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Making Sense of the Skywalker Saga

Discussion in 'General Movie Discussion' started by Logray Ewok Medicine Man, Jul 9, 2020.

  1. Logray Ewok Medicine Man

    Logray Ewok Medicine Man Rebel Commander

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    Now that folks have had an opportunity to fully digest Episode IX and the Sequel Trilogy, I'm curious to learn how others are making sense of the entirety of the "Skywalker Saga." Clearly, each chapter in this story features its own strengths and weaknesses. We all have our favorite components and rightly question many of the decisions made for each film. I'm more interested in learning about how people are deriving meaning from the entirety of the saga.

    A brief note about semantics: the idea of the nine film "Skywalker Saga" is a relatively new concept. While obviously the idea of a nine-film saga dates back to the 1970's, the naming of it as the "Skywalker Saga" and making Skywalkers the subject of a nine-film saga really dates from the Disney Acquisition.

    Clearly this nine-film saga, like all great epics, is a powerful tale of struggle, temptation, loss, rebellion, redemption, identity, love, hate, balance, and family. It is entwined in a story of a larger world transforming from decadence to rebirth, largely following the last three stages of Thomas Cole's "Course of Empire" painting series: "The Consummation of Empire," "Destruction," and "Desolation."

    The more I ruminate on this topic, the more I get lost by interesting observations that jump out at me, but don't really help to inform a deep understanding of a coherent saga.

    Here's one observation:

    Naboo, arguably the least interesting planet in the Galaxy, has quite a legacy in this Saga. Amongst those who claim Naboo heritage include:

    • Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (His maternal grandmother)
    • Rey (Her grandfather)
    • Luke Skywalker (His mother)
    • Leia Organa (Her mother)
    • Emperor Palpatine
    • R2-D2 (he started the saga on Naboo)
    • Jar-Jar Binks

    This thought hasn't really occurred to me since I saw Episode I, but I'd really love to know more about the boring planet of Naboo in light of its legacy.

    I'd also love to learn other's view of the entire saga, even if its just minor observations like this one, but especially if you are finding powerful narrative meaning from the overall epic tale.
     
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  2. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    There’s an old public speaking maxim that’s attributed to Aristotle: “Tell them what you’re going to them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them.”

    That’s sort of how I see this nonology right now. The PT is the preamble (what we’re going to learn). The OT is the subject (what we learn). The ST is the review (what we learned). The prequels add contextualization. The sequels add reinforcement. The originals though are what the story is actually about.

    What’s the story actually about though? In my view: it’s that societally, spiritually, and personally, there’s an ever-present specter of temptation to give in to our darker, more base, and selfish tendencies - our assorted fears. No matter how noble our intent within that triad, if we rely on those impulses to drive our actions, then corruption is inevitable - in government, in religion, in relationship. However, no matter how far you fall away from that initial nobility, it’s never so far that you can’t be redeemed if you can manage to foster your hope.

    As far as Naboo, I can’t offer much beyond an interesting tidbit (well, I think it’s interesting anyhow). Both ‘Naboo’ and ‘Tatooine’ started out as ‘Utapau’ in early versions of TPM and ANH and are based on the original planet of conflict, ‘Aquilae’. This is what George wrote about ‘Aquilae’ way back when.

    From 1973 story treatment:
    "Aquilae is a small independent country like North Vietnam threatened by a neighbor or provincial rebellion, instigated by gangsters aided by empire...The Empire is like America ten years from now, after gangsters assassinated the Emperor and were elevated to power in a rigged election...We are at a turning point: fascism or revolution"
    The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film, p.16

    It’s fun to track the evolution of the idea from 1973 to 2005.
     
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  3. SKB

    SKB Force Sensitive

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    It's not a "Skywalker Saga" (which is a Disney invention). Its always been the Star Wars Saga.

    Read the top line from 1980 poster:
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    It was a marketing decision, right? A way to distinguish between the episodic films and the spinoff/follow-up projects? That's how I took it. Not every movie branded as 'Star Wars' will be dealing with the Skywalkers, so they gave them their own name. Makes sense to me.
     
