Aug 17, 2014

How close to the dark side of the Force did Luke Skywalker actually get?

Luke killing Darth Vader
Keep your filthy hands off my sister!
How close to the dark side of the Force did Luke Skywalker actually get?

Luke starts out as a farm boy, realises he’s in a war with his own father and suddenly is the last hope for freedom. It’s a tough gig and by the time Jedi rolls around some four years after Luke followed a crazy old man on an adventure, Luke has changed considerably. He is no longer the blue eyed dreamer, he’s well on his way to become a Jedi, he is, the new man in black. Roll over Johnny Cash. And Black means he’s skirting the line, getting too close to the dark side of the Force. That place where Vader went and look what happened. Millions died.

So what evidence is there that Luke was bordering the dark side of the Force?

Jedi builds this up very slowly, and quite carefully. First up is Luke’s entrance to the Palace. He begins his rescue by force chocking two hapless Gamorrean guards in a manner that his father would be proud of. He then mockingly commences negotiations with Jabba the Hutt and despite nearly having the tables turned on him by way of the Rancor, he warns Jabba 'that's the last mistake you'll ever make'. That's a death threat if I ever heard one. I hadn't realised Jedi did such things? At the very least it's a sign of cockiness, something I believe Han Solo warned him about some four years ago in A New Hope.

Following a mad cap orgy of blood letting at the hand of Luke's saber, Luke having pretty much already effected the rescue, he fires the cannon into Jabba's Sail Barge killing everybody but his pals. Everybody but his pals. He didn't have to kill them, he could have just swung himself and Leia onto their escape ship, but no, he killed them all. Kind of like how Anakin dealt mercilessly to those who kidnapped his mother. Dark side much?

One could perhaps argue that in getting rid of Jabba, Luke was actually helping the people of Tattoinne become free of the crime lord's family and the long shadow it had cast over the planet. But I think that's being to free with Lucas' intentions with the script.

And let's not forget the fact that Luke is wearing black costuming for most of the film. He arrives at Jabba's Palace in a dark Jedi like robe which when discarded in the Rancor attack reveals a suit of black. Or more correctly, a suit of black death!

On Endor, Luke is wearing another black costume and wears this when he confronts Vader in front of the cackling confident Emperor. Vader is all in black too as the color is the universal symbol for villainy and so the comparison must be made - Luke is getting close to the dark side and his costume is intended to help the viewer believe this may be the case.

Let's cut to the climatic saber battle between Luke and Vader, during it Leia is shot on Endor and Luke feels her pain through the force and unwillingly reveals her existence as being Vader's taught, a fact which the Sith Lord seizes on and threatens to turn her to the Dark Side. And, that is a bridge too far for Luke, he loses his shit at Vader. Gone is the formal Jedi restraint, he just goes for it and beats Vader by tapping into his anger. He deals Vader a mortal blow and suddenly that moment is make or break for Skywalker. Of course Luke choose light over dark but he was *THIS* close when he made his final fatal attack. The difference was that he was not Vader, he was Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight.

Lucas then served us with a nice twist of sorts however. Take a closer look at Luke's costume. Look at the fold across the chest that is now unbuttoned, what is that colour? It's white. It's the yang to black's yin. Underneath all Luke's stresses doubts and struggles with who his father was and who HE was, he was always the good guy. Always the Knight in White Satin. Always the boy who never got to Tosche Station to get his power converters. This is a movie after all and he was a Jedi, like his Father was before him. Nice symbolism Lucas.

So yes, Luke got pretty close to turning to the Dark Side, but his heroic qualities shone through and after all of that with Vader, he regained his zen and stuck it to the Emperor telling him that he was a Jedi like his Father was before him. It was a fearless moment one which nearly cost him life when he was zapped by Force lightning.

But we all know how that turned out....

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