Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ★★★★★

I watched this with a friend that I've had HOURS of Star Wars conversations with. When we met he was fully 100% on the anti-TLJ train, but through many many late nights at the office of me preaching about how much of a masterpiece I think this movie is, he says he has come to an understanding about it. It's not like he's also praising this as up there with ANH and ESB as one of the best, but he gets where I'm coming from even if he doesn't agree on everything. And I can't say how much I appreciate him actually wanting to sit down and watch it with me and allow me to shower acclaim all over this even if he thinks certain things in the movie are fundamentally wrong.

His biggest sticking point is the depiction of Luke Skywalker, that this is not the person that we were left with at the end of RotJ. In the past I've argued that it is and it isn't - it's definitely a regretful Luke, a version of him that we haven't seen - but it's also the other end of that dreaming teen we met on Tatooine all those years ago, just looking back at the past instead of to the future. This movie captures the sadness that someone who is always looking forward to the next thing faces at the end of their life. Where do you look when the suns of your life are about to set, and there are no more horizons to dream about?

But I also made the point to my friend last night that this Luke feels the same way about himself that my friend, and a lot of other fans, feel about him. This is why he ran off. He no longer saw himself as that infallible, legendary hero who saw the good in his evil father and risked it all to bring him back. It feels so human. All of us make these decisions that don't feel like *us*, or are so contrary to who we're *supposed to* be, and this can weigh heavy on you. Star Wars is a series so much about trying to fill in roles that others have created for us, and our fear that we're not good or strong enough to fulfill that role. Anakin is supposed to be The Chosen One yet he has these dark thoughts of his violence and inferiority. Luke is the last hope of a dying galaxy, an immense weight that clearly has haunted him into his old age. Rey's extremely humble origins makes her (in her own eyes) the least likely candidate for the next great Force user, and there's no one else like her out there that could understand her position (except for Ben Solo, which is why he's the perfect romantic foil for her).

This is why TLJ feels to me like it's saying something about Star Wars that has always been there, was being said in 1977 but in a way that's succinct and poignant for today. We look to these past figures and legends for inspiration, but you have to forge your own new path out of that. You can't repeat what the others did or rely on for anything except to maybe point you in the right direction. It makes me think about how Lucas took what inspired him and made something wholly new out of it - things like Flash Gordon, Kurosawa films, Spaghetti Westerns, Eastern Philosophies and religions. He repurposed these things, took those things he saw as essential and brought them into the future with him. We don't need to carry Anakin's lightsaber through the generations. It's an object that carries no intrinsic meaning or value save for what we put into it. What we should carry on is the love that Anakin ultimately found in himself for his son, or the intense bond of friendship that he once shared with Obi-Wan.

Rian Johnson didn't take anything from the previous movies except to make something new from it. He references all of the previous films but gives them new significance or meaning. Where the battle of Hoth was one of the greatest defeats the Rebellion suffered, the Battle of Crait becomes the First Order's greatest failure, as all of that technological terror that they've cultivated is completely powerless to kill one man. Let the past die - but save what you love about it.

I'm so worried for Rise of Skywalker.

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