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  5. NinjaRen

    NinjaRen Supreme Leader

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    It was the Star Wars Saga. Past tense. But things change. It's now the property of Disney, and Disney is calling EPI - EPIX "The Skywalker Saga". End of story.

    I would have used Naboo in the ST for sure. Especially in EPIX.
     
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  6. Messi

    Messi G.O.A.T.

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    The therm Skywalker saga is new and is a new marketing strategy by Disney (at least I never heard "skywalker saga" before). But it doesn't bother me at all. I'm enjoying much more SW this last five years under the Disney domain than during the.prequel era.
     
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  7. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rebel Official

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    The Episodic films have been the "Skywalker Saga" since 1983; how they were heretofore marketed is irrelevant.

    Regarding the topic question, the final completion of the 'trilogy of trilogies' first mentioned in 1980 has left me with two primary regrets:
    1) that I couldn't independently recognize the presence of the 'cyclical storytelling ' that has defined my enjoyment of the franchise for years in The Force Awakens

    2) that said failure caused me to spend months first prejudging and then undervaluing TFA instead of being more open-minded and appreciative of it as a piece of the Saga that I love so deeply

    Regrets aside, though, one of my absolutely favorite elements of the Sequel Trilogy specifically that only becomes clear with the full completion of the Skywalker Saga as a whole is the way that The Rise of Skywalker links to one specific line from The Force Awakens - "Show me, Grandfather, and I will finish what you started" - through Ben's return to the Light Side of the Force and his role in helping destroy Palpatine once and for all and saving Rey from following her grandfather into death, as, through his actions on Exogol, he does indeed finish what his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker, had started.

    I also love that the conclusion of The Rise of Skywalker links itself to two specific lines from Revenge of the Sith - "The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural" and "Love won't save you" - through the method and circumstances surrounding both Palpatine's resurrection and the resurrection of his granddaughter Rey, with the latter also tying directly into Ben finishing what Anakin started since, by rejecting the Dark Side, he accomplishes the thing that motivated Anakin to join the Dark Side.
     
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  8. The Birdwatcher

    The Birdwatcher Rebel Official

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    It's not a "Skywalker Saga" (which is a Disney invention). Its always been the Star Wars Saga.

    Read the top line from 1980 poster:


    Interesting point. So, technically Luke wasn't really considered a main character, then? Or there was a better emphasis on the whole cast of characters. Interesting, interesting, interesting.

    So, IT'S NOT the Darth Vader saga (prequels or how episodes 1-6 were seen after 2005 or ROTS), it's not the Luke saga (how the OT trilogy was seen after ROTJ, 1983), it's not the Skywalker saga (Episodes 1-9), it's the Star Wars saga (the space adventure mantinee episodes of a struggle of the rebels to free themselves from an oppressive empire).
     
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  9. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rebel Official

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    ^ The Episodic films are the "Skywalker Saga" because they are and have always been centered around a member - or members - of that family, and although Rey wasn't born into it the way that Anakin, Luke, Leia, and Ben were, she more than earns her place in it at the end of the day through her actions and the connections she forges.

    Marketing the Episodic films as the "Skywalker Saga" is simply codifying as explicit what had previously been implicit.

    I was also thinking about the evolution of Star Wars Canon throughout the 4-year release window mapped out for the Sequel Trilogy and was struck by how closely said evolution echoes the trajectory of the early days of the SW Legends EU in terms of some of the concepts and story beats that get (re)introduced.

    For example, both the early Legends stories (Heir to the Empire Trilogy, Dark Empire Trilogy) and early entries in Sequel Trilogy-era Canon (Aftermath Trilogy, Rebels Season 3, The Force Awakens) established things like the survival of an "Imperial Remnant", the 'next generation' of the Skywalker bloodline/legacy, the trajectory of Luke's post-RotJ life as the 'last of the Jedi', Thrawn and the Chiss, and [retroactively] attempts to resurrect the Emperor through cloning, which speaks to the cyclical nature of SW as a multimedia IP.
     
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  10. Jedi77-83

    Jedi77-83 Force Sensitive

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    While I enjoy the ST movies individually, I have yet to see them in the context of 1-9 story arc. Ironically, I have my problems/frustrations with the individual PT movies, but I do see them as a cohesive 1-6 story.

