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Monday, December 4, 2017

The Myth Awakens, Part One!





With the first STAR WARS trilogy, George Lucas successfully translated the classic hero’s journey from ancient myth into the mainstream understanding of modern popular culture. We witness young Luke Skywalker, a humble farm boy, receiving a Heaven-sent message with a call to adventure which leads him to a kindly old wizard who gives him a magic sword and takes him beyond the limits of the world as he has always known it. From there he storms a fortress, saves a beautiful princess, travels through the belly of the beast to discover his true nature in a celestial temple, and comes into contact with a spiritual power that allows him to face off against a black knight and destroy a near-indestructible monstrosity capable of devouring entire worlds. It is a story resonant with the classic mythological motifs that Joseph Campbell identified in the first part of his book, THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. George Lucas followed up on Luke’s adventure by outlining the history of Luke’s father Anakin Skywalker, the hero fated to doom the galaxy to the evils Luke would later be tasked with undoing. In Anakin we find a more primordial archetype of the hero. His fate is not defined by moral pretext, but rather by a mandate to uncreate the world he is born into and recreate it in his own image. This too is echoed in THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, but instead of following the young hero as he assumes the role of the World Redeemer, the hero of the prequel saga is the pitiless embodiment of the Cosmogonic Cycle. He is the inevitable dissolution of one generation and its ideals as it is being succeeded by the next. So we have two trilogies of films covering the spectrum of classic hero stories and archetypes. This also represents George Lucas’ complete contribution to the STAR WARS saga in film. Is there anything left to say? When Lucas sold the franchise to Disney in 2012, it certainly seemed that the core story was over. Even when Disney announced that they were planning a third trilogy of films that would continue the story in EPISODE VII, the question remained as to whether there was anything new that could be introduced to the overall mythology of STAR WARS. In order to address that question, it’s worthwhile to analyze the latest addition to the saga as its own story, as a continuation of the original films, and as a return to the mythic themes the STAR WARS movies have always so successfully explored.

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