What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

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What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-03 04:48pm

Star Wars has had 8 film episodes, soon to be 9, as well as a few side adventures via spin-off films, cartoons, games, novels, etc. What is the theme?

Episodes IV through VI were about Luke Skywalker becoming a hero, and the fall of the evil Empire to noble Rebellion. However, with the prequel trilogy, the theme gets expanded a bit, as the Empire, the Rebellion, and Luke Skywalker don't exist until the latter half of Episode III. The prequel trilogy brings us the journey of Anakin Skywalker, and the Star Wars saga seems to be more about the journey of the Skywalkers and how they're tied into the fate of the galactic government at the time. The noble but corrupt Republic falls, leading to the evil Authoritarian Empire, while Anakin falls into becoming Darth Vader. But there is hope for the future with the next generation. Essentially, while not executed perfectly, the saga's theme seems to be that we follow the exploits of the Skywalker family, and on the bigger stage, corruption leading to authoritarianism, followed by rebellion for a better future.

With the introduction of the sequel trilogy, and the necessities it has, we can't have that theme, and run into a different theme. The New Republic, from what we know of it, fell apart due to key mistakes(that aren't established in the films), and the First Order comes in as Empire 2.0, now with more screaming. The focus on the Skywalkers stops being relevant, as Leia is barely in the films, and Luke doesn't show up until the end of The Force Awakens, with his death in The Last Jedi making him no longer a focus. If we're still supposed to be chronicling the adventures of the Skywalker clan, is the sequel trilogy about Kylo Ren/Ben Solo? About the failures of the previous generation and how people react to it, by making things worse?

Whereas before, the Original Trilogy could be viewed as the outgrowth of the Prequel trilogy, in that things do become better, even after things reach their darkest hour and that could be taken as an overall message, does the Sequel Trilogy take that away? If so, what is the theme of Star Wars taken as a whole?

Hypothetically, unless Episode IX takes us in a vastly different direction, the message could be 'Things gets worse over time'. We go from a Galactic Republic at (albeit corrupt)peace to planets exploding due to wannabe tyrants while factions fight in a blatantly corrupt galaxy. And viewed on a main character level, the main theme is 'the heroes of the Original Trilogy all failed, and that's why we're in this mess'. Luke screwed up training Ben Solo, Leia, from what we don't see in the films, is back to being a rebel instead of part of the New Republic government and ensuring that it's stable. Han is a washed up scoundrel who lost his own ship, family, and any sort of fortune.

I brought this up in the 'Lando will appear in Episode IX' thread, but the theme of the movies, if not 'the more things change, the more they stay the same', is that 'Things get worse over time'. While the original saga of 6 films could be a rising darkness and then rising light, making it only appear as something going wrong for a temporary period, and our heroes restored things to the better. The sequel trilogy seems to squash that. Things got worse, and will only continue to do so, and while our heroes are fighting the good fight, things in the galaxy are just worse overall.

Taking that as the Sequel Trilogy's main narrative, what is the theme of Star Wars in total?

(And yes, this is all on the caveat that Episode IX doesn't reverse course midstream about what story the Sequel Trilogy is telling)
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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-03 05:33pm

I don't think there is A single theme that covers all Star Wars stories, necessarily. Its too big for that at this point. But the films are basically a story of good vs. evil, and specifically corruption vs. redemption, as personified by the journey of the Skywalker family (with a strong streak of the anti-authoritarianism and glorification of the outlaw that is common to more or less all Hollywood action films).

Breaking it down further:

The PT is primarily about corruption and the erosion of the things we had previously put our faith in, such as democracy- the fall of civilization, of democracy, and of Anakin in particular.

The OT is a redemption story, though it started out as more of a straight good vs. evil story.

The Disney era seems to have moved away from the idea of redemption to some extent (especially in TLJ), and is more about hope and perserverance in the face of adversity. Though this is muddied by the fact that it also retreads a lot of old ground from the OT in terms of plot elements and style. There's a tension (which TLJ addressed directly) between trying to preserve/rebuild the past and trying to move on/build something new. It suggests a more cyclical view of history- there are no final victories or losses, but the important thing is to keep trying.
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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-03 07:00pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-03 05:33pm
I don't think there is A single theme that covers all Star Wars stories, necessarily. Its too big for that at this point. But the films are basically a story of good vs. evil, and specifically corruption vs. redemption, as personified by the journey of the Skywalker family (with a strong streak of the anti-authoritarianism and glorification of the outlaw that is common to more or less all Hollywood action films).

