Summary: The Last Jedi powerfully conveys two major themes of our time, projected with powerful CGI and compelling acting. Critics focus on the acting and CGI, and so usually ignore much of what makes these films a success at the box office. These films are set in a fictional universe, but their dynamics are those we live today. Here we look at the second of these great themes.
The Boomers screwed up, and Millennials take over.
The Star Wars saga tells the tale of generational transitions, just like your time. The Greatest Generation built our world. They took us through the Great Depression, defeated the fascist powers, ended the post-Civil War legal oppression of African Americans, created the international order that brought the Cold War to a peaceful non-radioactive conclusion — and more. The Boomer Generation inherited this fistful of high cards and squandered it, leaving America weaker by almost every metric — slower economic growth, more debt, and with deeper internal fissures in our politics and society. We are not the Worst Generation, but we are candidates for it.
In the Star Wars universe we see this played out in the original trilogy (I ignore the prequels, as they make little sense except as a Lucasfilm cash grab), beginning with A New Hope. The Boomers are played by Luke and Leia Skywalker, Han Solo, and the Rebel Alliance. They are screw-ups from start to finish. The Rebel Alliance is saved by only through redemption of the last of the Greatest Generation. Luke successfully appeals to Dad, Anakin Skywalker, to defeat the nearly satanic evil of Emperor Palpatine (reprising the Greatest Generation’s defeat of Hitler). In Return of the Jedi, the galaxy’s fate passed into the hands of the Boomers.
When the third trilogy begins The Force Awakens, we learn that the Boomers have (of course) screwed it up. They are again a beleaguered remnant before a new bad empire, led by a new Sith Lord. The Boomers Jedi, Luke, failed spectacularly to re-build the Jedi. We learn that his good trainees were slaughtered, the strongest (Kylo Ren, son of the First Hope heroes) became a Sith apprentice — taking with him many of the trainees. Fortunately, two Millennial appear to save the day — Finn and Rey.
The Last Jedi continues this theme. The Boomers lead the Resistance into total failure. Admiral Ackbar, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and Leia (Han Solo having made his last mistake in The Force Awakens) make error after error. (No spoilers here; see the film and count them!) I can’t tell you the state of the Resistance at the end. Let’s just say the ratio of Resistance fighters to stars is low (the Milky Way Galaxy has several hundred billion stars). Fortunately for the galaxy, The Last Jedi has a happy ending. With the passing of the Boomers, the next film will begin with the Resistance leadership in the hands of Millennials.
This is the same theme as in the 2009 reboot Star Trek. All the old folks die so that the Enterprise has a crew of Millennials to take it into a future of sequels.
As a Boomer looking at our history, I understand why Millennials find this theme attractive. If I were one, I too would hope the Boomers quickly got of the way. The second film of the third trilogy ends on the same note as the first of the second trilogy: A New Hope.
What about the CGI, the plot and acting?
The CGI is excellent. It’s what Hollywood does best. The plot is best ignored, a ramshackle series of events designed to sort-of follow the beats of the New Hope trilogy. The writers obviously consider themselves Le Cordon Bleu chefs cooking for dogs, so did not try for coherence (they’re right, of course). Part two discusses the acting!
Tune in tomorrow for part two reviewing The Last Jedi: girls rule, giving a New Hope to the galaxy!
Other perspectives on the Star Wars saga
- A philosopher reviews “The Phantom Menace”, a great film with hidden depths.
- The Force Awakens is a film for Boomers. It’s about us.
- The Last Jedi is a finely manufactured product!
- My review — Part One: passing the torch between screw-up Boomers and great Millennials.
- My review — Part Two: girls rule, giving a New Hope to the galaxy!
- Last thoughts: Last Jedi’s darkness mirrors the darkness in us, today’s America.
For More Information
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- Our biggest films reveal dark truths about us — Boomers watch films about their failure as a generation.
- Stand by for political realignment in America! — About passing the baton between generations.
- Why have our movies become so dark, showing a government so evil? — Despair about the world the Boomers built.
Trailer for The Last Jedi
10 thoughts on “The Last Jedi: loser Boomers & a new hope from Millennials”
One of the (arguable) unintended implications of “The Last Jedi” is that it’s pro-2nd amendment—in the strict “well-regulated militias” or Swiss militia sense.
No one is rising up because The New Republic had the monopoly of legal weapons. PS, I don’t own a gun, never fired on either—-just like thinking about the implications of how fictional universes are set up.
“No one is rising up because The New Republic had the monopoly of legal weapons.”
