Monday, January 25, 2016

Opinion: Identity as the Theme of 'The Force Awakens'

By: Joshua Spaugh
“Who are you?”

“I am no one”

“Waiting…. For my family.”

Even reading those words I think we are all brought back to that moment. Hearing Maz Kanata’s voice, hearing Rey’s voice, getting the tiniest insight into these new characters who would go on to fall in love with. However, what if perhaps these lines aren’t just some background pieces. What if these three lines contain the theme of The Force Awakens and potentially the sequel trilogy?

Now, I am not talking about “Rey is a Skywalker/Kenobi/(Binks?!)” I am talking about Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, a story about identity!

Identity asks the very same question that Maz seems to be infatuated with. “Who are you?” Consider the scene in which Han Solo meets Rey and Finn on board the Falcon. Rey refers to him as the famous pilot, yet Finn knows him as the Rebellion general, and in response to this Han says “I use to be.”

Now Han Solo is just a mere smuggler. Now many have been in dismay saying that Han (SPOILER ALERT) died prematurely, that he didn’t really resolve any of his conflicts. But Han’s struggle was not an external one dealing with Leia or Luke or Ben, while that was there, his biggest struggle was an internal struggle about his identity. He went from a smuggler, to a general to hero, to the father of Kylo Ren. He pulled away and went back to being a smuggler. He needed to become a hero again as once again, “[He] use to be.”

Rey is a scavenger living on a desert planet waiting. “I am no one.” But throughout the course of the movie she goes from “no one” to a hero, a pilot and a Jedi! FN-2187 was not given an identity and was commanded to keep his helmet on. He looked like everyone to his left and his right. He became Finn, a resistance supporter and a defector of the First Order. Even Kylo Ren struggles between the light and the dark, he wants so badly to be like Darth Vader.

What the movie tells us about these identity problems is that identity is defined by action.

“The choices we make dictate the life we lead” –Jim Burnstein.

Rey leaves Jakku, pilots the Falcon, (eventually) picks up the lightsaber and becomes a hero and a Jedi, even dueling Kylo Ren. FN-2187 takes on the name Finn, and aides the resistance and does not run away despite the odds. Han does face Leia and most importantly, his son Ben as a hero and either allows his own sacrifices or (according to SWU Podcast host Chris Seekel) actually sacrifices himself to become a hero. Kylo or Ben, takes another step towards being like Darth Vader. None of these were easy choices but that is the point. Making the hard choices is what separates what we want to be from what we are or even what we fear we may become.

Everyone in this movie has an identity crisis. The whole foundation of the villain is the son of a hero who wants to be someone else, someone darker. While identity is a common trait in film, I find it especially potent in The Force Awakens and suspect to find a similar situation in Episode VIII and Episode IX. In a time in which there is so much importance in identity I think this is a natural progression in “life imitating art or art imitating life.” This new era of Star Wars is so exciting partially because we don’t know what it will become, it is finding its identity. This is a theme that is close to my heart and I cannot wait to see it continue throughout the next several years.

“These are your first steps into a larger world.”

PS: If Lucasfilm and Disney did mean to tell a story about identity wouldn’t a great way to introduce this further be a relationship between Finn and Poe?

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


Post a Comment

This site is not endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd. or Disney and is intended for entertainment and information purposes only. The official Star Wars site can be found at Star Wars, the Star Wars logo, all names and pictures of Star Wars characters, vehicles and any other Star Wars related items are registered trademarks and/or copyrights of Lucasfilm Ltd., or their respective trademark and copyright holders. All original content of this site, both graphical and textual, is the intellectual property of The Star Wars Underworld - unless otherwise indicated.
Site template © 2011 Supported by PsPrint Emeryville and