Another Happy Landing: The Endings of Star Wars Films

One of my favorite things about Star Wars, ever since I first saw it when I was a child, was the endings of the movies.

As I got older, I saw the endings as slightly corny, but they still satisfied me. Why? Because while George Lucas created endings that were corny or too-nicely-tied-up-in-a-bow, there was a sense of hope and happiness…sometimes more weighted on one than the other – but still there, nevertheless.

With ANH, Lucas did not know if he would be able to continue Star Wars or if it would be a big flop. He opted to make a story that had a clear and decisive beginning, middle, and end. Sure, he left some ties open (we don’t know the fate of Darth Vader) but overall, the Rebellion won. It had hope and happiness handed to us on a silver platter. It was an ultimate feel-good ending.

I believe that ESB is the only film under Lucas’ hands that has the most question marks. We have no idea if Luke and Leia will be able to get Han back. We don’t even know if Han is alive. In a more subtle way, we don’t know if we can still trust Lando. What about Luke’s training on Dagobah? Will he go back? Is Darth Vader really Luke’s father? How did Leia sense where Luke was? Does she also have the Force?

Yet, despite all these questions, we watch Luke get a new hand and exchange smiles with Leia. They move to look out the window to an infinite galaxy. Threepio and Artoo stand on one side. It is one of my favorite shots of all time. Instead of looking at the camera, everyone is facing away, and it gives more credence to the loose ends of the movie. But it’s beautiful. And it’s an ending. When they look out into the galaxy, I have a feeling of hope and inspiration.

ROTJ is the corniest, in my opinion. Lucas thought this would be his last (or at least for a while – he did continue to have thoughts about telling Anakin’s entire story) Star Wars film and everything is nicely tied together in a bow. The Rebellion won (again)! Darth Vader was redeemed! Leia and Han are together! The Emperor was destroyed! We see almost the entire cast surrounded by dancing Ewoks and smiling benevolently into the camera. Happiness! Hope!

When Lucas filmed the Prequels, he continued his trend of concise endings, using the themes of hope and happiness.

With TPM, the ending is almost as exuberant as ROTJ or ANH. There are some lingering questions in the background presented by the Jedi at Qui-Gon’s funeral, but overall, the celebration of Naboo is nothing short of glorious. Everyone is looking at the camera and the corny level is quite high.

AOTC is the only film out of every Star Wars film under Lucas that strays furthest from the theme of hope. I think it’s happy, yes, but in a bittersweet way. You are happy for Anakin and Padmé but the hindsight you have as an audience member, pangs you with bitterness. I do not think hope is lost entirely however. It may not be the first emotion you feel, but you know this union is necessary because “a new hope” is what arises from this wedding. Without this marriage – there would be no Luke and Leia who end up saving the galaxy further on down the line. In some ways, I think the Jedi were headed towards combustion, Anakin was the catalyst, and I believe the wiping out of the Jedi had to happen. It was doomed. So knowing that Luke and Leia are coming out of this ill-fated love match is one of those strange things where hope is present in this scene, though it may not be dominant.

As an ending, ROTS leaves us complete only because we know the entire story already. The sunset gaze by Beru and Lars evokes hope and the weight of responsibility as well. Lucas deftly wraps it up with that Tatooine sunset and closes the film and saga with a sense of satisfaction. We see baby Luke and know that the new hope has arrived.

And where does this leave TFA and Rogue One?

TFA breaks the tradition. It’s such a small thing, the ending of a movie. Yet, if you think about it, you expect a satisfying ending to probably 95% of the movies you watch. There has to be a conclusion of some sort.

Disney leaves me a little jaded with TFA. Their over-confidence (…is their weakness) in knowing that they don’t have to really give us an ending frustrates me. Unlike the other films in the saga that were under Lucas’ direction, TFA does not leave me with hope or happiness. I’m not sure what feelings I take away from it now. It’s neither negative nor positive. I am apathetic for this ending that is not an ending but more like you are putting a bookmark in a book. I know Finn will survive because it’s too early in the Sequel Trilogy to kill him off. Rey is standing there with a strange look on her face and an outstretched arm to an older, grizzled Luke Skywalker who has an even stranger look on his face. Then we have this strange moment where the camera spins around them on the island where Rey is standing there with the arm outstretched trying to hand Luke his lightsaber. Too much movement compared to the other endings!

I didn’t notice the lack of an ending at first. In fact, the first time I watched it, I remember thinking as the shot spun around Luke Skywalker and Rey, “This had better not be the end because we just saw Luke for the first time.” But it was. I was discombobulated but I chucked it up to seeing the new Star Wars film and having a lot to think about.

Yet every time I watch it again, I get more annoyed and I blame Disney and Kathleen Kennedy for most of this. I did not realize how entrenched the Star Wars endings are in my psyche and how much I yearn for them until I compare the Lucas films to the new Disney films.

Rogue One has an ending, but I find it contrived and forced. A CGI Leia says, “Hope,” and it’s a good whack on the head of forcing us into what we should feel. Their effort on the ending of the film should have been less focused on a CGI Leia and more emphasis placed on a beautiful shot with a decent ending that evokes feelings instead of shoves it down our throat. You could argue that the hyperspace jump right after Leia says that is the shot but…it’s action. It’s not a still moment where we appreciate the end of a Star Wars movies.

