Discussion Joseph Campbell, The Monomyth and the ST

Discussion in 'Star Wars: Episode VII and Beyond (Archive)' started by Darth Chiznuk, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. Darth Chiznuk PT Trivia Master / Game Host

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    He freed himself from the Emperor's influence and from the dark side. I don't know how to explain it better than that. It's more of a symbolic "freedom."

    As for your second question, I certainly do consider Obi-Wan a loved one and as for the Lars and Organas just because Vader didn't personally kill them doesn't mean he isn't partially responsible. He ordered those stormtroopers to recover the droids at all costs and he stood by while Alderaan was destroyed. But this is a moot point anyway because I was referring to the next generation when I talked about forgiveness and was referring to a more symbolic forgiveness then an actual, "Hey we forgive you grandpa." :p
  2. T-R- Chosen One

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    I think we can forget this now that he decided to make the ST. He stated this when he was promoting Episodes I-VI as the entire Saga.

    Prior to that he said Star Wars was "The Adventures of Luke Skywalker."

    The appropriate thing to say now is that I-VI was "The Tragedy of Darth Vader" and IV-IX are "The Adventures of Luke Skywalker."

    The Star Wars Saga I-IX is the Skywalker Saga.
    Last edited by T-R-, Feb 27, 2013
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  3. Darth_Pevra Chosen One

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    Symbolic freedom, symbolic forgiveness? Maybe this goes over my head because I'm not sure what these phrases are supposed to mean.

    I guess you could say that the Emperor was a mirror reflection of Vaders dark side and when he chugged him down the shaft he chugged his own inner evil down with it as well. Or something like that. I'm not into symbolism. I prefer Hermann Hesse to Haruki Murakami.

    Symbolic forgiveness ... no, I don't know what that is supposed to mean. If you forgive Vader you might as well forgive the Emperor too. Hate the Dark Side, not the person who wields it, or ... what?

    Totally confused.
  4. Darth Chiznuk PT Trivia Master / Game Host

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    I completely agree. Like I said I was just playing devil's advocate and throwing out a theory about how his story could continue.
  5. Darth Chiznuk PT Trivia Master / Game Host

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    Accepting your legacy (for good and ill), letting go of your hate, moving forward and not allowing the past to affect your future, etc. You don't have to say your forgiven (especially if the person is dead) to allow forgiveness in your heart. A talented writer could show this.
  6. Darth_Pevra Chosen One

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    These things can be connected to forgetfulness as well as to forgiveness (repression does, in fact, work sometimes). I would argue Obi-Wan did all of these things during the years on Tatooine but he didn't really forgive Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, in fact he dehumanized him and exhibited some complicated doublethink.
    Last edited by Darth_Pevra, Feb 27, 2013
  7. Darth Chiznuk PT Trivia Master / Game Host

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    Like I said a talented writer (George Lucas/Michael Arndt) could portray it very well. :)
  8. Pfluegermeister Chosen One

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    In the interest of making this thread be something about a little more than just whether Darth Vader can be forgiven or not, I'd like to make a comment on something that Darth_Pevra said a couple pages back in reference to some of Campbell's basic ideas:

    While I must stress that I hold absolutely no personal malice against Pevra, I do feel the need to offer a counter-argument to Pevra's fundamental assumption and point out that scientifically minded thinking simply doesn't apply to this subject, and that to attempt to apply it would be the essential metaphorical attempt to squeeze a square peg into a round hole:

    First, to attempt to view Campbell, or mythology in general, through the lens of the proper scientific method, through objectivity, evidence and "truth," is a waste of time from the outset: whether we like it or not, mythology is a discussion of personal faith, whatever the person or mythological model under discussion. There's nothing rational about mythology. The things that can be objectively proven have nothing to do with mythology, and vice versa. The evidence, as Campbell himself was never afraid to point out, is that despite the fact that our science is that of approximately 2000 A.D., our basic mythologies in the West which we all inherited from the region of the Levant - Christianity, Judaism and Islam - are still adhering to the science of 2000 B.C. Despite everything we currently know about, say, how the universe was created, despite all the advances in cosmology made since then, most of us still use a religious text where the creation of the universe took place in six days. That was a cosmological model for another time, and another place - the near East of two thousand years ago - and it's being used and believed in passionately by people in the present-day industrialized world who already have access to a more accurate scientific model, and who will take offense if you point out that their model is wrong. Mythology by definition is a matter of faith, and it has nothing to do with the rational. To view it through the lens of science is pointless.

