Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Journal of Whills: Part 8 - Nature and Technology

Image result for star wars endor
We all love the Ewoks right? Okay maybe not everyone but all the same at least every Star Wars fan accepts their existence without going into a small rant on how they were mainly created just to sell toys and make the film more appealing to children as opposed to the darker nature of ‘Empire Strikes Back’ right? Again the answer is no. But when you think about it their presence rings true to a theme that occurs repeatedly throughout the Star wars saga. That theme is the triumph of nature and tradition over technology and advancements.
One Jedi ideology is that of simplicity and harmony with nature. Though they are not adverse to technology they do not rely on it, relying on their own connection with the force to navigate their various dangers. The most prominent and obvious example of this was the destruction of the first Death Star, as Luke is guided by the force to hit the exhaust port with the proton torpedo, rather than relying on the target computer that failed for Red Leader when he fired his shot.
The lack of technology in Jedi traditions is drawn into stark contrast by the Sith’s reliance on technology. Where the Jedi rely on their senses and intuition to gain influence the Sith construct a giant, technological, planet destroying weapon. Then you look at Darth Vader, how was it that Obi Wan described his fallen friend? ‘He’s more machine now than man.’ Then of course there’s the big boss, the Emperor, Darth Sideous. His deformed body is almost against life as a concept entirely. His twisted and demented being resides in a primarily technological environment, a planet destroying weapon as it happens. Even on a soulful level technology is morally wrong for Star Wars. Darth Vader’s final request is for Luke to remove his mask, the symbol of his artificial casing.
Even in the little scenes there’s a sense that technology just can’t compete with the natural intuitions of the characters. A repeated joke throughout ‘Empire Strikes Back’ is C3-P0 and R2-D2 constantly giving calculations on their scenario. The odds against Luke still being alive in the wasteland of Hoth are low by their calculations, but Han Solo goes after him anyway. The same thing happens again when, under pursuit from the Empire, Han flies the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid field only to be told by C3-P0 that the odds are ridiculously against them surviving. Han replies with ‘Never tell me the odds’. Okay it sounds better when Harrison Ford says it.
Technology acts as a corrupting force sometimes as well. Though there are many metaphors and symbols behind Luke’s severed hand and its artificial replacement, one of them that is very relevant to this theme is the idea that after the injury Luke finds himself tempted by the dark side of the force. Then later it is this timely reminder of his mechanical limb that stops him from killing Darth Vader in ‘Return of the Jedi’. A scene from ‘Return of the Jedi’ brings us neatly back to the Ewoks. For all their technology and advancements the Stormtroopers are defeated by the Ewoks on Endor.
Of course, it would be na├»ve to think that Lucas wanted to constantly say that technology is outright bad, after all if Luke didn’t get that mechanical hand he would be fairly useless to the Rebels after that, good luck defeating the Emperor with one hand. It would be simply odd for a film that relishes in technology to criticise it. As Han Solo says ‘Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster’. Then of course you have to look at two of the series’ most beloved characters, C3-P0 and R2-D2, are machines. By their very nature they are completely products of technology. However Lucas gave them emotions and feelings that few machines in film have, C3-P0 is famous for worrying about everything, when does a machine ever worry? This points to Lucas’ main theme and message with all of these elements, it’s that the most important aspect in the world of Star Wars is to not be consumed by technology and become less of a human as a result. Vader does not succeed in this and is corrupted as a result, Luke does not.

So those are my ramblings on Star Wars, let me know a few of your own thoughts by leaving a comment below. You can find me on Twitter with @JoshuaPrice97 and don’t forget to recommend this blog on google by clicking the icon at the top of the page. Thanks and bye.   

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