[GUEST] The Disillusioned Youth of Star Wars

I feel very privileged that my next guest writer took some time out to write for my blog. I am delighted to share with you a guest post from Writer and Director Tom Warwick, who shares his views on the Star Wars franchise in anticipation of it’s latest release.

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The youth of today find themselves in truly turbulent times, and the same can be said for the youth in a galaxy far, far away. The rise of a far-right political party, acts of terrorism on both sides and not being able to find the droids you’re looking for. It’s enough for any young girl or boy to consider the merits of a different path.

With Star Wars: The Last Jedi mere days away from release fan theories have gone into overdrive to determine who lives and who dies, character lineage and who will move into the light or dark side of the force. Star Wars has always been the classic tale of good versus evil. In the prequels it was a story of keeping the darkness at bay, the original trilogy was fighting the darkness whilst this new series seems to be addressing what that darkness actually is.

From what we’ve seen of trailers; the Jedi and the Sith aren’t truly what they once were. Luke Skywalker in exile and Kylo Ren doing his best Vader impression, both are shells of the monoliths that they base their current ideologies on. Whilst we don’t truly know of Luke’s true intentions right now, outside of “It’s time for the Jedi to end” and “This isn’t going to go the way you think” I think it’s safe to say that the light side of the force will go through some form of change. That brings us to the dark side and to Kylo Ren. Son of General Leia Organa and Han Solo (wipes away tear) he is the young man who has been twisted and seduced by the dark side of the force and by one Supreme Leader Snoke.

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Kylo, for me, is the best character Star Wars has had for a long time. Coming from such esteemed and renowned parentage you can feel the resentment he harbours for his parents and what they stand for. JJ Abrams has said in interviews that Kylo Ren believes in the ideals of his grandfather and that killing his father was to reaffirm his decision in turning to darkness. Adam Driver has to be commended for his performance here, all the way through the film you get the sense of a petulant young man trying to do what he thinks is the right thing. His unmasking to Rey at about the halfway point of the film was one of quiet reserve by the filmmakers. His mask wasn’t hiding the charred and disfigured remains a la Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. He was a young man, like you and I.

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He was someone who was born into a prosperous family with good and nurturing intentions and yet, he continued down a dark path. How much of that is an allegory for some people today, I don’t know, I hope not many. But, it is something we saw echoed in the original Star Wars. When Luke is on the Emperor’s starship the Emperor states that if Luke kills him Luke will become more powerful than he has ever imagined and will take his place at his side. And guess what… LUKE NEARLY DOES… he almost fails! He actually tries to kill the Emperor only for Darth Vader to save him! Vader’s intervention saved his son from a life of destruction and remorse. Something that Vader looked to spare his son and to live free of the tyranny that he and the Emperor had brought upon the Galaxy.

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Now in contrast to Kylo Ren, we have Rey. A narratively similar (dare I say too similar) equivalent to Luke Skywalker. Grew up on a desert planet. Longed for more. Got more. And maybe got more than she bargained for. We see early on that Rey is someone who is desperate to get off of the desolation that is Jakku. We see her struggle to scavenge enough parts just to get a meal, only to live in isolation, eking out a meagre existence. Again credit to the filmmakers here.We SEE this in about a 5-minute section at the beginning of the film (Take not Rogue One’s Jyn Erso). Not a word is uttered from her, but we see a totally disillusioned young woman and what she has to do in order to survive. We feel and empathise with her right off the bat.

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Now, some say that her journey from nobody scavenger to force wielding lightsabre battling heroine was too quick and I understand that, but for Disney and Star Wars to do something truly different than the prequels or the original trilogy and to progress the story and mythos of Star Wars, things will have to change.

What Episode VIII has in store for Rey remains to be seen. Will she be tempted to the dark side more so than any of her light counterparts, who knows? Will she Luke and Leia survive? Will Kylo Ren find redemption and turn to the light? Right now, nobody knows. Fan theory will have to run wild until December 15th and in that, isn’t that half the fun?

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi releases in theatres on December 15th.

Tom’s work can be found on his website, twarwick.com

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