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Every era gets the Saga epilogue it deserves (or does it?)

Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' started by Logray Ewok Medicine Man, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. Logray Ewok Medicine Man

    Logray Ewok Medicine Man Rebel Commander

    Jul 17, 2019
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    I’m eager to learn people’s thoughts about the evolution of the ending of the Saga. The “Star Wars Saga” came to an “official” end at various points over the last 42 years, and I believe the way the Saga ended at each point was a reflection of the sensibilities of its time...

    I believe there are four critical years to examine up until this point: 1977, 1983, 1997, and 2005. I’ll also throw in a little commentary about 1999, even though there was no new “Saga ending” created that year.

    The first official ending to the Saga was, of course, in 1977. While Lucas always envisioned making more films, he crafted the original Star Wars to stand on its own, uncertain if he could make sequels. It was exhibited for months in theaters before any real movement towards the first sequel was made (initial efforts on Empire began in earnest in August 1977, and the contract between Fox and Chapter II wasn’t signed until September 1977). The 1977 saga ending was very poignant: the Yavin temple procession and medal ceremony. According to Rinzler’s “The Making of Star Wars,” this ending was first envisioned by Lucas in 1974. I feel this ending epitomizes Lucas’ effort to recapture the spiritual and artistic essence he believed his post-war generation missed out on.

    After an exciting adventure filled with technological wonder, Lucas grounds the ending in ancient themes and motifs: a Triumph (essentially an Ancient Roman parade) for the victors, a stone temple, a brass fanfare, and a ceremonial awarding of medals to two of the three victors. The two classical heroes are awarded the medals, but the “noble savage” is expected to be contented to go without (something I hope will be addressed in IX). For an American audience who experienced the humiliation and brutality of the Vietnam War, the cultural divides of the recent decade, the experience of the Nixon presidency and a sense that they were untethered from classical values, I believe this ending was crafted in an attempt to make the essence of classical mythology relevant in 1977.

    Fast forward to 1983. Upon completing “Return of the Jedi,” Lucas claimed to be “done” with Star Wars for the foreseeable future. Episode VI seemed to be the definitive end of the Saga for over ten years. The 1983 ending to “Jedi” was much humbler than the ending of the original “Star Wars.” It included a funeral pyre (another reference to ancient practices), and then closed on the Ewok celebration. The whole celebration was a return to nature and earthiness, almost like a return to Eden. Instead of shooting off lasers, the victors shot off fireworks. Synthetic helmets became drums. Our heroes danced, celebrating each other’s company and that of the more innocent natives. Prior to the Special Editions, the Saga ended exclusively in the woods of Endor. I believe this ending reflected the sense of the early eighties: U.S. audiences were coming to terms with the Vietnam experience, moving on from Nixon, and many were beginning to feel a sense of a new beginning. The outcome for the larger galaxy wasn’t as important; the personal experiences of our heroes were.

    That ending changed dramatically in 1997. The clips of the Ewok celebration changed so that it was a much larger celebration throughout the forest. Clips of planets featured in the saga were also shown, along with a planet new to audiences: Coruscant. Taken together, these images reinforced the idea that the Empire had been overthrown and that the citizens of the galaxy were celebrating this common cause. The closing music changed as well. The “Yub yub” song was removed, and a new one, featuring pan flutes and a wider array of other instruments from different musical cultures replaced it. The new theme has more of a “global” feel to it, and the images reinforced a sense of community throughout the galaxy. I believe this 1997 ending reflected the sense of the times: the ascendancy and celebration of globalism following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the hope for a new world order. The citizens of Coruscant toppled the Imperial statue, much as the citizens of Germany toppled the Berlin wall. Much of the western world was permeated by optimism about the future, “thinking globally, acting locally,” celebrating the diversity of world cultures, and valuing the “global village.”

    Now, a brief word about 1999. “The Phantom Menace” clearly was never intended to end the Saga, but I do believe its ending is relevant, and reflected its era. Like the original “Star Wars,” it featured a traditional Triumph. However, this ending celebrated two disparate cultures who came together for a common cause. This theme was one of the core values of globalism celebrated at the time: the hope that different groups could leave past problems in the past and celebrate common values together. While not a Saga ending, the film ending did appear to reflect the values of its time.

