Saga Luke's Choice in ROTJ

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by only one kenobi, May 17, 2013.

  1. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
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    I'm not one who tends to eulogise on the depth of meaning within films generally, or Star Wars in particular, but the more I think about the choice Luke makes at the end of ROTJ, the more profound its implications are. I will try and keep it brief and outline the basic layers that I see. These layers also show the deeper wisdom of both Obi-wan's and Yoda's teachings to him, and that - far from training him as an assassin, they are teaching him lessons that are central to being a Jedi. Secondarily I propose that the 'tragedy of Anakin Skywalker' arc weakens the impact of his actions.

    At the moment he has Vader defeated he is clearly in a state of rage. He has defeated Vader through channeling his anger and hatred against him. This pleases Palpatine who sees the moment as his chance to turn Luke over to him. But at that moment, as Luke cuts of Vader's mechanical hand, Luke looks to his own. Something registers. I believe that what he sees at that moment is what he learned in the cave on Dagobah. Rather, at this moment he finally understands that lesson.

    That lesson is quite straightforward. In the cave Vader is him. He is Vader. His realisation is that he is now, acting as he does, no different to Vader. The lesson of the cave is that his greatest enemy is himself.

    There is another layer that goes with this though. Throwing down his lightsabre says something else entirely. This is his faith in his friends. All of the lessons that Yoda and Obi-Wan taught him here come to life for him. The Emperor's words at this point, as he fries him with lightening, point toward the same; "Only now, at the end, do you understand" (This might also be seen, unkowingly by Palpatine, as a reference to Anakin)

    He throws his lightsabre down because he realises that if he continues to act then everything that his friends believe in might be undone. He must have faith that they can do their job. He recognises that he is not all powerful, that he has but one small part to play in this drama. He cannot save everyone.

    It has been argued that Obi-Wan essentially berates Luke for not being willing to kill his father. What I see is that Luke idealises his father and is not prepared for the position that he actually takes against Luke. He does not think that Vader could do him harm. Obi-Wan is concerned that when he does confront Vader, as he must, then he will do so not in a calm state of mind but driven by anger. (Reference Obi-Wan's words on Mustafar; "I will do what I must" - no matter what Anakin was, he must be treated for what he is - or rather, he must be confronted in terms of his actions now).

    All of these lessons coalesce in Luke's understanding at that moment. He throws down his weapon prepared that he might die, but that he will do so a Jedi.

    This is profound because it subverts the heroic archetype. His actions are not 'heroic' in that sense, they are antithetical to that sense of heroism. It is a lesson in humility, self-awareness, self control and of faith - faith in others.

    I think that the arc of the 'Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker' misses this. More pertinently, the pre-determined prophetic aspect of it dissolves the power of Luke's actions and choices - they play at as simply aspects of Anakin's arc, rather than Luke's.

    There's the basic outline, your thoughts are eagerly anticipated. (And I hope its not too pretentious.)
  2. Ingram_I Jedi Master

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    Sep 7, 2012
    star 3
    Some good thoughts. I agree with you to an extent. I agree that Luke Skywalker realizes his place in the grand scheme of the drama. Yet I would argue that what he learns from his two mentors in order to defeat Darth Vader and the Emperor is perhaps not as clear cut as you’ve made it out to be. I think something more challenging is being presented to audiences here. Namely, that Ben and Yoda are not all-knowing, all-wise. They don’t have all the right answers. In order to understand this, first we must take in the full measure of Ben’s 'point of view' lecture during the Dagobah scene in Return of the Jedi, as it establishes a key thematic setup for the final journey that Luke is about to undertake. The irony of Ben’s wisdom is that he himself never fully grasps it the way Luke does, nor does any other character throughout the six-part saga, except, tragically, Padme on her deathbed; the mother and the son are the only two who perceive the father in a different light. For in this same conversation Ben tells Luke that Vader is beyond redemption: "He’s more machine now than man. Twisted and evil," and if Luke cannot or will not kill his father, "Then the Emperor has already won." Ben only sees one side of the equation, as does Yoda. Both have long since concluded that Anakin’s death, by itself, as a means to an end, is the only answer. This is carried over in the prequels with an ever bigger play on verbal contradictions. At one point Obi Wan says to Yoda, "Send me to kill the Emperor. I will not kill Anakin.""He’s like my brother," but is nonetheless convinced by Yoda that the boy he trained is gone forever. What follows in the final confrontation is one of the more clever double-plays on this whole idea of truths and alternatives when Obi Wan himself hypocritically declares, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

    Yet even without the prequels, the theme still tracks. Luke becomes the freestyle Jedi, in part, because he denies the forgone conclusions of his mentors -- the lingering residual of their stodgy, old-orthodox mentality -- his sister, the Emperor and even Vader himself ("It is too late for me, my son.") by viewing the situation of his father from a different point of view. Indeed, Luke forges his own truth, and then makes it a reality …cue Qui-Gon Jin: "Your focus determines your reality." Therefore, I don’t think Luke is being naïve about his father by idolizing him to the point of blind passivism. He knows the dangers that lie ahead. But he’s also bringing compassion into the arena, the alternate conviction that all in his father is not lost. Not only does he verbally water drip Vader with this belief, from their meeting on the landing bay platform and throughout their final duel, but his very act of surrender is a profound gesture of defiance against the collective notion of "absolutes", as is his eventual act of throwing down the saber. Luke convinces his father by making an example of himself. This wasn’t an easy thing to do, in that he is tested throughout this confrontation to the fullest degree by the Dark Side, and I also agree, of course, where you explain how-and-where his lesson in the cave comes full circle.
    I’m not sure I understand what you mean when saying the 'Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker', or how it weakens the thematic narrative of Luke. The idea that Anakin’s fate maybe predetermined has no bearing on the fact that Luke still has to make choices on his own accord. He thinks one thing only to find out another; his told one thing only then choose for himself another. Calling it 'Anakin’s Tragedy' or 'Anakin’s Story' does not mean that Anakin’s actions are the only variables.
    Last edited by Ingram_I, May 17, 2013
  3. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    " I am a Jedi, like my father before me."

    Like my father before me. Not, 'I am a Jedi, but in a new and enlightened way, totally separated from the teachings I have received from my false masters', but "Like my father before me". Yes I'm being a little facetious, but there is reason for this.

    And from who does he learn the lessons of being a Jedi? From Yoda and Obi-Wan. They are the only Jedi he knows. Why would he declare himself as one of them, if he felt their teachings were antithetical to his own path? Nah...its too easy to read it this way.

    In fact to see it this way one has to ignore the moment of his revelation. You say "I don’t think Luke is being naïve about his father by idolizing him to the point of blind passivism." but...that is exactly what occurs. You can watch exactly that course of events with your own eyes. He tells Vader that he won't fight him, in the idealised expectation that Vader cannot do him harm. And what happens? Vader goes and throws his lightsabre at him. Still Luke remains naively pacifist, hiding in the shadows until Vader senses "sister". This enrages Luke, who's idealised father has let him down. He sees Vader for what he is at that moment (ie, exactly as Obi-Wan has described him), but not in the calm centred way that Obi-Wan understands he must, but in anger and dissapointment. That is why Obi-Wan says what he says. It is precisely because Luke's words betray his naive idealism of his father, and that could be his undoing. Obi-Wan doesn't say "you have to kill him, that is the only way", he says that the Emperor has already won. All the lessons coalesce in his moment of revelation; it is why Luke says what he says, does what he does; because he, at that moment, understands the lessons and so understands what it is to be a Jedi.

    "But he’s also bringing compassion into the arena, the alternate conviction that all in his father is not lost."

    At the moment he decides to throw his lightsabre down he has just spent the last 30 seconds trying to dismember Vader, succeeding in battering him to the ground and slicing off a hand. I'm aware of the concept of tough love but I really can't see those moments as compassionate, nor does it appear to reflect any inner conviction that there is any good to be found in Vader - unless he is trying to slice his way to it. By the time of his revelation his idealised picture of his father is gone. He may feel that there is good in him, but he has given up any faith in revealing that.

    The truth that Luke forged for himself was mistaken. As he is being fried by the Emperor he pleads for his father's help. Those pleas are in vain hope, rather than with faith. His expression as Vader does indeed deal with the Emperor is of shock; surprise. The good in Anakin did indeed step up to the plate, but it required Luke to act as a Jedi, as the Jedi had taught him, in order for Anakin to understand the same truth - to see through the lies of Palpatine/Sidious.

