Last week, George Lucas appeared on Charlie Rose and gave a beautiful, succinct message about what Star Wars means.
Ain’t that just beautiful? And any old school fan isn’t going to be surprised by his answer. We all know how Lucas originated the story by using the ideas of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, seeing his heroes as a futuristic narrative to create a contemporary monomyth.
What is surprising, at least to this fan, is that after the prequels’ tax embargoes and midichlorians he still can put this forth as true. That he can say that Star Wars was always about Anakin Skywalker and still align himself with the hero’s journey. As an original recipe Star Wars fan, Luke was always the hero of this journey. Darth Vader was the death he had to face in order to learn something about himself. Vader was symbolic. He had to be for this to be mythology. Myth is all about the symbols.
But then the prequels went into production and Lucas claimed the story was really about the redemption of Anakin. Anakin was the chosen one to bring balance to the Force–except in some twisted way that meant he would wipe out the Jedi and Sith (all but two) to create that balance. And despite his use of many of the markers of the hero’s journey monomyth, I just never bought it.
Perhaps I’m being obtuse and crotchety, but Anakin’s story is a chaotic mess. It has none of the simplicity of either mythology or Luke’s narrative arc. Sure, there’s a battle between good and evil within him, but it’s muddied and, in my opinion, not engaging.
So for whatever it might be worth, I kinda wish Lucas had been focused on the beautiful sentiment he shared with Charlie Rose back when he was writing and directing those prequels.