Saga Obi-Wan's development in the saga...

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Seagoat, Sep 5, 2013.

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  1. Seagoat Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2013
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    I honestly don't like it.

    I loved his character in the prequels. I loved seeing him grow from the somewhat jumpy padawan to the wise, thoughtful master, from calling other people "it" or "pathetic life forms" to caring about all life. He may be even one of my favorite characters in the saga! But then... the OT comes up.

    By the time of the OT, Obi-Wan is a bitter old man. Sure, he has his kind moments with Luke, but when you get to TESB and ROTJ and learn more... you see he was really just using Luke. Using him to kill the man he once called his brother, and not even feeling any remorse about it! In fact, disappointment when Luke said he wouldn't kill him!

    I understand why he would feel that way, but... ugh, it makes me like him less than I could have. He seems to have forgotten what Qui-Gon had faith in all along, what Padme said on her deathbed, and what even Luke was insistent on.

    What's everyone else's thoughts on the character development of Obi-Wan throughout the saga?
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  2. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
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    I both agree and disagree.

    I agree with you in regards to Obi-Wan's role in the PT. I really like the character arc that Lucas wrote for him -- where in TPM he's a very devoted, by-the-book padawan who has somewhat of an elitist streak and a "mission at all costs" attitude, then in AOTC he's Anakin's concerned and somewhat strict master whose trying to keep his own padawan on the straight and narrow while not really being able to identify with all of Anakin's issues and having to deal with the Council; in ROTS, then, he really comes into his own as a wise and thoughtful Jedi Master who will nonetheless bow to the Council's wishes and do what is right even if it hurts him to do so.

    But I too have problems with Obi-Wan in the OT. Not to the extent you do -- I don't see him as bitter -- but I do have big issues with how his character is handled. Part of the problem, I think, is that Obi-Wan and Luke's relationship can tend to come across as a mirror of Anakin and Palpatine's relationship in the PT. Obi-Wan tends to manipulate Luke and use him to further his own goals in a similar manner that Palpatine did with Anakin -- without really telling him what's going on. Now, of course, Obi-Wan's motives are good and he's trying to help the galaxy free itself from the oppression of the Sith, but I've never really liked how Lucas handles the fallout of Obi-Wan and Luke's relationship. Namely, there really is none. See, I don't mind when characters make morally ambiguous choices -- such as lying -- but I do think that the film should have shown greater consequences for this. Having Luke call Obi-Wan out and having Obi-Wan acknowledge the deception would, I feel, have gone a long way towards remedying this rather than the "certain point of view" nonsense. I've always felt that it would have been far more impactful if Obi-Wan simply admitted to Luke that it was too painful to think of Vader as being Anakin and that he was still deeply hurt by what his brother had done -- to the extent that he would rather believe that Vader had killed everything that Anakin was.

    For my part, I'm glad I started with the PT because I think I would have found it hard to like Obi-Wan as much if my first introduction to him had been the OT. The PT, at least, helps me to put his actions into context.
  3. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    I think part of the problem, as with many other issues, is that the OT was written before the PT and the story morphed somewhat as it went along. If it had been written 1-6 I really think characters like Obiwan and Yoda would've been quite different in episodes 4-6, reflecting what they had learned in 1-3 and the changes they had consequently made.
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  4. Ananta Chetan Jedi Grand Master

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    Aug 11, 2013
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    Yes, it seems that for Obi-wan, any remaining spark of faith in the prophecy or belief in Anakin or his potential redemption was fully extinguished.

    Recently though I was trying to imagine Obi-wan's anguish in regards to Anakin...believing that he failed his dying master's wish by not training Anakin successfully: "I failed you Anakin, I failed you."

    ...which of course one could say might be the impetus or at least one of the major pieces for the fall of the Jedi order and the enslavement of the entire galaxy under the Empire. What a load for one person's conscience to bear! And to be sent to kill Anakin because of this failure, can you imagine? Just heart-wrenching, their entire conversation on Mustafar and where Anakin screams "I hate you!"

    Now when I watch the OT I feel more compassion for Obi-wan and that helps me to understand and reconcile the bitterness we see that you mentioned.
  5. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    But in the OT there was no mention of prophecy. The Jedi genuinely believed that once someone turned to the dark side that was it. At the beginning of the story Anakin and Vader are different people. I think in light of this, Obiwan's conduct in most of the OT makes good sense. I agree with PH that the whole 'certain point of view' thing is weak and I would've liked to have seen that handled differently.
  6. Force Smuggler Force Ghost

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    Sep 2, 2012
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    This.
  7. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2008
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    I disagree.

    I have mixed feelings about Obi-Wan in both trilogies. In the PT, his thinking struck me as not very flexible and he didn't strike me as a good mentor for Anakin. And yet . . . he seemed a lot less manipulative than he was in the OT.