    The scene with the Force ghosts ought to, surely, highlight the continuity of the Jedi, not the rejection of old ways. Obi-Wan and Yoda - particularly - look on with fatherly appreciation and Luke smiles at their, and his father's, image. he doesn't give them the finger, shake his head, roll his eyes. He acknowledges them as the teachers they were. He didn't forge a new path and reject the old ways, he has received and understood their wisdom in a way that, until Luke, Anakin never did.

    "Ben only sees one side of the equation, as does Yoda. Both have long since concluded that Anakin’s death, by itself, as a means to an end, is the only answer."

    You assume too much. Neither Obi-Wan or Yoda ever say this.
    Last edited by only one kenobi, May 17, 2013
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  4. The Supreme Chancellor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
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    I've always interpreted Ben and Yoda's advice to Luke to be that they beleive he must kill Vader. Yoda says "confront" and Ben talks about how the Emeperor has already won..but what other opportunity did they give him? In ROTS Yoda himself says "destroy the Sith we must", while Obi-Wan skips right to dueling Anakin when he feels that Anakin has fallen too far. My opinion is that they did indeed intende for Luke to kill his father, but I don't know how they felt that would help stop the Sith or the Empire.

    I'm not gonna write an essay about Luke's choice like you guys, but I will say that in that scene I saw a young man who looked into the eyes of everything he feared to become, and turned back when he was on the brink of becoming it. He throws down his weapon and is prepared to face death rather than abandon his principles. Luke has at this point forfeited his life and upon entering the Death Star he beleives that the rebels will succeed and he will die aboard the space station. I think that sense of impending doom is part of why he is able to remain so stoic and brave, but being to fall apart when the Emperor reveals his plans/Vader finds out about Leia, and leads to his momentary lapse in control.
  5. Ingram_I Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 3
    You’ve got this all backwards, over under and sideways down. Luke’s actions during his scenes with Vader have nothing to do with idolizing or blind passivism. In the most immediate sense, he is simply approaching the conflict in a manner reflective of Yoda’s words, "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack." The fact that Vader doesn’t all at once happily turn over a new leaf on behalf of Luke’s expressed view doesn’t automatically mean that Luke is being naïve about the matter, nor does it negate the very storied concept that he has rightly parted from his two mentors, insofar that he intends to save his father rather than kill him. That’s why it’s called a battle; in this case, not just a battle of swords, but of opposing convictions. It’s a battle to see if Luke can stick to his beliefs and maintain compassion towards his father, in part, by resisting the lure of the Dark Side via all the constant goading. Vader striking just the right chord that draws Luke out of the shadows in a fit of rage, further beating Vader into submission, marks a moment where Luke is losing that battle, at least in the spiritual sense. Likewise, throwing down the saber is the moment where he regains his footing.
    Actually, the specific dialogue goes as follows:

    "There is still good in him."

    "He's more machine now than man, twisted and evil."

    "I can't do it, Ben."

    "You cannot escape your destiny. You must face Darth Vader again."

    "I can't kill my own father."

    "Then the Emperor has already won."

    So, in other words, same difference. And the point here is that Ben is wrong: the Emperor hasn’t already won; Luke does not have to kill Vader, which, by the way, he doesn’t. The truth that Luke forged for himself was that his father was not beyond redemption. If he was mistaken in this, there would be no ending. No movie. Nor is it a truth passed down to him from his mentors. Never once does Ben or Yoda make a case that there is any good left in Vader. In fact, the dialogue quoted above implies just the opposite, as does subsequent lines of dialogue in Revenge of the Sith, including, "The boy you trained, gone, he is, consumed by Darth Vader.""Destroy the Sith we must," and their actions that follow. I’m not saying that Ben and Yoda are false masters or that their teachings are antithetical to Luke becoming a Jedi. What I’m saying is that their teachings only take Luke so far. This a fundamental lesson in and of itself: that the hero (or anyone in real life) ultimately must think on his own, clear his own path, complete the journey by his own faculties. Not only does this happen in the final film, it has to happen concerning basic story logic. To suggest otherwise is to contradict the very premise of the story.
    Except it plainly doesn’t add up. It’s an oversimplification. I don’t think it adequate to conclude that Vader turns on the Emperor at the last minute merely after witnessing Luke take a position of Jedi in the traditional manner, as it doesn’t explain then why he simply didn’t turn sooner. Let’s stop and really think about this. If Anakin was also tutored by Ben and Yoda and shaped in their millennia-old Jedi ways then why does he fail where Luke succeeds? Why does Anakin become Darth Vader in the first place? Why do we first meet Ben and Yoda as hermits in hiding instead of victors over the Emperor? Why do they even need Luke? Why do Ben and Yoda themselves, along with the rest of the Jedi Order, fail where Luke succeeds? How does the process simply not repeat itself?

    The prequels go on to illuminate these answers to a degree but, in the process, also reinforce something already evident in the original trilogy: the Jedi were not perfect. Luke isn’t perfect either, but what signifies his character is that he’s the first Jedi hero who rises to the occasion, aided by his mentors, yes, but also wiser from his own mistakes and having figured out that which every hero, mentor and villain before him could not. For not only does Luke ultimately (though not easily) differ from any temptations of the Dark Side of the Force, but also from the narrow-minded absolutions which long plagued the Light Side as well. Not having been indoctrinated by a rigid institution at a prepubescent age, Luke’s grass roots tutelage in the ways of the Force coupled with the refusal to dismiss his friends as collateral and, in turn, his father as irredeemable is what makes him the truly balanced, open-minded Jedi. He neither gives in to his hate nor denies his compassion and belief in others. This is hardly naïve behavior. On the contrary, Luke essentially grows up, which is a perfect way to end a fable intended primarily for younger audiences. It’s the final lesson to be learned.
    Again, you’re taking my argument and turning into something else. Of course Luke respects his masters, but my interpretation of the scene is that respect is being given both ways equally. The fact remains: Luke succeeded where others did not. He’s the one who stands living, with his friends, as a new kind of Jedi, sporting a mechanical hand and dressed in black; having skimmed the Dark Side only to bounce back on his own. He’s more self-made, freestyle. The three ghostly figures are just as much tipping their hats in return.
    Last edited by Ingram_I, May 18, 2013
  6. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    You say that Obi-Wan skips directly to dueling Anakin but that's a simplification. He goes and tries to reason with him. He tells him, then, that he will do what he must (and this is in contrast to Luke who tells him he won't fight him - this is what Obi-Wan is afraid of, and why he says that the Emperor* has already won..). Even through their duel he tries to reason with Anakin; he takes a defencive stance throughout (a signal to the viewer that, as a Jedi, he is acting with control - always for defence, never for attack - and not through anger) and even warns Anakin/Vader not to make the mistake that will cost him the duel. Even then he hopes for a glimmer from Anakin (imo).

    Of course in ROTS they seek to destroy the Sith; how else are you to stop the tyrranny of the Sith at that point withoutn doing so.

    If Yoda meant to say Luke must destroy the Sith, would he not have said that (as he does in ROTS, as you point out), instead he says "confront".

    *Why is it that Obi-Wan says the Emperor has won, rather than Vader? His concern is that Luke will be goaded to fight in anger because his idealised father will not behave as Luke's expectations lead him to believe (Obi-Wan once thought as he did). The Emperor will because Luke will turn, will take another victim.

    But, it is telling that when he decides not to abandon his principles he doesn't simply say that. What he says is "I am a Jedi, like my father before me". He doesn't just say I won't abandon my principles. In other words, all those lessons (the cave and his teachings - when he looks to his own hand as he contemplates Vader's dismembered version, that is a clear reference to the cave on Dagobah) coalesce and he understands what he has been taught about what a Jedi actually is. "wars not make one great"; it is not his martial prowess that makes him a Jedi. It is all those things I mentioned before; humility, self awareness, self control, faith. Palpatine's words exemplify that; "only now, at the end, do you understand". Inadvertently he is saying this also to Anakin.
  7. only one kenobi Jedi Master

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    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    "I won't fight you father" as opposed to "I will do what I must"

    But...he was quite happy to take a swing at the seated Palpatine. And, when he first faced Vader at Cloud City he seemed more than willing to use his lightsabre against Vader, and again is happy to use it at Jabba's Palace. So what's changed? Simply the idea(l) 'father'.

