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CT Understanding Luke's Cave vision

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by Love SW2012, Dec 29, 2020.

  1. Love SW2012

    Love SW2012 Jedi Padawan

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    Jul 7, 2020
    One of the scenes that has taken me for forever to understand exactly what is going in Star Wars was Luke's Dark side vision in the cave on Dagobah in the Empire Strikes Back. The confusion starts while Yoda and Luke are talking about the dark side just before they arrive at the cave, it seems like kind of a random conversation, but Yoda is actually telling Luke how to pass the cave test. He tells Luke that a Jedi uses the force for self-defense only, never for attack. So in the cave Vader attacks Luke and after a few parries Luke decapitates Vader, which I thought was OK since it was in self-defense, as Vader attacked first. Then later when Luke was leaving Dagobah, Yoda tells Luke yes remember your failure at the cave. So what failure was Yoda referring too? I mean Luke won in self defense, how was that a failure?

    It wasn't until something Rey said in the Last Jedi about her cave vision, that finally helped me understand what happened in Luke's. Rey said, I thought that there was something for me there but there wasn't. The dark side tempted her with knowledge of her parents and she refused to touch the dark side. But in Luke's case the Dark side offered Luke the power to beat Darth Vader, and Luke took it. They should have a little caption in the movie "Luke uses the Dark side". The cave test is a test to see if a Jedi can resist the temptation to use the Dark side and Luke failed. I think that the mask coming off and Luke seeing his face might also be an indication that Vader is of Luke's blood, while also foreboding that if Luke continues to touch the Dark side he will end up like Vader.

    When you take this into account while Luke is leaving Dagobah, that he has failed to resist the Dark side and that Luke has made the same decision his father did when he chooses the love of his friends over his duty as Jedi. You can really feel the weight of the darkness that the Jedi are facing in that moment, the outlook for Yoda and Obi-wan at this moment is very bleak.

    Viewer Note: When watching all the Star Wars Films in order, do not, do not watch Rogue One with in like six months of watching Empire Strike's Back, it makes Empire's Hoth scene look bad, and brings up all kinds of questions that don't have good answers. Enjoy!!
     
  2. Lobot's Wig

    Lobot's Wig Jedi Knight star 4

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    Dec 13, 2020
    The failure was that Luke took weapons into the cave and ignored Yoda's advice that he wouldn't need them. He went armed, and too ready to resort to a fight. That was the test. The resultant being that when he decapitated 'Vader', the embodiment of violence and evil, he saw his own face, a premonition of what was to come if he kept down that path of resorting to anger and violence as his first instinct. Yoda even tries to give him a clue as to what awaits him in the cave "Only what you take with you" - i.e. violence in Luke's case, as he took weapons with him.

    When Yoda reminds him of his failure at the cave later, it is because Luke is doing the same thing again, rushing headlong into a confrontation as his first instinct.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
  3. antitoxicgamer

    antitoxicgamer Jedi Knight star 2

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    Sep 9, 2020
    I remember George has said that "cave is all about mirrors" or something like that.
     
  4. C.Roach

    C.Roach Jedi Knight star 1

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    May 3, 2018
    That's how I read the scene - and Yoda's cryptic advice - "If you go armed, expecting trouble ... you'll find it."
     
  5. Lobot's Wig

    Lobot's Wig Jedi Knight star 4

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    Dec 13, 2020
    Yes agreed, that is another great way of summarising it. :cool:
     
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  6. Alexrd

    Alexrd Force Ghost star 6

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    Jul 7, 2009
    The test wasn't simply about bringing weapons with him or not. It's a spiritual test. The cave was a place strong with the dark side of the Force. Luke would succeed by going into the cave clean of the dark side, by controlling and letting go of those emotions. But he went in with his fear and anger alive (which is why he took his weapon with him), and as a result, it manifested itself into an apparition of Darth Vader, who he sought to confront. His face being inside the helmet is just the message that he could become the very thing he wants to fight against by giving into the dark side like.

