reason behind the story failures of the prequels was the death of Joseph Campbell. Probably the most passionate mythologist that ever lived. Lucas consulted with him a lot while coming up with the original Star Wars stories. He took the classic ‘hero’s journey’ tale and moved it into a sci-fi setting. Without Joseph Campbell, he comes up with ‘midi-chlorians’. Whatever. It reminds me of Highlander 2, where they completely destroyed the mythology of the first Highlander movie. It was so bad that in Highlander 3, they denied that the second movie even happened.

    Plot holes are to be expected, but I think the bigger issue with the prequels is that they took the ‘magic’ out of the story. And that is why, after seeing all three in the theater, I have never watched them again. But, episodes IV-VI I have watched, literally, hundreds of times.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Hi Alexander (lots of Alexanders in this thread…!)

      Continuity errors are a technical thing, usually — someone has a scratch on their arm in one scene but not in the next; stuff like that. Plot holes are faults in the storytelling and are inexcusable.

      Regarding Joseph Campbell… I just can’t support the idea that the prequels are worse because Campbell wasn’t around to give Lucas advice. Campbell died in 1987. Since then, the following films have successfully used “the hero’s journey” formula — and it is a formula, very easy to apply to your story once you understand it (I’ve done it myself, very deliberately but subtly, in my book “Brave Men Run — A Novel of the Sovereign Era”):

      • The Matrix (entire trilogy, and especially the first film)
      • The Lion King / The Little Mermaid / Hercules / Wall-E / Up (see a trend here..?)
      • The Little Mermaid
      • Thelma and Louise
      • Say Anything
      • The Lord of the Rings trilogy (movies crafted to be even more Campbell-esque than the books)

      That’s off the top of my head. 🙂

      Anyway, my point is that the lessons / model of the Hero’s Journey is independent of Joseph Campbell himself, and any skilled storyteller knows how to utilize its archetypes. And Lucas does… but there are so many other flaws in the films, even the oldest, most familiar storytelling structure in the Western World can’t help.

  26. I too was very impressed when I saw the first Star Wars in the theater. The ships and everything else looked so realistic and the story was exciting. My interest began to diminish with the next two although I still thought they were very well done. When the prequels came out I had little desire to see them and have yet to do so. In other words, you totally lost me. But it’s pretty cool how you were able to keep such a detailed account of everything.

    And if you know anyone who wants to buy a Sebulba mask I’ve got several of them–brand new.

    I’ll have to check out more of what you do. I’m right up the road from you.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Thanks for your kind words, Arlee Bird! I’m probably supposed to know who / what Sebulba is, but I confess I don’t.

      Okay, I looked it up. No thanks, no need for the mask! 🙂

  27. Charles Charles

    Sorry to tell you but most of what you say is unproven by the expanded universe.

    – Luke falls to the dark side, making the whole whiping out the dark guys by killing the far superior light side null and voice.
    – This is especially true if you consider how many dark infused sisth there are running around post vader – as per the expanded universe.
    – Luke isn’t a very stalwart pro alliance guy considering the New Republic now the Galactic Alliance (as per joining up with the imperial remnant. . . You know, all the ex imperials who do such loving things as mass genocide, trying to ressurect dead sith lords, and trying to quite literally incinerate mon camalary).
    – One of Luke’s most main right hand man (kyle katarn) has a very neutral view on the force (so much as sparring someone who fell to the dark side out of naivety).
    – Again, LUKE FELL TO THE DARK SIDE FOR A WHILE.

    I hate the expanded universe. A lot of what I’ve seen in it (mostly the games) is great, the it it’s self is the most ludicrous thing possible.

    • Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

      Take another look at the post, Charles, specifically the second-to-last paragraph, where I lay down that you can’t make an argument that depends on sources other than the six films. We’re talking about the films in this post — nothing else — so whatever happens in the expanded universe has no bearing on the arguments I present in the post. Thanks for reading, though!

  28. John Bounds John Bounds

    This whole argument and holes is really based on the fact that Lucas did not expect Star Wars being a hit at all, so when it did become one he had to bring the rest of his throw away plots into play. Even the stuff for the prequels was there long ago he just didn’t use or expand on things. In the original SW movie there was no twin, Vader was not Luke;s father and many other things. It was meant to be a stand alone movie for the most part, but when it became a hit Lucas had to start working his ass off and come up with an even better story.

    When the writer who wrote the screenplay for Empire died Lucas wrote another draft and that’s where he came up with Vader as Luke’s father and that Luke’s father + Vader were one and the same person. So the one who mentioned earlier in a post about Obi Wan calling him Vader like it was his name is pretty much true. For along time Lucas had written many drafts of Star Wars and he always wrote Father Skywalker as one person and Vader as one person that’s why its like that. Again it wasn’t until he re-wrote ESB that they became one person.

    Then Lawrence Kasdan wrote another draft. If you want to really see how all this came about through the years and how Lucas changed stuff a lot you all should read”The Secret History of Star Wars.”

    I have it on PDF if anyone is interested.

  29. Matthew Selznick Matthew Selznick

    Thanks for the comment, John! As I wrote in the post above:

    As reasonable people who recognize that the “Star Wars” films are not documentaries, we could chalk this up to young George Lucas not having the slightest clue that he’d actually get to make five other “Star Wars” movies, so continuity was not as much of a concern.

    This post is a thought experiment, an exercise is storyworld building. I intended it to be considered entirely in the context of what happens in the six films, entirely within the “story world.”

    Feel free to link to the pdf in a new comment, with thanks! Sounds like interesting reading.

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