    Why would it turn him to rage? Because he isn't aware that is the battle that is being played out. He is in a rage because his expectations of his father have been stymied. It is that his idealised 'good' father is actually turning out to be the twisted, evil that Obi-Wan has warned him he is; and he isn't prepared for that - which is exactly what Obi-Wan fears.

    After making the (clear visual) link between his hand and the cave on Dagobah, and stating, very clearly; "I am a Jedi" - it is a revelatory moment, quite clearly intended to be so.

    But Obi-Wan doesn't say that he has to kill Vader. He is responding to the fact that Luke says that he cannot kill his own father. In other words, he sees that Luke does not see Vader, that he sees his idealised father instead. Obi-Wan knows how that works; "Obi-Wan once thought as you do". Obi-Wan is not some coldly impartial overseer here, he has been there and knows what Luke is facing (Rots - "Send me against Palaptine, I can't kill Anakin. He's like my brother")

    It is telling, I think, that he chooses to say that the Emperor has won then. He knows what the battle will actually be, whereas Luke does not.

    The moment that Luke realises what it is to be a Jedi precedes Anakin's redemption. There are two revelations in that end scene, and because of the 'tragedy of Anakin Skywalker' arc it has become all about Anakin's redemption - as you infer here. In other words the spotlight of the movies, the end that you speak of here becomes focused upon that, and that misses the most important revelation, which (imo) is Luke's.

    When he makes the connections, when he throws down his lightsabre it has nothing to do with Vader or his father. Whatever he believes about the good in his father is irrelevant to the coalescing of his lessons. In fact, at that moment he is not even thinking about it. It is about his own actions, it is about his choices. By killing Vader, his father or anyone in anger, with rage; if he believes the fate of the galaxy rests solely upon his shoulders; if he has no faith in the abilities of those around him and tries to save everyone - like some sort of superman, or ubermensch, then he is no different to the Sith he opposes.

    As for what occured in ROTS...if they had destroyed the Sith then the galaxy would have been free of their oppression. In the situation they were in then that is exactly what they had to do. Do you disagree? And Yoda's words to Obi-Wan match exactly what Obi-Wan later tells Luke; the words are designed to prepare each for what they are to face. Obi-Wan took it on board, and could face Vader without rage. Luke could not accept it, and fought Vader in a rage because of that.

    Because Luke is taught those lessons unencumbered by the concurrent teachings of a Sith Lord, subverting every Jedi lesson to a Sith one. Because Luke doesn't have secrets that he hides from the Jedi. Because Luke doesn't have a trusted 'mentor' and 'friend' who is actually enslaving him to hos own world view and his own ends?

    See above. Anakin has had every lesson that Luke has, bent through the lens of a Sith Lord to confuse those teachings.

    His revelation precedes Anakin's redemption. The lessons he takes on board, that he has been taught - the moment he understands himself to be and reveals his understanding of that comes after he has given up on the good in his father. It is about himself, not his father. He proclaims his affiliation with the Jedi in the understanding that it is about the choices he makes. His acceptance and understanding of what it is to be Jedi has nothing to do with any faith in his father's goodness. His pleas to his father later are made in vain hope, rather than with any faith, as his surprise at Vader's actions demonstrate.

    When he says "I am a Jedi", at that moment he has accepted the lessons he has been given - and that moment has nothing to do with a differential between what he then understands and what the Jedi have taught him.

    Yes, he grows up; he leaves his naivity behind. He understands that the preconceptions he entered that arena with were false, and he takes on board what he has been taught. He reveals the continuity of what he has learned by then declaring that he is a Jedi - as he has put aside any notion of faith in his father's decisions. It is about his own choices.

    That's the point, though. Anakin's choice is distinct from Luke's, though predicated upon it. Because the story has become the 'tragedy of Anakin Skywalker', then the focus has become about that moment, where in fact the true revelation is Luke's - and that revelation has nothing to do with Anakin still having good in him. It has everything to do with what the Jedi have taught him, and he acknowledges that very clearly by declaring himself, at that moment, one of them.

    Anakin's turn is not to do with Luke's naive 'compassion' (it is naive because it leads to his rage - the very essence of naive pacifism), it is to do with Luke's example; of what it truly is to be a Jedi. That, and Palpatine's reaction unveils the fog of lies he has been fed by Palpatine. Luke's revelation becomes Anakin's.
    Last edited by only one kenobi, May 18, 2013
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  8. Ingram_I Jedi Master

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    Sep 7, 2012
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    Yoda’s words are an ideal philosophy to uphold, not a fact of every circumstance. Luke attacked Vader in Cloud City because, at the time, he only saw him as the enemy who killed his father. Such might not morally or philosophically justify his actions, but that’s a separate discussion; I was never talking about this scene anyways. He attacks Jabba only after all other negotiations had failed, in order to save the lives of his friends no less. I suppose the philosophy here could be argued as well, but I was never talking about this scene either. Attacking the seated Emperor was obviously a momentary failure in the Jedi way, in resisting the passions that could lead one to the Dark Side. That was the point. When facing his father in battle, Luke’s compassion and Yoda’s words go hand-in-hand. That was my point when making the reference.
    If you think Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side was purely the result of Palpatine’s manipulation, I suggest you reexamine the prequel narrative.

    Luke seeks to redeem his father, as he believes there is still good in him. Ben and Yoda both fear that Luke may give in to anger upon realizing that he is wrong about his father, and when he indeed suffers this shattering awakening, it drives him into a fit of rage, but he then avoids giving in completely to the Dark Side by remembering his Jedi teachings and also, more specifically, by recognizing his own physical transference to the mechanical in place of his father.

    It’s the red that I disagree with. To that extent, Ben simply warns Luke to control his feelings for those he cares about, else they be exploited by Vader and/or the Emperor (which is something he directly states in the film, as opposed to, "Don’t give into the anger upon finding out you were wrong"). That’s what happens in the scene where Luke lashes out, because Vader indeed taps a vulnerability regarding Leia. Yet you’re making this really bizarre, contradictory argument that Luke is naïve, and further weakened by, the idea that his father can return to the Light Side of the Force, even though that is, uh, exactly what happens in the movie. Luke is right about his father. This is a fact. This is what happens in the movie. You insist he’s naïve in this belief even though it is one that eventually comes to fruition. So, you’re saying that Luke had to realize and accept that he was wrong about his father, even though he wasn’t wrong, in order to be right about being a Jedi. The room is spinning here.

    Luke Skywalker’s ultimate refusal to kill followed by his final act of self-disarmament does not automatically equate that he’s given up any belief that his father can be turned to the Light Side. That’s a weak correlation. Luke stops fighting and throws down simply to deny resolutely the Emperor’s orchestrated lure to the Dark Side. His ultimate moment of truth -- the moment he permanently sheds any temptation towards evil -- is one of self-awareness and control (which we both agree), but not necessarily because he gives up on his father in the same instance. These two principles -- 1. redeeming the father, 2. maintaining the Jedi way -- are NOT mutually exclusive. If anything, they complement one another.

    Now, concerning Ben Kenobi’s view, he clearly states that Anakin has become more machine that man, twisted and evil. I don’t see what else can be interpreted from this. It’s a pretty straightforward assertion. When he goes on to say that the Emperor has already won, he simply means just that: that if Luke refuses to destroy Vader then he refuses to vanquish the Emperor’s most powerful agent of evil, thus leaving the Emperor in control, to whom Luke himself will be left at the mercy. I can understand what you’re inferring from this, but not how. There’s nothing there in the exchange between Ben and Luke that indicates the former’s concern over the latter’s demise specifically via his own disillusionment. Falling to the Dark Side from anger is a running theme throughout these films, yes, but not anger by disappointment, by hopes dashed or expectations unmet.

    Let me see if I can streamline this debate:

    Except…they…weren’t…false. This remains the central, blatant error of your argument.

    Fact 1: Luke believed there was still good in his father.

