Friday, December 18, 2015

"The Force Awakens" Trailer- Final Thoughts

Like so many people, I am anxiously anticipating seeing "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens" this weekend.

My sister-in-law reserved a block of tickets for my immediate family for Sunday, so I'm trying to remain spoiler-free until then. Until now, I have been absorbing all the trailers & information I could find. Now I'm going to patiently wait, until I see the latest movie in a legendary series that has inspired me since I was a young child..

The people who have seen the movie already have given it overwhelmingly positive reviews, which is confirming my high hopes. Just from the trailers & footage I've seen, I knew it looked like a faithful continuation of the Star Wars legacy.

I previously posted my impressions of the official trailer, which was masterfully done & succeeded in driving the hype train full-steam ahead!

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

After I wrote that post, I thought of some other things that I wanted to say about it. While I'm waiting to see the movie, I figured I'd share some additional observations.

The one thing I love about the entire Star Wars saga is how it speaks to the human desire for expansion, of both the self & of all life. Specifically, the movies speak to the human (& alien) desire for traveling into outer space and among the stars.

This sentiment is captured in the trailer when Rey looks up to see the spaceship flying upwards through the atmosphere of her home planet Jakku. You can see the look in her eyes that reflects the longing to travel outside your own boundaries and experience all the Universe has to offer.

The other thought I had was about the relationship of man & machine, which is a constant theme throughout the movies. The scene that brought this to my mind was the brief glimpse of a hooded figure, reaching out to touch R2-D2 with a robotic hand. I'm assuming the person is Luke Skywalker, who no longer wears a glove to cover the replacement for the hand that was sliced off by his father, Darth Vader. It look like they are in a fire-lit cave or a secluded rocky area. One thing I have heard is that Luke has been missing for awhile, so maybe this is him reuniting with his friendly droid.

This brings up the interesting dynamic of humans & robots being friends, and truly trusting each other. I've always said that the droids, C-3PO & R2-D2, are really the central characters, who remain throughout the generations of human lives in the story. In fact, R2-D2 could be the biggest hero of the series, who saved his biological companions in many, many seemingly impossible situations. 

Because it's memory has not been wiped, R2 is an artificial intelligence that could be said to have developed a personality, and perhaps even a conscious mind. This raises several questions- How does The Force affect or influence electronic beings? Can the power of The Force be utilized or experienced by a droid? Perhaps these are questions that will be answered in the coming stories.

Finally, the image of Luke's cybernetic hand led me to think about the use of technological prosthesis or augmentations to the physical body. In the original trilogy, Luke was aware that having this robotic part represented the possibility that he could eventually become "more machine than man" like his father, if he lost his sense of humanity. 

However, a life form can obviously have mechanical additions without becoming evil or soulless.  The question becomes, how much can a living being be replace by technology & still be a conscious individual? Darth Vader was still a human, but disfigured & encased within a suit that double as life-support. General Grevious was mostly machine, except for his central nervous system & viscera.  Perhaps as long as you have a biological nervous system & brain, you can be considered to be a living person. Then, how does droid intelligence and personality factor into the idea of something being "alive"?

This is why I love Star Wars, it makes us confront deep questions about ourselves, life, the world, and our place within it. I look forward to seeing "The Force Awakens" with an excitement that no other cultural phenomenon can match. It is a story that has inspired me & countless others for our whole lives, and ignites the imagination of every person who truly engages it. It is truly the mythology of our age.

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