I began typing up my reaction to TLJ and I couldn’t stop and now I’m up to two pages of notes in Google Docs and still have so much more to say. So rather than posting a TL;DR length ramble, I’m going to break it up into chunks. Consider this part 1 of whatever haha.
Spoilers, obviously, though this post is relatively vague compared to what is to come.
I will start by saying that I know it was not a perfect movie – it ran a bit too long, I felt the timeline didn’t quite add up, among other things that I will mention under the cut. But overall, I loved it and the more time I have had to think about it, I really appreciate all of the stories being told.
I always say that the power of the original trilogy came from the fact that Lucas drew on classic myths and legends from cultures all over the world and the reason the prequel trilogy faltered so much was that it tried to pull from Star Wars, which wasn’t enough to sustain the story. But this new trilogy proves me wrong – if you know what you are doing, you can use Star Wars as your myth and create something that is more than the sum of those parts. The real problem with the prequels was clearly Lucas and his confusion about what made Star Wars resonate with so many people. I feel like Abrams and Johnson are far more aware because they are fans, but they also know that, to paraphrase Faulkner, you must kill your darlings.
For many of us, the original trilogy defines our childhood, with epic heroes and stories of adventure and family, both blood and found family. We still clung to these stories as we got older because of that sense of innocence around them, but we also started to realize that very rarely are these kinds of stories so clear cut, that the world is filled with shades of gray. I think the TFA trilogy taps into that more adult sensibility, and actually a reality that I feel, more and more, people are trying to instill in their children earlier on – that the world isn’t so easy to understand, that sometimes the villains have a point and the heroes act like jerks. Because we are all people, even our heroes, even our leaders, they are just people with their own flaws. This idea was presented in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ but I think most of us overlooked it, focusing more on the Father/Son story than the fact that we had a fallen hero and one who was teetering on the edge.
I think for some fans, this rubbed them the wrong way – they wanted their heroes to remain spotless. I won’t lie, when I first heard that TFA would feature the original cast, I panicked – I said it was because I didn’t want to see old versions of Luke, Leia and Han but now I’m realizing that what I didn’t want to see – didn’t want to know – was about their life after RotJ. Because anyone who had ventured into the EU books in the 90s knew that life goes on and life gets messy. Perhaps, deep down, that was my fear.
But I actually liked finding out about their lives and their mistakes. Han and Leia were together, they had some happy times. Luke tried his best to set an example as the last Jedi. Life went on, as it does – there are no happy endings because nothing ends. To think that evil could be wiped out, could be removed from the galaxy was naive. Plus, as The Last Jedi makes clear, The Force isn’t about good vs evil, but finding a balance between darkness and light – neither of which are inherently good or bad.
More specific thoughts later…