Going to a Movie: Archetypes in the “Star Wars” Movie
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As the fluorescent lights dim, a tense hush swallows the audience. Yet as the room itself darkens, the vast movie screen brightens in contrast, and the peal of a single trumpet heralds a familiar tune. “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory,” the screen announces. Fans’ eyes dart to read this opening of Star Wars: A New Hope, now a pinnacle in the domain of science fiction. Millions applaud its classical texture: the slight taste of fairy tale archetypes that appeals to a variety of audiences. These same paradigms also complement an underlying theme of the trilogy. Within Star Wars: A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, archetypes exist that exemplify the theme that good can triumph over evil through perseverance.
Primarily, symbolic archetypes flourish within George Lucas’ masterpiece. As an example, the contrast of colors in Luke Skywalker’s clothing represents a loss of innocence in the main character. As a teenager in Star Wars: A New Hope, he wears clothes of all white, representing his pureness as a young adult. Swept away by adventure, Skywalker can no longer cling to his security blanket of virtue after learning about the force and the evil of the Empire. This change in him is noticeable when, in Return of the Jedi, Luke discards his former white and chooses a more somber black. His attire complements his morose, yet determined heart. Also, this contrast of white and black is evident in the setting of the two movies. The Rebel base consists of mostly light backgrounds, while the Death Star and the home of Jabba the Hutt appear dark and mysterious with evil forces. This perceptible difference shows that the place with good forces, the Rebel base, seems flourished with light colors, and that the evil settings contain the symbolic color of black.
Another symbolic archetype presents itself as the force, a power that can be employed for good or ill and upholds the universe. The force can be compared to a supernatural intervention; while this frequently refers to a more godlike figure, the Jedi Knights consider their path a religion, a force with a will of its own. It can work for or against Luke, as it aids both Darth Vader and his son in their struggles for the galaxy, a common characteristic of paranormal intervention. In addition, Yoda’s swamp could indicate the symbolic archetype, water. As Luke Skywalker trains with this Jedi master, he matures, cultivated by the symbolic water of Yoda’s home. On his last visit to Yoda, Luke also learns his fate, accepting his duty as a Jedi knight and the hope that rests in his sister, Leia. Certainly, the symbolic water archetype lies in Yoda’s home and final resting place. Clearly, the two movies of “Star Wars” contain numerous symbolic archetypes.
Also, “Star Wars: A New Hope and Return of the Jedi” include many situational archetypes. One such archetype evident in these movies is the journey. The hero of the story, Luke Skywalker, goes on numerous journeys throughout the movies. One of such archetypes is the quest of finding his true identity, which concludes with the realization that Darth Vader is his father and that Leia appears to be his twin sister. Another is the quest to find knowledge; in this case, he is seeking the force. With the guidance from Obi-Wan Kenobi, he acknowledges the force, letting his body become in tune with its being. Moreover, he is also on the quest to rid the land of the danger from the threat of the Empire. Evident in both movies, Luke, Han Solo and Leia, along with their companions, combine forces to destroy the evil forces and save the people of the universe from danger.
These quests are evident when they try to destroy the Death Star and its rebuilding, and Luke attempts to face Darth Vader. Additionally, the two movies also contain examples of tasks. First, R2D2 gives Luke and his companions a message from Princess Leia, who wants them to save her from the Empire. Therefore, they go on this task of saving her from the evil. Another task can be seen when Luke attempts to save both Han Solo and Princess Leia from the grasp of the outlaw, Jabba the Hutt. In all of these tasks, the hero is faced with numerous difficulties from the dark side, which he must overcome and save his captured friends. The battle between the good and evil is obviously the fight between the Rebel alliance and the Empire, which is evident throughout the Star Wars series. As expected, the good triumphs over the evil forces after the end of these battles, destroying the dark powers with the help of the hero and his companions. Also, the magical weapon that aids the hero, Luke, in the movies is the light saber.