    Second, I submit that it makes no difference to the discussion if Campbell and his ideas were esoteric, unscientific, or "pseudo-intellectual" (whatever that means in this context), or whether they sit well with any particular person here. If these are things that Campbell believed and said, then they were things that Lucas was exposed to; if they were things Lucas was exposed to, then they were concepts that likely had an impact on the development of Star Wars going forward. Therefore, no matter how pseudo-intellectual those ideas are, they are relevant, and again, the scientific validity of such ideas is absolutely irrelevant. Furthermore, Campbell's primary emphasis in his work was the effect of mythology on the psychology of a person, and whether a mythology can help a person cope with life. People can call it esoteric like that's some kind of a revelation, but we've known all about this man for far longer, I'd bet, than some of the people posting here have been alive! How do you view anything Campbell said as anything other than esoteric? Why is that at all a surprise, and why is that somehow a bad thing now? Of course some of his ideas won't stand up to modern scrutiny; the study of mythology itself, like all fields of study, continues to develop and does not remain in stasis, and the study of myth and folklore did not end with Campbell any more than it ended with Sir James George Frazier or Mircea Eliade. Campbell is a snapshot in time, but it is a snapshot that reveals insight into the mindset of George Lucas when he devised everything we've been into for about thirty-five years. By definition, anything Campbell said is relevant to this thread, pseudo-intellectual or not. And if he was informed by Jung in any way, then whatever one's feelings about Jung and his ideas, they too become relevant to this thread if - and I emphasize the "if" - they can reveal something about how, through Campbell, they influenced anything in Star Wars.

    And by the way, if people think that Campbell is pseudo-intellectual, imagine the bricks people will crap when we bring out Lucas' other main influence on the spiritual aspects of the Star Wars saga - none other than New Age hippy-dippy writer Carlos Castaneda? Has anyone here read Castaneda's work? It's got about as much to do with actual science as my ear has to do with my desk lamp, and probably complete hogwash (he structured his books like memoirs of things that actually happened to him, but the veracity of his accounts of encounters with the shaman Don Juan Matus has been publicly challenged and there's little evidence to support the idea that any of it actually happened; they're likely about as true as the Celestine Prophecy books a decade ago), and yet Lucas specifically and repeatedly cited Castaneda's 1975 book Tales of Power, published while he was writing the original drafts for what became ANH, as a major influence on how he viewed the Force. Do you want to know where Lucas came up with the phrase "luminous beings?" He got it from that book; it's mentioned all over that book in detail, defined far more specifically than, say, Obi-Wan or Yoda ever defined it for Luke. And it's all horse-crap, if we're going to look at it from the standpoint of evidence. Go ahead and try to scientifically detect a person's luminous connection to the universe; you'll be waiting a long time to find it. That's pseudo-intellectualism, if you want to apply that label to anyone who influenced Star Wars; whereas Campbell undertook rigorous research and built on the research of his predecessors (you know, like a proper academic should?), all Castaneda did was wander off into the desert and eat the mushrooms. There's nothing scientific about it, and there's no evidence to be had unless you accept hallucinations as evidence. And yet Lucas cited this as a major influence, so pseudo-intellectual or not, Castaneda is relevant to the discussion of Star Wars. And if I need to cite him, I'll cite him, because at this point we'd be just as likely to discover what Episode VII is going to be like from Castaneda as from Campbell.

