Dec 20, 2015

Three themes found in The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens is basically JJ Abram's love letter to A New Hope. It is a clear reboot of the Star Wars universe, a chance to begin a fresh after the bittersweet handover from George Lucas.

But while TFA may be the 'new black' of the franchise, it has a thematic rhyme to the film that started it all and we'll now try an explore three of those themes (as best we can after two viewings).

Blood is thicker than water

We didn't know it at the time it came out but ANH was was about a family in crisis. A young farm hand had found the charred remains of the only people in the world who loved him. A princess was kidnapped by an evil man in a black suit and the evil man in the black suit was lost to the dark side after he trusted it would save the woman he loved. And they were immediate family.

We learn fairly early on in TFA that the angry Kylo Ren is none other than the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Gasp! The bad guy who burns villages to the ground is the son of two of the most important people who helped bring down Palpatine's Empire! We learn too that Kylo killed all of Luke's apprentice Jedi and has fallen under the spell of Snoke.  How embarrassing for Han and Leia! How sad for Leia when she Force feels that Han has died and probably at the hand of her son.

So like ANH, TFA is yet another space drama with a dysfunctional family where blood will no doubt prove thicker than water.

There's another family question in the TFA.

We first met Rey in TFA as a strong independent woman who is stuck on a desert planet just wishing she could leave but is held back by the promise that her family to Jakku will return for her. Luke couldn't leave, he's stuck on the sun burnt planes of Tatooine as well.

Their tales start the same. They set forth on a journey making new friends and learning about the Force as they go. Ultimately they meet each other at the top of an island where Ray attempts to hand over Luke's long lost saber to its owner. It would seem Luke is set to teach Rey how to become a Jedi but the question we're all asking, is Rey Luke's daughter?

Red Dead Redemption

Kylo Ren lost his course under Luke Skywalker's tutelage. Luke had started a Jedi Academy but as Ren turned to the dark side of the Force, let slew every single student apprentice that Luke had drawn. He was lost and either became a Knight of Ren then (but maybe before) and found direction from Snoke.

But Kylo wanted to be better or as good as his grandfather Darth Vader. It's clear he was having an identity crisis of sorts, not a Sith, not a Jedi, he hated his father (does he love his mother?) yet wanting to finish whatever he thought Vader had started.

He also knew though he was being tempted by the Force to return to the light. Could Kylo be redeemed by the love of his parents?

Han Solo thought he could. Leia had told him so. So as a father, he walked out to that bridge to try and get his son to come home with him. This was Kylo's chance, his first real test. Not wanting to turn to the light, by killing his father, he all but assured his place on the dark side of the Force. So as the last ray of the sun is taken by the Star Killer, so Kylo makes his choice as the dark descends the base. No redemption here but it does set up quite the meeting with his mother Leia in VIII or IX does it not?

There has been an Awakening

You felt it right? Rey first felt it when she was engineered down to the dark below Maz Kanata's castle by Maz herself. She didn't realise it until she actually touched Luke's long lost light saber (the one he lost when he fought Vader at the end of The Empire Strikes Back).

But what was the dark side's awakening? Supreme Leader Snoke told Kylo there there was an awakening - but referred to the dark side and the light. We presume the moment when Kylo chose to kill his father in cold blood was his awakening in the dark side. That was his test to see whether he would fall to the light as he had been plagued by thoughts of it. He more or less confirmed this during his father son chat with Han.

Luke using the Force to concentrate during the trench run was arguably A New Hope's force awakens moment.

A New Hope?

We said there would be three themes but we're sneaking in a fourth. Rey is a new hope in the same way Luke was a new hope for the Jedi in the original Star Wars film. While only briefly alluded to at the end of The Force Awakens, this idea will no doubt carry over into Episode VIII.

Want more thoughts on The Force Awakens? Here's my review.

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