(Minor) Spoiler warning!
I found this film to be a generally entertaining story. It is put together a little differently than the others in the sense that the focus seems to be on the purposeful end of the old guard. And I think that is what is freaking many of the older fans out.
I say "older fans" with the full knowledge that I am one of them. I was six years old when my parents took me to the largest spectacle I had ever seen. As I sat there with my popcorn, I immediately became enthralled with the story. I wanted to be a Jedi.
I am older now and realize that my abilities are not those of battle. They are those of philosophy, entertainment, and passing knowledge to a new generation. In that regard, I am like the Yoda of the first three films of my youth. While I am no longer in my prime and I am just one tiny creature in the entire galaxy, I have a story to tell. We all do.
In this latest film Luke told Rey, “Lesson one. The force is not a power you have. It’s a tension that binds the universe together.” The Force is within and all around us."
This was a direct callback to Luke's training with Obiwan:
“The force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the Galaxy together.”
Many of the purists that are watching these new films, keep complaining that they are purposely killing the old way of seeing the series. I don't find this to be totally true. In fact, I'm reminded of one of the greatest lessons from Luke's early training. Obiwan told him:
“Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” / “The truth is often what we make of it; you heard what you wanted to hear, believed what you wanted to believe.”
And so does the audience to which these new sequels are geared. The lessons you take from the legends of the Jedi and the Rebel Alliance are individual to each of us, though many of us may agree with the base lessons.
In The Last Jedi, Supreme Leader Snoke said, “As long as the seed of the Jedi lives, hope lives in the galaxy.” This phrase was spoken by Snoke to suggest to Kylo Ren that if he did not destroy the lineage of Skywalker, then they were in danger of a continued defiance of his galactic rule.
This seems to be in contrast to the words of Yoda on his death bed: “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be. The Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned.”
But, much like many of the purist fans, Snoke missed the point. The seed of the Jedi is not a person. The seed of the Jedi is The Force. The energy that binds the universe is what keeps those who would stand for what is right and against what is wrong; striving to achieve what is best for their future.
In one scene, Luke tells Rey that the island on which he lives is the place that keeps the knowledge of the Jedi. "Built a thousand generations ago to keep these. The original Jedi texts. Just like me, they’re the last of the Jedi religion."
This film is a direct reminder that while many things in the universe stay the same, many things change. We keep the old knowledge and maintain the old ways as a means of preserving what we believe is right in the universe. But, what if the hope of the universe rests on new insight? The old religions, the old paths have their place in that they lay the groundwork for the continuance of the universe as we know it. But, the hope of the universe rests on the actions of those who will carry on.
Commander Leia said, “Hope is like the sun. If you only believe it when you see it you’ll never make it through the night.”
Hope continues even when the past dies. In the battle between Luke and Ren, (a scene greatly misinterpreted by some of the fan pages out there), Ren says, ... "The Resistance is dead, the war is over, and when I kill you, I will have killed the last Jedi!"
Luke's response makes him sound like a smartassier version of Obiwan: "Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong. The Rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi."
In this scene, the director purposely pans the faces of each of the new players in the saga. It is a reminder to us that though the players of the past are dying away, a new torch has been lit. And, it was the actions of the old players that were the spark. Luke Skywalker, having been "A New Hope," is also the catalyst for the rekindling of "The Old Hope" for a tiny remaining band of rebels.
In their outrage at what they perceive as the dying of the light, I believe that many of the purists have forgotten the words of Obiwan when he said, "You have taken your first step into a larger world."
Also remember the words of Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace: Remember: "Your focus determines your reality."
I believe we should focus on the essence of these stories. We should focus on letting them take our minds to new places. We should focus on the childlike joy we experienced the first time we saw Luke, Han and Leia.
Back when Obiwan was training the elder Skywalker who would become Vader, he said of The Force: “It is an energy field and something more. An aura that at once controls and obeys. It is a nothingness that can accomplish miracles.”
So, why would we, the fans of the Star Wars Universe, believe for one minute that The Force cannot continue in a new line? The very lives we live are proof that the old must make way for the new. Much like I believe this film does, we must carry on the values and traditions of the old ways, but make room for the application of them by a new generaton.
Many of the complaints I hear are about how the new films don't look the same. Remember what Obiwan said to Luke, “Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.”
As disappointed as I was in the overall scope of the prequels, this new generation of films seems to be redeeming the spirit of the old. Yes, there are tertiary characters and tons of CGI. I'm okay with that. The state of the art of CGI is such that it really doesn't take away from the overall look.
Oh, and the Progs are not even remotely as annoying as the Gungans. They have a pet quality as opposed to the horrific spittle dripping of "Mesa gonna bugger up a whole franchise!"
Deep breath... let it go...
In one scene, the old texts of the Jedi are destroyed by a bolt of lightning called down by Yoda. He tells Luke: "Oh, read them, have you? Page-turners they were not. Yes, yes, yes. Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess. Skywalker, still looking to the horizon. Never here, now, hmm? The need in front of your nose."
In another scene, Skywalker said, “The force does not belong to the Jedi. To say the Jedi dies, the force dies is vanity.”
In my least favorite of the "pre-quels" Shmi Skywalker says to her then 9 year old son, “You can’t stop the change, any more than you can stop the suns from setting.”
Change is inevitable. We age and we die. Our children and their children carry on. We must teach the things that are right, so that they can be applied in a new way. In a pivotal scene, Yoda himself appears as a spirit to remind us of this.
In a closing scene, Rey asked Leia, “How do we rebuild the rebel force from this?” To which she replied, “We have everything we need.”
The old stories that are the basis for this new rebellion against evil have been told. The figures in those stories are now legend to a new generation as evidenced in the closing scene of this movie.
Obi Wan Kenobi (A New Hope): “Remember…the Force will be with you, always.” The Force and everything it means is eternal.
I think it is okay to pass the torch because it was our spark that lit it. The continued success of this franchise is because people like us went and bought dvd's, books, and memorabilia, letting the world know that what could have ended as just another quirky sci-fi, was more than that.
Saw Gerarra says, “Save the Rebellion. Save the dream.” (Rogue One)
These films are not some giant middle finger to those of us who have been fans to this point. Rather, they are an attempt to get us to continue to enjoy what is right about the Star wars Universe alongside a new generation of fan. You will note that Chewbacca and the droids remain.
The Rebellion has in fact been saved. It carries on in a new generation. The droids are potentially eternal. Chewie is of a race that can live to be quite ancient. They are a continued reminder of the past. and, Bonus... Millenium falcon still flying...nuff said!
In that pivotal scene I mentioned earlier, spirit Yoda reminds Luke that though he has failed, (Much in the same way Obiwan failed with the elder Skywalker), the universe still goes on and time progresses. I know we "old people" tend to dislike the idea that progress means replacing the things we hold dear. But, what we must do is pass on what we hold dear so that it can be revisioned by a new generation.
Yoda says to Luke: "Heeded my words not, did you? Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters."
A gigantic lesson that I believe is missed by those complaining about these new films is that Luke Skywalker and Rey have a similar story. They came from similar paths to find themselves walking alongside people who each had their own story. The stories could go on potentially forever. (Which is what Disney is counting on.)
Remember that we could give up hope for the franchise because we believe that it is somehow different. But, is it? Does the essence remain? Or does the essence die because a new generation takes up the torch and moves into the future.
I think Han Solo sums it up in The Force Awakens when he says: “That’s not how the Force works!”