This past weekend we hired a babysitter and joined hundreds of other fans in the theater so we could lose ourselves once again in the Star Wars universe. And I must say, The Last Jedi did not disappoint! With superb acting, stunning visual effects, and a plot with more than a few unexpected surprises, this film was an incredible addition to the ongoing Star Wars saga.
What I loved most, however, was the unity of the film. I heard that groan – but allow me to “geek out” on you for just a second. One mark of excellent art – whether it be painting, sculpture, or film – is that every aspect of the piece points to a united message, or theme. As I sat enraptured by this latest installment in the Star Wars film franchise, I found three major themes that threaded their way throughout the entirety of the film. And I loved that every aspect of the film – from the visual display, to the spoken dialogue, to the musical score – highlighted these valuable lessons.
Don’t worry – I won’t spoil the movie for you in the post ahead. But allow me to show you how to spot these 3 Powerful Lessons:
“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Master Yoda
Several characters in the film find themselves running from the fear of failure. But, as always, Yoda knows just what to say. He helps us all realize that failure cannot be avoided and should not be feared. Instead, we ought to embrace our moments of failure as invaluable teaching opportunities. Don’t dread failure or beat yourself up over it. Instead,ask yourself: what can I learn from this?
As you listen to the following musical excerpt, you will hear Rey’s Theme begin to combine with the infamous Force Theme as this young learner finally begins to become one with The Force. But notice how clumsily the music moves along – as if you’re listening to a baby taking her first steps. But isn’t this how we learn? By daring to take a step, stumbling, and picking ourselves up again?
“She cared more about protecting the light than seeming like a hero.” – Princess Leia
The best addition to the cast of characters is Vice Admiral Holdo – played by Laura Dern. This no-nonsense leader makes it clear that she is in charge – she makes decisions resolutely and stands by her choices without fear. And in the end, her ability to think clearly in the face of danger teaches a profound lesson – that doing what is right is far more important than looking good in the eyes of others.
Due to the fact that this film plunges our band of heroes further and further into darkness, nearly every musical number is set predominantly in a minor key. But the following excerpt, entitled Peace and Purpose, has a more positive sound. This reflects the principle that letting go of our fear of what others will think of us and simply doing what we know in our heart is right will lead us toward lives full of both peace and purpose.
“I was raised to fight. For the first time I have something to fight for.” – Finn
One other major theme that works its way through this film, along with Rogue One and The Force Awakens – is the idea that if we take the time to understand our enemies, we may just find that we’re more alike than we think. But while several characters grapple with this concept, the underlying lesson is that despite our similarities there is one distinction between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” – and that is morality. Everyone fights for what they believe in, but only those who fight for what is good and right can fight with their morality and integrity intact.
This final musical excerpt is entitled “The Battle of Crait.” Notice how similar the military march of the New Order is (the “villain’s theme”) to the musical calling card of the Rising Resistance (the “heroes’ theme”). The New Order’s march uses a distinctive rhythm (long note, long note, short-short-short), while the Resistance Theme uses a rhythm that is almost identical (long note, long note, long note, short-short-short). What’s the difference? Only the addition of one note! But that one small note – the presence of morality – makes all the difference in the world.
Should you go out and watch this film before it soars out of the theaters? Absolutely. And while you’re at it, take a moment to fully appreciate – and maybe even pass on – the powerful lessons this film has to offer.