Is the power of love the defining theme of the galaxy far, far away? Annlyel examines the evidence.
Fear. It is the destiny of the Jedi.
These are the words that Luke Skywalker tells Rey as she hides away on Ahch-To, determined to live out the rest of her years on the island because of the fear of who she was. (She had just learned she was the granddaughter of the evilest man in the galaxy, Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine.)
And it is fear that is the true binding force of the fall and rise of the Jedi.
In the prequel trilogy, Anakin was riddled by fear. After being taken from his mother at nine-years-old to pursue his dreams of becoming a Jedi he would live with the daily fear that his mother would one day be killed. But the Jedi of old taught against emotional attachment and sought to make Anakin forget to care for the person he loved most; his mother. In consequence, he would go to Tatooine after sensing his mother’s torment, find her when it was too late, is forced to watch her die in his arms, and becomes momentarily consumed by the dark side.
A wise Jedi once said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.”
But wait a minute, you hypocrites. Anakin only ever feels fear because the Jedi aren’t allowing him to love. He is separated from his mother and so he fears to lose her. If the Jedi were smart they could’ve prevented Darth Vader from ever coming to fruition just by allowing Anakin to bring Shmi along with him on his personal ascension to becoming a Jedi Knight.
It is also the everlasting fear that drives his relationship with Padme. He falls in love with her and instead of following the “Jedi way” they decide to be married in secret. He then impregnates her and as she takes the nine-month journey through her pregnancy he begins to become afraid that she will die in childbirth. He can’t confide in any of his fellow Jedi about his fears. Not even Obi-Wan.
The closest thing he does in telling someone his feelings are going to Yoda for counsel who tells him, and I quote, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
Um…you know Anakin is not going to do that.
All of this fear, all of this hatred for the Jedi that is beginning to build within him, is because the Jedi saw love as a weakness, as a catalyst for evil when their coldheartedness was the true culprit of the story. If they hadn’t had such a strict policy against love Anakin wouldn’t have grown close to Palpatine who saw the young man’s problems and slowly cultivated him, pretending to care about his issues when in actuality he was only creating the Sith Lord who would one day stand by his side as the galaxy burned.
Their fear against love would be their ultimate downfall and the Jedi would pay the hefty price.
Let’s take a look at the Original Trilogy.
The conventionality of the Jedi has been somewhat tossed out of the window. The Jedi are far and few. And what remains are a pitiful number that has no chance of standing against the Empire. So, arrives Luke Skywalker to bring balance to the Force. He begins a journey that would one day lead him to become a Jedi. Along the straight-and-narrow path, he begins to discover a love for his friends but his love doesn’t make him weak. It, in fact, makes him stronger. And his unwavering love for his father leads to Anakin’s eventual redemption and Palpatine’s “defeat.”
If Obi-Wan and Yoda had kept to the old teachings, forcing Luke to eliminate his emotional attachments to his friends and to his father, the Rebellion probably would’ve lost the war and Luke Skywalker would be no more. But because he was allowed to love and believe in his father, the evil was eradicated from the galaxy and Anakin was saved.
And the Sequel Trilogy is an even greater sign of the power of love in Star Wars.
“That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love.” That’s what Rose says to Finn during the Battle of Crait after nearly dying and even though she’s not a Jedi she’s practically nailed the basis of the saga and the true power of the Force. Rey and Kylo Ren find themselves drawn together by a powerful bond, a “dyad in the Force”, and this bond leads to a lot of things. There is a constant conflict between them but there is something else too. It’s subtle at first but then begins to grow into a powerful storm that has thus solidified into a real-life movement dubbed by the powerfully united Reylo community. Yes, the two Force-wielders fell in love.
Whether we want to admit it or not after Rey saw a shirtless Ben Solo during one of their little Force-skypes the sparks were pretty much flying after that. The two would go on to continue fighting against the love they had for one another but at the conclusion of their story, it was love that would save the galaxy from Palpatine‘s horrifying return. And we can’t forget that it was also Leia‘s unwavering love for her son that also prevented the worst from happening; Rey killing Kylo Ren. Leia saved Ben, Rey saved Kylo, and Ben saved Rey. It was quite the love connection happening in The Rise of Skywalker.
And if we think back to other moments Force-wielders used their power in an act of love you can see the trend that love, combined with the Force, is actually the embodiment of the Light and the true brilliance of the Jedi. Let’s think about Luke Skywalker‘s last stand on Crait. For years, he had hidden away despite the galaxy’s desperate need for him to return. When he finally did emerge from the shadows as an act of love for his sister, Leia, it would become one of the most powerful moments in the franchise as he saved the Resistance against a force (no pun intended) that would’ve annihilated them.
What about Kanan’s sacrifice in Star Wars: Rebels? Kanan very much did not follow the rules of the Jedi as he fell in love with fellow rebel Hera Syndulla over their years together. In a terrible moment that is honestly, in my opinion, one of the saddest in the franchise, Kanan, to save those that he loves must sacrifice himself to save her. This sacrifice does more than save his friends, however. He goes on to destroy an entire weapons facility in the act, allowing the rebels to eventually defeat the Imperial occupation of the planet, Lothal. It’s a powerful moment and yet another testament to the power the Jedi have when they embrace love.
And that is why Rey is the perfect embodiment of the Jedi Order that she must rebuild. She understands that love is not a catalyst for the dark side and with her fellow students following this new tutelage, the galaxy should hopefully enjoy several hundred years of peace.
So yes, Star Wars is one gigantic (and very fancy) love story. I guess that’s part of the reason why I love it so much. (I’m a softie.)
And, as Han would classically respond, “I know.”
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Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Aside from her role with Future of the Force she also writes for her own blog: annlyelonline. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!