    Fact 2: there was still good in his father
    Yet, between these two facts, you keep insisting that Luke was wrong; that he was naïve, idolizing; and from this line of reasoning you’ve interpreted a specific view from his mentors that never really registers in the film.
  9. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4

    Of course you weren't talking about those scenes, you were trying to make the case that when Luke faces Vader on the second Death Star it is not naive pacifism that leads him to not fight Vader but that he is simply following Yoda's edict. I brought those scenes up to show how empty that claim is, because he seems rather more pro-active with regards to every other situation except facing his father. His words even tell us of his naive pacifism here, and the reasons why; "I won't fight you father"

    I think it too often overlooked how much influence Palpatine has had over Anakin, from a very young age. He even describes Palpatine to Obi-Wan as "a mentor". We get hints throughout of how Palpatine twists Jedi teachings to his own ends. We know that Palpatine is who Anakin goes to with his problems - rather than the Jedi. "Remember what you told me about the sand-people"

    If Palpatine were not there, had not been whispering Sith counter-lessons in his ears since he was a child then I don't think Anakin would have been anywhere near as conflicted. Palpatine tells him he can have the power to save the one he loves...from dying. I don't seems he plays a pretty substantial part in Anakin's turn.

    He tells Luke that Vader is twisted and evil now, more machine than man. That mirrors the same advice that Yoda gives to Obi-Wan in ROTS. Yoda, equally, does not warn Obi-Wan specifically about not falling to anger upon discovering this to be the case. Obi-Wan is ready for that, he takes on board what he sees with his own eyes and states that "I will do what I must"; he is clear minded here, his actions are not driven by anger. He has been there and knows what Luke will face. So, when Luke says that he cannot kill his father, Obi-Wan fears that Luke is not prepared..... and indeed he isn't.

    (Another point to make here, in terms of how Obi-Wan and Yoda refer to Luke having to confront Vader, is that in ROTS - as you pointed out - Yoda is very clear that they must destroy the Sith. In other words, if that is what they mean, that is what they say. Neither Yoda or Obi-Wan tell Luke he has to destroy the Sith or kill Vader)

    Yes indeed. Vader frustrates Luke's naive idea that he is not the twisted, evil monster that he has been warned he will be facing. 'he said something about his sister, man' doesn't really explain the force of hatred and anger that Luke unleashes upon Vader then.

    At no point have I said that in order for Luke to have his revelation he had to accept that he was wrong about his father. I have said, pretty clearly, that it has nothing to do with his father - in fact that is a major part of the revelation; it is what his growing up in that moment is all about. He cannot decide for Anakin, he cannot allow himself to be angered because of his expectaions of others - especially because that anger and hatred makes him exactly the same. It is that his greatest potential enemy is himself. It has nothing to do with his father.

    The point being that, whether his father can be redeemed or not is irrelevant to Luke's understanding of what it is to be a Jedi. It has nothing to do with his father. So, the idea that he rejected the ways of the Jedi, that somehow he was a 'freestyle' Jedi is not consistent with what we see. At that moment Vader is simply a defeated, burnt out old Sith; at that moment Luke refers to himself as a Jedi as his father was before him. As the Jedi were. As the Jedi he knows have taught him. He doesn't reject the old ways - he now understands the lessons that have been taught to him. They have coalesced in that moment - he understands what Obi-Wan and Yoda have been teaching him.

    What can also be said is that until that moment he understands that he was not yet a Jedi - just as Yoda had told him (and in fact what he understands of Yoda's words now) - so his naive pacifism has nothing to do with some notional new 'freestyle' ways. And it is not that which persuades his father to return. It is the revelation that Luke has.

    You miss the point. Whether he gives up, believes or whatever is irrelevant to his revelation. It simply has nothing to do with his father.
  10. Ingram_I Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 3
    Except I then explained how those scenes do not correlate with your argument, in that they occur under different circumstances (with a different Luke, regarding Empire) or how they precisely illustrate moments where Luke was straying from Yoda’s edict, particularly his swing at the Emperor. You’re right when saying that it was his father that made the difference, but not in a negative, weakening manner; not to the detriment of Luke.
    Oh, I agree. But I’m not dismissing or even overlooking Palpatine as a major determining factor. What I am stating is that the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire was by no means purely external. Palpatine does not successfully orchestrate the demise of a philosophically sound Jedi Order or the conversion of a healthy, properly developed Anakin Skywalker. He exploited weaknesses already inherent.
    Except younger Obi-Wan didn’t kill Vader either, despite that being his very mission. I think the more straightforward meaning is that Ben fears Luke will not do what he himself could not do on Mustafar. He was sent by Yoda to kill Vader, yet it was some rudiment sense of compassion that kept him on the defense during the duel. It was a gesture of basic compassion when he warned Anakin not to attempt a low-ground attack. The final moment where he walks away from a mutilated Anakin, as opposed to killing him for good, can-and-has been seen as both an act of compassion and an act of cruelty. I myself think it was mostly the former. The point here -- the irony -- is that, despite whatever compassion he showed on Mustafar, Ben ends up passing the mission onto Luke as it was originally passed onto him; again, because this specific aspect of his thinking was still a lingering product of the old Jedi Order; the one key, hypocritical "absolute" that Luke dismisses more consciously, on stated principle, when his time comes to confront Vader.
    Uh, yes, it does. Completely. Entirely. We’re talking about Luke being threaten with the notion of Leia, his sister, being turned to the Dark Side of the Force. It’s a moment that deserves to be understood directly, at face value.
    I’m not claiming that Luke rejected the Jedi ways per se, only that he rejected the idea that his father was irredeemable, which brings us right back to the elephant in the room: Luke was right. Now, you say this is irrelevant to his final transcending moment of understanding what it means to be a Jed, i.e. throwing down the saber, yet this contradicts your larger argument. You insist that Luke’s naïve belief in his father, and his actions that follow, is directly relevant as his one remaining disadvantage -- the last hurtle he must jump to become a Jedi -- but that the fruition of said belief is irrelevant. So, which is it? Because it can’t be both. You’re basically saying that Luke was wrong, or at least weakened, in believing what was true. I simply do not think this was Lucas’ intended theme when crafting the story.

    A lot of people watch these movies with only the most surface level awareness that some basic 'good vs. evil' morality tale is at play, giving little to no lasting thought of any deeper philosophical concepts that lie in the subtext. Clearly, you’re someone who has taken the time and effort to examine these films for their more multi-threaded themes, and much of what you’re proposing in this debate is accurate as I see it. Yet I still cannot accept the central inconsistency in your argument concerning Luke’s mindset-motivation when facing Vader versus the end results and how you’ve retrofitted an inaccurate interpretation of Ben’s parting words in order to make these ends meet.
  11. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4

    This is an aspect of the Jedi Order that Lucas appears to have created in the PT in order to fit his Anakin arc (ie he must be initially rejected by the Order to instill mistrust; Marriage must be disallowed so that he may have a secret to hide from them; they must withold from him something that he wants (the rank of Master)). The idea of a flawed Jedi Order, and therefore something amiss with with the Jedi teachings is a retrospective re-alignment of that scene because of the PT. That is part of the sublimation of Luke's revelation within the arc of the 'tragedy of Anakin Skywalker'.

    There may be a lot of people who watch Star Wars on a very basic level but you won't find them here I think. Without the PT that moment - the revelation that Luke has - is the shock. It's a real 'what the?' moment. When you take it out of the context of simply being an aspect of Anakin's arc it is the important moment in that scene.

    And that moment is a moment of self-awareness. It has nothing to do with whether or not there is good in his father. It has nothing to do with his father at all. It has to do with what Luke is, and the choices that Luke makes. At that moment he understands all of the lessons that the Jedi have taught him. He understands Yoda's words that he must first face Vader before he can truly be a Jedi and he now understands why. At that moment he tells us he understands what it is to be a Jedi. Up until that moment, as Yoda had told him, he wasn't a Jedi. Being a Jedi is not about charging around, swinging a lightsabre and having adventures any more than it is about mewling pacifism. To be a Jedi first you must defeat yourself. It isnot about anybody else. It is about being in the moment - being as free as one can from the emotions of the moment. That requires that you reject expectation. Emotional responses are built upon the difference between expectations and reality.

    Here's why his naive pacifism at the beginning is wrong, and why it would not have turned his father (and so why it is wrong to say that this aspect of his behaviour is a new 'freestyle' Jedi way - as well as that Luke understands that he was not acting as a Jedi until his revelation. While he faces Vader with simple pacifism Vader sees this only as weakness. He is a Sith and seeks to exploit the weakness of others. Vader is not moved by this - we see him dredging through Luke's thoughts for a weakness(sister), not contemplating his compassion.

