Star Wars – The Last Jedi; On Failure

SPOILER WARNING

Star Wars Last Jedi

I’m going to begin by making a cultural generalisation, which isn’t something I would usually do. I’m one of those right-on libtard cucks that the most vocal corner of the internet (and the White House) hate so much for being nice to others. I hope you’ll forgive me for this: The Last Jedi is suffering at the hands of Americans who have a starkly different relationship to narrative and character than British audiences. Yes, as I’ve said, I’m unfairly generalising. But run with me here for a second.

The Last Jedi is a film about failure. Its main characters disappoint each other and us, make decisions that cost lives and spoil plans, waste opportunities to better themselves and just about always put themselves on the back foot. If you look at the world of stand-up comedy you’ll see that American comedians and British comedians (again, I’m speaking generally) differ vastly in their positioning of themselves. British comedians will tell a story about meeting a girl in a bar, it’ll all go wrong, she’ll end up with the hot guy at the pool table and the British comedian will shit himself through drink on the way home. American comedians will tell a story about meeting a girl in a bar, it’ll all go swimmingly, the jock at the pool table will be humiliated and the American comedian will get a blowjob in the car on the way home. Us Brits love an underdog. Americans love a hero.

In the past, we’ve been given both, in Star Wars – Luke is just a farm boy, BUT WAIT! He’s also the son of the most powerful Jedi in history – the Chosen One – Anakin Skywalker! And I think this is where the issue many are having with The Last Jedi lies… This is a film about good people doing questionable things with the best of intentions, but failing. It’s a film about the importance of hope in legend, but also the essentiality of grounded, rational acts. Throughout The Last Jedi we’re shown the consequences of recklessness and arrogance and blind faith. We’re given a snapshot of impossible odds and the dangers of playing them. We’re told that not only is doing the right thing often difficult, it’s also never clear whether it really is the right thing to do at all.

Within fifteen minutes of the film beginning Poe Dameron, dashing hero of the Resistance, is ultimately responsible for the deaths of countless Resistance fighters. He fails, through recklessness and arrogance. He believes he’s doing the right thing – striking a massive blow against the First Order (and he is!). But at what cost? Likewise, Rey heads to Ahch-To to secure Luke’s assistance in taking on the First Order and to seek his training in better using the Force. He refuses. He’s out. Not interested. Even when he is interested, he’s afraid. And that’s because he’s been there, done that, and failed. When he finally gives in and begrudgingly agrees to give Rey some lessons in the Force, she takes what he offers and opens up to the dark side immediately. She later tried to turn Kylo Ren to the light, after “seeing his future”… She fails, because it’s all been a plot by Snoke, who has been manipulating both Kylo and Rey, laying down bait. But even then Snoke, in his blind arrogance, senses that Kylo is about to kill his true enemy, turning his lightsaber in preparation to strike. He takes for granted Kylo’s loyalty to him. He simply cannot bring himself to even consider that Kylo would be anything but loyal to him. It doesn’t go his way. Snoke fails. He’s struck down and killed by his own apprentice, as is the lot of those who follow the path to darkness.

Failure oozes all over this film – and not in the way the crybabies in the bottom half of the internet would have you think. Luke straight-out says it: “Failure is the greatest teacher” – we learn from our mistakes, are brought down to earth by our failures. I think it’s a wonderful lesson to be given. It’s a pretty meta lesson too, because if those fans who had spent the last two years falling down the rabbit hole of their own increasingly contrived theorising had instead thought “It’s a movie and its production is out of my hands. The chances of them including my theory, from about the millions out there, is incredible small. I should temper my expectations accordingly,” then I believe the vocal minority would be far happier with the movie we were given.

A secondary lesson – though one somewhat subverted by the end of the film – is, to put it concisely, Beware Of Meeting Your Heroes. Luke is a disappointment to Rey, at first, and to the Resistance. Rey wants him to come back, be awesome, kick FO ass and save the galaxy singlehandedly. And he pops that bubble by saying something along the lines of “What did you think was going to happen? Did you think I’d come back and face down the entire First Order with my laser sword?” This is as much a message to the over-analytical streak in the fan theory community as it is to Rey. That’s this movie in a nutshell – even when he literally does this later in the film, he isn’t really there – it never happened. If he’d actually done this, he would’ve failed. Indeed, even when he didn’t do it, what he did do exhausted himself to the point that he died. Throughout The Last Jedi’s considerable, but never noticeable, runtime it is the failures that each character faces rather than their successes that drive the story and take us to our final message (which we’ll come to shortly).

Poe fails, resulting in a situation where Kylo Ren has the chance to kill his mother. But Kylo fails to do so; others have to do so for him. But they fail. Leia survives, through a use of the Force that I adored, but that others may take issue with. In saving herself, the Resistance loses a leader, ushering in the wonderful Vice Admiral Holdo. Who fails to command the loyalty and respect from a portion of her crew. So Finn – who failed to get away from the fleet, and get to Rey – and Rose head off on a mission to find a Master Code Breaker; a mission kept from the leaders of the Resistance. They find the Code Breaker but fail to make his acquaintance, instead teaming up with another who promises that he can give them what they need, for a price. And he does so, but the price fails to be enough. He ultimately sells them out to the First Order for even more money. Meanwhile, the Resistance – dwindling in number – follow the need-to-know plan of Holdo – quickly and quietly evacuate to the abandoned Resistance base on Crait.

Of course, the First Order know this plan – the backstabbing hacker told them – so the plan fails, leading to one of the most breathtaking moments in cinema history, in my opinion: Holdo’s Lightspeed Sacrifice. Because of this sacrifice, Captain Phasma’s attempts to execute Finn and Rose fail, resulting in a fight between FN-2187 and his old boss. She tries to kill him, fails. He tried to kill her, fails. Eventually, it’s their push for victory, and a string of failures, that cause Phasma to plummet to her death. Back on Crait, the Resistance do their best to hold out against brutal First Order bombardment. The FO’s Cannon Ram, however, us just too powerful to resist. Finn tries to destroy it, with a sacrifice of his own, and fails. The handful of Resistance fighters still alive race through the caves on Crait to escape, but their exit is blocked. Rey releases them by using the Force and they escape.

Meanwhile, Luke is apparently giving Kylo Ren what he wants – a chance to kill his old master. But Kylo fails. Luke isn’t there. The First Order fails to snuff out the Resistance. They have escaped. And it’s the Legend of Luke Skywalker, not the man, who is remembered throughout the galaxy. The reignited spark of hope it lit by a lie. Hell, even when he wants to destroy the Jedi texts, Luke fails. Yoda has to do it for him. And even then it’s not done, because Rey has stolen the books. Plus, Chewie fails to have supper in a moment that will go down as either the best or worst in Star Wars humour history.

Sorry to get long winded on you; what I’m trying to say is that failure is celebrated, here. The lessons we learn from the mistakes we make are essential in our successes in the future. How will you know whether something is the right thing to do if you don’t have anything wrong to compare it to? But having something to believe in is also essential. Fail though you might, if you have hope – however dim the spark – you can succeed. Hope, like fire, will spread and the failures you have suffered will be worth every misstep. I think that’s what I’m trying to say, anyway. I fear I might have failed also.

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