    Finally, can I just remind people here that Star Wars itself is about as scientifically accurate as some would say Campbell is? Exactly how much hard science is in these movies? Sound can't really travel in a vacuum, and yet we hear spaceships make noise in space. A lightsaber is scientifically impossible, and yet people light them up in every movie. Watto couldn't possibly keep his big old butt in the air with those little butterfly wings, and yet he flies around. There's no way in physics that a character like Jar Jar should exist - EVER - and yet he does (and by the way, his role is far more justified by Campbell, as the Parsifal-type "pure fool" persona from mythology, than it is by anyone else, including Lucas himself). Star Wars has about as much to do with the rational as Campbell does, because it's all fiction, specifically fiction geared towards the instruction of young people in moral behavior and on how to properly live life. NONE of it is real; NONE of it should therefore be required to stand up to the scientific process, require scientifically valid evidence, or be required to be truly intellectual as opposed to being "pseudo-intellectual." If these "general assumptions about the role of mythology and human nature" don't sit well with someone, then theoretically, nothing in Star Wars should sit well either, because the saga is clearly based off of those ideas, regardless of their scientific merit. And, because the original clearly-stated purpose of the thread was in part to "discuss Joseph Campbell's influence on Star Wars" (Chiznuk's words; not mine), then I'm well within my rights to discuss the length, width and breadth of that influence on this thread, regardless of whether the ideas that make up that influence are "confirmed by evidence" or not.

    For these reasons, I submit that a study of Campbell's ideas is indeed relevant to this thread - and if not this thread, than where? - and there's far more that can be contributed to the discussion by Campbell if people are willing to give it a try.
  9. Darth_Pevra Chosen One

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    I disagree with your last two sentences. Just because Mythology is tied with the subconscious doesn't mean it can't be subjected by scientific studies. Maybe one day we'll find out why we dream or why these archetypal figures pop up from our unconscious. It would help to better understand what is going on in our brains and that on the other hand could help cure afflictions like schizophrenia.

    Btw., I'm not saying Campbell didn't do important work. Him searching for common elements in various tale was good work. But that doesn't mean he necessarily drew the right conclusions from the material he worked with. Just like Freud or Jung he didn't have the same amount of information available as we have now.

    What Campbell said is only relevant in regards to speculation on what Episode VII, VIII or IX contain.

    But bringing RL into the discussion is provocative and derailing.

    And Star Wars is completely fictional. Fiction doesn't have to stand up to the scientific method as long as it is sufficiently believable for a general audience. Btw., I don't like all the messages sent by Star Wars. Star Wars is not suited to teach very young kids about morals. I can still enjoy Star Wars even though it often clashes with my own morals and can be too simplistic for its own good.

    General statements about RL however, are, on the other hand, worthless if not backed by evidence and reason. Psychologists and Neurologists already have some answers why humans act in a certain manner, so why consult completely outdated material?

    The saga thread. It is easy enough to find. Too much philosophizing about "human nature" in this thread is just derailing what this forum is about (speculating about Ep. VII).

    http://boards.theforce.net/forums/star-wars-saga-in-depth.10456/
  10. KudosDas Jedi Master

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    Hey all,

    Just thought I'd post something here to breathe some life into this tread and take it in a slightly different direction for a bit. Now, I did originally present this idea in another thread, albeit in a slightly different context, so if you have already tumbled this through your mind my apologies for repeating myself. However, because I was curious myself as to how this idea might play out in regards to the Hero's Journey as it may play out in the ST, I'd thought I'd share it with you all as well.

    Recent speculation, as reported here on TFN, has been that we'll see the child and grandchild of Han and Leia in the ST. If this is the case, and if the ST follows the naming conventions we have thus far seen in regards to surnames in the Star Wars Universe, these offspring should be Solo's. If Luke remains without any offspring then that means the Skywalker name, at least as far as we as fans know, comes to an end. If Luke does end up with a child or children of his own and none of them are male then the same thing occurs, albeit a generation later. Note that this is not the same as saying that the Skywalker legacy is coming to an end, merely the name. Interestingly enough, if we only have one child in each generation in the Solo line, and one of them is female, then the Solo name would also cease to be passed on.

    Now, I've argued in several places that I'd actually like to see a female protagonist so please don't take this as a sneaky backdoor kind of way of arguing that we must have a male lead in the ST by decrying the end of the Skywalker name and conducting some kind of fear-mongering campaign. The question I am posing for the sake of discussion here is, does the passing on, or ending of, the Skywalker NAME have any bearing on how the Hero's Journey might be presented in the ST.

