This post idea came to me as I was updating my Tumblr account and noticed a GIF set taken from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I suddenly became so aware of Luke’s suffering and strength in this one particular scene. If you haven’t seen Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back, please leave my blog RIGHT now and go watch it – no, seriously! It is one of my favourite Star Wars movies for many reasons but for this post, I’d like to focus on something that I’ve been arguing ever since the writers decided to turn Luke into a crazy old Hermit in The Force Awakens.
In this scene, we see a battered, weary, suffering Luke Skywalker who has faced quite possibly the worst thing in the universe you could face as a protagonist. Your very own father is literally the embodiment of all that is evil, and you’ve just faced him in an epic duel and lost monumentally. If that weren’t enough, you’ve also lost your hand, the support of your friends is half a galaxy away and you’re really at the lowest possible place both physically and psychologically. Just look at Luke’s expression. He’s just done and I mean done.
Now consider this is the same man that becomes Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens. People who find themselves in this situation in their lives usually never recover. Some choose to give in altogether because all is lost. And who could blame them? Luke Skywalker however, takes that fear, hurt and pain to a different place and calls on his strength in the Force to save him. Is this the action of a beaten, downtrodden man who is running and hiding from his fears?
If that isn’t enough of an argument, not only does Luke recover but he eventually becomes a Jedi Knight like he promised he would. He completes his training with Grand Master Yoda and faces his father one last time in the epic Original Trilogy finale, Return of the Jedi. In the final moments, Luke refuses to give into the dark side (no small feat), forgives his father and allows Darth Vader to truly fulfil his destiny as The Chosen One and come back to the light as Jedi Anakin Skywalker once more.
And this is why I will never agree with how the writers took the essence of everything Luke represented in the Star Wars universe and kinda spat on it. Maybe he was redeemed at the end (well, that is what some of my friends think) and the way he passed on was beautiful and all that. But it still doesn’t excuse how he was dragged through the mud first.
4 thoughts on “The Strength of Luke Skywalker”
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Haha, thanks 🙂
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You’re not the only one regarding Luke’s portrayal in the sequel trilogy. It’s hard to accept him as a cynical old man since we’ve known him to be the embodiment of hope as a contemporary “Everyman Hero” for 40 years. I accept the writers wanted to “normalize” or make Luke “realistic” but somehow seeing him as a bitter old man broke down the legacy. As he said in the film, Luke used to be a legend. But we as the viewers who have our models for heroes and their journeys don’t want to see them dismantled (at least I don’t). There’s enough tragedy in the Skywalker family without having to deconstruct Luke. As I’ve commented to Harry Potter fans, how would they like it if the Boy Who Lived became a cynical old drunk who divorced his wife and lived in a cardboard box?
I think to keep us in optimism is to accept Luke’s saga as the original trilogy. Because when he’s hanging out on that ledge he’s as close to death and despair as possible…but he compels himself to reach out to his friends, and back to life itself. I also think one could make the point that he was wiling to accept his death later on in “Return of the Jedi’ after completing his training and accepting. But in his moment of being at the bottom of the abyss, he still has to live in order to complete his journey. He went to Cloud City to rescue his friends but they rescued him instead. It’s a humbling yet fitting conclusion to “Empire Strikes Back”.
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Wow, that’s a great reply, thank you so much 😊 I’m glad my point of view is shared as well. And yes, Luke’s story is compelling which is why I have trouble relating to the newer generation of “heroes”. I don’t see Rey as a hero. It’s not that I dislike the character, I just don’t see the same amount of depth in her character as I did with Luke. I could probably go on all day about why Luke will always be the original hero but I think your comment speaks to my feelings exactly 😊