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Old 24-04-2006, 10:49 PM
ipohan ipohan is offline
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Lightbulb Star Wars and The Force for good

I am a big fan of Star Wars. I find the following article very interesting. The movies are not just about the Special Effects.

Please read & find out yourself.

Star Wars and The Force for good

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is a commentary on technology, religion and human nature

By Daniel Newkirk
(May 19, 2005)

Loyal fans (as well as life-long critics) have been patiently waiting for decades, suffering through the aggravation and disappointment of The Phantom Menaceand Attack of the Clones, and will once again brave the interminable lines to finally see Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) betray his Jedi heritage and embrace the Dark Side. While in the original trilogy we experienced the power of trust and love to redeem even Darth Vader, this latest installment draws us into the world of deception and frustrated desire that leads to darkness and evil. The story of Anakin’s fall demonstrates the inability of science to provide answers to ethical decisions. Because science cannot effectively address moral problems that always have and always will plague humanity, it must be held accountable to the restraint and guidance of a Jedi council.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is an excellent movie, possibly the finest Star Wars film to date, but Lucas again proves more skillful as a director than writer. The movie exhibits the same trite dialogue, hackneyed speech, and wooden acting that plagued the previous movies, though to a lesser degree, and the attempts at romantic drama interspersed throughout the film serve as particularly painful reminders of the shortcomings of the previous movies. Still, the compelling plot and stunning special effects coalesce with transcendent themes to rise above the script’s shortcomings.

As a six-part saga spanning three decades, Star Wars occupies a unique position amongst others at the box office as the progressive creator of the criteria by which each additional episode itself is judged. Most will come to the theaters with an inkling of what will happen and not be too startled when Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Lucas adroitly uses this distinct familiarity to turn what would merely be the tragic culmination of a lackluster trilogy into a remarkable bridge between the two cycles.
Everyone who has seen A New Hope knows about Darth Vader, but the film’s entertainment lies in its mystery. We finally get to see exactly what makes Darth Vader. Along the way, the dark and alluring power of the Dark Side is truly felt for the first time. Finally, when the man we knew as the endearing and precocious Anakin in The Phantom Menace finally rises in his sinister outfit as Darth Vader, it is difficult to shake the feeling that we have just witnessed the birth of a myth. The chilling “Yes, master,” followed immediately by his inquiry about the well-being of Padme, captures in a microcosm the twisted nature of the Dark Side.

The prequels remove all doubt that the story of Star Wars is really the story of Anakin Skywalker. The prominent role of Anakin in the latest movies reinforces Anakin’s central place in the saga. Anakin’s prominence perhaps became most evident in the title of the finale to the original trilogy, in which the use of the word Jedi in Return of the Jedi revealed the centrality of Vader’s character. This double entendre referred to the return of the Jedi religion as a whole through Luke and Lea, but primarily to the salvation of Darth Vader. While the original films centered on Vader’s redemptive return, the new ones tell the other half of the story—the departure of Anakin from the Jedi ranks and subsequent annihilation of the Jedi. The first two prequels then chronicled his rise to gifted Jedi knight. Now Sith brilliantly portrays his seduction to the Dark Side of the Force by the disarmingly beguiling Chancellor Palpatine.

The film begins with a thrilling and overwhelmingly frenzied battle scene over the city-planet of Coruscant, capital of the doomed republic and home of the Jedi Temple. Anakin and Obi-Wan dogfight with the rebel forces in a desperate attempt to save Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of the fearsome and mechanized leader of the droid army, General Grievous. Even after Palpatine’s rescue, the action never stops. Anakin attempts to keep the secret of his marriage to Padme from the Jedi council while playing a crucial role in the empire’s attempts to quell the rebellion and its clones. At the same time, Anakin juggles his commitments to the Jedi with his growing friendship with Chancellor Palpatine.