    I honestly don’t think I’ll ever see 7,8,9 as a true 7,8,9 in terms of 1-9 story arc, so the ST is more of an epilogue to me. It’s more SW that I enjoyed (TFA time period was the best time to be a SW fan since 1983, IMO). TROS gave me closure with Luke, Leia and Han that I was satisfied with and I liked Rey, Poe and Finn, so the Trilogy still has value to me. Just not in that storytelling context that the PT does with me, as The ST is ‘more’ SW that wasn’t needed, but still worth it in the end.

    Hope that makes sense?
     
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  11. Matsemitsu

    Matsemitsu Clone Commander

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    A very interesting question. I think we've all been (perhaps unconsciously) asking ourselves where the whole thing would go ever since 2012. That's because GL had declared the saga finished with ROTS (as he had done before with ROTJ). But in 1983 there were clearly still 3 numbered episodes implied that hadn't been made, so GL going back on the statement that "it's all finished" didn't seem like that big of a deal in the 1990s when the PT was announced. And while I personally never bought GL's narrative after 2005 that the SW saga was "always intended to be the story of Anakin/Vader" (come on, it really wasn't - read "The Secret History of Star Wars" for good evidence on that), I did believe that ROTJ had ended the larger saga in such a way that it was difficult to imagine how it could continue its main conflict (light vs dark) now that both Vader and Palpatine were dead.



    I was therefore worried when the initial marketing for TFA suggested that the Empire had never fully vanished at all. It seemed to diminish the impact of the OT. As a sidenote, I do of course still wonder if creating a villain for the ST that is less "imperial" than the First Order might've been the more interesting, more original choice, as I feel the whole imperial look (TIE fighters, stormtroopers, Star Destroyers etc.) is not absolutely necessary to telling stories about the duality of the Force and the Sith and the Jedi. That said, the fact that the FO was ultimately a "new" organization was fine with me. I looked at them as Neo-Nazis to the Empire's Nazis. And this led me to my core thesis about the purpose of the ST's narrative: legacy.



    This does relate to what was said above about the ST being a sort of epilogue. It tells us what happened after "happily ever after" (the ROTJ Endor celebration scene). Clearly history never ends, although so many in RL have claimed that this conflict or that conflict (e.g. the Cold War) would be precisely that: "the end of history" at which point a utopia of sorts would follow. That is in the nature of apocalyptic narratives, a genre that strictly speaking SW belongs to (as in "final battle between Good and Evil"): Evil is ultimately vanquished and after that, there is no more story because there is no more conflict.



    Anyone who remembers the 1990s may recall that once the Soviet Union disbanded, there was a palpable feeling in the Western World that the "end of history" had been reached. The West had won, the US (as the ultimate "good guy" from our Western perspective) was the one remaining superpower - what possible conflicts could there ever be again? Now, from the position of 2020, we can only laugh at the audacity of this notion. Ethnic conflicts in the Balkans and Africa with interventions by the West, 9/11 and the wars that followed it, the Arab Spring and the Syrian War that followed, new conflicts with a new Russia, and right now we're in a global pandemic. History never ends, there are always going to be more challenges, more conflict. (This list is far from complete of course.) So what I find fascinating in the ST is its implicit (and, from the evidence above, very 21st century) stance that, yes, Star Wars is a fairytale and escapism of sorts, but it's not naive. Stories continue, and reforming a fallen Empire into a New Republic is not going to be easy. Look at what happened after the French Revolution, or the American Revolution for that matter. In a certain way, what we see in the ST is the GFFA's War of 1812. In essence: what happens to the heroes after their heroic goal has been achieved? They need to make sure that it sticks. Luke (concerning the future of the Force) and Leia (concerning the future of the Republic) couldn't withstand the pressures from dark forces that were still around. So long as there's a kid who doesn't see the problem in idolizing Darth Vader (especially if that is the one guy that your parents and uncle have consistently told you was a bad bad man – if you are in your rebellious phase as a teenager, wouldn't you go there just to piss off your parents? Many do.) or officials who feel that the Empire was a more efficient way to run a galaxy (sadly an argument that the ST movies never made all that explicit, although it's made central in Claudia Gray's excellent “Bloodline“ novel), the progress you made will always be in danger. Luke and Leia, and the galaxy at large, felt that when Kylo Ren and the First Order rose. The spirit of Palpatine was still around and influencing people – and as we learned in TROS, very literally so.