    It takes for Luke to be in a position of power and to reject acting on that power, to reveal that that is what being a Jedi is about, for Vader to question his actions.

    To go back to Anakin's return. Luke, in agony, pleads for his father's help. When he does act Luke is surprised. He has no expectation that Vader will act as he does, and his comprehension of what it is to be a Jedi has nothing to do with his father.

    Because the films have become (supposedly) the arc of Anakin then the moment is sublimated into being simply an aspect of Anakin's redemption. But, prior to the PT, the redemption of Anakin was a secondary element in that scene.

    To surmise. Luke understands at that moment what it is, really, to be a Jedi. Up until that moment Luke has not being thinking like a Jedi. His turn is not only nothing to do with his father, it is explicitly nothing to do with his father - it is about the battle he must first face with himself. Luke refers to himself as a Jedi at that moment understanding what, really, the Jedi have been teaching him - and it is not the assassination of Vader, and Luke is quite clear on that. Nor is it the redemption of Anakin; he throws down his lightsabre and tells the Emperor that he won't turn to the darkside. At that moment, and not before, has Luke understood what the battle is truly about. It is about his own choices.
  12. Ingram_I Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 3
    Then forget the prequels for the moment. Strictly in the context of the original trilogy, how was the Emperor able to turn Anakin to the Dark Side in the first place, if not by exploiting a weakness of some kind or another? How does a good and sound, properly developed person fall into evil? Likewise, the equivalent can and should be asked as to how the Jedi Order as a whole was broken. I'm glad Lucas continued on with the prequels the way he did, but even without them altogether, details aside, these questions and their resulting storytelling logic are already inherent in the original trilogy. So, Lucas either expounded upon these themes logically and organically with his prequel arc, or turned around and retconned the OT story conclusion specifically as you interpreted it.

    Vader is still good. Luke believes Vader is still good. The former is irrelevant to Luke becoming a Jedi, the latter is not. That is you’re argument. And it makes no sense. It’s still a contradiction. I ask you again, how can Luke be naïve about believing something that is true? How is a belief in what is true, and further acting on it, detrimental to him resisting the Dark Side and becoming a Jedi? To put a finer point on it, compassion isn’t about "somebody else" or "anybody else". Luke having compassion for is father does not make him naively preoccupied with his father or a slave to false expectations. It doesn’t work that way. Compassion is a state of being, not a fixation, nor does it equate some blind faith assumption that those for whom you feel -- in whom you still believe there is goodness -- automatically poses no threat as a result. You cannot deem Luke’s actions as naïve pacifism. For Luke to be truly naïve in this manner would require him to take no martial defense whatsoever, solely based on the conviction that his father would never go through with a single attack. This doesn’t happen in the movie. Luke fights to defend himself, as did Obi-Wan on Mustafar. Again, the one moment where he does lash out has nothing to do with shattered expectations. It’s a moment that is even setup in advance during the conversation on Dagobah: when Luke realizes that Leia is his sister, Ben warns him to bury these feelings deep down …"They do you credit, but they could be made to serve the Emperor." That is precisely what happens the instant Luke is triggered into a fit of rage at the mention/threatening of his sister. I don’t think the film could have been more clear in this meaning had it further explained the scenes with giant neon text. And while Luke throwing down the lightsaber may not be a direct product of his compassion for, or belief in, his father, such did not automatically prevent him from doing so either. I reiterate: the two are not mutually exclusive. Lastly, the expression on Luke’s face at witnessing his father turning against the Emperor is hardly one of such overt specificity as taken to match your argument.


    It’s a look of astonishment, sure, but I think anyone would be astonished to see Darth Vader tossing the Emperor’s ass over a railing, despite whatever they might have been hoping or expecting in advance. It would be quite a sight regardless.
    Last edited by Ingram_I, May 20, 2013
  13. jc1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2004
    star 2
    Thanks for the dialogue

    Few points,

    -On Luke attacking Vader after he says ". . . then perhaps she will (turn to the dark side)." I've always read the scene as Luke feeling a resonance in the force that Leia would indeed be vulnerable, which is why Luke attacks with such vehemence. It's this sort of attachment the Sith exploit, although Luke is strong enough to pull back from the edge. There is darkness in Leia, as there is in Luke, Anakin, etc, and accepting that is part of Luke's training. Engaging with the dark side, thinking you can cherry pick what you need while being strong enough to resist it's pull, is the problem: "once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny" ( a tricky phrase itself in many ways). Luke hasn't faced LEIA's darkness yet, but even that enough to entirely consume him.

    -The OT states that Vader's "was seduced by the dark side of the force," seduced being the operative word here. We aren't clear on what seduced Anakin until the PT (btw, I don't think it was primarily his relationship with Padme, it was pride and the lust for power) or how much the Emperor was involved in this seduction.

    -Taking a step back, I don't feel like I need to come down on one side or another on whether the RotJ's resolution is Anakin (making the PT/OT the "Tragedy of Darth Vader," as is were) or Luke's. To cite another film, Superman, the son has become the father and the father has become the son.

    -I've never gotten an expression of Luke's faith in his friends in his throwing down of his lightsaber. He will not attack and kill his father, and I presume anyone, in a fit of rage even at the cost of his life. I don't read this scene as Luke thinking: "I must trust Han, Leia, Ackbar, et al to get the job done of blowing up the Death Star and the Emperor on it."

    -When Luke says "I am a Jedi, like my father before me" it's important for him in that the self-proclaiming seals the deal.
  14. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    A very good question. Without going into too much detail, from the OT I would have thought that Vader was lured into the darkside in much the same way that Palpatine attempted to lure Luke into it. In other words, that he would get him to act in anger, with hatred - and once he had experienced that power to slip ever toward the exultation and 'excitement' of it. (so I would have considered he was seduced to the darkside, rather than tricked into it...)

    The whole point, I thought, of Luke's near-turn was that anybody could turn to the darkside (so it seems a little odd that there's almost an air of 'intrinsic darkness' to Anakin's character in the PT). In a war, for example, if one commits atrocities against your enemies, no matter how just your position in that war may have started, can you still argue the same later? What stopped Luke was his appreciation that he could as easily be Vader as Vader himself - his actions, as they were, motivated as they were, were at that moment no different. That was a revelation that Anakin had not had, had not perceived.

    No, that's not my argument. My argument is that neither is relevant. I'll say again - it has nothing to do with his father.

    It is naive pacifism because, whether he believes there is good in Vader or not, at that moment he is as Obi-Wan has described him; twisted and evil. He has rejected the Jedi way. He may even believe he has attained a greater, more substantial morality than the Jedi ever could (in terms of this I like to think of Brando's Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now). He would certainly perceive simple pacifism as abject weakness rather than compassion. If you doubt that, think about when he is dredging Luke's mind until he stumbles upon "sister". Luke's mind must also have been full of that compassion you speak of, but he is not interested.

    And...why only his father? Why does he not refuse to fight anyone else? Is it that he senses there is no good left in them? Of course not. It is specifically because it is his father that he has taken this stance; because he has an ideal image of his father - and Vader steadfastly refuses to fit that expectation.

    Let's put a finer point on it. This compassion extended only to his father, and to no other. It is not compassion, it is false compassion. It wholly revolves around him being an ideal of his father.

    No, what it takes for me to understand it as naive pacifism are his words "I will not fight you father". You say "like" Obi-Wan on Mustafar, but there Obi-Wan makes clear "I will do what I must". There is a clear difference.

    I don't think you are thinking this through. If Luke truly has faith, at this moment, in the good in Vader then what could such a threat mean? Seriously? If he believes that Vader will go through with that threat then what does that say about Luke's confidence in Vader's goodness at that moment? Think about it.

    Indeed. It has nothing to do with his father.

    The two are unrelated.

    Astonishment is not the same as surprise? And..if he had faith that, if he believed that, his father would act so - in what way is astonishment an apt emotional response?
  15. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    But, if he believed in the goodness of Vader then why would he believe him capable of going through with that threat?

    Oh I agree. And I think the PT loses a little of that as well. So much effort is taken foreshadowing Anakin's fall that it becomes seemingly inevitable (I mean we know it is, if we've seen the OT, but Anakin seems pre-destined through his characterisation to fall) - as opposed to the OT where Luke, clearly meaning well, doing what he beoieves is right, may be drawn to the darkside. Anyone can be.

