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Guest Editorial: The Symbolism of 'The Last Jedi' by manybothans

Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' started by SWNN Probe, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. SWNN Probe

    SWNN Probe Seeker

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    <p style='text-align: left;'][​IMG]</p>
    <p style='text-align: left;']We haven't featured a guest editorial from one of our readers on the site in a while.  That being said, we recently received an essay from our reader, manybothans, and we wanted to share it with the rest of you as it might spark some interesting conversation in the comment section.  In the essay, manybothans brings up a lot of interesting points about The Last Jedi and takes on the possible reasoning behind the title choice for Episode VIII and what that may mean for the movie itself and the entire saga moving forward.  Take a look after the jump.</p>

    <p style='text-align: center;']The Symbolism of The Last Jedi</p>
    <p style='text-align: center;']By manybothans</p>


    What’s in a name?



    Star Wars fans can speculate endlessly on the most meager crumbs of information. Take the recently released title of Episode VIII. The Last Jedi is a compelling moniker, but most people would just say “cool, I like it” or “eh, could be better” and go about their day. It’s just a name, right?



    Well, yes and no. Like the world myths that George Lucas borrowed from to create it, everything in Star Wars has significance. Lucas himself is famously elusive on this subject, offering everything from Joseph Campbellian philosophical takes on his space opera to “it’s just a Saturday morning kids serial from the ‘40s.” And in truth, Star Wars is all of those things - it’s a nursery rhyme and an epic poem, popcorn and pop art.



    [​IMG]



    One of the most famous fan-stoked examples of this duality is ring theory. Posited in online forums ever since the release of the prequels, and codified on Mike Klimo’s extremely detailed blog, ring theory very simply states that Star Wars is a rhyming poem. Episode I mirrors Episode IV, Episode II mirrors Episode V, Episode III mirrors Episode VI. Events in the former have their proximal analogy in the latter. History repeats itself. This is meant to mimic the sublime symmetry of ancient epics - the very foundational texts that form the basis of our psychology. The compositing of life into heroic couplets, so that we may better understand it.



    So, yes, The Last Jedi is just a name, but it’s also much more than that. One aspect of Star Wars ring theory that people may not realize is that even the titles are all symbolically and poetically linked. The Phantom Menace = A New Hope. Attack of the Clones = The Empire Strikes Back. Revenge of the Sith = Return of the Jedi. Each has the same amount of words as the other, and contain similar action verbs and tenses. They also seem to speak to each other thematically, the prequel line implying a descent into tragedy, the mirrored original trilogy sequence suggesting the struggle for redemption and a return to the light. And of course, these are exactly the themes of each leg of the tragedy of Darth Vader and his redemption through his son Luke Skywalker.



    [​IMG]



    The Force Awakens looked to continue this trend. There are those three words again, just like A New Hope and The Phantom Menace. The meaning is perhaps more ambiguous than the previous two analogies, but that’s partially because we haven’t seen the whole trilogy yet. Surely this was the beginning of a new rhyming cycle, and we should next expect our darker, aggressively titled middle chapter, complete with action verb signifying impending struggle.



    And then Rian Johnson changed it.



    While The Last Jedi, with its accompanying red STAR WARS title font, does seem to suggest another possible descent into darkness, it most definitely is not four words long and does not contain an action verb. Rather, it’s brief and definitive - the repetition of a line we first read in the opening crawl of The Force Awakens, referring to Luke Skywalker, implying that the ceremonial handing off of the lightsaber that ends Episode VII will be the “next on” for Episode VIII.



    [​IMG]



    The breaking of the cycle.



    We’ve heard stories and rumors about how Rian Johnson was going to do something “weird” and different with his eighth episode of the Star Wars saga, taking the story into uncharted territory. It’s going to pick up right where The Force Awakens left off. There may be flashbacks. The nature of the force will be explored in new and strange ways.



    All and none of this can be gleaned from a title. The film itself will have to do the dirty work. But for now, we endless speculators have this morsel to chew on. Rian Johnson knows this. He’s an internet nerd like the rest of us. He knows we’re watching, sitting there smugly in his editing room, “Episode VIII THE LAST JEDI” from the opening crawl of the next film cued up on his computer screen. You think the man who made Looper doesn’t get ring theory?



    The Force Awakens was a rekindling of Star Wars fandom. Rogue One burned a deeper path into the Star Wars galaxy, but still on the fires of nostalgia. Everything we’ve heard about The Last Jedi suggests stranger things are ahead. Yes, we only have a title, but that title is full of potential meaning. If close reading can teach us anything about the future of the Skywalker saga, it’s this: the circle is now complete. The Last Jedi is the beginning of something new.





    Click HERE to check out and comment on this topic on our main site
     
    #1 SWNN Probe, Feb 2, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
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  2. Grand Master Galen Marek

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    Can't wait for this.
     
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  3. CTrent29

    CTrent29 Rebel Official

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    There was no need for "The Force Awakens" to rekindle Star Wars fandom.
     