    Speaking of which, two of the most awe-inspiring moments in that film for me were scenes that illustrate the idea of legacy very well: one was the reveal that Palpatine has a stadium full of devotees on Exegol. I would've loved to learn more about those people, and maybe we will in some future book, comic or even movie. These can't all be Sith in the classic sense, Rule of Two and all. These are therefore “ordinary“ people who have devoted themselves to the Dark Side. I imagine them to be like the Dark Side version of what Lor San Tekka and his group were. A „church of the Force“ as it were: members of the club, but not active players. Clearly, the spirit of the Dark Side has lived on and attracted many followers. A growing movement clearly. By contrast, my absolute favorite moment is the arrival of the People's Fleet, as I call it. What's super important about it – and I'm happy that Abrams and Terrio included a corresponding line in the script - is that these are „just... people“. Not heroes, not Resistance, not hotshot pilots or Jedi. It's the galaxy itself finally realizing how complacent they had been and that they had a job to do: protect the legacy of those who came before them. (By the way, another thing explicitly addressed in the dialogue „What our mothers and fathers fought for, etc etc.“) Maybe there were even some Canto Bight war profiteers among that fleet who realized that money is good and well, but what good is it if comes at a price of darkness and oppression? You allow the First Order to rise and give Palpatine a foothold again on the basis of which he can return and bend the galaxy to his will once again? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me! So finally, it's no longer just a handful of “heroes“ who save the day for all others, but it's everybody acting as a community for the community's sake.



    In short, the OT generation's job was fulfilled in ROTJ. But their achievements need to be appreciated and protected by the succeeding generation. The early „old“ EU was very 1990s in the sense that there was an „end of history“ aura around e.g. the Thrawn Trilogy, where the heroes operated from a basis of strength and having won already. All that was left to do, in a way, was to clean up some of the remaining mess. Hence the main trope of that publishing era: „oh, there's one more Imperial Admiral left with some nefarious scheme – let's eliminate him and get back to our happy ending“. That reflects to me the zeitgeist of the time. The ST with its different reading on what came after Endor comes from a different time and perspective and serves almost as a cautionary tale: you need to remember history and guard against repeating it. For every major achievement in history (socially, culturally, politically), there was always a backlash that threatened to turn back time.



    Therefore, to end this already too-long post, here's what the saga is to me:



    Original Trilogy: A story of a group of diverse individuals (led by members of the Skywalker family) opposes uniformity, unjust authoritarianism and oppression. (Something very Western, very American.) The thesis: If we are this heroic, we can win against the odds.



    Prequel Trilogy: The history lesson, in which we learn what the mistakes were of institutions that were revered, respected, but had become blind to its own faults and unwilling to reform (i.e. Both the Senate and the Jedi Order). As a result of their blindness and an unwillingness to endure the rigid structures of a long-established regime, they (led by members of the Skywalker family) gave the achievements of millennia away to those forces who did not share their values. The antithesis: If we're selfish and treat our institutions callously, we will lose them.



    Sequel Trilogy: The fight to protect the achievements of the heroes needs to be taken up by a next generation who initially don't realize the importance of history (Rey: “Luke Skywalker? I thought he was a myth“, Finn being coopted and indoctrinated by the dark side, Poe just “blowing things up“ without looking at the big picture) and need to be taught by members of the Skywalker family how to do that and why it matters. The synthesis: History repeats itself (as in: events of the PT) unless we actively prevent that by remembering the achievements and values of the previous (OT) generation. If we do so, we win by recognizing that victory is always temporary and there's no „end of history“ that would allow one complacency.



    I hope that made some sense.
     
