“This is not going to go the way you think,” cries our apathetic hero, Luke Skywalker in the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The titular eighth chapter in the saga addresses and puts to rest many fan theories like dominoes one by one. Since it’s predecessor, The Force Awakens exploded into theaters, writing this review of sorts I could jump into the spoilers, the action, the lightsabers. All the fun things that happen in this movie, and believe me there are plenty of those moments. Tip of the cap to you Rian, for trying something new cause thi movie is badass. However, The Last Jedi chooses to shy away from all that. Not just the expectations of our characters, but what we expect of them as viewers too. This movie is not about space battles and laser swords. It’s about the soul.
When Rey starts her training with Luke Skywalker, something calls to her. After repeatededly being tossed aside by Luke, she follows the call down a manhole, which sucks her into a cave where she dives headfirst into the water. This to me serves as her own soul calling out in damnation, just as it did in The Force Awakens when it brought her to Luke’s lightsaber. She comes up from the water reborn, ready for the truth. When she goes through this “cave of wonders” so to speak, she does not find the answer she seeks. She asks her for her parents to be revealed to her. The cave wall reveals only a reflection of herself, which causes Rey to react with great disappointment. We’ve all had this moment. We’ve dug to the bottom of our souls to understand what’s going on and at the bottom of it all what do we find? What lies underneath? It’s ourselves. Ultimately Rey was her own mother, taking care of herself virutally her whole life. Throughout the films, she is desperately seeking everyone else’s approval when it’s clear that the person she approves of least is herself. It’s why she so easily surreneders herself to The First Order. It’s why she continues to try to save an already damned Kylo. She is ready to face her pain weather she lives or dies. It consumes her.
THE RAGE WITHIN
I am her rage in this film. I have been in this state of discontent many times and i’m sure I will be again. This is so universal. Most profoundly this is highlighted when mirrored in Luke Skywalker, who is in turn also ashamed of and enraged by his previous actions of the past. It does not matter if you are whispering about a legend or if you are the legend. You’ll never know until you look inside yourself and ask. Until you accept. That’s why I love this movie. It accepts that the Jedi is not about some dumb books or old prophecies. It’s about the power of the force, which is bigger and stronger than any paper or page. It brings together families, weather bound by blood or not. All this movie has convinced me of is this. The force is real. It binds us. It surrounds us. It moves through us. Defying our connection to the beyond, to whatever beings that look like us are out there beyond the stars. We feel it everyday when we fall in love. When we have kids. When we finally get around to that first cup of coffee. Everything Rey wanted to learn was already in her heart. She just had to reach out with her feelings and find it. Even if that means something darker comes out in her.
This comes to a head when she confronts Luke with her bowstaff in the rain, fighting him mercilessly, begging for the truth. She beats him into submission, holding her lightsaber over him in the rain. To me this scene portrays Rey’s inability to process her desire to be told her forune by Luke, who is not Madame Cleo. It’s after finally realizing what the moment has made her that the movie comes full circle. She cannot be the hero and hate herself. She cannot be angry and hateful and win this fight happening inside her heart. Especially won’t help those pesky rebels either.
All in all, this story tries to convince us that Rey’s parents do not matter to the plot. She is not revealed to be a special Skywalker, or a Kenobi. She is exactly what she was introduced as in the last movie: A scavanger. This heavy twist in the film lets us know that powerful force users do not have to be Skywalkers or from a prestegious blood line. I especially love the echo in this of the slave child at the end wearing the ring of the rebels using the force. All it takes is someone being your mirror to wake up what you already have within you. Light and dark strikes a crueler intention in this film, as represented through force conciousness. Thorughout the film, Rey and Kylo Ren are communicating through a force connection in their mind’s eyes. In the space they share there is no good or evil, just two very vulnerable human beings trying to understand the consequences of the unavoidable realities crushing them day after day. The reality is, Kylo and Rey love each other. They recognize that they are just two young people who’ve been made to be the face of some machine. That there is no right or wrong side, but only our perceptions of what that side looks like to us. Trauma stains the soul and this film is not afraid to discuss it. All in all I think Rey just wants to be a light. That’s why she was chosen by the force to truly be: The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi starring Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver and Carrie Fisher is now in theaters.