Thursday, May 19, 2005

Losing Sleep Over the Sith: Musings on the Movie

I apologize in advance for any incoherence in thought, grammar, or spelling. I didn't climb into my bed until 3 this morning after attending a midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith with our youth pastor, leaders, and members of the youth group. There were about 20 of us total. It's not that I really wanted to see it, you understand. I just thought it would be good for our young people to see one of the older members of the pastoral staff taking interest in something of such interest to them. OK, that's the sleep deprivation talking. I was as eager as any of them to see how and why young Anakin Skywalker transformed into James Earl Jones, I mean, Darth Vader.

After getting seated we had about 45 minutes to wait for the film to begin. I spent some of this time taking note of the myriad of enthusiasts costumed to tribute their favorite characters. One young woman had a bagel on either side of her head. (I didn't see if they were still intact after the movie.) Carrie Fisher would be honored, I'm sure. Of course, there were Vader's and Obi-Wan's of all sizes along with much cooler light sabers than Hasbro's original. A group of teenagers took turns wielding their fluorescent weaponry in choreographed and non-choreographed swashbuckling in the front of the auditorium receiving cheers and jeers depending on their skill.

I also had plenty of time to wax nostalgic. Had it really been almost 30 years since I was the age of many of these kids? The years seem to have flown by at light speed. I was now watching the finale in a cinematic story I started almost three decades ago. A sobering thought. But this wasn't the extent of the philosophical reflection spawned by my moviegoing excursion.

In the climactic duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin, Anakin says to his former teacher "If you are not with me, you are my enemy." I don't think anyone familiar with the gospels can hear that and not think of Jesus' words "Whoever is not with me is against me" (Mt. 12:30; Lk. 11:23) but I think it's more likely that Lucas intended this line to evoke thoughts of George Bush. He may have lived long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away but Obi's response suggests he'd be right at home in 21st century America: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes." Translation: Absolutist thinking belongs to the malevolent and power-hungry. They're dangerous and not to be trusted. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? As if it weren't bad enough to be likened to fundamentalist jihadists, those who believe in absolute truth are now Sith!

Perhaps George Lucas intended it to be humorous, but this dialogue masterfully illustrates relativism's incoherence. In the same fight scene Obi warns Anakin that his new master is evil (might Obi have some repressed Sithian tendencies?). And what is the whole light and dark side of the force thing if not absolutist? I don't recall Yoda, or any other Jedi master for that matter, ever exhorting someone to choose whatever side of the force appealed to them. One of the factors that has made the Star Wars saga so captivating is that it appeals to our knowledge that the distinction between good and evil is real and that the former's triumph over the latter is the way things ought to be.

Ideology aside, I had a great time despite having to fight off sleepiness which was no fault of the movie's. I'm grateful for George Lucas's creative imagination and willingness to persevere in order to bring his vision to life. I've enjoyed the near 30 year ride.

1 comment:

HappySam said...

don't worship god worship this guy
he defines the force