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  12. Jedi77-83

    Jedi77-83 Force Sensitive

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    I think there is a lot of value to what your post is about: Time goes on, new conflicts emerge. WW2 was the ultimate victory for the world over Hitler, yet that led to a 40+ year Cold War. As you said, the Cold War ended and Terrorism became the new enemy. Ironically, we are in the middle of a Worldwide pandemic, and no foreign countries have rocked the boat as everyone is worrying about the health of their own people.

    The ST is simply that, a Sequel Trilogy to the Original Trilogy, or another battle. What’s frustrating is that it could have been so much more of you had the World Building and more of an overall arc like Lucas wrote with the PT.
     
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  13. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    Lots of sense - and some dollars too! Terrific post :)
    I just wish they had spent a little more time with the New Republic and connected some of those thematic dots for us.

    What the Rebellion was fighting for in the OT was the foundation of that new institution. It was the embodiment of all they’d fought and suffered for. That institution had likewise failed though. We don’t really get much textual indication why. It’s Etch-A-Sketched away in TFA, only mentioned in TLJ, and not referenced at all in TROS. It’s fairly disappointing to me that one of the core pillars to this story was deemed so unimportant.
     
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  14. Matsemitsu

    Matsemitsu Clone Commander

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    I completely agree, and I say this as someone who really liked the ST a lot. That was a missed opportunity. I think the reason is that filmmakers have found themselves torn between expanding the lore (i.e. what fans would love) and making a movie without baggage (i.e. what a general audience can enjoy). Clearly, this stuff about New Republic, First Order, Resistance and the relationship between them was all there, but it ended up being cut or not even filmed because they were afraid that TFA could end up a case of "But I haven't seen the other Star Wars movies. I won't understand this one", so they preemptively, and prematurely, whittled it down to essentials.
     
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  15. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rebel Official

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    ^ This post represents a still-pervading misunderstanding about The Force and and the intent behind the trajectory of its development.

    Both JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan have gone on record stating that they made The Force Awakens the way that they did in an attempt to recapture their own personal nostalgia.
     
  16. Jedi77-83

    Jedi77-83 Force Sensitive

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    The ST was definitely made for a more broad/casual audience as the politics complaints of the PT is what scared them off. I think it was a smart short-term decision because TFA captured the fandom much like it did in 1977 and Disney rode that to almost 2+ billion dollar box office.

    The problem is it hurt the Trilogy in the long-run because it lacks any originality and expanded lore that the PT gave us. I say this as a person who enjoys the ST movies, but not them as a Trilogy.
     
  17. Matsemitsu

    Matsemitsu Clone Commander

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    I think what I often heard them say is that their writing process was guided by creating scenes "that delight us". Clearly that meant that they landed on the nostalgia side of things more often than not. That said, I find the old argument "TFA is just a ANH remake" reductive, as there are enough elements in it that ANH never had, like development for the villain, or the sense of melancholy that TFA exhibits in places. But that's off-topic. My point was: there was a more complex story about the political landscape of the galaxy in this era, it just wasn't used to its full advantage.
     
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  18. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rebel Official

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    ^ Abrams and Kasdan have spoken on-camera several times about what they connected with upon seeing the original Star Wars (ANH) for the first time in 1977 (and, for Kasdan, what he gravitated towards upon reading George's script, which he had an opportunity to do), and I know that at some point during the promotional tour for TFA, Abrams and Kasdan both spoke openly about wanting to make a Star Wars film that recaptured those things.

    Abrams has also said that they structured TFA so that it felt very ANH-esque in terms of basic story beats where you didn't know where the story was going to go, which also ties back into that stated goal of trying to recapture the things that they first gravitated towards upon seeing ANH for the first time in 1977.

    TFA not bothering to explain in greater detail the political state of the galaxy also ties back into the goal of trying to intentionally evoke the exact conditions surrounding ANH and how Abrams and Kasdan felt upon first seeing (reading) it.

    It's easy to look back in hindsight and see how someone else at Lucasfilm should've said something to the both of them about how there needed to be more discussion of the political side of the story left in the film, although we do know that Abrams did film more political-based stuff that he ultimately decided to cut in order to 'streamline' and 'simplify' the story to try and more closely evoke what ANH did.
     
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