Breaking it down further:

The PT is primarily about corruption and the erosion of the things we had previously put our faith in, such as democracy- the fall of civilization, of democracy, and of Anakin in particular.

The OT is a redemption story, though it started out as more of a straight good vs. evil story.

The Disney era seems to have moved away from the idea of redemption to some extent (especially in TLJ), and is more about hope and perserverance in the face of adversity. Though this is muddied by the fact that it also retreads a lot of old ground from the OT in terms of plot elements and style. There's a tension (which TLJ addressed directly) between trying to preserve/rebuild the past and trying to move on/build something new. It suggests a more cyclical view of history- there are no final victories or losses, but the important thing is to keep trying.
The problem I see with such an interpretation, is that the battles got worse, the destruction got measurably worse, and nothing improved. Instead of a single death star destroying one planet, we got the Starkiller destroying at least five planets(assuming they were all inhabited worlds with millions, if not billions of people on all of them). As opposed to our own history, wherein though World War I and World War II were the most horrendous wars ever fought, we got the space program, the United Nations, and much less death comparatively speaking.

If there was some form of civilization improvement shown in the Star Wars galaxy, I could believe it. But instead, the only thing improving seems to be the damage done by the weapons made.
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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-03 07:12pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-08-03 07:00pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-03 05:33pm
I don't think there is A single theme that covers all Star Wars stories, necessarily. Its too big for that at this point. But the films are basically a story of good vs. evil, and specifically corruption vs. redemption, as personified by the journey of the Skywalker family (with a strong streak of the anti-authoritarianism and glorification of the outlaw that is common to more or less all Hollywood action films).

Breaking it down further:

The PT is primarily about corruption and the erosion of the things we had previously put our faith in, such as democracy- the fall of civilization, of democracy, and of Anakin in particular.

The OT is a redemption story, though it started out as more of a straight good vs. evil story.

The Disney era seems to have moved away from the idea of redemption to some extent (especially in TLJ), and is more about hope and perserverance in the face of adversity. Though this is muddied by the fact that it also retreads a lot of old ground from the OT in terms of plot elements and style. There's a tension (which TLJ addressed directly) between trying to preserve/rebuild the past and trying to move on/build something new. It suggests a more cyclical view of history- there are no final victories or losses, but the important thing is to keep trying.
The problem I see with such an interpretation, is that the battles got worse, the destruction got measurably worse, and nothing improved. Instead of a single death star destroying one planet, we got the Starkiller destroying at least five planets(assuming they were all inhabited worlds with millions, if not billions of people on all of them). As opposed to our own history, wherein though World War I and World War II were the most horrendous wars ever fought, we got the space program, the United Nations, and much less death comparatively speaking.

If there was some form of civilization improvement shown in the Star Wars galaxy, I could believe it. But instead, the only thing improving seems to be the damage done by the weapons made.
Well, that's the perceived need to keep one-upping the scale and stakes of the previous films for you.

But yeah, I think that the Star Wars universe is in all probability in the middle of a prolonged Dark Age right now, which began with the deterioration of the Old Republic leading up to Phantom Menace and then the Clone Wars. The Renaissance might be centuries off yet, and the best people can do until then is fight to survive, and maybe preserve some knowledge of the past golden age for future generations.

Then again, our own world very nearly followed that path. The Cold War almost went hot more than once. Hell, with renewed tensions with Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc., and the rise of neo-fascism, it is entirely possible that history will one day view these times as the beginning of a new dark age, and that the end of the Cold War will prove nothing more than a brief respite before the global war resumes.

On the flip side, it is also possible that this is merely the last gasp of a dark past before it dies, and that the signs of global progress towards peace, equality, unity, and sustainability will continue. Just as it is possible that in Star Wars, the First Order is the last gasp of the Imperial regime, and that Rey will topple it and usher in a new Jedi Order and a new golden age.

Larger historical trends are difficult to perceive when you're in the middle of them.
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

-Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.


"You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?"-Terry Pratchett's DEATH.


