Friday, November 27, 2015

"Star Wars" (1977)

Forget everything that has come since for a second and think about the message of “Star Wars.” Not the universe of creative world-building, the 1977 film.

At its most basic level it is a film about belief. Luke is a kid ready to “come of age” and he is thrown into the chaos of having his family killed, his home lost, and the powers-that-be are after him. In the midst of all of that, an old man he just met is telling him that there is a supernatural dimension to the world. If he will simply trust that “force” it will help him face his challenges and overcome his difficulties.

Along comes Han Solo, a man of action, a cynic who only trusts himself and his ability to overcome the odds. Solo is capable, and presents the seemingly wiser option in life. Do what is smart. Don’t trust others. Make sure you take care of your problems yourself.

Luke choses to follow faith, and he is rewarded. In “Star Wars” there is no good reason to think that Luke was justified beyond the luck that Solo claimed was truly behind “the force.” It is only in believing that Luke sees confirmation. Of course, we the audience know better. Such stories carry an expectation. And, we know the maker of this particular universe, and that He built the force into it. Never mind how poorly he developed his creation down the line.

However, there are key problems in the supernatural realm in Star Wars. The force is an impersonal power. It is a neutral power, neither good nor evil. Or perhaps one should say both good and evil. Ultimately it is just a function of the natural world. One could even go so far as to say that it is all luck, just as Solo claimed.

That is a far more disappointing faith than the one we see in our world, where we are invited to believe in a supreme being, not a force, and a good God, not an indifferent power that just as well serves the plans of evil as it does good. You may indeed need to believe before you can see just as Luke does here. However, it is a much more satisfying leap of faith.

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