Palpatine, a.k.a. the mysterious and allusive Lord Darth Sidious, cultivates the seeds of arrogance and suspicion in Anakin until he eventually doubts both the Jedi council and his own mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). Palpatine introduces Anakin to the dark side of the Force as a solution to his concern for Padme. This is a side that has been hidden from him and he is promised that it will enable him to do what would be impossible for a Jedi. Under Palpatine’s attentive fostering, his distrust and wounded pride combine with a desperate fear for his family to blossom into full-blown hatred for all the Jedi.In the Jedi genocide that follows, Anakin fatally breaks the heart of his wife and seemingly cements his allegiance to the Dark Side.

Once again Lucas has created a captivatingly imaginative world of both cute and repugnant aliens, light sabers and blasters, rebels and empires, star destroyers and tie fighters, and C3PO and R2D2. But, as we become more and more privy to the nature of Anakin’s downfall we are reminded of the timeless themes that have made this series so much more than mere special-effect extravaganzas.

Throughout the Star Wars saga, the technologically-challenged side always emerges victorious over the more scientifically advanced. Again and again, whether it is through Wookies, Ewoks, children, or Gungans, the movies juxtapose science, technology, and evil with good. Ultimately, the message of Star Wars is that the fate of the universe rests on individual choices between good and evil, between love-of-self and love-of-others, and between attachment to selfish desires and a broad concern for the world as a whole.

Those in tune with the Force evade technologically advanced attacks with ease, effortlessly turning back blaster shots with their light sabers and slaughtering battalions of droid armies without difficulty. The skirmishes between space destroyers and tie fighters have always been secondary to the battles between the Sith lord or his apprentice and a Jedi. Even Darth Vader, a leader on the side that builds death stars, recognized the triviality of technological superiority in this war between good and evil. He famously warns his comrade inebriated with the potential of the death star, “Don’t be so proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The power to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force.” When Jedi eventually do fall to gunshots in Sith, they are fired on out of betrayal and taken from behind by surprise.

Lucas is definitely making a statement against misplaced hope in technology and the powerlessness of science to change proclivities toward evil, but is he technophobic? How does he understand the relationship between technology and religion? If we are looking for evidence of technophobia, the closing scene of Return of the Jedi could be construed as a technophobic coup de grace. As the death star burns overhead, Ewoks and humans use the helmets of storm troopers to beat out primal beats to which they dance around bonfires under beneficent watch of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda’s ghosts. Along the same lines, Darth Vader’s mechanical resurrection at the end of Sith could be read as the momentary triumph of technology over the Jedi’s spiritual orientation. Here the victory of science coincides with the zenith of the dark side and the nadir of the Jedi. There is powerful symmetry at work in these examples, and a strong case could be made that the spirituality of the Jedi fundamentally collides with the advances of science. In order to come to grips with the relationship between science and the spirituality in Star Wars, we need a better understanding of the Force.

The Force
Most are familiar with Yoda’s lesson/sermon given to Luke on Dagobah where Yoda declaims, “My ally is the force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere.” According to Yoda, the force is a universal product of life that binds the universe together and can somehow be felt and manipulated by the sensitive mind. However, because the Force ontologically depends upon life and not vice versa, it differs from similar concepts in the major religions.

And yet, for a Jedi to fully feel the force requires almost Zen-like detachment. While being trained by “Ben” Kenobi in A New Hope, Luke was only able to block the test machine’s bullets after he pulled down the blaster shield on the helmet and trusted his instincts. Similarly, in the same episode Luke’s shot at the death star is made, at the urging of Obi-Wan ghost, without the use of the ship’s computer. “Using the force” and using a computer appear to be incompatible. In Sith this theme continues. When Anakin approaches Yoda for help with his dreams foretelling the death of Padme, Yoda replies: “The fear of loss is a path to the dark side…Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.” Only by training himself let go of everything that he feared to lose would he have had the clarity and serenity of mind necessary to be a master Jedi. In Sith it is because he cannot let go of his desire to save Padme that he is turned to the Dark Side.

