Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi" Teaser

Yesterday, during the Star Wars Celebration 2017 event, the first teaser trailer for the next Star Wars movie, "The Last Jedi" was released. In this post, I've included some high resolution screenshots of my favorite moments from the video.

Yeah, I'm almost 40... but as a life-long fan, I can say this trailer got me excited like I was a kid again. As I was getting ready to show my fiance the video, she could tell I was giddy, even though I had watched it several times already! She grudgingly let introduce her to Star Wars when we started dating, but she has come to appreciate the depth of the stories & characters, and right away said that this one looks good.

Anyway, my favorite aspects to Star Wars have been the mystical and philosophical elements. Fortunately, it looks like this will be a central focus of "The Last Jedi", as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker trains Rey in the ways of The Force.

Even the captivating opening of the trailer, the shot of the natural world with Luke saying "Breathe.... just breathe....." is the essence of meditative technique in real life. The idea that one can find their spiritual center, through connecting deeply with the natural rhythm of your breath, is the foundation of all mindfulness meditation.

I absolutely love and was hoping for the idea of Luke teaching Rey the subtle aspects of the living & cosmic Force. The fictional construct of The Force is what helped open my eyes to the truth of "God" not as a personality or a deity with silly human qualities, but more as a "Tao"- an infinite life force & creative energy that flows through every atom and space throughout The Universe. George Lucas drew on many religious and mythological traditions to create a story that informs us about ourselves and our world. I'm glad this movie will mirror Yoda's training of Luke on the mysteries of The Force, as Rey unlocks her powers to their full potential.

There is a lot of speculation that Luke will train Rey in the path of a "grey" Force user. After hearing about the failure of the original Jedi Order, and seeing his own attempt at a new Jedi academy literally go down in flames, he may realize that it's time to forge a new path for Force users to follow.

This new path would not completely forbid human emotion such as love and passion, as the Jedi did, but control them, and focus them as tools for enhancing the self & the greater good. Luke walked the line between the Light & Dark paths in "Return of the Jedi," when he defeated the Sith Lord Darth Vader using anger & aggression, but then saved the soul of his father Anakin Skywalker through genuine compassion and love.

Luke hints at this new approach with his final line, "I only know one truth... it's time for the Jedi to end." He's not turning evil, but has realized that the dogmatic tradition of the Jedi order must be transformed into something new. I can't fully express how awesome I think this direction is, and I think the series is setting up a new world of Star Wars after Episode 9 and the completion of this trilogy.

To do so, it is simultaneously going back to the very origins of the Star Wars galaxy. After the destruction of his new Jedi order, Luke went into exile on the planet Ahch-To. This is the location of the first Jedi temple, and it appears from this trailer that Luke has found some ancient manuscripts and texts that document the origins of the Jedi, and perhaps some long-lost secrets of the Force. A drawing of the Jedi symbol is seen on a moldy, open page from an old book, and I can't wait to see what information is revealed by Luke after studying these millenia-old documents. He hints at The Force being "So much bigger" after Rey uses her Force vision to see "The Light... The Darkness... and The Balance".

On the flip side, we will also get to see the completion of Kylo Ren's training by the enigmatic Supreme Leader Snoke. It will be interesting to see the contrast between the Light Side & Dark Side training, and exactly how Snoke is familiar with The Force. In the trailer, we see Kylo's smashed helmet and his face, with the scar that he received from his lightsaber battle with Rey. I have read some leaks that he adopts a longer cape and a modified helmet in the style of his grandfather Darth Vader, but we don't see that here yet.

So, I think all this is absolutely great, and "The Last Jedi" looks to be the expansion of the lore and mysteries of The Force that I was hoping it to be.

I am a very critical skeptic and love to nitpick. Despite my love for the Star Wars saga, I've had plenty of criticisms about various details of the movies. Overall, though, these movies are a modern-day epic with characters, stories, and ideas that illuminate the deepest aspects of ourselves and our society. They are, in my opinion, the greatest works of fiction in human history, and "The Last Jedi" looks like it will add to the depth and richness that this series has provided. I will be anxiously awaiting more glimpses of the movie until it is released in December of this year!

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