This weekend we watched Return of the Jedi, and I thus completed my fatherly duty of showing my kids the original Star Wars Trilogy. And now I have Odin’s blessing to enter Valhalla as a true man.
What I have always felt has been confirmed: The Empire Strikes Back is truly the best of the three films, and not just for its dark tone or cliff hanger ending. Empire was the only movie of the three where one of my kids did not fall asleep during it. It is perfectly paced, and still holds up. We have already talked about A New Hope being slow. Jedi suffers from this on occasion as well. But not Empire.
After watching Jedi, both of my girls asked me, “So, does Luke become bad?” I have asked this same question since watching these movies as a kid. When one of them said this, I thought, “Wow, what a coincidence.” Then the second asked me the same thing later, and I thought, “Maybe it isn’t too farfetched after all.” Then my 5-year-old step son was playing with his Star Wars toys today, between bouts of puking, and was pretending that Luke was turning to the dark side.
See, here’s the thing. Yoda tells Luke that once you start down the path to the dark side, forever will it dominate your destiny. To me this always meant that once you give into hate, boom! You’re done.
We see Anakin give into hate when he murders the Sand People. Granted, they took his mom, but he murders every single Sand Person there, not just the ones responsible. “I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead, every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children, too. They’re like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals. I HATE THEM!” The point is, he gives in to his hate and uses it to fuel himself, and we see where that led him.
We also see Luke give into hate. He is on the new Death Star, and the Emperor has his lightsaber. The Emperor says, “Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!” And Luke does just that. Of course, he is blocked by Vader, but that doesn’t matter. He gives in to his hate and uses it to try to kill the Emperor.
Both of my girls saw this. A 5-year-old saw this. I saw this when I was a kid, and have always argued that if they were to continue the story then Luke, at least in my mind, would have to eventually give in to the dark side completely and turn evil. He started down the path, and according to Yoda, that is all she wrote.
Now I have not read the books that came after. None of the books matter to me. I don’t care if Lucas approved them or not. I don’t care about arguments as to what book/comic/game is canon. I am not that kind of geek. The movies came first. The movies are how this story has been and will be delivered to the public. The movies are all that matter. Now they are making new movies, so I guess we will see.
But even my kids, who don’t really care one way or the other, came to this conclusion. They saw it. They heard the words of Yoda, and of the Emperor. They saw what Luke did last summer.
I think it would be a cool story.