“Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan… Now, that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time. A long time.” – Ben Kenobi in A New Hope
In my last post, I presented a small picture of what I feel a movie dedicated to Master Yoda could look like. In this post, I want to take my movie-making imagination in the direction of Obi-Wan Kenobi, our favorite desert hermit. The tone and presentation here will be starkly different than the Yoda film, though. Instead of painting you a picture of the progression of the film like I did with Yoda, I am, instead, going to drive home a few key elements that I feel are necessary in a Kenobi film.
Now, I want to mention a few things before jumping into my ideas. First, there has been a lot of speculation about the possibility that the third anthology movie is going to be about Obi-Wan. In fact, Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan in the prequels, has stated his interest in returning to play Obi-Wan. Personally, I would LOVE to see McGregor return to his role as the Jedi. Who knows, perhaps his recent movie, Last Days in the Desert, where he portrays Jesus, is a preview of what’s to come.
Moving along, I also wanted to point out that Issue #007 of the Star Wars comic series focuses exclusively on Obi-Wan. In it, Kenobi’s story is presented in journal form, with Luke reading an entry about Obi-Wan’s time in exile. While I was not overly wowed by the story, the overall tone and feel of the comic does work well, and I would be interested in experiencing more of these journal entries in the future. Plus, it would be cool to SEE Kenobi writing the journal in a film!
Lastly, there is, as a lot of you may already know, a novel devoted to Kenobi that takes place in between Episode III and Episode IV. Written by John Jackson Miller, it is part of the Expanded Universe (Legends) and, therefore, not canon. Chances are if Miller had written this novel after the dissolution of the Expanded Universe, it would easily be part of the canon (with a few tweaks here and there). Even though it isn’t, it is worth reading.
Now, your feature presentation…
Star Wars: Kenobi
First thing first, there is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that a Kenobi film will be made. Like I already said, McGregor is interested and it just makes sense in my mind to bring a prolific actor like him back into the fold. If I was in charge at Disney/Lucasfilm, I would pay the man anything he wants to get him to reprise the role.
I will talk other actors in a moment.
Now, in terms of time period, the film would take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. There is a 19 year gap between those movies so a lot of things could certainly happen with Kenobi in that time. The downside, really, is that Alec Guinness, the actor who played Kenobi in the original trilogy, died a number of years ago. This would really limit McGregor to portraying Obi-Wan in the earlier years of exile.
Speaking of his exile, the film MUST take place entirely on Tatooine. The reason is simple and two-fold. Most importantly, he is watching over Luke during those 19 years. In Star Wars #007 above, a situation arises with Luke that necessitates Obi-Wan intervening.
Number two, Kenobi, along with Yoda, are in exile for a reason – they are hiding from Sidious and Vader until the time to reappear is the right one. For the safety of the child, and for his own safety, Kenobi has to ensure the utmost discretion and this would mean staying in one place and keeping a low profile. Again, in the comic, this is presented really well when, in the opening scenes, Ben walks right by some thugs who are beating up a farmer.
Time period, check. Location, check.
Now, at this point, I am not going to start rattling off every minor detail that may or may not happen. No, I am more interested in the big picture, the major pieces of the film that would paint a vivid image of Kenobi and add to the overall mythos of Star Wars.
The Big Picture
- Luke, the Lars Family, and Kenobi
The underlying theme that would dominate the film would be Obi-Wan’s guardianship of Luke. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we would need to watch Luke grow up. Yes, we would see a young Luke (maybe 5 or 6) in the film, but it is hardly necessary for Obi-Wan to have constant interaction with the boy. I will let you imagine how these encounters would go, but I think they would be few and far between.
Personally, I would be more interested in seeing relationship between Uncle Owen and Obi-Wan. In A New Hope, Owen Lars clearly dislikes Old Ben, and I have often wondered why this was the case. If I put myself in the shoes of Owen and Beru for a moment, I can see them having a real problem with Kenobi hanging around on Tatooine. If the purpose of hiding the child is to keep Luke away from his father (and the Emperor), then Kenobi’s presence could very well attract unwanted attention. Plus, Obi-Wan’s hovering presence would also certainly create a sense of distrust in Owen and Beru, the feeling that Kenobi does not truly believe the Lars family can protect the child.
One way or the other, I would really like to see Aunt Beru (played by Bonnie Piesse) and Uncle Owen (played by Joel Edgerton) get into a heated argument or two with the Jedi Master over Luke’s safety, and the type of presence Kenobi would have in the boy’s life. Let’s just go ahead and note right here that it would be a very small direct presence.
- Obi-Wan’s Guilt
Moving along, the second major piece that would run through the film would be Obi-Wan’s struggle with Anakin’s downfall. It is easy to imagine Obi-Wan feeling intense guilt for Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, and would surely be searching his conscience for answers, trying to understand what he could have done differently. Ultimately, what this would provide the audience is the opportunity to see the otherwise level-headed Jedi Master in moments of true despair and inner turmoil.
Added to this would be Kenobi’s attempt to reconcile the physical harm he inflicted on Anakin. In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan does not want to confront Anakin, and expresses his desire to confront Palpatine instead. In turn, Obi-Wan not only bests young Skywalker in their duel, he does so by maiming his former apprentice, an act that leads to Anakin’s exothermic misfortune. The thought of killing Anakin was burdensome from the start for Kenobi, the reality of the encounter would indelibly leave a deep scar on Obi-Wan mentally and emotionally.
All told, there would be a number of scenes in the film where Kenobi would struggle with memories and feelings that would leave him emotionally exhausted.
- Kenobi and Qui-Gon
Let’s cut right to the chase: a Kenobi film set between Episodes III and IV would need Liam Neeson, the actor who played Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. As I mentioned in my piece on Qui-Gon, Neeson has reprised the role in a number of episodes of The Clone Wars, voicing Jinn from the netherworld of the Force. Using the technique(s) Master Yoda taught him before they both went into their respective exiles, Master Kenobi would converse with Qui-Gon in order to learn how to preserve one’s life force after death, a feat which Qui-Gon partially mastered.
While these conversations would serve the purpose of providing Kenobi with the pathway to immortality, they would also provide the audience with a new level of understanding about the Force. Essentially, as Kenobi learns from Qui-Gon, so too would we be learning, gaining new and exciting insight into the metaphysics and philosophical underpinnings of Star Wars.
However, these conversations can also offer Kenobi the opportunity to voice his feelings about Anakin’s downfall. Recall that it was Qui-Gon who was initially determined to teach the young slave boy from Tatooine, believing the child to be the Chosen One. With his dying words, Master Jinn implored Obi-Wan to train the boy, a promise Kenobi kept. While laying out his feelings about what happened to Anakin, Kenobi could flip the discussion, quizzing Qui-Gon on why he was so adamant about Anakin being trained as a Jedi…you know, given that it all came crashing down in the end.
Or, if we think about it like this, their conversation would make it possible for the Prophecy of the Chosen One to finally be explained in full!!!
So, there you have it. Obviously, there are hundreds of directions a Kenobi film could take, but these three core ideas, in my opinion, are essential for the further development of Obi-Wan’s character as he lives in exile on Tatooine. Plus, these also create avenues to expand the mythos that lies at the core of the Star Wars universe.
But enough from me, what do you think? What would you include in a film dedicated to Master Kenobi? Leave a comment and let me know.