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  4. Pawek_13

    Pawek_13 Jedi General

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    I disagree very strongly. If it wasn't for TFA, me and many other people wouldn't be interested in Expanded Universe, TV series, video games, etc. Before that, I only liked the films (very much, but still.) Episode VII was the spark that truly ignited my love for Star Wars. Without it, I wouldn't have seen "The Clone Wars" (which is my second favourite animate series ever,) I wouldn't have bought UCS "Slave I," I would have never considered buying any EU book. You may dislike "The Force Awakens," but you cannot deny that it brought back Star Wars into the spotlight.
     
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  5. PrincessLeiaCB3

    PrincessLeiaCB3 The Princess that was Promised
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    I am there with you: I hadn't seen any of the OT movies two months before TFA premiere and I did so in order to watch TFA. So yeah, we can say TFA got me into Star Wars.
     
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  6. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver Rebel General

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    ManyBothans, did you die to bring us this editorial? :p

    Sorry, couldn't help myself!
     
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  7. Force238

    Force238 Rebel Commander

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    Comparing the titles of the ST films so far against the titles of the respective OT and PT films, it seems to me that the OT and PT titles follow a pattern of describing the relationship between the subject and the others, specifically how the subject impacts the others, while the ST titles follow a pattern of describing what happen to the subject.

    So for example, A New Hope describes a subject (Luke) bringing hope to the others (the oppressed people of the galaxy). Similarly, The Phantom Menace describes Palpatine or Anakin being a menace to the galaxy. In contrast, The Force Awakens describes the light/dark side of the Force awakening in the subject Rey/Kylo.

    The Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones describe a subject (Empire/Clones) being aggressive to the others (Rebellion/Separatists). The Last Jedi, on the other hand, implies the subject (Jedi) is about to go extinct.
     
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  8. Maximus

    Maximus Jedi General

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    i had a big smile on my face when i read this.

    Star Wars isn't just a bunch of films/books/comics/games.. it's more than that. The new trilogy has re-ignited our passion, and captured the hearts of new fans around the world.

    My daughter is 8yrs old. She has been watching rebels with me on saturday mornings, and she is enjoying the freemaker adventures. She recently announced that she will be old enough at 9 to have her own copy of TFA on dvd. She hasn't seen it yet (she's a delicate lil thing and would struggle with scenes like LST dying) and yet she knows every character and every planet that is visited in the film. My copy of the TFA visual dictionary seems to now live permanently (grrrr) in her room next to a pile of diary of a wimpy kid books.

    Star Wars. :)
     
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  9. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    I tend to believe, this time around, for Luke to make a true and lasting difference in the galactic state of affairs, he must break with both the cycle of violence and any failed tendencies or understandings of the Jedi Order of old.

    In so many ways he really must "break the habit" to usher in a new much-needed wisdom and to enable a new and lasting peace to take root and flourish in the galaxy.

    As I say this, I could hear echoes of Linkin Park's song "Breaking the Habit":

    "Memories consume.... you all assume I'm safe here in my room unless I try to start again.... I don't want to be the one the battles always choose.... I know it's not alright, so I'm breaking the habit tonight." (source: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/linkinpark/breakingthehabit.html)

    As Yoda once pointed out, the perennial path to suffering always begins through fear:

    "Fear leads to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering."

    So, for Luke (plus Rey, et al to follow) to pause or break the cycle, he must move beyond automatic thinking, expected responses, knee-jerk reactions. He must forge a new path through the chaos instigated by Snoke, the First Order, and all those opposed to peace.

    Peace beginning with the self, this can an immense challenge in the face of such galaxy-wide opposition and suffering.

    I believe Luke can be resolute and unafraid enough to begin to do what must be done, and Rey can continue that, if that is truly her destiny.
     
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  10. master_shaitan

    master_shaitan Jedi General

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    Let me put it this way:

    I didn't particularly like The Force Awakens yet have written 3,607 posts about it.
    Star Wars endures, regardless.
     
    #11 master_shaitan, Feb 3, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
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  11. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    The more I think about The Force Awakens, the more I see things in it and find topics worth exploring.

    And, while I had a much different set of story/character ideas and expectations leading up to the film, I think ultimately the momentum of ideas established in earlier episodes still reveberates clearly throughout much of Episode VII. I might expect the same should be able to be said of VIII.

    On a more general note, I consider Star Wars supremely excellent as mythology, poetry, art, history, and philosophy: a means to explore so many metaphors and ideas within and beyond the Star Wars saga.

    For me, it's not merely a vehicle for entertainment. As with, what I consider, truly great and thought-provoking films that survive current-day trends and go on to speak more universally beyond the decade (some more recent examples I'd include: The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, The Fountain, Cloud Atlas, Blade Runner, AI), the Star Wars saga can fuel conversations and insights for generations to come.

    The key thing, in the course of these conversations, though, I find, is to move beyond our own simple personal criticisms, reservations, and expectations, and begin to more directly reference the things (characters, events, locations, ideas, possibilities) which do exist as well as the endless hypotheticals and speculations those things can inspire.