    That's why Yoda reminded him of his failure at the cave when Luke was about to leave Dagobah out of fear. He was making the same mistake again.
     
  7. AEHoward33

    AEHoward33 Jedi Master star 4

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    Aug 11, 2019
    Which is what nearly happened to him in "Return of the Jedi".
     
  8. Lobot's Wig

    Lobot's Wig Jedi Knight star 4

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    Dec 13, 2020
    That's right, hence him looking at Vader's artificial hand and then his own in realisation that he had just completely destroyed his father in combat due to his own rage. He was becoming Vader. Great scene.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
  9. Django Fett

    Django Fett Force Ghost star 5

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    Nov 7, 2012
    At the time (1980) it occurred to me that the Force was giving him a clue to who his father, fighting his father - fighting himself - fighting a part of himself...

    I've always wondered what Luke would've experienced had he entered the cave unarmed???
     
  10. FightoftheForgotten

    FightoftheForgotten Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    May 19, 2020
    That cave has a lot to do with fear too. Luke takes his weapons because he's afraid. And then the person that Luke fears the most materializes. It was a way of Yoda telling Luke that he needs to stop being so brash. And as others have noted their is also the fact that Luke looks to violence as his first option which is not the way of the Jedi. Luke seeing his own face when the Vader helmet explodes is a good warning too of what could become of Luke if he keeps going down this road.

    One neat parallel between Anakin and Luke is that Anakin was trained how to be a Jedi and then expected to be a soldier. Obi-Wan lets Luke be a soldier for a few years before he trained as a Jedi. Just food for thought.
     
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  11. Starith

    Starith Jedi Master star 3

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    Apr 5, 2020
    I don't know if I buy that the cave was about weapons. I mean, I find it hard to fault Luke for wanting to be prepared and defend himself when things look dangerous. I'm more inclined to believe the cave was reading Luke, telling him "this could happen to you". A warning of what the dark side could make him into if he's not careful.
     
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  12. Lobot's Wig

    Lobot's Wig Jedi Knight star 4

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    Dec 13, 2020
    I think that what was being conveyed is that the cave wasn't inherently dangerous, until Luke made it dangerous by going in armed. Luke asks what is in there, and Yoda advises him "Only what you take with you". It was an abstract way of teaching Luke that if you go into a situation armed, ready for a fight and looking for trouble, don't be surprised if trouble finds you. You will become the very thing that you fear.

    This is exactly what happens to Luke later on. His two confrontations with Vader later see him thoroughly beaten in the first and then becoming like him during the second.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
  13. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 7

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    Oct 4, 1998
    The old saying goes, "To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

    Or, "To a Jedi with weapons, every solution looks like a lightsaber."
     
  14. Starith

    Starith Jedi Master star 3

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    Apr 5, 2020
    ^See, I don't really see it that way. Luke had every reason to think the cave was dangerous.

    "There's something not right here. I feel cold. Death."

    "That place is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is".

    ... Doesn't exactly sound reassuring. Plus Dagobah itself isn't exactly the safest place, as Luke has already seen. I dunno, I just find it hard to fault him for wanting to defend himself in that scenario. Maybe I can see it being about Luke's expectations about being a Jedi, much like he expected Yoda to be a "great warrior", that it's about the physical battles. But here he sees there are emotional and spiritual battles as well.
     
  15. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Wacky Wednesday Host star 10 VIP - Game Host

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    Sep 2, 2012
    I liked the way Legends handled it in Champions of the Force - Luke puts Kyp through the same kind of test, (after Kyp fell, repented, and is seeking redemption) - and taking the lightsaber in doesn't count as an Automatic Fail.

    Kyp resists the temptation to strike down the Mysterious Shadowy Figure (first he's tempted to use Force lightning and then tempted to use his saber) but he finally says "I will not fight you" - and passes the test.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
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  16. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Force Ghost star 5

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    Jun 19, 2019
    I think the cave is about confronting inner demons and fears.