It clearly exemplifies the extraordinary quality of the hero, because no one else, including Darth Vader, can utilize the weapon and use its powers to a full potential. It further fits the archetype because the mentor figure, Obi-Wan Kanobi gives Luke the weapon and teaches him how to fight with its forces. Furthermore, unhealable wounds are also evident in the two movies of Star Wars. The most evident one is Darth Vader’s mask and his breathing condition. As many audiences can hear, Darth Vader breathes simultaneously through a black mask. This wound seems unhealable and cannot be healed fully. Obviously, situational archetypes thrive throughout the trilogy of Star Wars.
Another collection of archetypes employed by George Lucas is setting, which allows the audience to better empathize his works. The playwright blue prints most of his settings through the trilogy by employing common archetypes that can be found in a myriad of places, including simple fairy tales. One frequent archetype is the underworld, which can be linked with the Death Star. It is the home base of the Emperor, Darth Vader, and their followers, which is also the setting in which the hero, Luke, encounters his worst fear of turning to the dark side. Another archetype apparent in Star Wars can be found in the vast abyss of space, a prime example of the wilderness. Space seems the only region where rules do not apply and that people, creatures and rumors run wild.
In the movies, the outer space is a vast unknown area that no one can control, similar to the untamed wilds. In addition, the garden is defined as a place of harmony, nature and innocence; yet, it may be ruined or poisoned, and the hero is forced to leave this paradise. The garden can be compared to the Ewok woods on the moon Endor. These woods contain tiny teddy bear like creatures that represent simplicity and utterly radiate innocence. These lovable characters put the hero at a sense of ease, but within these woods a storm trooper base is poisoning the Ewok’s ways and childlike style of life. Luke is forced to leave for fear of endangering his companions and newfound friends, when Darth Vader and his storm troopers discover him. Undoubtedly, the movies of Star Wars contain numerous setting archetypes.
As a final point, the movies also contain an abundance of character archetypes. Primarily, the archetype that strikes most audiences first is the hero. Luke Skywalker fits this archetype because of his qualities of a hero. His aunt and uncle are his foster parents; the movie does not portray his childhood, which the audience knows little about. Moreover, he lives in an ordinary world in the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope: a farm with no adventures. He is expected to help with uncle with chorus around the farm, like a regular teenager would do. However, he gets a call to adventure by the message of Princess Leia and meets his allies, C-3PO, R2D2 and Han Solo, whom are his loyal companions willing to face any type of danger. Obi-Wan Kenobi serves as Luke’s mentor through teaching him the force and the light saber. Additionally, Master Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mentor, also serves as Luke’s mentor and teaches him about the force.
The hero also confronts his enemy, the people in the Empire. Numerous other character archetypes are also present in the Star Wars trilogy, including Chewbacca, who reflects the qualities of the friendly beast. The animal represents the side of nature that aids the hero and his allies. The shadow figure seems to fit Darth Vader; he is an opponent with whom Luke must struggle until the end and defeat. The emperor of the Empire is the devil figure, who tries to lure Luke to the dark side. Princess Leia appears to be the damsel in distress; the hero, Luke, must rescue her when the Empire on the Death Star captures her. Also, in the Return of the Jedi, Jubba the Hutt uses her as a trap to lure Luke and his companions. Visibly, the movies of Star Wars contain numerous character archetypes.
With the ending credits, people arise stiffly from their theater seats. Finishing off their popcorn, they stride into the startlingly bright light of everyday life. The impact of such a phenomenal movie is not easily brushed off, however. The well-known battle between light and darkness that surrounds the movie also stirs the hearts of every viewer. In conclusion, the archetypes of Star Wars reinforce the subtle theme that through perseverance, good can eventually triumph over evil. In the quest to save the universe from the danger of the empire, the hero, Luke, uses his magic weapon, the light saber, to fight the shadow, Darth Vader, whom must be destroyed by the hero at the end. Through this battle between the good and the evil, Luke eventually wins the battle with the help of his allies and guidance from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mater Yoda, his mentors. Thus, he achieves the task of destroying the Death Star. Evidently, these archetypes in Star Wars: A New Hope and Return of the Jedi portray the theme that the good can eventually triumph over evil through perseverance.