Redemptive vision of Star Wars

Published: Monday 4th January 2016

"I can't kill my own father ..." These are the anguished words of Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi.

As the father-son relationship was pivotal for the original Star Wars trilogy, so it is for Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

It was pivotal for the original trilogy, as it was the axis around which it told its unlikely story of heroism and redemption. In doing so, Star Wars touched on something deep: the good and evil in each of us, the relationships that define us, and the larger spiritual and divine mystery at the heart of it all.

The Star Wars mythology seeks to carry on a story-telling tradition. It revolves around resistance in the face of the worst evil and the redemption of that evil. As its creator George Lucas put it:

"I see Star Wars as taking all of the issues that religion represents and trying to distill them down into a more modern and more easily accessible construct that people can grab onto to accept the fact that there is a greater mystery out there."

The mythology centres on a particular type of faith: in transcendence (the Force) that connects us to the wider universe in an intimate way and gives us the capacity for good or bad. Again Lucas:

"Faith is the glue that holds us together as a society ... to remain stable. Remain balanced."

In Star Wars, the galactic battles are the setting for personal battles: between the temptations of greed, anger, power and absolute control, and the faith in goodness, compassion, hope and spiritual integrity.

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