    I'm really interested to see what other people have to say on the matter so I'll hold off with my own ideas until others have had a chance to respond. ;)
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  11. Darth Chiznuk PT Trivia Master / Game Host

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    First let me apologize for how long it took me to respond because I had meant to a while ago but forgot. I've also thought about the implications the ST might present with regard to the end of the Skywalker lineage. If this is the end of the Skywalker saga and there's no Episodes X, XI, XII then it might be quite poignant if the name dies out in this last trilogy. I'm not sure what if anything Joseph Campbell wrote about the subject so I'll have to rely on someone with more knowledge of his work to respond to that. I can say for certainty though that so far one of the major themes of the Star Wars saga has been the relationship between sons and fathers or father figures. However, the more I think about it the more I begin to suspect that Luke will serve more as the father figure rather than the biological father. I believe this partly because of what Lucas himself has said about his vision of the post-ROTJ era (namely that Luke wouldn't get married) and partly because of how it could mirror the PT. The prequels showed how a father figure (Palpatine) could have a negative impact on someone's life and I would love it if the sequels showed how a father figure (Luke) could have a positive impact on someone's life. If this is true then the Skywalker name dies with Luke but the lineage continues in the Solos.
    Last edited by Darth Chiznuk, Mar 7, 2013
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  12. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Grand Master

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    I've followed Campbell quite a bit and honestly I cannot recall him ever discussing a mythic story where the actual passing on of a particular surname is emphasized. Perhaps another Campbell aficionado out there can correct me on this.

    Now, there are mythic stories where the son is striving to preserve the honor of his father's name for future generations. And stories where the son wants to restore the honor of the family name after it has been besmirched by some terrible scandal (hmmm...), but a myth where the son wants to ensure an actual surname will continue, or bemoans the fact that it won't? I can't think of one.

    Of course there have been a lot of stories done on this topic, featuring a rather memorable character called Henry VIII. Except he was real. And not exactly a hero.
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  13. T-R- Chosen One

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    I can't imagine Luke burning through wives........
  14. Pfluegermeister Chosen One

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    No, I've never seen anything like that either, and I've read enough of his work and listened to enough of his lectures for me to doubt we'll find one. It's not impossible; I just haven't ever read or heard a reference by Campbell to such a theme.
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  15. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Grand Master

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    Well, Owen did warn us that Luke has "too much of his father in him."

    But no...sweet Luke would never do that.

    And my apologies for being nitpicky, but Henry VII didn't burn through wives. He chopped their heads off. His daughter Mary I is the one who was known for burning people.
  16. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Grand Master

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    OK, I had an idea for a story that I think has strong mythic themes, if not exactly following the template of the monomyth, which features Han and Leia's son as the main character but still could appease the fans who want a Skywalker son to carry on the name...

    Let's say that in spite of the incredible heroism of the OT cast and the fact that they basically saved the universe -- once it became known that Luke and Leia were the children of Darth Vader, society turned its back on them. The stigma of being Darth's children outweighs all the good they accomplished. The Skywalker name is in disgrace, and so Luke, Han, and Leia are not involved in the government or any honored positions of authority. Han and Leia are living a quiet life somewhere raising their kid(s). And as I've talked about elsewhere, they have a son who is very force-gifted but doesn't want to become a Jedi because of the whole grandpa-was-a-psycho-killer thing.

    Luke is living a quiet life somewhere nearby, not married, and he has resigned himself to the belief that he will be the last of the Jedi and the last Skywalker. Both the name and the order will die out with him. Then some new evil threat in the universe acts as the catalyst to get our heroes off their collective butts. Somewhere in Episode 7 amidst all the fighting and chase scenes, Kid Solo bonds with Luke and decides to become a Jedi after all. Han and Leia both die, most likely in an heroic act of self-sacrifice, leaving Kid Solo as an orphan (which fits the mythic hero mold).