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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-05 06:32pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-03 07:12pm


Well, that's the perceived need to keep one-upping the scale and stakes of the previous films for you.

But yeah, I think that the Star Wars universe is in all probability in the middle of a prolonged Dark Age right now, which began with the deterioration of the Old Republic leading up to Phantom Menace and then the Clone Wars. The Renaissance might be centuries off yet, and the best people can do until then is fight to survive, and maybe preserve some knowledge of the past golden age for future generations.

Then again, our own world very nearly followed that path. The Cold War almost went hot more than once. Hell, with renewed tensions with Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc., and the rise of neo-fascism, it is entirely possible that history will one day view these times as the beginning of a new dark age, and that the end of the Cold War will prove nothing more than a brief respite before the global war resumes.

On the flip side, it is also possible that this is merely the last gasp of a dark past before it dies, and that the signs of global progress towards peace, equality, unity, and sustainability will continue. Just as it is possible that in Star Wars, the First Order is the last gasp of the Imperial regime, and that Rey will topple it and usher in a new Jedi Order and a new golden age.

Larger historical trends are difficult to perceive when you're in the middle of them.
Now there's an idea, a Star Wars story about a colony of librarians, scientists, and philosophers being gathered to usher the galaxy out of the dark age they're heading towards:

Star Wars: Foundation
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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by Batman » 2018-08-05 07:55pm

Wouldn't be particularly original, though
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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-06 05:10pm

Batman wrote:
2018-08-05 07:55pm
Wouldn't be particularly original, though
Originality has never really been one of SW's strengths, as the entire franchise was inspired by adventure serials from the 1930s. It could still work, if given enough well played execution and freshness.
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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-06 05:52pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-08-06 05:10pm
Batman wrote:
2018-08-05 07:55pm
Wouldn't be particularly original, though
Originality has never really been one of SW's strengths, as the entire franchise was inspired by adventure serials from the 1930s. It could still work, if given enough well played execution and freshness.
Adventure serials, WWII newsreels, Joseph Campbell, Japanese chanbara, early sci-fi movies...

If there's a theme to the sequels, I don't really know what it is other than "our predecessors failed, we've gotta fix their fuck-ups now". That and a bit of self-discovery.

I want to say the over-arching theme to the prequel and the original trilogies is the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, but you only really get that picture once you're done watching the prequels.
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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-07 05:14pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-08-05 06:32pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-03 07:12pm


Well, that's the perceived need to keep one-upping the scale and stakes of the previous films for you.

But yeah, I think that the Star Wars universe is in all probability in the middle of a prolonged Dark Age right now, which began with the deterioration of the Old Republic leading up to Phantom Menace and then the Clone Wars. The Renaissance might be centuries off yet, and the best people can do until then is fight to survive, and maybe preserve some knowledge of the past golden age for future generations.

Then again, our own world very nearly followed that path. The Cold War almost went hot more than once. Hell, with renewed tensions with Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc., and the rise of neo-fascism, it is entirely possible that history will one day view these times as the beginning of a new dark age, and that the end of the Cold War will prove nothing more than a brief respite before the global war resumes.

On the flip side, it is also possible that this is merely the last gasp of a dark past before it dies, and that the signs of global progress towards peace, equality, unity, and sustainability will continue. Just as it is possible that in Star Wars, the First Order is the last gasp of the Imperial regime, and that Rey will topple it and usher in a new Jedi Order and a new golden age.

Larger historical trends are difficult to perceive when you're in the middle of them.
Now there's an idea, a Star Wars story about a colony of librarians, scientists, and philosophers being gathered to usher the galaxy out of the dark age they're heading towards:

Star Wars: Foundation
Considering that Foundation was one of the inspirations for the OT, this would basically be the franchise coming full-circle, so to speak.
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

-Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.


"You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?"-Terry Pratchett's DEATH.


I am a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.


Fuck Civility.

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Re: What is the theme of the Star Wars saga?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-07 09:03pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-07 05:14pm
Considering that Foundation was one of the inspirations for the OT, this would basically be the franchise coming full-circle, so to speak.
I'd enjoy seeing a Hari Seldon like Jedi character collecting the works of everything for preservation. They could even set it in the prequels to explain what happened to a minor character if they wanted to. Or as a new purpose if they wanted to bring back Outbound Flight.
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