Saturday, April 13, 2019

Get Up and Start Skywalking

I liked the new Star Wars teaser. Looks like they're definitely walking very briskly away from the "Kill the past" meme. The name Skywalker is even in the title. But is it Rey? Maybe the idea will be that a "Skywalker" isn't a hereditary name but something conferred on off-spring of the midichlorians? Probably not, no-one wants the midichlorians back, I guess. And I'm pretty sure Skywalker was Anakin's mother's name. Maybe we'll find out that Anakin's father was actually Loki.

Anyway, I can tell I liked the trailer because it made me want to watch a Star Wars movie so I watched The Empire Strikes Back last night. What can I possibly have to say about Empire Strikes Back now? I've already written a lot about it multiple times. But, I realised, not in at least thirteen years. What is Empire Strikes Back in 2019? Like Bruce Willis says in 12 Monkeys when watching Vertigo, movies change because you change, you're a different person when you're watching them. This time I found myself thinking about Yoda.

Yoda's first lesson for Luke is one I think a lot of people to-day would find useful, if they can watch the scene without constantly thinking about that Bad Lip Reading seagulls song (which is pretty funny). Can you imagine what it would be like to be Luke, lost in a swamp, following a vision he had when he was half out of his wits in a snow storm, hoping to find some miraculous key to help him save the universe, only for this little troll to come along and spoil his supper?

Because in to-day's parlance, that's what Yoda's doing; trolling. He starts rummaging through Luke's emergency supplies and stealing his food for the specific purpose of getting a rise out of Luke and he does (the rise of Skywalker?). Almost every time, Luke takes the bait and loses his temper. That's why Yoda initially tells Obi-Wan that Luke's personality isn't suitable for training.

He asks Obi-Wan, "Will he finish what he begins?" He chastises Luke for never keeping his mind on where he is, what he's doing. Yoda started out by trolling Luke because he knows there will be people who try to manipulate Luke's emotions for very different reasons. And so it happens when Luke runs into Vader, Vader immediately starts taunting him; "You're not a Jedi yet," "All too easy," etc. Though Vader's even better than that because he also provides positive reinforcement; "You've learned to control your fear; now release your anger." He positions himself to be the source of Luke's good feelings as well as his bad.

I love the dynamic between Vader and the command crews on the Star Destroyers. In the longest post I've written on Star Wars, this entry from 2005, I spent a lot of time talking about how the contrast between the kids (Han, Luke, and Leia) and the adult (Vader) is that the kids constantly make the mistakes natural for people who don't understand their own feelings and needs while Vader is always certain. If Captain Needa loses the Millennium Falcon, Captain Needa's obviously useless, so Vader has no qualms about crushing his throat. Vader doesn't hesitate to permanently get of people for two reasons; he feels he's paring down incompetence but also, more importantly, he'll create an atmosphere where everyone is afraid of failure. Piett barely blinks at his promotion from captain to admiral. It's not for him to think about whether the last guy deserved the axe, he just has to keep his head down and keep going. Han and Leia wouldn't last a minute in that outfit. The implicit idea is that the Rebellion is messier, it's more about people, but the Empire is more about machines, about certainty, and about career. I imagine the last thing Piett wants to think about is where he is and what he is doing.

No comments:

Post a Comment