    Fast forward to 2005, to “Revenge of the Sith,” which was billed at the time as the final installment of the six-episode Saga. By this point, Lucas was claiming that the Saga was primarily about Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. While the Special Edition of “Return of the Jedi” (now with the inclusion of Hayden Christensen) was intended to serve as the Saga ending, “Revenge of the Sith” was intended to be the last film made of the Saga. This ending was both extremely dark and very hopeful. It showed a galaxy descending into a period of endless war, at the same time the U.S. was becoming bogged down in two endless wars itself. Our world by then was becoming more realistic and pessimistic about the potential of a vibrant and universal “global village.” Mixed in with the film’s closing images of Vader, the Emperor and the Death Star, were hopeful images of babies and families. This ending both recognized a dismal outlook for the future, and offered the hope of salvation. An ending, which, I believe, reflected many of the sensibilities of the time.

    Fast forward to 2019. Audiences are yet again being told we will be seeing the definitive end to this Saga. I’m obviously looking forward to the entire film, but I’m highly interested in the Epilogue. I don’t know what it will look or sound like, but my hypothesis is that it will very much reflect the sensibilities of our time.

    I think that when we look back ten to twenty years from now, we’ll have a sense that, yes, the ending to “The Rise of Skywalker” reflects the sensibilities of 2019. Much as audiences in 1977, 1983, 1997, and 2005 probably weren’t thinking that their endings reflected sensibilities of their eras, these themes might not be obvious to us in the moment.

    I’d love to read others’ thoughts on the matter and invite you all to share…
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  2. Lobot

    Lobot Rebel Official

    Jan 5, 2015
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    That’s a fantastic post. You make some great points. I’m a bit more jaded than you but not as knowledgeable, both to my regret.

    I’d like to gently remind you that they made a Droids show and TWO Ewok movies after Jedi. They released the original line of action figures until 1985.

    Then in 1995, they released roided up versions of the main 5 characters, plus the storm trooper versions of Luke & Han, that was kind of a test run, they sold overly muscular versions of the action figures that were less than 15 years from their first movie appearance.

    It became very common for actresses & singers to pose for playboy after it was clear they couldn’t revive their career without a drastic publicity stunt.

    Reboots and Sequels (fuller house, Most of Harrison Ford’s work lately) have largely replaced that as a way to get back to b, I’d not A list.

    LFL will always know exactly how willing the new 4 would be to some sort of epilogue (my moneys on Daniel Craig, ewan MacGregor & Boyega doing a Lethal Weapon style Jedi buddy cop movie in about 10 years) Daniel Craig is kind of a Qui-gon type, macgregor comes back to life and needs Jedi Master Finn Tu-Wan-awSavvin to save the ancient Jedi from a temporal jail Darth Revan trucked him into.

    Throw in a cameo from Rey and BB-8, that’s a blockbuster right there! Biggest hit of 2030! Edging out Avatar 3.
    #2 Lobot, Aug 11, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  3. Matsemitsu

    Matsemitsu Clone Commander

    Sep 30, 2018
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    Excellent analysis. It will probably take some time to figure out what exactly "the sensibilities of 2019" are in retrospect, but in my line of work (I teach cultural studies at a university) we believe that values and zeitgeist can be seen, sometimes more, sometimes less, in basically anything. So I'm sure it'll make sense.

    That said, I've always been fascinated by the ever-changing "official story" on what the saga is supposed to be about. As you said, GL started claiming at a certain point that SW had always been about Darth Vader, which I never bought. So in 2005 (or in 2011 when the Blu-Ray set came out labeled "The Complete Saga") it never felt quite right to me as shifting the focus to Vader actually diminished the status and meaning of the OT to the overall saga. After all, Vader is but a supporting character in it. So in a sense, the ST has restored some balance, where the OT is the heart and center of the saga, literally, and everything else are like the ripples moving outward from a stone thrown into a pond - the point being that these ripples move into all directions, not just one. Hence balance. The new "Skywalker Saga" moniker fits the series much better. And since we've had rather many "definite" endings before, I'm sure that down the line, this particular saga will also continue. I can't see them doing stories will all-new characters all the time forever. In fact, an episode X could be done numbered and all, but simply not strictly Skywalker-related.

    Then again, it's my firm belief that at the end of IX, the Jedi/force users will come to call themselves Skywalkers in honor of that family's legacy. In that sense, the saga of the Skywalkers will never end.
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