Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Symbolism in The Force Awakens and Other Hypotheticals

Ever wonder at the hidden meanings in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Here’s the lowdown. (Warning: Spoilers for those who’ve yet to enjoy its magnificence)
Symbolism in The Force Awakens and Other Hypotheticals
On the surface Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the perfect cash cow. As if Disney needed another, right? In today’s visual culture, what better company to overtake a visually-stunning franchise than one making animated classics for over the bulk of a century? Every waking hour the millwheel of Instagram and Facebook churn out visuals whether it’s graphic artistry, travel selfies or memes. It makes sense The Force Awakens was such a blockbuster, bringing together new fans as well as the old. It’s got visuals galore: spaceship chases, otherworldly planets, alien creatures, explosions, lasers and lightsabers. But besides the oohs and ahhs, the film weaves a tapestry of rich subtext with hidden symbols and dawning significance.
Let’s take a look at Rey’s character. She embodies the very mystery that allures us to the Force. Rey represents the feminine mystique of the captivating heroine, full of unanswered questions and surprises ahead. Upon meeting BB-8, she even tells the droid (who’s carrying classified info) that where she came from is also a “big secret.” We don’t know her history or her origins, only that the Force is strong with her and we come to realize it the same time she does. The good thing is, she uses the Force to combat the Dark Side. Her very name “Rey” is a variation of a ray of light. In her white clothing Rey battles the darkness that is Kylo Ren in his black cloak and cowl.
FN-2187, or Finn as he comes to be known, represents the smudge on America’s history. The very faction he serves, the First Order with the acronym F.O. (made to sound like ‘foe’), are the oppressive masters of the galaxy. Finn is of African heritage and is enslaved by his white, stormtrooper uniform. He grows a conscience and helps a fellow captive escape the shackles of his former overlords.
Ben Solo a.k.a. Kylo Ren is perhaps the most prominent, tragic symbol. He is a symbol of irony. In confronting Finn at the film’s end, he yells “Traitor!” But the irony is, it was he who just betrayed his father Han Solo. The very man he aspires to, his grandfather Vader, rhymes with “traitor.” Spelling out Kylo Ren shows the same number of letters in “traitor.” His t-shaped lightsaber is the “t” in “traitor.” It’s the cross he bears and it’s no wonder the saber is red, with the backstabbing blood on his hands.
The abundance of symbolism and significance makes one wonder what else is in store in the follow-up film. Will there be more Jedi? Perhaps some of Luke’s other students of the Force escaped Kylo Ren’s wrath. Surely there will be more Sith, as Kylo had his Knights. What about the mystery that is Rey? Is she perhaps the granddaughter of Obi Wan? Did Obi Wan hide her mother on the isolated planet of Jakku, not dissimilar to Tatooine where he hid from the Empire and Darth Vader? Did the old Jedi neglect to tell Luke to keep them safe and non-affiliated with the conflict? Will Lando show up to comfort Chewie and assist the Resistance, much as he helped the Rebels in ROTJ? Will Luke come out of hiding to train Rey to combat Kylo Ren? Lastly, will Luke use his Force powers to battle the Sith rampant in the First Order? Victorious Ewoks never felt so giddy.