Friday, July 13, 2018

Force Awakens: The Closer

I'm really happy with Rey's motif being a hug. Be it with Finn or Leia, Rey's symbol is always a hug. Someone finally coming back for her. Finn may not have much of a center yet but there is something really good inside of him. The death of his friend (whoever it was) at the beginning of this movie had woken something that Finn had never felt before, a tiny spark of goodness. Journeying around with Rey has made that spark into a small flame. But he hugs her from the right. This isn't what Finn is looking for. His friend died right there in front of him, and he could do nothing about it.This is not the catharsis Finn is looking for, even though he'd really like it to be.

"My son is alive". This comes from the left. Kylo Ren is a mask, a shell, for a hurting and abandoned Ben Solo, who was going to respond to his father... until the light goes away. I'm not sure Snoke had anything to do with Ben's sudden change of heart, but I'm willing to bet that, even if Snoke wasn't directly involved, Snoke's brainwashing was too strong this time around. Ben is hoping that if he can remove his connections he can be free of the pain that he feels, but Leia's pain stuns him and he gets shot in the gut.

Ben is coming from the left, again. So what's he up to? Clearly he's angry at Finn for leaving The First Order (and this completes the loop of them staring at each other over a battlefield), but the film portrays this pain as legitimate. There's something happening inside of Ben with his father's death and no one is catching it. Instead of realizing "Hey, this guy still has something inside of him and we might be able to turn him" they're (understandably) overwhelmed by their emotions and turn on Ben.

This is the key tragedy: Ben can be turned but nobody seems to understand how to do it. Rey calls him a monster and she's wrong. And it becomes obvious that Ben's intentions towards Rey are not lethal: he wants to teach her! She looks inside... and comes back with the Dark Side of the Force. Make no mistake, she's falling here, overwhelmed by her emotions and by reaching into Kylo Ren's memories so she can be...somewhat of a match for Ben? Cause make no mistake, Rey is no match for Ben, on any level. She has a lot of raw power and is learning to access the powers from Ben's memories, but this is not a fight between equals, by any means. He's not trying to kill her here, he wants to teach her and he's nursing a wound that should have scooped out his insides. But fortunately she's spared from her fall and goes off to find Luke so that way she can figure out how to control this power that accidentally became hers. What could go wrong?

Again, this movie makes the case that Rey is no Luke. All of Luke's biggest moments stand in sharp contradiction to Anakin's. Whereas Anakin started naive and became more and more spiritually insensitive, complaining about his lack of power (the only way he had of saying "Something's wrong"!), Luke, by becoming more spiritually sensitive, realizes that there is a great deal wrong in the galaxy. Rey, on the other hand, becomes aware that something is wrong because she fails. Going to Luke is her way of trying to become better, in the face of her failure with Ben, which she doesn't understand.

And this shot sums up what's coming...

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