I’ve always had this weird problem with how everyone in ANH just shrugged off the Jedi and the Force like they were a part of long forgotten history. It was only 20 years before (19 years to be exact) that the Old Republic was strong and mighty, with the Jedi Council located in the heart of Coruscant. I mean, could the Jedi really be forgotten that fast?
There are so many factors to take in here, namely that the Empire, ruled by Palpatine and Vader, stamped out any remembrance that there once were Jedi and there was such a thing as the Force. But another factor to consider is a whole new generation has risen up since the fall of the Old Republic and they have no memory of Jedi or the Force. My guess is that parents could have talked about it or mentioned it in passing, but by the time we get to 0 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) which is when ANH takes place, the children born in the past 20 years, don’t really care about this moment in the past.
If we remember the scene where Luke is given his father’s lightsaber by Obi-Wan (Yay for Lucas having a distinct moment when Obi-Wan picks up Anakin’s lightsaber in ROTS. Continuity makes me happy), Luke looks at the weapon curiously. Oooo a new toy! He asks what it is and he clearly does not know the damage it can do.
LUKE: What is it?
BEN: Your fathers lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster.
Luke pushes a button on the handle. A long beam shoots out about four feet and flickers there. The light plays across the ceiling.
BEN: An elegant weapon for a more civilized time. For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.
Luke hasn’t really been listening.
LUKE: How did my father die?
BEN: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force.
LUKE: The Force?
BEN: Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
Luke doesn’t even know what the Force is, which I think is more understandable, but not even know what the Jedi are? Or maybe he knew what the Jedi are, but doesn’t know what a lightsaber is? Murky waters here, Captain. An excuse could be made that Uncle Owen kept Luke so sheltered and on a planet so far from the interior, that this kid knew nothing about history. Owen may have kept him in the dark, but Luke is 19 at this point and I doubt he’s THAT sheltered. It’s not like the Jedi were a part of history only reserved for the planet Coruscant. The Jedi were all over the galaxy, an Order of over 25,000 years old. You can’t just erase their history like that. Or can you? I’m unsure because I live in a wonderful country where, though we’ve rewritten history in some senses, it’s never been entirely erased.
Further on in the movie, we have Han Solo give his opinion on the Force.
HAN: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
LUKE: You don’t believe in the Force, do you?
HAN: Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful force controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.
Here, it’s clear that Han looks at the Force with ridicule and scorn. The Force? That’s such a foolish religion.
But Han is slightly older than Luke, so you would think he might remember a time where the Force did exist and the Jedi were alive.
So based on what I had been thinking about, I looked up historical events during 1980-1990 (I was born during that time frame but not telling you when – muaha) and see if I remembered anything 20 years later or if any history events during that time had an impact on me.
- 1980 – John Lennon was assassinated. I definitely was aware of his assassination when I was 20 years old. How could you grow up in the USA and not know who the Beatles were? The fact that one of them was sadly killed…I mean I knew that since I was little.
- 1981 – Princess Diana and Prince Charles wedding. Meh. I only knew about this because my grandmother was obsessed with Princess Di (kind of funny because I am now obsessed with Kate Middleton, so I must get my Royal Obsessive traits from her) and had calendars of her all over the place. However, that is probably because I became more aware of her when she was killed, so her actual wedding had little effect on me.
- 1986 – Australia and New Zealand fully separate from Britain and become completely independent. Despite my heritage, this doesn’t really mean anything to me.
- 1989 – Berlin Wall falls. That’s a big piece of history that didn’t matter so much to me when I was 20. Yes, I understood the importance, but it was part of the past that seemed irrelevant to me now.
Of all these events that I know about in my lifetime, the most similar ones to the Star Wars Universe would probably be Australia and New Zealand’s full independence (kind of like the separatists?) and the fall of the Berlin Wall (government changes).
But did those two events resonate with me when I was 20 years old?
So I’ve kind of rethought my theory a little bit. I say “kind of” because none of these events were completely life changing in the country I live in, so I relate it a little bit to Luke living in the Outer Rims. The planets closer to the center were probably more affected by the huge governmental change when the Empire took over. Perhaps something like an event of 9/11, which rocked the United States, would be a better example to choose but I only know my 17 year old brother and 9/11 is also constantly brought up in news, media, etc. I doubt the Empire constantly brought up the Jedi.
Okay, that’s my food for thought. Thoughts anyone? Was it possible the Empire really wiped out all remembrances of the Jedi so that the younger generation didn’t even know about it?