    From there we stand to gain further insight into Star Wars, our own world, and our own lives.
     
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  12. tm0910196

    tm0910196 Guest

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    I agree - partly. And I also disagree.

    The Star Wars fanbase is a big one. That wouldn't have changed, whether Disney had opened up the franchise again or not. There would still have been tons of fans the world over, who would have been happy with the series as it existed.

    That being said, although I was Star Wars-obsessed from about 7-13, my interest in it had begun to decline significantly as the release date of Ep. 3 became more and more distant in years. Then we got movies like The Clone Wars, which - however good the series would be - was a disappointment as a new release. By the time Lucas had sealed the deal with Disney, Star Wars was something I knew I used to like, and could watch occasionally to get back some old thrills, but I had largely "moved on" to other movies. Now that the series is actually active again, though, that's been a catalyst to fire up my interest in the franchise again. And this time, the interest will likely be permanent.
     
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  13. singlern05

    singlern05 Rebel General

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    Very informative and well written editorial. Keep 'em coming Manybothans and SWNN Staff!

    This just psyched me up to see what strange things await us in The Last Jedi (TLJ... is it ok to start using this now?). Biggest knock on TFA was how much it ripped off the OT. Rogue One was pleasantly unique and refreshing and it seems like TLJ will be as well.
     
  14. Imperial Purple

    Imperial Purple Rebelscum

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    Let's not forget that there are circles within circles! Looking at the Sequel Trilogy independent from the Saga, will TLJ provide visual and poetic allusions to TFA? Perhaps manybothans' conclusion should have said that the literary cycle has been broken -- it essentially came to an end when Anakin was redeemed. But the cool thing about Ring Theory is that this Sequel Trilogy can create more circles, more rings, and start a new cycle that complements (and hopefully augments) what came before it.
     
  15. singlern05

    singlern05 Rebel General

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    To go further down the rabbit hole with the Ring Theory... With VII - IX appearing poised to establish its own unique rhythms and patterns, perhaps those patterns are mirrored in a subsequent trilogy (X - XII). Personally, I felt that Lucas was too focused on such things during the prequels and the story suffered as a result. There has got to be a good balance of following the rhythms of the saga while telling a great, character-driven story.

    To weigh in on an issue raised at the beginning of this post, I do believe there was a need to re-kindle the mainstream movie-goers with Star Wars and that TFA accomplished that. The prequels did not go over well with the general public. As a Star Wars fan, I love them and appreciate them but average joe, non Star Wars fans tell me all the time how bad those films were and I understand their points (e.g., Jar Jar Binks, Hayden Christensen, etc.). In my experience, those same people came away from TFA impressed and excited about Star Wars.
     
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  16. Imperial Purple

    Imperial Purple Rebelscum

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    I've read through Mike Klimo's Ring Theory many times -- and I love how it enlightens the whole Saga -- but realize that he never actually supports his opening statement: "How George Lucas used an ancient technique called 'ring composition' to reach a level of storytelling sophistication in his six-part saga that is unprecedented in cinema history."

    Klimo and his supporters provide a superfluous amount of evidence showing that one can apply ring theory to the Star Wars Saga. There are seemingly an endless amount of comparisons, allusions, cycles, circles, ringlets, etc. But not once does the author actually provide evidence that Lucas consciously used this technique in his films. Where are the interviews, the BTS footage, the biographies indicating Lucas' intention?

    Lucas definitely wanted to create rhythms and patterns, but perhaps he was effectively doing this as part of his innate ability to visually tell stories. Rian Johnson, on the other hand, has the hindsight to deliberately apply ring theory or not. As manybothans stated, "You think the man who made Looper doesn’t get ring theory?" Yes, he most assuredly does "get" it, but he also knows about it and its association to the Star Wars Saga.
     
    #17 Imperial Purple, Feb 4, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
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  17. Rogues1138

    Rogues1138 Jedi General

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    I remember watching a prequel video on the official site, where Lucas states the films are like poetry, they rhyme, similar themes, so I think that is what you are referring to, those prequel videos leading up to the release of the prequel trilogy is where I get my info on George. I don't know if they are still available on the main site but to me they're gold. Its what made me enjoy the prequels when they were released. The only disappointing thing for me, is watching how they designed General Grievious, I thought that character was going to over shadow Darth Vader (blasphemous) but for me, he turned out a bubbling buffoon. Maybe Lucas intended this, just for the latter not to happen...
     
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  18. whoiswhatnow

    whoiswhatnow Rebel Trooper

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    Luke is obviously the Last Jedi. Snoke says so in Episode VII. Check this out. Snoke says Skywalker is the Last Jedi and if he returns, he will give rise to the new Jedi.
     
  19. Rogues1138

    Rogues1138 Jedi General

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    I recently re-watched Looper, WOW great film! I forgot how good it is. I wish RJ was directing Blade Runner 2 as well. That film was so dark, he is an excellent choice for TLJ. I hope he can bring it! I think he understands the ring theory and much more.
     
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