Everyone has those great moments of ah ha. That usually happens while I’m thinking about the Star Wars universe. Or maybe it could be that I’m just a super fan and I’m always thinking about the Star Wars universe Ha ha ha. One day I got to thinking about why some people struggle so much with liking the new Star Wars films. Then I had lightning strike my brain and had an epiphany of why the struggle exists.
I think I can sum it up with this one simple thought. When we watch films, movies, or TV shows the one thing that really makes the story better is seeing that process the character goes through. We get to see their highs and lows; then watch as they struggle with all the things that they have to overcome to become that hero or that person that we love. When we take out the process the story doesn’t seem as compelling. The story seems flat or under developed. I know part of that is a product of our culture. We want it now. We don’t want to work for it, we don’t want to put forth the effort. It’s something we should be automatically given. When we take out the process in both our lives and film we get flat, less compelling stories that are seldom remembered. Characters don’t feel as seasoned when we don’t see the drudgery they go through. They don’t have the same impact on culture or history like the original Star Wars films did.
In the original trilogy, we see Luke Skywalker going through the process. He is a farm boy, very innocent, knowing nothing of the galaxy around him other than there’s a Galactic Empire and a struggle between good and evil. He then gets thrown into that larger struggle, only to find his family embroiled in the middle of it. You see him struggle with his family history, learn and grow, avoiding becoming overconfident in his skills and abilities. You see his failures and successes, and eventually he becomes the Jedi the galaxy needs when he throws aside his lightsaber and wins back his father’s heart to the light side of the force.
However, in the newest film the Last Jedi we see Luke as a defeated and angry teacher. (I have some thoughts on what Rian Johnson was going for with that, but I will hold them over for another article at a later point.) It’s hard for fans to swallow that when we’re so connected and engaged with his story. Why does that make it so difficult for us fans? Because we have seen him go through the process of becoming this great Jedi and it feels wasted. Looking at the more recent films with the characters like Rey or Finn, we don’t get to see that struggle. You don’t see that process. It may be for the sake of new movie magic or some other Hollywood bull, but it really makes the story less compelling. That’s not to say there are not some great moments in The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, but everything feels hurried and rushed for the sake of convenience.
What all great films and stories have in common is showing us that process. Showing us how that person became who they are and taking us along for the ride. We get to see it first hand and it gives you a sense of attachment to that character. We need more of that in the future, more development. There is nothing wrong with throwing in some action along with that process, but give us fans a reason to feel more attached to the characters we love. I realize in our culture today we want convenience and instant gratification, but just look around you. The stories you love and the people you respect the most are those you have gone through process and become something greater.
So, Hollywood if you’re listening, that’s something I think you should work on.