A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… well perhaps not that far back, but nonetheless 40 years ago, what began as just a few simple character sketches in the recesses of George Lucas’s mind has since become a worldwide phenomenon, spanning many platforms & uniting generations under its fan base.
Star Wars will ultimately be remembered as one of the greatest franchises in cinema history. Yet the Star Wars phenomenon is far from ending, with the latest edition “The Force Awakens” predicted to break box office records, gain a new generation of fans, and send some of us oldies back to fond childhood memories.
The fundamental foundations of George Lucas’s creation “Star-Wars” engage us in a battle of morality, good vs. evil & how he layers the film using core values of religion to delve deeper into what is more than just a sci-fi action filled blockbuster.
Director George Lucas has indicated that, for him, Star-Wars was about one thing: “compassion.” He says he realized that children grow up constantly introduced to new kinds of cinematic production and entertainment, but little or none of it was imparting a sense of morality to young audiences. Thus, the Star Wars franchise was born.
Here are a few points:
1. The very first, iconic sequence in the epic franchise (the famous rolling title and intro) insinuates religious connotations: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
2. The audience is drawn into the backstory of an ongoing battle between the forces of Good (the Jedi knights) and Evil (the Sith warriors).
Sound familiar? Okay, maybe not. Let me explain further:
3. A Jedi Knight was a member of the mystical, knightly order, specially trained to preserve peace and justice in the Universe. But, sure enough, an antagonistic force, known as the Sith Warriors, sprung up in opposition to the Jedis, and… is the scene getting clearer yet?
4. Well, the premise of the films’ “Good vs. Evil” might as well come straight out of the biblical Old Testament books of Isaiah and Ezekiel, which describe the battle between the good Angels and those who stood alongside Lucifer. Not a bad little analogy for a Sci-Fi film, is it?
5. We see the religious imagery extend to a parallel of the Holy Spirit in The Force, a source of great power used by both the Good & the Evil. Let’s look at some similarities of The Force to the Holy Spirit:
6. When asking how to differentiate between the good side and the bad, Luke Skywalker is told by his master, Yoda, “You will know when you are at peace,” peace being one of the key fruits of the Holy Spirit. Another similarity is related to the Midichlorians, which are an element of the force. In the series, there is a prophecy of a coming saviour (echoing Old Testament prophecies of Jesus Christ), “one who would come and bring balance to the Force.” The one who would fulfill this prophecy would be begotten by the Midichlorians. Anakin Skywalker, one of the main characters throughout the series, had the potential to fulfill this prophecy, and eventually does, by ridding the universe of the Emperor Palpatine and the Galactic Empire… we will leave out the fact that Anakin eventually becomes the evil Darth Vader before turning back to the good side again. (His mother also claims that Anakin was conceived without a father.)
A savior who was prophesied to be conceived by a source of great power, who will restore balance to the world… hmm, now where have I heard that before?
7. The Jedi fighters have certain priestly qualities, including selflessness and celibacy. Their purpose is to protect and care for all other life. They dedicate their entire lives to fighting evil in order to keep the universe at peace just as today’s priests live as contradictions, totally self-giving.
8. Finally, I believe the best reason Star Wars pertains to Catholicism: The opening sequence may say it’s set in “a galaxy far, far away,” but for me it’s not so distant. The characters, the storyline, the world in which it is set may look exotic, but the realistic themes of Star Wars remain just as relevant and relatable to our world. Virtues such as friendship, standing up for what is right, and showing compassion to those who have fallen will always overcome evil.
George Lucas created a film that teaches us much more than compassion; his movies originate in love and end in love. Just as our world was made by Love, so it will end with love. This is the greatest lesson learned from Star Wars; that is simply to love. George Lucas’s creation will not change the world, but his message can and will instruct us in love.
As Yoda says, in one of my all-time favorite Star Wars quotes:
I think we can all learn something from that.
This guest post was written by movie buff Kieron Ainsworth follow him on Twitter (@_ki3ron) for movie updates.
Yes, even priests have gone crazy for Star Wars. Watch Fr. Roderick geek out the first time he watches the trailer for the new Star Wars movie. His reaction became an internet sensation and earned him a ticket as a VIP to the red carpet premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in Amsterdam.
*** For a more critical look at not only the similarities but also the differences between the Star Wars movies and Catholicism (the difference, for example, between the force and how we understand grace), we suggested taking a look at Taylor Marshall’s article here.