    I just think the pivotal moment in that scene (Luke's revelation) becomes sublimated as simply an act within Anakin's redemption - so that the focus becomes Anakin's - rather then Luke's - actions and revelation.

    Not killing is one thing. Laying down one's weapon is quite another.

    But.... if he had been trained by the Jedi as an assassin, why does he proclaim himself one of them upon not killing Vader? (Rather if he understood that is what they had in mind). If it is abut the redemption of his father (and so proclaiming some new Jedi way) why does he proclaim this when Vader has not redeemed himself; when his father has steadfastly refused to show his good side? It is about him understanding all the lessons the Jedi have taught him; about him realising why, up until that point, he had not been - as Yoda had told him - yet a Jedi.
  16. jc1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2004
    star 2
    I'm not really clear what you're saying, only one kenobi. I feel like there's a communication breakdown somewhere (quite possibly on my part, I'm not getting how you're connecting your comments with mine). Could you perhaps boil down your position into a sentence or two? I hope this doesn't come off as condescending, but after reading through you're posts I'm still not sure what the thrust of your argument is.

    I agree that simply not killing someone at your mercy and laying down your arms are two separate things, and didn't mean to imply they weren't.

    And yes, interpreting Anakin's fall as his choice rather than his unavoidable fate was a (possibly insurmountable) hurdle for the PT, if indeed they were trying for that in the first place. An audience who had seen the original trilogy knew he was going to become DV and this informed everything we saw of the character. However, I still read Anakin's fall to the DS in the PT as his choice rather than predetermined, (I'm thinking mostly of RotS when we see this come to a head). Of course, issues of will/agency are always going to be a problem once words like "destiny" are thrown around, as they are in the OT.

    Even if I may not agree with you, only one kenobi, I'm glad you are offering this interpretation.
  17. Ingram_I Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 3
    At that precise moment, obviously not. At that precise moment Vader’s actions are still under the influence of the Dark Side, unaffected by the overall stance Luke has taken going into this confrontation. But that one moment is hardly the summation of his character or the entirety of this final duel between the three of them. It wouldn’t be very dramatic if Vader was all at once persuaded at the first, second or even third instance. His eventual turn comes not solely from Luke’s compassion per se, but rather and more wholly the turning point is two-fold: 1. altogether compassion, self-awareness and self-control exemplified in his son’s final act of throwing down the saber; 2. then witnessing his son suffer at the hands of the Emperor.
    I suppose I could try and go into detail how Luke’s actions against other various adversaries may be compassionate or reasonably indifferent, just or unjust, depending on whatever the specific circumstances (I kinda already did a few posts up) but then we’d both be missing the bigger picture here. You’re deconstructing the events/scenes of the story well past the point of its intended meaning and looking for contradictions where, quite frankly, none really matter. To such an extent, these are fantasy adventure movies where the good guys sometimes, if not typically, simply fight the bad guys. Yet this doesn’t by default undermine a point in this fable narrative where Lucas is expressing specific themes built upon certain characters relative to their shared history and actions towards one another, particularly how their actions play out during this final stage. And you keep insisting that Luke has this "ideal image" when nothing he says or does in the film indicates such delusion. While almost certain that Luke’s compassion is further the product of familial bond, at the same time he never once claims that his father is merely misunderstood or that he is somehow not the monstrosity he has become, nor do his actions during their final duel indicate a blind faith that the man who stands before him is only the same Anakin Skywalker of once long ago, one who would never strike his own son. It’s perfectly possible to have compassion for someone whom you’re trying to save while also being aware of them as a physical threat. One does not automatically cancel out the other.
    Except it’s a difference that makes no difference, at least not in the context of your argument, because Luke fights to defend himself all the same. When he says, "I will not fight you, father," he’s expressing the mindset that he will not simply attack Vader as a means to kill, the way both Vader and the Emperor are trying to make him do.
    That’s an either/or fallacy, under the assumption that Luke is incapable of doubt or, more specific to the scene in question, that he is somehow impervious to even a momentary act of rage as manipulated by his enemies. The challenge for Luke in this confrontation is one of integrity, of holding true to his convictions. Again, it wouldn’t be very dramatic if he simply dealt with Vader and the Emperor completely un-phased by their sorcery.
    You’re whole argument is that they’re entirely related. You keep stating that Luke’s belief in his father is precisely that which was detrimental to him resisting the lure of the Dark Side and becoming a Jedi once and for all; and that only by rejecting this mindset specifically -- the moment he throws down his weapon -- does he achieve said goal. Thus, I reiterate my argument: that Luke believing there is still good in his father and resisting the lure of the Dark Side are, at the very, very least, neither incompatible opposites nor mutually exclusive.
    The only way you’re interpretation works is if you keep pushing to the utmost unrealistic extreme as a conclusion, unrealistic even for these films. Luke has an astonished look, yeah, in the general sense. Astonished to see it actually happening. But that’s hardly concrete evidence for the case you’re making. It was likely just a quick reaction shot they filmed to show Luke witnessing his father, as we are, destroying the Emperor.
    Last edited by Ingram_I, May 21, 2013
  18. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4

    The point being that Luke went into the battle prepared to face his father. He does not, he faces Vader - and he is not prepared for that. Vader was not going to be defeated by Luke refusing to fight him - and that is exactly how it pans out.

    It is because it is his father that he refuses to fight him. That is made abundantly clear. That is not compassion. One doesn't hear Luke tell jabba he refuses to fight him because he senses some good in him, nor any other character. From the perspective that Luke's actions are in compassion then every other individual he fights (rather than refusing to) must be evil beyond redemption. That is simply an untennable proposition. It is made clear why Luke refuses to fight his father...and it is the use of that word 'father' that makes that clear.

    "I can't just kill my father". "I won't fight you father". In what way do these two lines argue your position? they don't, and especially not the context of them. He refuses to fight his 'father' refusing to see him as Vader (debunking the notion that he doesn't see him as misunderstood and somehow not the monstrositiy he has become). He tells Vader he will not fight him (and refers to him as 'father' once more) and nearly gets taken out by Vader's flying sabre - hardly consistent with him not believing his father, the good Anakin who could do Luke no harm is who he is facing.

    Everything about his actions in the early part of that scene match the idea of an ideal of his father substituting for the reality of Vader in Luke's mind. His actions are quintessentially naive pacifism.

    ?? But Luke doesn't fight to defend himself, he fights in exactly the manner you here describe him as avoiding. He rushes out of the shadows and rains blow upon blow down upon Vader in rage, clearly with the intention of killing him. Have we been watching the same film?

    You are side-stepping the issue here, and what I was responding to. You claimed that it wasn't for lack of belief in Vader that Luke attacks him, but simply to protect his sister. I was pointing out that had no resonance unless Luke had lost his faith in his father.

    No. that isn't my argument. My argument is that Luke's naive pacifism a)is not what turns Vader (that much should be obvious)
    b) has nothing to do with his recognition of what it is to be a Jedi

    In fact I only had to make these arguments to counter your claim that Luke's form of being a Jedi was a new 'freestyle' way, and that it was predicated upon his compassion to Vader. What Luke comes to realise has absolutely nothing to do with his father, nor his faith in (or not) his father. It is a coalescence of the lessons he has learned from the Jedi. And he makes it clear that he understands those lessons by proclaiming himself as one of them - acknowledging that Yoda had told him he was not yet a Jedi and must confront Vader as his final test. He understands all of the lessons; they all come together and he understands "only now, at the end"

    ..which is a very, very obtuse way of saying it is irrelevant.