Lucas has not been shy in interviews about his own religiosity or that of Star Wars. He commented in a 1999 issue of Time, “I don't see Star Wars as profoundly religious. I see Star Wars as taking all the issues that religion represents and trying to distill them down into a more modern and easily accessible construct—that there is a greater mystery out there .... I put the Force into the movie in order to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people—more a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system. I wanted to make it so that young people would begin to ask questions about the mystery.”

Lucas has suggested that movies should not attempt to supply religious answers but should stimulate further questions about the nature of reality in a manner similar to Tillich’s correlative method. He seems to conceive of God as a reality that includes but transcends every religious attempt to capture or explain it. Believing that the greater number of religious perspectives that can fruitfully engage with Star Wars the better; he’s happy as long as the movies simulate further spiritual thought.

As part of its almost universal religious appeal, Star Wars exhibits a strong prophetic element. In both trilogies, references are made to a messiah figure who will somehow bring balance to the Force. In the original trilogy Luke plays this role, whereas in “Sith” Obi-Wan laments, “You were supposed to be the Chosen One!” as Anakin is burned by lava. In Phantom Menace Qui-Gon Jinn is the first to hypothesize that Anakin is the prophesied one on the basis of the high concentration of “midichlorians” in his blood.

This controversial reference to “midichlorians;” symbiotic organisms that act as mediators between the Force and other life forms, seems to be reductionistic. Some might feel that the earlier films reflected the more spiritual culture of the seventies and reproach Lucas for capitulating to the materialism of the 21st century. However, the fact that midichlorians are brought up with mention to prophecy resists this reductionistic interpretation. The mediation of the Force by midichlorians explains how it can “run strong” in certain families without reducing the mystery of the Force itself. The midichlorians act as a go-between between the unknown and humanity; the way in which they do so remains a mystery.

The Jedi Temple might best exemplify Lucas’ vision of the potential harmony of science and spirituality. The fact that the center of Jedi spirituality is built on the city-planet capital of the empire Coruscant, the acme of technological achievement, teaches the real lesson of Star Wars concerning science. Spirituality can exist in harmony with science. It can tolerate scientific explanations of spiritual phenomena and the workings of the universe without ever losing a sense of wonder at it all. Not only is Jedi spirituality able to exist in partnership with the most advanced science, but the safety of the universe depends upon such a union. The most appropriate place for the Jedi Temple is on Coruscant. In order for Darth Sidious to exercise his evil to the fullest extent he must do away with the accountability of the Jedi.

Star Wars teaches us that science will be able to break the light-speed barrier, solve the problems of artificial intelligence, and create mind-bogglingly powerful weapons before it will be able to control human behavior. A Jedi-type spiritual watchdog must necessarily exist in order to curb selfish desires and the deceptive temptation to cling to “crude matter;” a temptation made all the more tempting in light of scientific advances. Proper use of science, like the Force, is only possible with clear and uncluttered altruistic motives. The temptations that lead to the Dark Side might be similar to the ones that result in the misuse of science. Science is not inherently evil, but it use must be monitored by those more in tune with the spiritual reality of the universe and the nature of the human condition.

Daniel Newkirk is currently working on his Ph.D. in Science, Philosophy, and Religion at Boston University.

Source: Science & Theology News

Last edited by ipohan : 24-04-2006 at 11:33 PM.
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Old 25-04-2006, 12:00 AM
kanden kanden is offline
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kanden is off the scale

My biggest disappoint of episodes 1-3 is the demystification of The Force. The "midichlorians" thing sounds real lame. It really took the veneration out of The Force.

It sucks big time. Can't believe George Lucas shot himself in the foot like that ...
"The one who has conquered himself is a far greater hero than he who has defeated a thousand times a thousand men"

- from the Dhammapada (Sayings of the Buddha)
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