    In the latter, he's warmer and more flexible as a mentor for Luke. But as Seagoat had stated . . . all the warmth on his part did not prevent him from using Luke for the sake of the Order, or being unwilling to listen to the younger man about Anakin. It's almost as if he didn't want to hear what Luke was saying.

    This is why Obi-Wan is such an interesting character from beginning to end, to me.


    I don't see how the "certain point of view" opinion is weak. I find it a spot-on trait of human nature.
    Last edited by DRush76, Sep 5, 2013
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  8. Samnz Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 4, 2012
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    I like Obi-Wan. But I agree that the time span in which the movies were made hurts him, not just because the PT was made years after the PT but because the OT was produced step-by-step and not with a clear vision from the get-go as well.

    I bascially like him until the end of TESB. I especially appreciate the fact that his major lesson/development/finding from TPM is reflected in one of his first words to Luke, meaning that one should do what seems right to him:
    He loses my sympathy in ROTJ when it really feels like he is more concerned with taking revenge on Vader than with peace and freedom for the galaxy. And I'm really at war with his "This boy is our only hope" line in TESB, which makes him seem either idiotic or slightly misogynic. Making Leia Luke's sister might beoverall Lucas' worst decision (why didn't anyone back then "question" him and "tell him when his ideas suck"? :D;)) in the context of the Saga, but that's another topic....
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  9. Han Burgundy Jedi Grand Master

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    Jan 28, 2013
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    I love Obi-Wan, flaws and all, through the whole saga, and here's why:

    In a cosmic sense, Anakin turning to the dark side wasn't supposed to happen. There's an alternate, happier version of the SW universe where everything went "according to plan", where Anakin and Obi Wan lived on as brothers, long after the Clone Wars ended, and had adventures, and lived a good, proper Jedi life, with the Republic at peace.

    But that didn't happen. The Republic became the Empire, the Jedi were eradicated, Anakin went to the Sith and now Obi Wan is sitting in his little hut on Tatooine for 20 years thinking about all of it, and waiting for this little boy to grow up and, just maybe, rekindle some hope.

    I don't think it was ever in Obi-Wan's plan to lie to Luke. I think he wanted to train Luke like a proper Jedi, and teach him about the dark side, and most importantly, warn him of his father's mistakes so they would not be repeated. But then, when the time comes, Luke and Obi Wan are finally sitting down together and having that fateful conversation, Obi Wan can't do it. He sees this innocent young kid who's main inspiration to do good and escape this trash-heap of a planet are vague stories about his heroic father, and Obi Wan can't bring himself to tell the kid the truth.

    And really, what was he supposed to do? How could he, in that moment, deliver the soul crushing news that his father who he had idolized was actually one of the most vile men in the galaxy, who killed kids and destroyed the Republic? So instead, he makes the classic old man mistake. He chooses protection over the truth. And really, how can we blame him?

    You see the moment of hesitation in Sir Alec's acting. When Luke asks how his father died, you see Obi Wan adjust himself nervously, his eyes dart offscreen in a moment of brief contemplation. He didn't plan to lie. He made that decision in the moment, he let his emotion override his logic, and his mind was more concerned with the present than the future (an indirect and unintentional consequence of Qui-Gon's teachings.)

    Really, whether you have a problem with OT Obi-Wan for lying to Luke, or you just don't like his overall "disheveled old man" persona in comparison to the wise young swashbuckler we saw in the PT, just remember: He isn't supposed to be this way. Bad things happened, the galaxy took a turn for the worse, and people's lives, including and especially Obi-Wan, took on a much darker and sadder path.

    So yes, in a way it makes sense that Obi Wan would have no hope of Anakins redemption, not after everything that happened. Luke wasn't there. He didn't see the holo vids of Anakin slaughtering Jedi students, when he force choked his own wife. Luke wasn't there when, after the duel had been lost and Anakin was laying, limbless, on the rocks of Mustafar, all he could think to do was roar "I HATE YOU" at his former friend. Even Padme, who still had hope for Anakin, never saw the worst of him like Obi Wan did. I think its completely human that, after all the crushing despair and horror, Obi Wan would not hold on to any hope for Anakin to come back to the light.

    For me, that is what makes watching ANH so beautifully jarring after watching ROTS: to see everything that was once beautiful now broken and gray, to see people once youthful and bright now aging and lost.
    Last edited by Han Burgundy, Sep 6, 2013
  10. Seagoat Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2013
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    @Han Burgundy Wow... I've never looked at it from that certain point of view... Imagine how Luke would have reacted too, had he been told the truth from the beginning... he might not have ever begun his Jedi training... he might have fallen to the dark side, or done something else drastic or... wow, there are a lot of ways it could go from there... hm...
  11. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

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    Oct 1, 2012
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    ^ This. It's rationalization, self-justification. Exactly the same process that Anakin engages in. I find that to be some nice symmetry.
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  12. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    That's a great post, Burgundy. ^:)^

    For me, though, it's not the lie that's the problem. In that situation, I can see why, when the vital moment came, Obiwan said what he said to the innocent, young Luke, rather than revealing the truth. A plausible storyline, superbly played out by the great Sir Alec.