    Let me get this point of your's straight. You say that in order for my purposes I have to push the most unrealistic extreme and then argue that the look of astonishment was an accident of the act of filing the scene? That we are not to take character's expressions as an aspect of the character's at all?
  19. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    My apologies if I have misinterpreted what you said. I may have conflated ideas into your words that were not intended.
  20. jc1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2004
    star 2
    No apologies needed! :)

    I appreciate your good manners, goodness knows we could use more of such online.
  21. Alpha-Red Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    I think there's another line in ROTJ that's important, and it's where Luke says to Vader: "Come with me". He's basically saying that it's not too late to renounce the dark side, that Vader could still redeem himself. Vader's response to this is: "Obi-wan once thought as you do", meaning that Obi-wan once believed that he too could redeem Anakin but failed. That would account for Ben telling Luke that he has no choice but to kill his father...because he tried saving Anakin himself but it turned out he was too far gone. Of course this was before ROTS came along and screwed it all up, because plainly Obi-wan did not make any attempt to turn Anakin back to the light side prior to lighting up his saber.
  22. Ingram_I Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 3
    Is it? Luke’s motive was to salvage his father from the Dark Side. He doesn’t do this by fighting Vader or even beating him down; further killing him at that instance would have solved nothing. Vader would have died as Vader. The moment where Luke refused once and for all is the moment where things began to turn. Does this happen solely due to his compassion for his father? No, but neither does it happen despite of.
    This is crazy. You’re cherry picking from the full context of the scene any minute instance to support your argument and further pushing it to such extreme false dichotomy. Does Luke Skywalker not ignite his lightsaber and engage in a swordfight with Darth Vader? Does that not constitute combat? Does it not happen in the film? Does Luke not take any measure whatsoever in defending himself? If he’s defending himself from Vader’s attacks then obviously he is consciously aware of the fact that Vader is attacking him, as he is likewise conscious in his belief that Vader is not beyond saving. One does not cancel out the other. Contrarily, Luke cannot be aware of Vader as a physical threat and naïve about Vader as a physical threat at the same time. That fact that Luke is asserting his belief both verbally and through the act of 'defense-only' engagement does not then automatically render him naïve to the reality that Vader will attack. And you keep referencing the word ‘father’ as if it can only (once again, either/or) signify Luke’s unrealistic idolization. The reason Luke calls Vader "father" is, well, because Vader IS HIS FATHER.
    Yes, Luke does precisely that, because it is a staged drama, and thus to make the conflict that much more dramatic is to show Luke momentarily straying from his belief and falling into wrath as manipulated by Vader.
    I specifically said it wasn’t shattered expectations that drove Luke into a fit of rage. Obviously, at that moment he loses his cool, both emotionally and (as logically follows) philosophically, including the very compassioned belief that his father is still good deep down; and this moment in the film happens for reasons stated immediately above. But it was his feelings for Leia -- under threat -- that triggered said rage, again, as was dialogued earlier when Ben warns him to bury these feelings. Even the way the scene is executed depicts the expression on Luke‘s face, while hiding in the shadows, as he struggles to hide from Vader the very feelings (and the very truth of this sibling of which Vader is not yet aware) from being exploited by the Dark Side. "If you will not turn to the Dark Side then perhaps she will!" -- cue Luke’s blatant reactionary attack to that very notion.
    Exactly. You’re argument, firstly, is that Luke’s words and actions are naïve. They’re not. His words and actions are challenged, yes; his compassion and belief, put to the test, most certainly. But this does not make him naïve in the process. It makes him principled.
    Again, I say this: that Luke has become a 'freestyle' Jedi, or 'unconventional' (if less offensive a word) Jedi, does not mean he has dismissed everything his mentors have taught him. In fact, Luke dismisses none of the teachings from Ben or Yoda directly concerning the knowledge of the Force. He only goes against the grain -- the one remaining notion -- that his father is beyond the point of no return. In addition to his 'more machine than man, twisted and evil' assertion (which is clear enough on its own), Ben’s words, "Then the Emperor has already won," are not some opaque, double meaning response to Luke’s stated refusal to kill his own father. It’s a fairly direct way of saying that if Luke refuses to destroy Vader then the Emperor retains his most powerful apprentice (again, under the assumption that Vader cannot be saved), and that the two of them would in turn either destroy Luke or seduce him over to the Dark Side.

    From this, if Ben meant that Luke’s refusal to kill Vader would lead to a shattered belief-turned-uncontrolled rage exploited by the Emperor, he would have said just that, first-and-foremost. He says nothing of the sort. Ben’s word of caution directly concerns Luke’s feelings for, and meta-awareness of, Leia. To that extent, he was correct in his warning, for it is that very factor that almost sends Luke into a downward spiral. From a proper storytelling point, this idea that Luke has to shed his convictions in order to become a Jedi is neither setup in advanced nor executed during the final act. It’s an interesting reading on your part, sure, but not one that registers onscreen. And while Lucas is certainly a subtextual storyteller, he is not one to undermine undoubtedly positive aspects of his hero (i.e., compassion, belief in goodness, refusal to murder) by revealing them to weaknesses.
    Uh, no, it isn’t. Not by any definition. That I don’t view Luke’s belief in his father has a hindrance to him becoming a Jedi does not by default mean that I (must) view it as irrelevant. That’s your line of reasoning, not mine.
    I’m saying that, in all likelihood, they opted for a reaction shot from Mark Hamill for the most conventional reasons, as to show Luke recovering from his pain soon enough to see Vader turn on the Emperor. Now, taking it further as a look of astonishment in the general sense works, too; a look of astonishment, a look of amazement, a look of awe, whatever. But to take it so far as to argue that his expression can only mean surprise -- as to the fact that his father is doing that which he allegedly dismissed as unimportant to becoming a Jedi some two minutes prior -- is extremely binary and just plain thin. One can expect to see a falling meteorite, and/or believe fundamentally that falling meteorites are possible, then see the meteorite, and still have a general look of “Whoa!” on their face. One can seek-out to photograph wild tigers or Kodiak bears, knowing full well that such animals exist, and still be amazed upon actually finding one, even specifically surprised if the exact moment was unanticipated. If there was anything else in the film that supported your aforesaid argument, then your interpretation of this shot might seem more credible. As it stands, it’s more or less just a reaction shot for mere sake of one.
    Last edited by Ingram_I, May 23, 2013
  23. only one kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 4
    You've outlined what I'm getting at here (sort of). The focus of the scene has become about Vader (bcause of the arc) and therefore the substantive error in his focus is lost in the ideas of the redemption of Anakin. Luke's focus should not have been on saving his father from the darkside. His focus needed to be on his own place in the Force.

    His actions towards his father , his focus on his father nearly lead to his own turn. He refuses to fight, very specifically, father. He, in the early part of that scene and leading up to that rage exhibits the difference between expectation and reality. He is not prepared to accept things as they are, he is expecting something different. He desires his father to be good and is angered when his father does not meet those expectations. His pacifism does not have any effect on Vader - that much you cannot argue.

    It is you who are ignoring the obvious disjoint as to how Luke refers to Vader and everyone else does. You are right to say that it is because he is his father, but it is what that means to Luke that is important. Yoda tells Luke he must face Vader. Obi-Wan tells Luke that Vader is twisted and evil now, and Luke replies that he cannot kill his father. The language is deliberate. Luke is in no way prepared for what Vader is now - he is focussed on an ideal.

    If you try to punch me and I guard against that punch and run a number of paces away and say "I will not fight you" am I fighting? Luke's pacifism does not have any effect on Vader. I need to stress this also? You say his actions and focus were correct but what we see is that Vader is unmoved by the 'compassionate' stance that Luke has taken. Luke's new 'freestyle' way doesn't work. It has NO impact upon Vader.

    But you are still side-stepping the issue. Yes it is about his sister, but if he had faith in his father then the threat is meaningless. How could it be otherwise? How could you go into a rage about a threat that you cannot believe your father is capable of? The idea that 'it is because it is about his sister' is a shallow motive - it might suffice for a street mobster but it hardly explains why Luke would be so angered that he tries to cut down a man he thinks incapable of carrying out the threats he makes; a man he feels he does not need to fight because of the good in him.

    Luke's actions have no impact upon Vader. Vader is unmoved by Luke's 'compassion'. Luke's ideal in this situation is naive to the point that it nearly results in him falling to the darkside. I don't see how you argue that Luke's actions in the early part of this scene can be seen to be any way.

    You see what you have done here? You claim my interpretation is 'opaque' and yet you have interpreted his words to have a meaning that results in a pretty substantive sentence. You claim it is a "fairly direct" way of saying that Luke must destroy/kill Vader but, as I pointed out earlier, if that is what they mean they are shown to be capable of rather more directness (re Yoda's words in Revenge of the Sith "Destroy the Sith, we must"). Obi-Wan talks of Vader, of what Vader is now and Luke replies with the notion of his father. Remember that (even without the PT) Obi-Wan has been there, done that; "Obi-Wan once thought as you do". The language is deliberate.