    Most of the trilogy features Luke and Kid Solo (and again with apologies to T-R-, Kid Solo as the main lead) working together to save the galaxy yet AGAIN, while at the same time restoring the family honor and the name of Skywalker. Somewhere in all this, Luke finally gets a love interest (which removes the problem of Luke's whole love story taking place off-screen) and in Episode 9, Luke and this woman have a son. As the trilogy wraps up, the family honor is restored, Kid Solo is a Jedi, and Luke has a son -- so neither the Jedi knights nor the Skywalker name will die out after all.
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  17. woj101 Force Ghost

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    Given the established behaviour of Lucasfilm to say pretty much anything to protect the franchise, I find it impossible to read too much into where the saga is going at this stage. Big names are signed up and Lucas is on board as a 'consultant' (can mean anything and nothing) but frankly that is just how the LFL hype machine works in order to re-assure a largely disillusioned fanbase. Lucas can say the Disney deal wasn't about money, but we all know the behaviour of LFL up to now in the manner in which it re-releases the OT & PT, the 3D debacle etc. points distastefully towards financial considerations taking high priority.

    So with Lucas only acting as a 'consultant' and with the ST being billed as a standalone trilogy, I see no particular reason for Disney to necessarily stick to the Monomyth approach. If the Monomyth had any unresolved chapters that were worth telling then I see no reason why Lucas didn't tell them himself. As such I think this discussion would have had more relevance prior to the Disney purchase of LFL, rather than after it. I'll be upfront and admit to not having studied Campbell yet, but the extent to which the monomyth influenced Star Wars, and the extent to which Star Wars depends on it, is perhaps being over-emphasised. If Lucas had come out and said, "Psyche! I was kidding these past 15 years, there really was a third trilogy planned and detailed based on the monomyth and I am now going to tell it" then fair enough. but the ST aren't going to be Lucas' films. I know it's cynical, but I can't help but think all this talk of his involvement and how the LFL Holocron is being scoured for material is just PR to convince us that the ST is in safe hands. That's not to say that I don't think it is in safe hands, just that I don't care much for the LFL PR machine.

    In terms of the story, as I think about the ending of OT and what Luke may have gotten up to since, I'm not sure he would have set out to re-establish the Jedi Order, and I'm not sure that would make for a very good story anyway. One of the main issues the PT has it that the Jedi/Sith/Republic/Empire topic is too prominent, at the expense of the personal relationships of the key characters - this is why the OT was so good, because personal relationships take centre-stage while the Jedi/Sith/Republic/Empire issue is just going on in the background.

    So what strikes me as an appealing approach at the moment is for Luke to have decided to let the Jedi/Sith legacy rest. So in the 30 years since he has resumed 'normal life' and effectively buried The Force, which has, afterall, returned to balance. Any offspring that have arisen with Skywalker genes perhaps do give extra reason to bury the Force because the effect it had on the family previously. However, 30 years on events transpire and presumably the Sith re-appears in some way and Luke is conflicted about whether or not to tackle it. Perhaps we have a situation where Han and Leia have had a child/ren but without the focus of a rebellion Han began to return to his old 'scoundrel' ways and is a bit of an absent father. The Solo child, knowing the family history, is eager to confront the emerging Sith threat and is a bit of a loose canon so Luke must reluctantly dust off his cloak and sabre to come to Kid Solo's rescue and provide the necessary guidance to prosper. Maybe Luke also has his own offspring that he's trying to keep away from it all but inevitably can't prevent.
    Last edited by woj101, Mar 8, 2013
  18. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Grand Master

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    Responding to the bolded parts first...

    I don't want to drag this thread off-topic, but the recent Businessweek article --
    http://mobile.businessweek.com/arti...-bought-lucasfilm-and-its-plans-for-star-wars -- makes it very clear that Lucas' story treatments are the basis for the ST. Here's a salient excerpt:

    At first Lucas wouldn’t even turn over his rough sketches of the next three Star Wars films. When Disney executives asked to see them, he assured them they would be great and said they should just trust him. “Ultimately you have to say, ‘Look, I know what I’m doing. Buying my stories is part of what the deal is.’ I’ve worked at this for 40 years, and I’ve been pretty successful,” Lucas says. “I mean, I could have said, ‘Fine, well, I’ll just sell the company to somebody else.’ ”

    So he's more than just a consultant. The underlying story for the ST is basically his. I don't have the time or the energy to dredge up the mountain of quotes on how strongly Lucas was influenced by Joseph Campbell and mythology in general, but it's almost impossible to overstate the influence that mythology had on the stories of the first six SW films -- and I don't see how the ST would be any different. Not to mention that Disney has done a few myth-based films themselves, so they know it's a formula that works.

