Star Wars, by George Lucas, is an excellent movie. This movie is filled with archetypal and mythic patterns , and the ideas represented in the film are essential ingredients to human emotion . The most obvious idea represented by the movie is religion. Good versus Evil, Light versus Dark, and the Rebels versus the Empire — these are all spiritual overtones in the elaborate story line. The religious connections become apparent when aspects of the movie are analyzed.
Star Wars opens with a deserted desert planet where the viewer is introduced to the main character, Luke Skywalker, and his aunt and uncle. Luke is a young kid who yearns for adventure, he is gifted with a strong grasp of “The Force”, a mystical ability to manipulate the environment with ones mind. At first, Luke is unaware of his gift, and unsure of his beliefs. He is guided by a old wise man named Obi-Wan Kenobi, A once Jedi Knight. Jedi Knights were once the protectors of the galaxy but are all but extinct. Obi-Wan provides guidance for the young Skywalker, teaching him how to use his gift for good. Once Luke lets go of his mental block, and is able to feel the force, Obi-Wan tells him “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” The force is a religion that is not only an idea, but seems to have physical properties to it. It’s all powerful, like a God, but yet the Jedi have found a way to interact with it. The force is balanced between good and evil, providing room in the galaxy for both. Obi-wan describes the force as “what gives the Jedi his power… It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together. Also on the good side of The Force, there are the Rebels, and Princess Leia. It is interesting to note that all of the foot soldiers of the Rebel Alliance wear helmets which are open faced, so that the viewer can see the face of the rebel, and humanize them. Princess Leia represents the damsel in distress that is held captive by the evil lord, Darth Vader. The Princess is dressed in a white gown to show innocence, purity, and truth.
There are also characters in Star Wars that are somewhat neutral when it comes to The Force. These characters add to the story line, but also help the viewer to understand more about The Force. The best example of such a character is Han Solo. Han Solo is a smuggler for an organized crime ring. He is wanted by the Empire for smuggling, but he also has a bounty on his head from the crime ring for not paying his debts. Han does not believe in The Force, and George Lucas is able to use his character to show the viewers more about The Force and how others react to it. The best example of this is when Luke, Han, and Obi-Wan are discussing while traveling on the Millennium Falcon (Han’s space ship). Luke is training with Obi-Wan, and fails at an attempt to block a shot from a test dummy with his light saber. Han laughs and says “Hoakie religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” To which Luke asks “You don’t believe in The Force, do you?”. Han replies with “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of the galaxy to the other and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that there’s one all powerful force that controls everything.”
On the other side of The Force, there is the evil Jedi master, Darth Vader. Darth is dressed in a full black suit with a mask to cover his face. The mask is used to dehumanize Darth, as with the armor of the storm troopers (the foot soldiers of the Empire). Darth Vader uses the “Dark side of The Force” to rule and conquer people. Darth has helped oversee the construction of the Empire’s new ultimate weapon, The Death Star. The Death Star is a moon-sized space station equipped with a weapon strong enough to destroy entire planets. Princess Leia had stolen tactical plans to the Death Star. Leia was threatened by the general that if she did not reveal the location of the stolen plans he would use the weapon on her home planet, Alderan. The commander gloats over the power of the weapon, to which lord Vader says “The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of The Force.” The commander replies with “Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcererous ways, lord Vader… Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you to conjure up the stolen data tapes…” Lord Vader then uses The Force to choke commander, letting the commander know that The Force is around him, and could crush him at any time. As he is choking the commander, lord Vader says “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
Another aspect of the movie that deals with the issues of Good versus Evil, and Light versus Dark, is portrayed through audio means. Throughout the movie, music is used to show the different aspects. Whenever the Empire is shown, the music is very ominous and has a military beat to it. When the movie shows the good side, the music becomes peaceful and has a slow tempo. The action sequences are of course a brilliant mix between the two. If one were to listen to the sound track alone, the could tell which characters were on the screen, and what they were feeling. This adds a whole new dimension to the movie that many other movies just can’t compete with.
The climax of the movie was when Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet up for a duel at the end. Darth holds his glowing red saber, as Obi-Wan turns on his green saber. The different colors may be due to a different design in the light saber, however it could also represent the different aspects of The Force that each Jedi has. Vader says to Obi-Wan “… We meet again at last. The circle is now complete.” and the battle begins.
The sparks from the light sabers fly as the two duel, causing the guards to leave their post — giving enough time for the good guys to get back to the ship. The movie goes back to the duel, and Obi-Wan is holding Darth back with his light saber. Obi-Wan then says “You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I’ll become more powerful than you could ever imagine.” This shows the Jedi’s view of death. When a person dies, they simply become part of The Force. Because Obi-Wan is a master of the force, he will still be able to manipulate it while he is part of it.
Star Wars contains many ideas of the struggle between good and evil. The aspect of religion comes across so clearly in the imagery and music of the movie. It clearly shows human desire for good to prevail over evil. The movie is well made and has a well deserved spot on the AFIs top 100 films list.