Powerful, the Force is
I looking forward to the release of the new Star Wars flick, titled Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Not only have the other movies in the series been entertaining, but they have also provided much to ponder if you're the thinking sort. Episode III should be no different.
Subjects including religion and philosophy are well represented in the Star Wars series, and provide one of many reasons why these movies are not just action flicks for kids. I remember my mom telling me years ago that the movies were chock full of Buddhist ideas, and that is certainly true. The universal compassion, mindful meditation, and other ideas and practices associated with the Jedis no doubt come from Buddhist philosophy. Additionally, you may recall damaged and worn statues of Buddha appearing on the planet of Naboo in Episode I. George Lucas was also influenced by Eastern spirituality and mythology, as is apparent with his naming of characters such as Queen Padmé Amidala and Qui-Gon Jinn. Moving from east to west, there's also this recent Detroit News article about a Bible study class that focuses on the Christianity inherent in the Star Wars movies.
Aside from the religious and spiritual, many general philosophic questions are dealt with by Lucas in the series. I recently became aware of a new book out called Star Wars and Philosophy that explores the philosophical issues contained within the series. I plan on sticking this book upon the growing list of summer reading books that I hope to tackle at some point.
Of course, there are many who also note various parallels of both historical and political significance. For an example of historical parallels, David Dieteman compares aspects of Episode II to a particular period of American history in a piece titled Episode II: Art Imitates Life. I unfortunately missed some additional commentary on historical parallels within the Star Wars series that occured earlier today on The Weekend Interview Show with Scott Horton. His guest for today was Mark Thornton, who wrote a very interesting article about the dark side of the force and it's relation to politics. I found out about this on the Antiwar.com blog, where it says:
What do Ancient Rome, Revolutionary France, The British Empire, The War Between the States, Nazi Germany, Vietnam, the "election" of Viktor Yushchenko and the war on terrorism have to do with Star Wars?Thankfully, past episodes are always archived and made available in mp3 format.
All will be explained on the Weekend Interview Show, Sat. 4-6 est.
The first hour will be me talking and playing clips, and in the second hour, I'll be talking with Ludwig von Mises Institute Scholar, Mark Thornton all about it.
Going back to the Thornton article for a moment, he examines the mystery of why Anakin wound up embracing the dark side, and here is an interesting excerpt from it:
Slavery plays the central role because it was a causal factor with Anakin's not growing up with a father, his abandonment of his mother, and his mother's death. (Fatherhood, or the lack thereof, combined with the role of mentoring is the key dynamic feature that runs throughout the six-part Star Wars series.) In the galactic Republic, slavery was only practiced in the port city of Mos Espa on the planet of Tatooine. This city was controlled by mobsters and was based on businesses and trade that the government sought to suppress, such as gambling and pod racing. This would suggest that in the absence of the black market that slavery might not have existed in the Republic. Therefore we can trace Anakin's problems back to government intervention in the economy.An additional article about political themes comes from Warren Bluhm of The Green Bay News-Chronicle, which deals with the issue of democracies ultimately morphing into dictatorships and how the neocons in Washington represent that role.
As I have shown in previous essays on episodes one and two, Lucas constructs his Star Wars movies with images and details from our history. These connections are a key to his success because it provides a rational basis for his science fiction. In recent episodes he showed how an evil empire emerges from a constitutional republic via expanding mercantilist polices, bureaucracy, and political manipulation using images from Roman and British empires as well as Nazi Germany.
Of course, leave it up to various Busheviks to feel threatened by such ideas being present in this latest Star Wars installment. There is, for example, this heap of trash from Tech Central Station about how unfortunate it is for the new flick to be full of so many anti-Bush and anti-Iraq War messages. Writer Craig Winniker is obviously upset over certain lines in the movie, such as "So this is how liberty dies -- to thunderous applause." Leave it to Tech Central Station to advance the cause of attempting to blur the lines between "libertarianism" and neo-fascist apology. True Jedi rebels see through the trickery of the dark side, which should make Winniker and his fellow Bush'ists tremble with fear.