    I agree that a story about the actual setting-up of a new Jedi order would be pretty dull. But ultimately the Jedi are Star Wars' signature characters. There will always be a Jedi lurking somewhere in future SW stories. So either Luke is the last-ever Jedi (and therefore has to live forever) or they'll need to create a next-generation Jedi sooner or later. I'm guessing sooner.

    A lot of rather spirited discussion in this thread has centered around the question of whether the new trilogy will feature a retelling of the basic hero's journey for a new character (my position) or whether they will find a way to stretch out the final act (the "return" portion) of the hero's journey for Luke. I'll take this opportunity to add that most of the mythic stories that feature a protracted "return" portion of the story were written a very long time ago. When myths are translated to modern-day film, the return portion is either significantly shortened (LOTR) or dropped altogether (Harry Potter). Because not only is the return part of the journey the least exciting part of the story, it's usually a downer -- the hero often finds that society rejects what he has brought back and/or he can no longer fit into society as he once did.

    But I couldn't agree with you more that strong interesting relationships between the characters should take center stage in the new story.
  19. T-R- Chosen One

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    Lucas was in the process of telling it prior to the purchase, the new interview with him makes this clear. He even had Disney put it in writing that only 3 people got to read the treatment, so this IS his ST making the Monomyth relevant.

    What if it's both, like Vader's redemption and Luke's Hero's Journey in the OT? Only difference would be that with both Luke and a young hero being protagonists, their story would be intertwined with more shared screen time than Luke and Vader.

    As for the part I boldened, I will point out that this isn't always true. Sometimes the return part is the main, MORAL, part in mythology. And morality will play a big role in the ST if Lucas keeps his outline. It's also the part that tells the main lesson and can be very exciting.
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  20. fishtailsam Force Ghost

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  21. T-R- Chosen One

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    To further this, the structure could be similar to the main character situation in the PT.

    VII - Luke has the Jinn role (minus dying) new character has the Anakin or Obi-Wan role .
    VIII and IX - Luke has the Kenobi role and new character has the Anakin role (minus turning to the dark)

    Once again, for structure not neccessarily story points. In essence it could be the Jinn/Kenobi relationship over 3 movies as Luke passes on his knowledge to the new character.
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  22. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Grand Master

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    No, it's not always true. Just usually. And it is the least exciting part of the hero's journey, which is why the return is usually truncated or cut altogether from modern stories.

    I could certainly see a story where it is both -- the new young hero going through the basic hero's journey (which is essentially a mythic coming-of-age story) and Luke finishing up his own journey, which in my version would include him helping to restore the honor of the Skywalker name and finally getting a wife and child of his own. Where we differ is that your version would give Luke the "A" story, while his son/nephew would be relegated to the "B" story. My version is the opposite. But there could be room for both.
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  23. Trebor Sabreon Chosen One

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    Love it. I don't imagine we'll be lucky enough to get this, but I love it.
  24. woj101 Force Ghost

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    Well, Leia's Left Bun & T-R-, you're clearly giving more credence to the media coverage than I am. Lucas is an unreliable source, as ridiculous as it sounds, and so are Disney at the moment. They've just bought a massive franchise from him. All parties' number one priority at the moment is to transmit the message that it's not all about the money and that story and character is where it's at, regardless of what the truth is. Given everything that's come out of Lucas' mouth over the past 30 years I don't see why you would choose to put your faith in the latest spin.

    But, for the sake of discussion, let's say Lucas did plan it all out 35 years ago and the ST we're going to get is the one he drafted. Well back then the line was that only the droids see out the whole saga and that Mark Hamill would only have a bit-part in the ST.
  25. T-R- Chosen One

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    This idea might've come from Mark's comments about a conversation he had with Lucas during the filming of Star Wars in 1976, however, it is clear that Lucas never said this in any source. Bby 1980, and certainly by 1983, Lucas' 9 Episode Saga had a major role for Luke in the ST. In case you've missed it:

    Here's Lucas quote from the 1983 TIME interview:
    He also said that the ST would follow the adventures of the character that survived RotJ.

    Lucas further said that Mark (and Carrie and Harrison) would have the first shot at playing the characters if they looked old enough.
    Last edited by T-R-, Mar 9, 2013