Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrating food, family, and football. One of the things that come to my mind at the thought of this holiday in addition to the above mentioned alliterative threesome is Star Wars. Yes, I do mean the epic, dramatic, and at times campy silliness that is George Lucas’ classic saga of the triumph of good over evil. If thanksgiving is about family, then yes, this is in part because of an unnamed tradition, largely spurred on by my mother’s side of the family, of watching at least one volume of this excellent saga. Star Wars is excellent family fare, and not necessarily the nerdy bantha fodder it’s made out to be.
Star Wars is the Galactic saga with something for everyone in the words of the Grandfather in Princess Bride, it has: torture, revenge, chases, escapes, true love, miracles. However, the prequels can be too political and full of the cheesiest lines in the galaxy. The Prequels’ only saving graces are Yoda fighting like a wicked awesome little Tasmanian devil, Natalie Portman as Padme, Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jin, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a fully gadgeted R2D2, and the best light saber fight ever in Phantom Menace with Darth Maul and his double bladed light saber.
I side with the rebel alliance of the original trilogy, because after all, we know that these campier older movies had the best dialogue and the cleverest plots. Who wouldn’t want to team up with guys like Han Solo and Chewbacca and fight the Empire? I must say, having some silly droids along the way would help as well. And I’m sure inside every little girl, there is a Princess Leia. She is a lot tougher than her politically driven mom, because in an era where politics is corrupt, some skill with a hair-dryer-like weapon and bagel-bun hair are a must. And as we all have discovered, it is so much better to be Leia than it is to be Padme, because she has a much better and fulfilling relationship (if not funny and full of more clever playful banter) with Han Solo than Padme had with Anakin. On the one hand you have Harrison Ford, on the other you have wooden-voiced, bad-acting, brooding Haden Christianson. You make the call.
The transcending message of all six of these films is tremendous. Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side as a result of giving into his own anger and desire for revenge. But he is also fuelled in his turning away from the light by the conniving worm-tongue like Senator Palpatine (who eventually proclaims himself Emperor of the new Galactic Empire, doing away with the Old Galactic Republic). Anakin is encouraged by Yoda and the other Jedi to become detached, and not be so preoccupied with saving those he loves and cares about. In the end, he is so bent on keeping Padme from dying, that his own turn to the evil dark side in order to protect her, ends up saddening and killing her. So he brought about the death of the very person he was trying to save. However, we all know, as Luke says, “There is still some good in him.” Because by the end of Return of the Jedi, it is his character of caring about those he loves that saves him, and rids himself of the evil influence of Palpatine forever. When Darth Vader sees his son Luke being tortured by Palpatine, the old good feelings of Anakin overpower the confused and mutilated feelings he had as Darth Vader. He reaches out to defend his son, throwing Palpatine down the endless pit thing. Even though by doing so he destroys the very machinery that has kept him alive. In the end, Anakin redeems himself, and tries to undo the very evil and anger that had influenced his actions for so long. So, contrary to the old Yoda’s beliefs that detachment will save him, it is love and self-sacrifice that redeems Anakin Skywalker.
And as a final word to my fellow rebels, since we all know that the little farm-boy from a moisture farm on Tatooine triumphs over the creepy, power hungry Senator aka Emperor Palpatine. So no more whining that we would rather go down to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters, let’s get out there and be rebels and join the Light side. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may the force be with you!