    As they are approaching the cave, Yoda warns Luke to "Beware of the Dark Side" and instructs him that "Anger, fear, aggression, the Dark Side of the Force are they."

    And when Luke asks what is in there, Yoda tells him, "Only what you take with you."

    Only what you take with you. Your inner demons. Your fears. Your anger. Your aggression. Those are of the Dark Side and create the visions you see in the cave.

    If you are only fighting an internal enemy--your fears, your anger, your aggression, the Dark Side inside you--you will not need weapons as Yoda tells Luke before he enters.

    I think Luke believed he was fighting Vader but he was only fighting himself--his own fears, anger, and aggression--all along.

    One's internal Dark Side isn't so easily defeated with weapons, and I think Luke begins to understand that once he stares at his own face under the Vader mask.

    He is forced to come face to face with his Dark Side. To stare his worst traits and tendencies in the face and see the horror of them.

    At least that is my interpretation, but I think the power of the scene is in how symbolic and mythic it is. How it can be determined in different ways depending on individual perception.
     
  17. Lobot's Wig

    Lobot's Wig Jedi Knight star 4

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    Dec 13, 2020
    All very true, but I think that the biggest clue is when Yoda tells him directly "Your weapons. You will not need them"
     
  18. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 7

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    Oct 4, 1998
    Judging by the look on Luke's face as he strapped on his gunbelt, he was thinking, "I'd rather have my weapons and not need them than need them and not have them." Entirely understandable, but his decision betrayed a lack of trust in his mentor, and by extension, lack of faith that the Force would be all he needed. Eventually he proved his faith in the DS2 throne room when he threw away his saber.
     
  19. FightoftheForgotten

    FightoftheForgotten Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    May 19, 2020
    It's hard to fault someone for wanting to rescue their friends too, but that is also the wrong choice. You, like Luke, must unlearn what you have learned.
     
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  20. Starith

    Starith Jedi Master star 3

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    Apr 5, 2020
    ^Uh, no, I musn't. It's my opinion.
     
  21. Alexrd

    Alexrd Force Ghost star 6

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    Jul 7, 2009
    He had every reason to trust Yoda and his wisdom. Yoda didn't just say what the cave is. He also said that he must go into it and that he wouldn't need his weapons. Luke ignored that and preferred to give into fear.

    It's the fear and doubt that led him to fail. A true Jedi is trained against fear.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
  22. Starith

    Starith Jedi Master star 3

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    Apr 5, 2020
    ^Maybe. Maybe he had good reason to bring his weapons and to not. Lots of different ways to look at it. It doesn't have to be "No, it was definitely this". It's the Dagobah cave scene. Different interpretations tend to come with it.
     
  23. Alexrd

    Alexrd Force Ghost star 6

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    Jul 7, 2009
    The good reason is that it makes the story more interesting. To serve the story, the hero needs to go through a learning process, to make mistakes and learn from them. But Luke's decision to feed his fears (which is what made him decide to bring his weapons) and ignore Yoda's counsel was still a mistake nonetheless. That's what it was about: to show the audience that it was something that he shouldn't have done.
     
  24. Starith

    Starith Jedi Master star 3

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    Apr 5, 2020
    ^There are many ways to look at the Cave Scene. No offense, but I don't need a lecture on it. Really, the "Luke had reason to bring weapons" thing is more a nitpick of mine. I get the usual messages people get out of the scene, about brashness, not listening, not trusting, holding on to fear, etc. I'm not really dismissing those points. But if I see something different, I see something different. Agree to disagree.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  25. FightoftheForgotten

    FightoftheForgotten Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    May 19, 2020
    There's no real way to discuss this if we can't find even ground though. If you disagree with the message of the movie, that's one thing. Pretending the message isn't what it is just means there's no way to discuss it with you. It'd be like you walking in here and saying that you choose to see Yoda as a 10 foot tall gorilla and the fact that he's a small green puppet is just because of effects limitations. Like, yeah you can pretend Yoda is a gorilla, but there's no way to discuss that with you because it's not based in reality.
     
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