Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Star Wars: In need of a family tree…

Blog note…
With the arrival of 2016 I have decided to resume writing regular columns on this blog, 
hopefully at least once a week, in the spirit of the columns I wrote for the Duluth News Tribune a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away. This is No. 1 in this new series. Stay tuned for more.
 – Jim Heffernan

Darth Vader (source: Starwars.com databank)
By Jim Heffernan
 I saw the latest “Star Wars” movie, along with several gazillion other people in North America and other continents. I enjoyed it very much.

I am of the generation of moviegoers old enough to have seen the first “Star Wars” when it came out in the 1970s as an adult, so it was fun to see this latest one, officially titled “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” because some of the characters in the originals like Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacka return.

Han, Leia and I have aged at about the same rate of wrinkling since the first one almost 40 years ago. I am close in age to Harrison Ford, who plays Han Solo -- just a couple of years older. It’s rare to have characters reprised and played by the same actors after so many years. They couldn’t do that if they remade “Gone With the Wind.” Clark Gable (Rhett Butler) would be 115 years old this year.

How many “Star Wars” movies have there been all together? Google would know but I’m not going to bother. But trying to recall the blood relationships of several of the lead characters in the originals who show up in this latest space epic are confusing to me. Besides the first one, called simply “Star Wars,” I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” a couple of years later, and “Return of the Jedi” not long after that.

If memory serves, it turned out that evil Darth Vader, he the ominous be-robed and masked leader of the forces of the Dark Side, was the actual father of good-guy Luke Skywalker, even though the first movie ended with an action-packed battle between the two of them with their trusty light sabers. 
Obi-Wan and Vader in their famous light saber duel
(source: Starwars.com databank)

So now nearly 40 years fly by and in “The Force Awakens” we have a new masked villain representing the Dark Side (capital letters intended; the side is very dark and deserves them), whose name escapes me because it isn’t as catchy as Darth Vader (sounds kind of like Death Invader to me). Anyway, the new bad guy, in a reflective moment, says he is the grandson of Darth, and even has Darth’s deteriorating, crumpled up hooded mask on a table near where the new bad guy momentarily reflects.

OK, fine. Bad guy has bad guy grandson. It’s all in the grandparenting; apple doesn’t fall far from the family tree, and all that. They both dress in dark robes and talk through those face covering helmets that make their voices lower and kind of echoey. Ominous figures.

Millennium Falcon
(source: Starwars.com databank)
Then later in the current opus, out prances old Han Solo from his old spaceship the Millennium Falcon and reunites after many years apart with old Princess Leia Organa (except now she’s General Leia Organa), still leader of the good people’s movement, and they start talking like they had an affair way back when (that I don’t recall from way back then), and this new bad guy with the mask and helmet is THEIR son, gone over to the Dark Side.

So, if this new bad guy is their son, how can Darth Vader be his grandfather, if Darth was never established as the father of Solo or Leia, but rather the father of Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi knight (the Jedis are good guys in perpetual war with bad guys…like America today on Earth), unless unbeknownst to me Luke and Leia were an item a long time ago in a galaxy far away, as is certainly now implied. Got that? I’m not sure I have.

I know there must be clear answers to these questions, and I know there might be a Star Wars devotee or two who might read this and will straighten me out, and I hope they will.

Help me out here. We need a Star Wars family tree.


Anonymous said...

I love your writing Jim. Thanks for bringing your blog back. Good work!
Let me know what you find out about the family tree. I guess us old folks need some sort of closure. Marti

Anonymous said...

And I second that sentiment!
I'm glad you decided to continue your blog -

- jill (another 'old folk')

Jim Heffernan said...

Thanks to Marti & Jill for your kind comments. I do indeed hope to keep a more regular appearance going on the blog and plan to write at least every week. So stay tuned... I'll be on here again very soon.

Jim Heffernan said...

OK... no Star Wars family tree apparent yet... but I learned from a reader who e-mailed me that Luke and Leia are siblings. A family tree would be welcome though. Anyone interested?