Theme: Luke's Story
"No amount of film theory can explain the extraordinary appeal the Star Wars saga has for millions of people all over the world. For many, it has all the force of an alternative reality. To understand Star Wars' lasting attraction, we must look beyond thrilling action and special effects to a very rich and universal source: the power of the myth and legend. The Star Wars universe draws on a common stream of mythic tales which are rooted deeply in our own life stories."1
If the Star Wars saga is so powerful because it is a modern day myth, it is important to understand what a myth is and the "common stream" that flows through it. Myths are legendary stories about gods and heroes; stories where the characters are superior in kind both to other men and the environment.2 They are tales that include beauty, intimacy, and adventure; all of the things that touch the human heart.
Every culture has its favorite heroic myths. The "common stream" that seems to run through them is often misconstrued and is taken to mean that there is no one source or any truth in them. In fact, it is just the opposite. JRR Tolkien, one of the greatest authors of the 20th century, realized that there is a level beyond myth, which he called "evangelium" or true myth, gospel, revelation.3 He realized that men's small stories come from a much larger story. Below is a comparison between the "Common Stream" of myth and Star Wars with the "Source" of all truth, the Gospel.
||Once upon a time...
||A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.....
||In the beginning...|
(Genesis 1:1; John 1:1)
||The hero is in an obscure place with nothing extraordinary about him.
||Luke Skywalker is living with his Aunt and Uncle on a remote planet called Tatooine.
||Jesus Christ, a carpenter from a tiny village named Nazareth, in a remote province called Galilee. (Mark 1:9)|
||The call to adventure usually comes through a herald and requires the hero to separate and begin his journey or quest.
||Two droids are purchased by Luke's Uncle. One droid, R2D2, has a hidden message that changes Luke's life and begins his adventure.
||The forerunner, John the Baptist, prepares the way of the Lord. He identifies Jesus as the Son of God. (John 1:23-34)|
|The Wise Guide
||The hero is given a wise guide.
||Luke is given Obi Wan Kenobi as his wise guide
||At Jesus' baptism, the Holy Spirit descends and comes upon Him. (Matthew 3:13-17)|
|The Powerful Weapon
||Usually the hero receives a powerful weapon to help him in the battles he must fight.
||The Jedi light saber
||The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Revelation 19:15)|
||The hero is given partners to help him on his quest. (They begin a journey of their own.)
||Han Solo and Chewbacca
||12 Disciples |
|Rescuing the Princess
||Usually there is a princess being held in a castle or labyrinth that the hero must negotiate in order to set her free.
||Princess Leia held captive on the Death Star; also held captive on Tatooine by Jabba the Hut
||Jesus Christ came to earth to rescue His Bride and set her free. |
(Ephesians 5:23-27; Luke 4:18-21)
|Hero in Battle
||The hero has to go through many battles usually against terrible beasts and evil forces.
||Luke engages in battles with beasts and his evil foe, Darth Vader.
||Jesus Christ came to destroy the evil trinity of sin, Satan, and death.|
I John 3:8;
||The hero must leave and go to a special place alone to be taught and tested.
||Luke goes to Dagobah to be trained by Yoda. (Note his emersion in water just prior to leaving for Dagobah.)
||After His baptism, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness alone, where He is tempted for 40 days.|
||Usually there is some sort of a mystical union with a woman.
||Luke's quest is a spiritual one to become a Jedi Knight. He discovers that he has a twin sister, Princess Leia. Han Solo, who has begun his own journey, is more earthly. He enters into and is transformed by his love relationship with Princess Leia.
||Jesus Christ lays down His life in order to establish a "New Covenant" with His Bride.|
|Sacrifice and Betrayal
||The hero often is betrayed and must suffer a type of "death".
||Luke experiences a betrayal of sorts when he learns his father is Darth Vader. He would rather "die" than join him; he jumps into the abyss. Han is betrayed by his friend, Lando Calrissian, and experiences a type of death when frozen in carbonite.
||Jesus Christ was betrayed by His disciple, Judas Iscariot. Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. He rose on the third day. |
(I Corinthians 15:3-7; Luke 22:47-48)
|Return of the Hero
||After rescuing the Princess, the hero returns home.
||Luke returns to Tatooine dressed as a Jedi Knight; rescues Han and Leia.
||Jesus Christ returns to His Father's house. |
|Descent to the Underworld
||The hero usually has to make a visit to the "Underworld".
||Luke's encounter with Darth Vader on the Death Star.
||Jesus Christ descends into the "lower parts of the Earth".|
|Reconciliation with the Father
||The hero needs to be reconciled with his father.
||Luke is reconciled with his father, Darth Vader, because he chose love rather than hate.
||Jesus Christ, separated from His Father on the Cross, is restored to His Father's side.|
||When the journey is over and the quest has been obtained, there is a grand celebration.
||Celebration on Endor after the destruction of the evil Emperor and his forces.
||Marriage Supper of the Lamb.|
The original Star Wars Trilogy: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi all revolve around the heroic quest of Luke Skywalker. "Luke's Story" parallels "The Christ Story". Luke is like the "Last Adam or Second Adam"; and, as it turns out, he is the one who was prophesied to come and return balance back to the Force. In order to fully understand his story, one must understand his father's story. The Phantom Menace and The Attack of the Clones is the story of Anakin Skywalker, a man very much like the "First Adam", and sadly, very much like us.
1. Quote from Star Wars - The Power of Myth by Dorling Kindersley
(The general outline of myth is taken from this work.)
2. In his book, An Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Frye lists five general literary modes defined by the nature of
1. Myth - characters are superior in kind both to men and environment.
2. Romance - characters are superior in degree; not kind to other men and their environment.
3. High Mimesis - level characteristic of tragedy or epic; characters are superior in degree to other men not
4. Low Mimesis - level of classical novel.
5. Irony - see ourselves looking down on weaker or more ignorant; heroes turn into anti-heroes and
* From JRR Tolkien by Tom Shippey
3. JRR Tolkien by Tom Shippey, page 223. Tolkien is the author of the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings