Star Wars Saturday: Luke and Leia's Losses in Episode IV
Everyone calls the original Star Wars an amazing film from start to finish. The effects were revolutionary, the story was entertaining, and it was exactly what the world needed when it was released.
However, people don't usually call it a perfect movie. It has a few flaws, whether you look at the original or the special edition.
One of those flaws is how heartbroken Luke gets over the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a man he's known for about two days, while Leia seeminly has the galaxy's shortest grief period after her entire planet is destroyed.
So why the discrepancy?
When we look at the real-world implications, Leia gets less screen time than Luke and Han in the movie. While the boys are off blowing up the Death Star, she is stuck in Yavin IV staring at readouts and hearing the battle. Although she is shown to be a snarky badass, she still doesn't get enough to do - especially at the very end of the movie.
In the 1970s the feminist movement was going strong, but there were a lot of hurdles to jump in the entertainment world to give female heroines their chance to shine. As a result, all of Leia's grief has to take place off screen.
(And she does grieve - in the canonical book Star Wars: The Princess, the Soundrel, and the Farm Boy we see a bit of Leia's mourning as she waits for her own execution in cell block 2187.)
But let's step into the galaxy for the rest of this article. People find it ridiculous that Leia is comforting Luke in the Millennium Falcon after Obi-Wan's death, especially after what she's been through. (There's even several memes about it.) But Leia is doing exactly what she would be doing at that time. She has endured her own grief, but was forced to do it in private based on her situation. When she sees Luke dealing with it, she empathizes and knows to be that presence that he needs. She's not internally thinking, "Yeah, buddy, let's cry over a guy you barely knew" or something like that. She understands, and she comforts.
Luke has only known Obi-Wan for a day or two, yet his grief is real. His shock at his new mentor's death is shocking and hearbreaking. Why?
I like to think it's because Obi-Wan wasn't a new presence in Luke's life. Just like his aunt and uncle, Obi-Wan has always been there. In his case, though, his presence was increased thanks to the Force.
The Force has shown itself as something that can sense the presence of other people, whether it's Luke sensing Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi or Leia sensing Luke in The Empire Strikes Back. Obi-Wan has been with Luke since he was born. Even though Obi-Wan was in the shadows, his presence was something that was always there for Luke. Luke didn't even realize it.
But when Obi-Wan was cut down, that presence (in its corporeal form) disappeared. It's like having a life vest or floaties on when you swim, but then they are taken away and your confidence in the water is gone.
This isn't to say that Obi-Wan completely disappears from Luke's life. But when Obi-Wan becomes one with the Force, he returns in a completely different manner. One that Luke doesn't really understand until The Empire Strikes Back.
For the Skywalker twins, loss is always present in some form - from the death of their mother to the death of their best friend. In all three movies, the two of them share comfort in each other as things around them crumble. With all my heart, I hope they reunite in The Last Jedi, because that sibling bond is so strong after years of love, trust, and comfort.
My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!
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