    What I have a problem with is how it's handled down the track, when Luke discovers the truth. As Piett's Hat says above, there should have been more fallout from this. Some acknowledgement from Obiwan that he'd done wrong, or at least acknowledgement that he'd lied. Explaining why he'd done it and asking for forgiveness perhaps. Instead we get get a fairly dismissive "certain point of view" spiel from Obiwan, where he's almost telling Luke to get over himself for being upset about the deception.

    The lie is understandable. The reaction when the lie is exposed isn't.
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  13. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2008
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    I don't feel that can be attributed to poor writing on Lucas' part. I think this was his way of hinting that Obi-Wan was not completely wise - even after becoming a Force ghost. I found this interesting article on him - http://www.jedinews.co.uk/news/news.aspx?newsID=10015
  14. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    Interesting. Thanks. Yeah, it's a good principle, but I think it's grossly misapplied in this instance. Qui Gon's message seems to me to be that one should focus on the present sufficiently that perceptions of the future don't interfere with current reality. What Obiwan's doing here goes far beyond that IMO.

    This kind of misjudgment just doesn't seem to fit all that well with this character. He's not an impulsive, naive young Jedi as PT Anakin was. He's seen the Jedi Order fall and he's spent twenty plus years ruminating on that, not to mention in communication with his former master. For me, humble acceptance, explanation and apology would've worked much better than what we got.

    Still, to each their own. [face_peace]
    Last edited by MOC Yak Face, Sep 6, 2013
  15. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2008
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    Obi-Wan may have improved somewhat, due to what he had witnessed and Qui-Gon's teaching during those two decades on Tatooine. But that doesn't mean he had achieved this state of some all-wise mentor. No one is that perfect. And in Obi-Wan's case, even after his death.

    I get this feeling that many SW fans had bought this image of Qui-Gon as the perfect mentor from ANH, and spent the next God knows how many years either turning a blind eye to his flaws - in both trilogies - or dismissing his flaws as bad writing on Lucas' part. And these fans cannot shake off this ideal image of Obi-Wan. And I really wish they would. And ideal Obi-Wan is a dull Obi-Wan.
  16. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    Not wanting perfect. Not even ideal. Just a character who matures and learns from and acknowledges his mistakes.
  17. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    Obi-Wan did mature and learned from his mistakes. He even acknowledged some of his mistakes in ANH. But he failed to do so completely Obi-Wan still had a lesson or two to learn. And in the end, it was Anakin and Luke who taught him that lesson . . . even when he was a Force ghost.
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  18. PiettsHat Force Ghost

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    Han Burgundy, I agree with everything else you said, but I think you present a false dichotomy here. Obi-Wan doesn't only have two choices. It's not a choice between the complete, unfiltered truth and "he betrayed and murdered your father." Obi-Wan could simply have told Luke that his father was a Jedi (which is true) and that Darth Vader used to be a Jedi but turned against the Order. There's no need to tell him that Vader betrayed and murdered his father, though. Because then it makes it really personal. And how would Luke feel if he had killed Vader (believing the man to be his father's murderer) and then discovered the truth? See, I can understand emotionally why Obi-Wan did what he did -- and I don't blame him for it. But I don't like how the story doesn't call him out on the lie -- it just gives us that "certain point of view" rubbish. I do think that Obi-Wan deeply loved and was hurt by Anakin's betrayal and it's easier for him to think of his brother as being murdered rather than existing as Vader. But Obi-Wan must also be aware of how Luke would understand his statements -- that Luke wouldn't believe in a "metaphorical" death; he would take Obi-Wan at his word quite literally.

    Where I think Lucas stumbles is not with ANH or ESB (it's not with Obi-Wan telling the lie), it's with ROTJ --> Lucas never shows any fallout at all in regards to the lie. Luke isn't angry with Obi-Wan, it doesn't make him feel manipulated or used, or less likely to trust Obi-Wan. Absolutely no consequences arise from Obi-Wan's lie, it's just swept under the rug. And that, to me, is problematic because choices have consequences and I feel like Lucas didn't even bother to address those at all in regards to Obi-Wan.