When I compare the endings, I almost see George Lucas as a more humble director who wraps up each film nicely…just in case. Just in case no one wants to see another Star Wars movie or he never gets to do one again. He gave us a small moment at the end of each film to reflect on what we had just seen. There was no crazy spinning shot, no ships jumping to hyperspace – only his way of saying, “Did you enjoy my movie? I give you time to digest your thoughts and what you saw.”

We have now broken that with TFA and RO and I miss my feeling of hope and happiness at the end of a Star Wars film. I miss the ending being clear cut. I miss the beautiful, panoramic shots that were breathtaking. I miss that still, quiet moment of reflection.

Will we never have that again? Since Disney is planning on creating Star Wars films until I’m old and grey and no longer blogging, is their overconfidence going to extend to the point that we’ll never have that corny Star Wars ending again?

If so, RIP endings to Star Wars films that brought me hope and happiness. You will be missed.

 

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Haiku Me Friday! Hanging upside down

I’m disoriented
The blood rushes to my head
But I feel the Force

This scene in ESB is often overlooked.  It’s a scene that seems like it could have been left on the cutting floor EXCEPT for the fact that we see Luke use the Force in a way we’ve never seen before.  As someone who has grown up with the OT, I’ve gotten used to this scene but I believe it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Before now, we have not really seen what the Force can do.  We’ve seen Obi-Wan mind trick some Stormtroopers, fight Darth Vader with a lightsaber, and speak inside Luke’s head.  Luke blows up the Death Star but it’s still a little hazy on whether or not that was the Force.  As an audience member, we are to believe that he blew up the Death Star with two perfectly timed proton torpedoes using some supernatural element but still…ehh…maybe it was luck?

Then we see Luke pull his lightsaber to him like a magnet.  This is a huge jump from what happened in ANH, even more so because Luke is actually physically doing it and there can be no doubt.  Also, he does this while hanging upside down for goodness knows how long.

After this scene where it is determined that yes, Luke does have the Force, and yes, he’s getting stronger in using the Force – we see him speak to Ben on Hoth through a Force vision and then he heads to Dagobah where he trains in using the Force with Yoda.

This scene serves as a moving piece on the Saga game board.  Though small, it helps cement the audience’s belief in the Force.

 

Happy St. Patricks’ Day everyone!  Hope you find your pot o’ gold.  🙂

I leave you with this picture of my husband and I at the Guinness Brewery in October:

 

Fan Art Friday! Best Friends Clash

I had so much fun doing this picture.  I didn’t do my normal, random let-the-book-fall-open-where-it-will-and-pick-a-piece but instead I found this while working on last month’s Leia portrait and fell in love because there are lightsabers!  We all know how much I love lightsabers (so much that I think that could have been another reason I didn’t like Rogue One as much as the Saga movies).

I also figured out the best lighting for taking these photos is at 6am.

I also figured out the best lighting for taking these photos is at 6am.

Originally, I didn’t look at the lightsabers too closely so I was going to do green (my favorite color lightsaber) and red.  But when I actually began to work on it, I realized that they were two distinct character lightsabers: Obi-Wan and Anakin.

Well, there was no question to what I would do after that.  When I did not realize whose lightsabers these were, I was going to make the mandala/background very industrial with greys and blacks.  But no way – I had to make this Mustafar themed!

I believe that’s why I had so much fun: it’s rare in these pictures that I have been able to use a lot of orange, reds, and yellows.  Because of that, I didn’t let myself go choose anything but shades in that range.  I used as many different fiery hues as possible and they ranged from brown-red to golden yellow.

I kept the end half-circles on the mandala for my industrial look and I’m happy with that choice.

I have to say – this picture was up there for me in my favorites because 1) lightsabers, and 2) all the colors I got to use that I don’t normally pick.

Don’t forget to check out Mei-Mei’s interpretation of this picture!

My Love For Star Wars in a Party

When I was 11, I received my first copy of Star Wars Insider from Lucasfilm after writing a letter to George Lucas (I did not get reply from him, alas).  Within the issue, they had a section where they printed letters from fans and readers.  One letter started out as:

Dear Insider,

I have been a Star Wars fan for over 20 years…

That sentence has stuck with me throughout my life.  Why?  Because family and friends thought I was going through a “fad” or “stage” in life with my Star Wars obsession.  And there is nothing that irks me more, even at that young age, than people thinking I’ll grow out of something or won’t like something as much in a while.  I saw that sentence and thought, “I want to be a Star Wars fan for over 20 years as well.”

I haven’t reached 20 years, but I’m currently at 18 years.  Actually, technically I’m over 20 years if you count when I first saw Star Wars, but I only count the age when I became obsessed as the starting point in my Star Wars journey.

Throughout this journey I have:

Yup, that Star Wars party happened this past weekend.  Why?  Because what better time to celebrate my true love than around Valentine’s Day?

