History and aesthetic of computer animation and virtual reality. Notes on Los Angeles in the 1980s and the computer animation community of that time. Miscellaneous commentary on the archaeology of the cold war, as well as notes on the esoteric knowledge as it manifests in popular culture, cinematic theory, the hollow earth, espionage, corruption in civic governance, the aesthetics of conspiracy theories, the failure of the cultural myth and other related topics.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Does Star Wars Have a Line of Dialog With a Double Meaning?
With this post we now broach a topic of central importance to all of us: the role of ambiguity in cinematic Space Opera.
Near the end of the final Star Wars
film, Obi-Wan says something that set me back a moment and made me
think. Is it possible that a character in a Star Wars film said
something that was layered with meaning? Actually having one
meaning on the surface and another at a different level? Could this
Arguably there is one other potential case of a double meaning in Star Wars, that being the sequence where Obi-Wan famously tells Luke something about his father, but certainly not everything. He says that his father was
a good friend, a great pilot, fought in the clone wars but had
been "murdered and betrayed by Darth Vader", failing to
mention that Luke's father and Darth were the same person. Now maybe
that qualifies as a double meaning, or maybe its just plain old lying by omission, and that is not quite the same thing.
The case I am referring to is
different. It takes place during the the climactic fight between
Obi-Wan and his former pupil, Anakin, the proto-Darth. They are
fighting over a lava field and of course have time to have a
discussion while they try to kill each other.
So Obi-Wan and Anakin are fighting and
talking, and they say things like this
Anakin: If you are not with me, then
you are my enemy.
Obi-Wan: Only a Sith deals in
absolutes. I will do what I must.
Anakin: You will try.
They fight for a few minutes, then
Obi-Wan: I have failed you, Anakin.
I have failed you.
Anakin: I should have known the Jedi
were plotting to take over.
Obi-Wan: Anakin! Chancellor Palpatine
Anakin: From my point of view, the
Jedi are evil.
Obi-Wan: Well then you are lost!
Anakin: This is the end for you, my master.
Then they fight some more when suddenly Obi-Wan jumps to a nearby ridge, looks down at
Anakin and says ...
Obi-Wan: It's over, Anakin! I have
the high ground.
You see, it seems to me that Obi-Wan is
actually saying something here that is both literally true and
metaphorically true. He has the high ground, standing on a ridge
and all, but he also has the high moral ground. Is this possible,
could it be that a Star Wars character would say such a thing?
Well, if it is true, it doesn't last very long. The next lines of dialog are:
Anakin: You underestimate my power!
Obi-Wan: Don't try it.
But of course, Anakin does try it, and
for the first time in the history of the cinema, someone who does a
stupid move in a sword fight (like spinning around or jumping over
someone) is rewarded as they should be rewarded: they are cut off at
the knees. Or worse.
Of course, I can't be sure that I am
right about Obi-Wan and his high moral ground but nevertheless I wanted to alert you to
this exciting possibility.
The scene itself is located on Youtube
at the following location.