    You are conflating the issue of Luke's anger as being about Leia without considering Luke's belief in his father as an aspect of that. Any threat to Leia would be rendered meaningless to Luke if his faith in his father was complete (at that time). It is that the threat is not in line with Luke's expectations - ie he is not facing father, but is facing Vader. It is Vader that he attacks.

    They are not convictions though. What he enters that scene with are expectations, based upon an ideal image of how he desires it to be. You use terms like 'compassion' without understanding the concept, simply as a throwaway term to bolster the idea that Luke was acting on a higher level than he was. That 'compassion' only relates to his father - that does not constitute compassion.

    As to the point about Lucas as a storyteller; Firstly blind faith, naive pacifism isn't a positive attribute. Secondly the story is not told just by Lucas. It is told by Lucas and Kasdan, along with Marquand. The film (and TESB) is replete with Kasdan's Buddhist philosophy.

    It is irrelevant because Luke's choice, and Luke's understanding are to do with him understanding that it is, first and foremost, about his own choices. The cave on Dagobah, and Luke looking to his own hand as he cuts off Vader's is a reference to that. The real enemy Luke is facing is himself. It has nothing to do with his father or anybody else.

    His cries (in pain) "Help me father...please" do not show a continued faith in his father. What is thin is the attempt to portray it as something other than astonishment of what has occurred - ie that his father is responding. What is thin is suggesting that Luke's early 'compassion', which clearly has no impact on Vader, is the right thing to do. What is thin is attempting to suggest that when Luke looks at his own hand after cutting off Vader's that the cave on Dagobah is irrelevant. That his throwing his lightsabre down and declaring "I am a Jedi" (an acknowledgement of Yoda's words that first he must confront Vader) is not a reference to his understanding of what it is to be a Jedi - of how that is predicated upon his own choices; but that it is rather him remembering 'oh, this is my father, there is still good in him' - which is, essentially, what you are suggesting.

    It is an acceptance that until that moment he didn't get it. If one wants a little more substance to that idea then we hear Palpatine say exactly that; "only now, at the end, do you understand"

    Its not about whether his father can be redeemed, is still good; it is about whether he can remain good.

    So... you're saying that Luke's look of astonishment is to be read as "wow, that's what it looks like when my father does the right hing. I always thought it was possible but....phew, I never expected it to look like that.."? And you say my position is 'thin'?
  24. Ingram_I Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 3
    No, you would be defending yourself, as opposed to just standing there and letting me hit you simply because you refused to believe that I would; as opposed to Luke just standing there blindly while Vader struck him down for the same foolish reason. THAT would be naïve pacifism. And it’s something that never happens in the film. Luke taking a moral stance not to attack Vader (and also, in part, by calling him "father") does not then translate to Luke misunderstanding Vader as a legitimate physical threat. Logically, the very fact that he defends himself proves he is consciously aware of Vader as a physical threat, and that he acts on said awareness.
    Uh, I’m not. You might as well say that because Lando and the Rebel assault on the Death Star has no impact in the first half of the battle, it therefore has no impact all. If you’re going to edit the scene to fit your argument then I’m afraid we’ve reached an impasse.
    I’ve interpreted that which is only the most direct and apparent in its meaning, given all the dialogue in the scene there is to work with, as opposed to your interpretation concerning a view from Ben Kenobi that is never once stated in the film. I ask again: if Ben perceived the issue how you have interpreted it, why doesn’t he just tell this to Luke outright? If Luke falling to the Dark Side via the shattering of his own belief was the intended theme then why is he instead cautioned only and specifically for his feelings regarding Leia? Why would Ben not advise Luke with the most straightforward understanding of this notion? And Vader’s line, "Obi-Wan once thought as you do," simply means that Obi-Wan once tried to save Vader, or at least reason with him to some minimal degree (as it actually plays out in Episode III), and failed; that Vader is now making the comparison with Luke, once again claiming the endeavor useless. Yet Obi-Wan’s failure doesn’t automatically make Luke naïve in attempting to do the same. The point of that line -- that whole exchange -- was to emphasize Vader as a slave to the Dark Side, but with the potential to be freed, as the scene ends with him, alone, staring out into the forest with some form of doubt or inner conflict.
    Assuming the character Luke was written to be impervious at this point simply because he believed there was still good in this father, which, again, would not be very dramatic. And, once more, I never said that Luke didn’t sway from acting on this belief the moment he attacks Vader in anger. One of two things happens at this moment: either Luke flips out because his sister is threatened with a fate worse than death, or he flips out upon realizing he was wrong about his father. One comes across as a believably enraged reaction to a guarded sibling put under extreme threat (hardly a shallow motive) while the other comes across as more of an awkwardly presented, prolonged temper tantrum to expectations unmet. One is supported by direct dialogue earlier in the film while the other is, well, not.
    I reference the term 'compassion' simply as it is expressed in the film, as a feeling of humanity from one to another. Luke’s compassion directly
    relates to his father (I’ve already posted twice why comparisons to other instances in the film are not reasonably or contextually sound; I won’t bother a third time). For storytelling purposes, this familial bond leads to one of two things: either a deeper sense of compassion-turned-belief in goodness or a weakening sense of idolization-turned-delusion. One is organic with the general idea, and further evolvement, of the Jedi as peaceful warriors who use the Force for knowledge and defense while the other comes completely out of left field in that it’s meant to be taken as truth. One is championed by the hero while the other, at most, remains a point of mockery invoked by the villains. The whole idea that Luke no longer seeks Vader as an enemy with hatred but as a father with compassion IS the idea; that which separates him from his defeat in the previous film. You’re interpretation, which dismisses his convictions as deluded expectations -- dismissing his newfound confidence as naiveté -- makes for a pretty lousy message to younger viewers: "Don’t believe in yourself."
    Correct. They also have nothing to do with Luke’s actions in the film.
    At the risk of opening a whole other can of worms, Marquand and Kasdan (and Kershner) partook in the process of translating Lucas’ story to the screen, but they are not the ones who created the story itself or, at least, certainly not the ones who decided upon its most central thematic elements and character motivations. Kasdan’s job was to complete a shooting script in sync with Lucas’ story treatment, and whatever degree of Buddhist philosophy that inspired him in the process is perfectly simpatico with what actually transpires in the film, especially since Lucas himself had already incorporated Buddhist elements into the very premise of the Jedi.
    Logically, it shows precisely that. Stop and rethink what you just said here.
    Are you now deeming compassion wrong as in 'immoral', or are you deeming it wrong simply because it wasn’t persuading Vader from the get-go? More on the latter in a moment.
    I never once suggested anything of the sort. Obviously, such was a pivotal factor.
    I never once suggested that either. I agree that Luke becoming a Jedi stands independent from his father returning to the Light Side of the Force; that his final act of self-disarmament was neither primary to the belief that his father was still good or subject to realizing when and where his father was eventually persuaded. Every choice Luke makes is made on his own. Yet the choice to save his father and the choice (during the moment in question) to not become his father are not incompatible, antithetical or mutually exclusive. The moment Luke recognized both his own state of rage and (symbolic) physical transformation, and then acted on it by throwing down his saber, was not conditional to rejecting the belief that is father was still good. Moreover, it doesn’t mean that his compassion was by that point irrelevant. This is particularly where the crux of your misunderstanding lies: the virtue that comes with compassion is not dependent on the external; that it only matters when the recipient is in some way positively affected. Compassion chiefly benefits the individual by placing them in a state of humane feeling rather than a state of anger, hostility, prejudice or, simply, inhumanity. As a result, said individual is often more prone to open-minded notions; in this case, Luke’s compassion is what leads him to consider that his father is not beyond redemption. And while he proceeds to act on this ideal, such has nothing to do with him blindly expecting his father to play ball, or to play it fair.
    Insofar that he’s expressing the futility and painful consequences of being a Jedi, yes, but not your specific interpretation.
    What I’m saying, frankly, is that you’re making a mountain out of a molehill–resting an awkward, counter-thematic interpretation of the story on a single, brief and likely by-the-numbers reaction shot merely consistent with filming a dramatic sequence, as opposed to no reaction shot at all, or one with Luke expressing boredom or indifference. When you take that look and push it all the way in an idea that tracks nowhere else in the film, yeah, I call it thin.
    Last edited by Ingram_I, May 26, 2013