Hero’s Journey

Tunesday: Jyn Erso

It was only recently that I discovered Wildwood Kin, an alt-folk trio from Exeter, England. Listening to a Spotify-suggested playlist, I suddenly found myself surprised and mesmerized by the three-part harmonies of the women and their beautifully blended instruments in the song “Warrior Daughter.” As the music washed over me like a wave, the lyrics to “Warrior Daughter” took root in my mind, intertwining as they did with Jyn Erso, the hero in the Star Wars film Rogue One. Art moves and affects us all in different ways, and in the case of “Warrior Daughter” the raw power and symbolism in the song about a daughter who has “been made warrior” led me back to Jyn Erso, to her relationship with her parents Lyra and Galen, and her selfless actions to steal the Death Star plans.

While I dare not set out to interpret every way I view Jyn Erso as the “Warrior Daughter” described in the song, wishing instead to allow you to create connections for yourself if you so choose, I am never-the-less motivated to share one association that captured me. In short, I could not help but imagine the song’s narrator being one, or even both, of Jyn’s parents describing the “strength and courage” that “lies within your [her] heart.” To this we can add the lyrics “you have been made warrior/for your heart belongs to me” which, to me, reinforce the notion that as Jyn grew up – after she had physically lost her parents as a child – they were never-the-less always a part of who she was, her heart belonging to the parents she loved.

On this point, I am reminded of Jyn’s declaration to Director Krennic on the Scarif Tower late in Rogue One. When Krennic emphatically inquires “Who are you?” our hero declares (with strength and courage) that “I am Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen and Lyra.” I am Jyn Erso; I am the warrior daughter of Galen and Lyra. Krennic might have been responsible for the pain of physically removing her parents from her life, but he never removed them from who she was, for her heart always belonged to them, and they have always resided within her. 

Listen to “Warrior Daughter,” check out the lyrics, and leave a comment either here (or on Twitter @ImperialTalker) with your thoughts on the song I chose for Jyn Erso and also to share songs you would choose for her.

Lyrics to “Warrior Daughter”

you are a warrior

they call to me and strike at night
clothe yourself with all the rough alikes
and though i made you gentle for a time
your spirit’s strong enough to fight

you are a warrior
strength and courage lies within your heart
daughter, can’t you see your power never fades
for my armour keeps you safe

ride ahead; you fight for what is yours
so take your sword; protector of them all
the heart may be a battle in its own
don’t hesitate; you’ll never be alone

you are a warrior
strength and courage lies within your heart
daughter, can’t you see your power never fades

you are a warrior
strength and courage lies within your heart
oh oh oh oh

you will not grow weary
you will never cease
you have been made warrior
for your heart belongs to me

for your heart belongs to me
for your heart belongs to me

oh oh oh oh oh
for your heart belong to me
for your heart belongs to
for your heart belongs to me

for your heart belongs to me
for your heart belongs to
for your heart belongs to me

**Lyrics taken from musixmatch.com**


Tunesday is a new series on The Imperial Talker where I present a song that I believe reflects a Star Wars character in some way, shape, or form. New Tunesday posts will arrive on Tuesdays with complete infrequency.

Crossing the Threshold

The scene in A New Hope when Luke enters the Mos Eisley Cantina is,  in many respects, one of the most important scenes in the film.  In fact, I would even put it close to the top of the list (perhaps AT the top). You see,  Luke’s entrance into the Mos Eisley Cantina quite literally represents the crossing of a threshold, the moment he, as the hero of the movie, enters an entirely new, foreign realm and truly leaves his past life behind him. One of the stages in what mythologist Joseph Campbell dubbed the Hero’s Journey, “Crossing the Threshold” is the moment where the burgeoning hero puts his/her past life behind them. Life will truly never be the same again for the individual in question, and they must now begin the process of adapting to this new, unexplored territory.

And that new, unexplored territory is precisely the galaxy that Luke will encounter once he leaves Tatooine. The Cantina, then, serves as a small microcosm of the galaxy-at-large, a cross-section of intriguing and frightening beings he may (and will) come across as he ventures forth. Very quickly, though, Luke discovers, and we along with him, that this realm, with all of its fascinating strangeness, is also incredibly dangerous. Only moments after his entrance into the Cantina, Luke is accosted by two individuals, Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba, who wish him harm because they “don’t like him.” In fact, Dr. Evazan will even level a death threat at the young Skywalker.

Star-Wars-Evazan
Dr. Evazan threatens Luke while Ponda Baba looks on. 
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Nothing says “Welcome to the Real World” like your life being threatened.

Of course, we can feel bad for the poor kid receiving the threat, but this danger is also necessary for Luke, even if it seems sudden and extreme. More dangers await Luke in the future and, frankly, he has to start growing up at some point, leaving his boyish immaturity behind. Metamorphosis is necessary for the hero, and transformation will only happen as one encounters the realities of this new realm.

Yet, while it may be that Luke physically enters the Cantina and begins to encounter this new, unchartered territory, he is not the only one who crosses the threshold. We also cross it with him. Luke’s crossing is our crossing, the moment when we are also introduced to a number of the strange creatures and mysterious sounds of the Star Wars galaxy. Even though we have, up to that moment in the film, encountered some of the exciting wonders of the Star Wars, these moments were limited in scope. Now, as Luke enters the Cantina, that universe rapidly expands for him and us.

But what makes this all the more interesting is that writer/director George Lucas intentionally allows you and I to experience the sights and sounds BEFORE Luke. It is, in a sense, as if we descend into the Cantina ahead of the young Skywalker and then turn around to see his expression.

And what we experience, what Luke experiences a moment after us, is anything but subtle, overwhelming the ears and eyes.

Cantina Band
The Cantina Band (they are Bith).
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The iconic music of the Cantina band begins playing immediately as the scene begins, music that is nothing like the orchestral sounds we have heard up to this point in A New Hope. Plus, this music is diegetic, coming from the strange looking band in one corner of the establishment. What we are hearing is exactly what Luke  will hear, and  what the other patrons of the Cantina  hear.

And speaking of those patrons,  we are introduced to them as the band plays. In shot-after-shot, we get to meet these new, and quite literal, alien creatures. Having crossed the threshold into the Cantina with Luke, our old ways of describing reality, and Luke’s, are left behind, and we must now begin to formulate new terminology and definitions going forward. These beings push our limits of conceptual understanding, we simply have no words to adequately describe them.

Duros in Cantina
A pair of Duros sit in the Cantina.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Of course, today, we DO have names for the numerous alien species that inhabit are in the Cantina. Plus, many of those species  have appeared in a number of other parts of the Star Wars canon (and Expanded Universe). But knowing that there is a Duros, Bith, Devaronian, Ithorian, and Aqualish in the Cantina should not distract us from the original purpose of  the Cantina scene: as a physical representation of his crossing the threshold into the unknown, introducing both him and us to a handful of the strange, fascinating, and terrifying mysteries that the galaxy (and Star Wars universe) offers.

This is also precisely why I suggest newcomers to Star Wars begin with A New Hope. In doing so, they will not only cross the threshold of the Cantina with Luke, but will cross over into the Star Wars galaxy in the same way so many of us have also done.

Cantina Creature
An Arcona in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope