“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we…” – Master Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back
Like a number of other long-time Star Wars fans, I have some heated thoughts about a Han Solo film being made that looks at the iconic smuggler’s back story before A New Hope. To save some time I will just say this: Harrison Ford is Han Solo. There, now you know where I stand on the film. My friend Alicia, who will have the honor of being the first guest writer on The Imperial Talker, will have a much more thorough analysis of the Han Solo film announcement soon.
In the meantime, I wanted to take an opportunity to bounce around a couple of my own stand-alone film ideas. Now, I could very easily just start listing off films I would like to see, but that would be pretty underwhelming. Instead, I decided to come up with a synopsis for two stand-alone films based on characters who have been floating around the “will they get their own movie” rumor mill: Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In the remainder of this post, I will lay out my idea for what I personally want to see in a Yoda film and, in the next post, I will lay out my idea for a Kenobi film. After painting a picture of the Yoda film, I will give a little rationale on why I want to see this film in particular…but only a little. I don’t want to give away everything I have in mind because, well, I want to see if you like the idea without me trying to sway you one way or the other.
So, here it goes…
Star Wars: Yoda
You and your friends arrive at the movie theater on opening night, eagerly anticipating the newest Star Wars film aptly named Star Wars: Yoda. Taking your seats, you each banter about what you will discover about the mysterious green alien and Jedi Master.
Will we finally discover his species? Where he came from? What Yoda was like as a young Jedi Padawan and Knight? How he became a Jedi Master and the head of the Jedi Council? Will the film present his adventures traveling the galaxy with his own Master, or will it delve into his own internal temptation and the lure of the dark side?
The lights dim to signal the beginning of the movie. On to the black screen appears the iconic phrase “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Silence sweeps across the theater as everyone eagerly anticipates the iconic Star Wars theme song…
…but the theme does not begin. Instead, the sound of a gentle breeze can be heard blowing. The screen begins to fade into an opaque and misty white, a fog. Now, with the gentle breeze remaining a constant sound in the background, other sounds begin to invade your ears: A creature in the distance lets out a cry, water splashes, a twig snaps.
Ten minutes have elapsed and finally the fog begins to break, allowing you to make out the landscape more clearly. A dark swamp is all around, moss hanging from mangled and knotted trees, the muddy ground covered by a foggy haze. A black pond rests in the foreground, bubbles periodically breaking the purity of the water’s surface. In the distance, a reptilian creature flies between trees and disappears into the darkness.
The scene and the sounds persist. 20 minutes elapse, then another 20, and another. It isn’t until an hour and ten minutes into the film that something different finally happens – a light rain begins to fall. The drops disrupt the tranquility of the pond. The rain continues, becoming a downpour that waxes and wanes as storm clouds move above this part of the swamp. Finally, the storm passing, the downpour lightens and eventually ceases.
Out of the distant darkness, a low growl can be heard, and a branch cracks. Then, except for water dripping from branches and vines, there is silence.
A serene sense of calm descends upon the dank forest and marsh. Suddenly, without warning, the scene tilts up and to the right, and you can see into the tree canopy above. Slowly, the scene pans left, and then downward following a nearby tree trunk to the muddy ground it calls home. Returning to the starting point, the same scene you have viewed for the last hour and a half, but you can now hear someone breathing along with the sounds of the swamp.
Something unexpected happens. Moving forward, the camera turns around 180 degrees, bringing him into focus sitting on a decaying log near the water’s edge. He turns his head upwards, rotating from one side to the other.
Looking into the dense foliage above, Yoda takes a deep, relaxing breathe and smiles. Marveling at the swamp around him, Yoda states: “Lovely this planet, yes. Incredible the universe is.”
Yoda’s breathing remains, along with the sounds of the swamp, as the scene fades to black and the credits begin to roll.
I know what you are thinking: A lot of people would be really upset if they paid to see this film. Yeah, you aren’t wrong. I bet people would be outright furious. But the thing is, I don’t want to see a film about Yoda that creates an experience any different than what I just presented. Frankly, I want an aura of mystery to constantly swirl around the elderly Jedi Master, and worry that any work dedicated to him will eliminate that mystery for the sake of profit.
To me, the thing that is most important about Yoda is not what species he is, or what he was like as a young Jedi, or the adventures he has had in the past, but rather, his simplicity, his serenity, his connection to the living Force. Give me a film where we sit with Yoda as he takes in and experiences the beauty around him in a swamp on Dagobah, a film that honors the Jedi Master’s love and respect for life.
This is what I want, but what about you? Would you want to see this film or do you have a different vision for a film dedicated to Yoda? Let me know in the comments below.
You strike on a good point which fans should remember: Yoda is meant to be the personification of the light side of the force in the movies. He represents both the greatest ideals of the Jedi and the model life of deference to the will of the force that the Jedi teach. That he was young at one point and reckless too making some of the same mistakes and exhibiting the same impatience and pride he often scolded patawans for goes without saying. Yoda was not born wise and had learn through the same discipline as all Jedi. This is all true. But as Yoda himself understood, who he is, where he came from, and how he got here is much less important than the energy of light and peace he acts as a vessel for.
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I don’t know. I always thought that Yoda had a bit of a trickster vibe. I always think of him as a very snide young man. I almost would like to see a Yoda story as one of redemption. Not Darth Vader, throwing the plan away to rescue his neglected and abused son redemption, but the redemption of a person that spent their younger life rebelling against a system that he didn’t realize the importance of. I think more than any other character Yoda understands the difference between wisdom and knowledge, as well as education and training. I would be very interested in seeing how he gained that knowledge and at what cost (balance and what not).
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Hmmmmm I see where you are going there. I think that could be a really interesting way of approaching him in his younger days, as far different from what we know him to be. Besides, we know from Attack of the Clones that he is the most skilled duelist (which Obi-Wan notes when speaking to Anakin). Perhaps being the best made a young Yoda slightly cocky and arrogant at times.
Still, at the end of the day, I really just don’t want a film about Yoda. I am fine with him appearing at times, and presume he will pop up as a Force ghost in some future film (maybe even in The Force Awakens). But I worry that the handling of Yoda won’t be done very well. I do think a dynamic story (that isn’t Yoda sitting in a swamp) could be made, but it reallllllly has to be done delicately to ensure he isn’t turned into a caricature or is otherwise undermined. I think any film, if it is made, would have to rely on the Yoda we find in The Empire Strikes Back as the template to work from and towards.
I think I would want the different version of movie dedicated to Yoda. There is a lot of mystery about the legendary Jedi, and that movie; the one you don’t want to see, could answer all those answers.
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Thanks for the comment!
I love the mystery, and feel that keeping those details hidden actually make Yoda even more unique and interesting. There is this tendency, today, to want to de-mythologize, to provide detailed explanations for everything possible. I am hardly opposed to this in principle, and welcome scientific inquiry and technological advancements that shed light on the mystery of the universe. The drive to understand the mysterious is compelling, it is what propels us forward. I think the same is true in fiction/fantasy, the desire to know more about the established universe and the characters who inhabit it. But, that being so, I am not one to believe that everything can be explained – real world or fictional – nor do I think everything needs to be explained (especially in fiction). That we meet an almost 900 year old being in ESB lends itself to this mystery, particularly since all of Luke’s expectations about the little green creature are shattered as he begins to learn more and more about him. Who he “thought” he knew is nothing he was prepared for, and, if Yoda’s backstory is told (something I do not desire but can understand others wanting) I would hope that story is equally unexpected, completely unlike anything we are prepared to encounter. Still, I never-the-less hope the mystery remains around him because, as a character in our very own modern-day myth, he is a wisdom being whom we needn’t question where/why he is so wise. In fact, I would go so far as to note that Lucas actually undermines Yoda in a handful of ways in the Prequel Trilogy, making him a far less wise being who is quick to lead the Jedi Order to war. Not to mention, in the novel Dark Disciple, Yoda (and the Jedi Council) choose to assasinate Dooku, a decision that directly flies in the face of the being we meet in ESB. There is certainly room to explore these issues – the connection between Yoda’s acceptance of war and his statement that war does not make one great, among other things – but beyond this, I think any future stories recounting the Jedi Grand Master need to re-capture his nature, the fact that he is, in a mythic sense, a being who we can imagine (like Lao Tzu) was born old and already endowed with incredible wisdom.
Thanks for the comment!