I know “first annual” is an oxymoron of sorts, but I wanted to make it clear that this is something that will be continual on a yearly basis.  Due to some bad weather the day before, we only had seven people show up (12 RSVP’d as a yes) but I was more than happy with that!  This was blue_milkthe greatest party I could ever throw, in my opinion.

And, oh the discussions!  It was so wonderful to sit with friends, drink some wine and blue milk (yes, I had some blue milk and Yoda soda), watch a Star Wars movie, and discuss Star Wars for four hours.  Heaven.

What movie did we watch?  Ah, the suspense!  No one knew until they showed up and there was a prize for those who guessed correctly.  Surprisingly, there were a lot of ROTS guesses, which I thought was very strange.

But the movie I chose was The Force Awakens for two reasons: 1) In honor of my daughter, whom I hope will grow to be like Rey, and 2) It was the one movie I had not seen and discussed with a lot of my friends.

To reiterate: the discussions!  I have missed talking about Star Wars and guessing what will be coming next with good friends.  Here were my favorite discussions that happened during the party…please chime in with any thoughts you might have as well.

1. The Force Vision/Knights of Ren

When Rey touches Luke’s lightsaber on Takodona, there a bunch of scenes that go by very quickly.  One of them involves what looks like a knights-of-renmassacre by the Knights of Ren, with Kylo leading them with a lightsaber in the rain.  We don’t know where this is or what happened.  Rey sees someone coming towards her who looks like they are about to kill her, but instead gets killed by Kylo Ren.  When Kylo Ren starts stepping towards her, she gets scared and backs up, where the scene immediately shifts to a young Rey being left behind on Jakku with Unkar Plutt dragging her away.

My friend brought up this theory: what if Kylo Ren had, in fact, saved a young Rey (though we are seeing her as an adult) from another Knight of Ren?  That Knight of Ren could have been going to kill Rey as part of the massacre, but Kylo Ren steps in to save her.  He then takes her to Jakku where she is left behind, which would explain why it seems like Kylo Ren knows her.  Why would he save her? That’s the question.  Guilt?  Is he related to her?  If so – why wouldn’t Han recognize her?

When I previously thought about this scene, I thought Rey was seeing some insight into what happened when Kylo Ren turned to the dark side and those were all of Luke’s Jedi pupils.  I never thought about her actually being there, but the more I think about it, the more I like this theory and it seems to make sense.

2.The Force Vision/Artoo Shut Down

This is my theory and I have brought it up before, but it did become a discussion point again at the party.  In the Force vision, we see Luke put a hand on Artoo.  Artoo is clearly “awake” here and not in hibernation.  Is Luke shutting Artoo down and somehow using the Force to make sure the next time he awakes, it will be because of Rey?

This theory is a little far-fetched, but I keep coming back to it, because WHY are they showing Artoo in this vision?  It could be because Abrams wanted to keep Luke as hidden as possible until the end of the movie, but I also don’t think there were any throwaways in this movie.  They could have not had this scene if he wanted Luke to remain hidden.  Why show Artoo?

I believe Artoo was getting some kind of direction here and it is interesting that he is “awakened” just when Rey shows up on D’Qar.

Here’s a video of the Force vision for your reference:

3. Your favorite 15-20 minutes in Star Wars

This was a question someone asked at the end of the party.  What is your favorite 15-20 minutes out of all the Star Wars movies?

I thought that would be hard and there were scenes that flit across my brain very fast as I tried to think of something.  I thought of Amidala speaking to the senate (“I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die…”), I remembered Luke staring out at the binary sunset, I thought about Vader revealing he is Luke’s father, I thought about Rey rescuing BB-8, I remember Order 66, I remember Leia and Han’s exchange before he went into carbonite (“I love you!”  “I know.”), but then one part of the saga stood out to me the most.

My favorite scene in the Star Wars saga would be the end of Return of the Jedi.  Luke is trying to control his emotions but Vader gets to him when he realizes that Luke has a sister and says he will turn her to the dark side.  Luke loses it and goes after Vader with such hatred and bests him in their final lightsaber match.  He cuts of his hand in anger – only to hear the Emperor’s sinister laugh behind him.  The Emperor is sure of his victory; sure that Luke will take Vader’s place.  And then….Luke turns away from the dark side.  Seeing his own hand cut off, he turns to the Emperor and tells him:

You failed your highness.  I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

It makes me want to woop with joy every time I see that scene.  Talk about good triumphing over all!  Talk about doing the right thing even when you know it means death!  Aggggh that scene – everything about it: the lightsabers, the ominous music, the Emperor’s moment of triumph – only to have Luke come out on top and throw away his lightsaber.

The best.  That is, in my eyes, the best scene from the entire saga.

 

My party was wonderful and I had a great time.  It’s the perfect thing for me to look forward to since I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day.  This is a way to celebrate my true love in a way that honors it.

I can’t wait until next year’s party.

Haiku Me Friday! Opening crawl

New name: TLJ Mere seconds from TFA Will there be a crawl?

New name: TLJ
Mere seconds from TFA
Will there be a crawl?

Since we know that The Last Jedi takes place right after The Force Awakens, do you think there will be an opening crawl?  Or will that be cut out?