    What I mean is, I would have liked for something similar to the following to occur in ROTJ:

    Luke goes to face the Emperor and Palpatine tells Luke to recall how the Jedi have lied to him, how they've been using him and manipulated him into being their assassin (even though that isn't necessarily the case). Then, he can point out to Luke that he's offering him power and being up-front about what he expects -- at no point has he lied to Luke. And Luke is torn because while he believes in the Jedi, he can't really refute Palpatine's words either. It would deepen Luke's struggle with the Dark Side and make the potential of a fall that much more believable.

    Edit: And, just to clarify, the reason I say the "certain point of view" thing is rubbish is because if you know the person you are talking to is going to understand your statements in a manner that doesn't convey the reality of the situation, then you are lying.

    Say, for example, you go to a party and come home the next day. Your girlfriend/boyfriend is distressed because they heard rumors that you cheated on them at the party. So your boyfriend/girlfriend asks:

    "Did you sleep with Sam?"

    Now, you actually have cheated on your boyfriend/girlfriend, but you didn't stay the night -- instead, you slept over at a friends house. So when you say "no," it's true from a certain point of view.

    But that's a lie, and there's no way around it. You can bluster all you want about how you technically didn't sleep with Sam and it's true in that sense, but at it's heart, you knew how your boyfriend/girlfriend would interpret it and that is what makes it a lie -- because it created a false impression, an impression not in line with reality.

    When Obi-Wan told Luke that Vader "betrayed and murdered" his father, he had to have known how Luke would interpret this. Luke has no understanding of the Force at this point and no idea of the depth of Anakin and Obi-Wan's history. So no matter how much Obi-Wan says it's "a certain point of view" it's not. It's a flat-out lie. Because he knew that with those words, Luke wouldn't be aware of the situation and would instead be left with a false impression. Obi-Wan's words didn't make Luke believe that "the good man who was his father was destroyed" when Anakin became Vader. Obi-Wan's words made Luke believe that Vader and Anakin were two separate people and that Vader literally killed Anakin.

    Quite simply, I just think ROTJ needs better writing in this instance.
    Last edited by PiettsHat, Sep 7, 2013
  19. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    ROTJ did call Obi-Wan out on the lie. This is why Obi-Wan used the "certain point of view" as an excuse in the first place. And even I could tell that Luke wasn't really buying it. In fact, Luke went on to disagree with Obi-Wan over the theory that Vader and Anakin were too different people. This disagreement not only led Luke to refuse Obi-Wan's suggestion that Vader needs to be killed, he even went out of his way to turn himself in to the Empire in order to save his father.
  20. Force Smuggler Force Ghost

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    This would make the scene even more awesome. Add some of the stuff from the ROTJ novel and best scene ever.
  21. The Supreme Chancellor Jedi Grand Master

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    Insightful comments, but you must remember that Obi-Wan watched his "brother" slaughter children AND the mother of his children. Look at the price Padme paid for having faith in Anakin, why would Obi-Wan do the same? I agree that he does become a bitter old man, but it does add to the saga I think. The PT allows us to see why he became who he became.
  22. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    This is so unnecessary. Luke was already aware of the fact that Obi-Wan and Yoda had lied to him about Anakin. He wasn't concerned about revenge. He was concerned about saving his father or anyone else he considered important him. Obi-Wan and Yoda lying to him about Anakin wasn't a threat to him. Vader promising to turn Leia or sensing that she and Han were in danger were important to him. It was all about what was more important to Luke - saving those close to him (which makes him a lot like his father) or worrying about being lied to. Even Anakin had similar feelings in the PT. Despite his anger over the Jedi's treatment of him - especially using him as a spy against Palpatine, what turned him in the end, was his desperation to save Padme from a future death.
  23. Force Smuggler Force Ghost

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    Palpatine still should have gone for it. And its not like that was handled well anyway. I mean the Jedi did lie to him but Luke hardly seemed affected. Sure Luke wouldn't have joined Palpatine anyway but why not?
  24. darthfettus2015 Jedi Grand Master

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    Nov 15, 2012
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    ROTS completely makes the scene in Obi Wan's hut a much more poignant scene. Without knowing anything about the PT Alec Guiness for me makes me believe he is recalling everything from 20 years before, all the adventures, the friendships, the death of dear friends....his guilt over being the one to deal the final blow to Anakin. It must have been hard for him not to say "Your father betrayed the Jedi and I murdered him" instead of "He betrayed and murdered Your father." Darth Vader did not kill Anakin - Obi Wan did! I think Luke would have not been able to handle the truth at that point. Obi Wan is a great character played by two of my fave actors of all time and his development from youth to old man with all the failings and victories of life is beautiful imo.
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  25. DRush76 Force Ghost

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    Jan 25, 2008
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    Why bother, especially when Palpatine was aware that Luke's real achilles heel was Vader - his father? Someone that the young Jedi Knight cared about? He even made that clear to his apprentice.
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