We saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my sister’s family in NC Tuesday night. I’m so sure in my belief that it absolutely lives up to the hype that I’ve insisted that we see it again with Amanda’s family in OH this weekend.
SPOILERS stop reading now if you don’t want SPOILERS
So let’s talk about parricide.
Anakin Skywalker is of “virgin birth” according to the prequels. He doesn’t have a father to kill. His mother’s death sends him into a tizzy, and he slaughters a village of sand people. Okay.
Darth Vader, seems like a badass, but we have no idea what atrocities he has committed during his history (from the moment he dawned the mask to the beginning of the original Star Wars movie). He pledges to convert his son to the dark side or kill him trying. He ends up killing his master (father figure…?) who also is a really bad dude (so maybe it’s not so bad that Vader killed him).
Kylo Ren, of the three characters (note the intentional distinction), is the only one who actually commits for-real parricide when he spears his dad, Han Solo, with his sword. If we’re to believe Sophocles, Kylo is the only one of the three who’s committed the worse sin imaginable for a (biological) son.
This is a very interesting psychological moment, because earlier in the movie, Kylo appealed to Vader’s melted dome to help him remain on the dark side and resist the pull of the light side. But now, with his murder of his father, he has a totem that he can put in his back pocket and then pull out any time he feels the need to be reminded which side he’s fighting for, “Oh, wait, no, I am evil. I killed my father. Whew, so glad that was already decided for me.” And this is his great mistake. Yeah, he’s going to flip to the light side because he’s going to look at this ultimate crime as his final affirmation, take his evilness for granted, and drip-drop by drip-drop slowly slide over to good.
So, basically what I’m saying here is that the movie left me with more interesting thoughts than “man, there was a lot of great action and humor.” It plays to ancient themes that even Aeschylus would recognize and appreciate, and it explores those themes with new and old pop culture characters. For that, I give a well-deserved appreciate nod. Yes, it was a good idea to get my sister’s kids the original trilogy on DVD and make them watch it the days before we took them to The Force Awakens.
The only way this new trilogy can end now that won’t disappoint me is if Rey, not Kylo, kills Snokes (because Kylo killing Snokes was already done in Return of the Jedi), and Leia kills Kylo (or at least backs him into a corner of some kind where he believes his only acceptable escape is suicide).
Postscript: Right after I posted this, I found this article over at io9 about how Kylo Ren is everything Anakin Skywalker should’ve been. I 100% agree.