The films show lots of guns in the hands of regular people. For example, look at Episode 4, A New Hope. Many of the people in the famous Cantina scene are armed. Luke’s farmhouse on Tatooine had a rifle (which he carries when going to retrieve R2-D2). Han Solo walks around with a gun in “open carry”, and nobody considers that unusual.
I tend to avoid assigning deeper meanings to shallow movies. I saw The Force Awakens and Rogue One but will probably take a pass on this one. The main thing that struck me about the two previous movies was that afterwards there was just nothing. I didn’t remember anything and nothing stood out. There was no really cool or memorable moment. Long after Star Wars ended, you remembered Han shooting Greedo, Vader Force choking the Imperial Commander in that meeting (And what I would give to be able to do THAT Jedi mind trick in some of the meetings I have to attend!), the triumphant moment when Han came back to save Luke. But lately, there’s just been nothing.
Much of the discussion of the last two movies has been about the female characters, and whether they’re Mary Sues. I don;t think the phrase applies here, and anyway Mary Sue originated in Star Trek fan fiction. They’re Disney Princesses in space, maybe. And my main problem with The Force Awakens was Kylo Ren. I never could quite take him seriously. I took to calling him Darth Emo.
Incidentally, I’m told that they tried for blaster registration and background checks on Alderaan, but the Galactic Blaster Association blocked the measure. Unfortunately, it did the steely eyed Alderaan militia little good when the Empire showed up with that Death Star.
“I tend to avoid assigning deeper meanings to shallow movies. ”
That’s missing the point of this post, and ignores why the arts and myths are studied closely in the humanities and social sciences. These films obviously have great appeal to people. Americans spent about $840 million to bee the Force Awakens. There were ~750 films released in America that year. TFA took in almost 8% of the total box office. Understanding why so many spent their time and money on it gives us insight to who we are today.
“anyway Mary Sue originated in Star Trek fan fiction.”
That’s irrelevant. Most phrases originate in some narrow circumstances. They are widely applied if useful.
“I don;t think the phrase applies here”
The broad concept of a “Mary Sue” fits almost perfectly to Rey: omnicompetent without either training or experience.
“They’re Disney Princesses in space, maybe.”
No, Mary Sues don’t even slightly fit the Disney princess model.
“I never could quite take him seriously.”
Tomorrow’s part II explains why that is.
That doesn’t tell us anything. Can you be a bit more specific? At least tell us if you are referring to the film as an experience, the review, or the social phenomena which the film represents.
I’m sure the next post on this will be interesting. For the record, I couldn’t take the First Order seriously either. The old Imperial Star Fleet guys looked pretty squared away, but they redid the uniforms in a way that looked effeminate, I thought, and the guy in command was practically throwing spittle when he yelled and screamed. It was like the difference between Joachim Peiper and Colonel Klink.
“they redid the uniforms in a way that looked effeminate”
That’s a great observation (I never pick up those small but telling details). You are foreshadowing the theme of tomorrow’s post! Great minds… ;)
I think your analysis ends up a little short, because in it’s last 30 minutes, TLJ basically rebuts every Millennial talking point that it’s introduced up to that point.
The main voice of “let the past die” theme is a planetary mass-murderer who was full of hot air and really does want to continue with the same old, same old.
The “don’t join” character who gives voice to the “everybody’s a fraud” mindset is shown to be just an amoral, self-indulgent fraud.
After Luke’s (I think pretty interesting) questioning of the binary morality that’s always defined Star Wars, Yoda basically shows up and gives me a “buckle up, Snowflake” speech. Rose’s contention that we’ll win the war by saving the ones we love is immediately discounted — what’s left of the Resistance is toast, until Luke shows up in full-on, binary Jedi mode and sacrifices himself for his friends. Rose is shown in the final scene sulking because the object of her affection clearly does not feel the same way about her. Rey saves the ancient Jedi texts. And the hopeful future that’s being passed on is based on the legend of Luke Skywalker’s heroism.
It’s a really muddled film, thematically.
“The main voice of “let the past die” theme …The “don’t join” character …”
Those are interesting points. But I don’t see how they relate to what I wrote. To anything that I wrote.
“Rey saves the ancient Jedi texts.”
Yes, that’s in accord with the meta-theme I describe. A millennial saves the day.
“the hopeful future that’s being passed on is based on the legend of Luke Skywalker’s heroism.”
That’s a reach. Luke is a total screw-up. His failure as a teacher led to the death of his students and the creation of a new Darth Vader. He spurned Rey, refusing to train the last hope of the Jedi and the galaxy. It’s nice that he partially atones for those fantastic failures by dying. But as a legend he’s a bust, imo.