DYM OFF-SEASON STAR WARS SPECTACULAR PART 2!!
WELCOME BACK TO THE DYM OFF-SEASON STAR WARS SPECTACULAR!! If you're just joining us, check out the intro here and PART 1 here. PART 2: EPISODE IX PREVIEW Episode IX Concept Art Every new Star Wars is made to appeal to a new generation. So of course when Disney shook up the production team for Episode IX last year, the first thing they did was reach out to the trend-setters and taste-makers here at DYM. They already knew Episode IX was gonna be VERY in our wheelhouse. Based on the pattern set out in Part 1, Rise of Skywalker would have to hit many of the same notes as our two FAVORITE Star Wars - Phantom Menace and Return of the Jedi. In this Worldwide DYM Exclusive - we have finally been permitted to release the 'concept art' storyboard we drew up for our sit-downs with Kathy and JJ. We're excited to see how much of our stuff makes the final cut. These films all open with a hooded figure entering a long, empty hallway. Here, we see Jedi Master Hoody Melo entering Lifetime Fitness trying to get a pick-up game at 2pm on a Wednesday. Exactly 9 minutes into each film is a hologram. Hoody Melo has sent our heroes on a quest to Coachella to study the prophecy imparted to them by Hologram Tupac. Next our heroes stand before a monstrously obese and moist looking overlord. This one’s kind of a slam dunk, either him or Mike Francesca would work here too. The heroes have a non-human companion who gets them in trouble while eating purloined food. In Episode IX our heroes are ROLLIN OUT in search of the galaxy’s GREATEST diners, drive-ins and dives!! Then a militia of primitive non-humans helps win a battle against a technologically advanced army. Caeser's sage leadership would be a great addition here, but Koba was the real military mind (RIP, Koba). Caeser’ll have to hope Hoody Melo can get that shield generator down in time. Pod Racing was sick as fuck. But for Episode IX they’ll take it to the whole nother level. Jedi Master Dom Torreto no longer feels The Force, only The Speed and The Rush. In the end, someone must say goodbye to their family as they prepare to cross the "final threshold." In this touching scene, our guy Juju puts on a tough face but we know he's crying inside just like Shmi and Leia were. Themes for Episodes I & IX DYM Scholars know The Phantom Menace has always been our favorite Star Wars since it was released 20 years ago (our old favorite was Return of the Jedi). Phantom Menace has, in our opinion, the most powerful themes and the most light-hearted fun of any Star Wars. The Rise of Hoodie Melo is destined to re-imagine all of the same magical elements. Right now we feel like there’s a good chance that DYM could be getting ourselves a New Favorite Star Wars later this year. (Which, btw, is why it’s so vital - THIS Off-Season - to redress the haters with our thesis that there are no bad Star Wars.) Compare the first trailer for Episode IX to the 1999 trailer for The Phantom Menace: Both trailers open with the same phrase “Every generation has a legend…” then Episode I continues with “Every saga has a beginning” and Episode IX states “Every saga has an end.” They both cut to a barren desert scene. A vehicle approaches at incredibly high speed. The pod racer moves across the screen from left to right (beginning to end), the TIE fighter enters from right to left (from the end, returning to the beginning). These are overt, explicit references and there are surely much more to come in the film itself. At this point we get that Episode IX will look like Episodes I and VI. But if you're wondering what The Rise of Hoodie Melo is really gonna be about, we can look back at some of the unique themes that Episode I introduced, but were not found as explicitly in any other Star Wars film. Interestingly, it seems that the first two acts of the Sequel Trilogy have set up nicely for these themes to come back into play: Slavery - Anakin's introduction as a child slave is a harsher image than the one of Luke as an outcast. This harshness reverberates throughout the saga. When Qui-Gon is initially reluctant to emancipate Anakin, the entire Jedi order is painted as cold and lacking in empathy, an image that plagues them throughout. But Anakin is interested in more than his own freedom, declaring more than once that he intends to return home someday to "free all the slaves." The slavery dynamic disappears from the Saga all the way up until The Sequels. When we meet Rey, she is laboring in a sort of indentured servitude on a planet remarkably similar to Anakin's. Then, in The Last Jedi, we see child slaves again on Canto Bight. Many critics point to this scene - specifically Rose and Finn relishing in liberating the fathiers (horse-dogs) but not the enslaved stable boys - as one of the Last Jedi's greatest failures. There is certainly an opportunity for redemption as the final scene of Episode VIII strongly suggests that we have not seen the last of "broom boy." Prophecy - We don't think it's a coincidence that the prophecy at the center of the plot of The Phantom Menace, "the chosen one, who will bring balance to The Force", is first alluded to in Return of the Jedi, in the same scene where the name "Anakin" is spoken for the first time. Obi-Wan tells Luke it is his "destiny" to destroy the Sith, the same destiny that Qui-Gon believed to lay before Anakin. In The Last Jedi, Snoke stops short of saying the words "prophecy" or "destiny" but does speak of foreseen but misunderstood visions of the future. Once again the subject of his divination is "balance" in the force. Which tees up another opportunity for Episode IX to have Rey (or broom boy!!) complete what Anakin began. Balance - The significance of ‘balance’ is mostly plainly stated in the climactic scene of The Last Jedi. Snoke addresses Rey and Kylo: "I warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger, his equal in the light would rise." He believes that the will of The Force has demanded balance and will not allow dark energy to exist without light, nor allow light without dark. Kylo turns on Snoke in the midst of this chastising speech, and he and Rey fight the Praetorean guards together. It seems that working together makes them stronger - In this frenetic scene Kylo and Rey together are the most ferocious and unstoppable fighting team we have seen in any Star Wars film. Then when the fight is over they both reach for Anakin’s lightsaber and for that one moment we see perfect balance. This is the last time Rey and Kylo see each other in Espiode VIII Duality (symbiosis) - Rey and Kylo are the latest in a long line of dynamic duos in Star Wars: 3PO & R2, Han & Chewie, Vader & the Emperor, even the twin suns of Tatooine are deeply symbolic. People generally point to C-3PO and R2-D2 as the achetypal Apollo and Artemis of the Saga - R2 is brave, brash, and sarcastic, while 3PO is self-serious, cautious, and incessantly nagging. But with limited interaction between these two, Episode I manages to deal with this theme much more explicitly than any other. It discuss the "symbiotic" nature of different organisms (twice!!), which is in fact the basis for the power of The Force itself (midi-chlorians). And we are introduced to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan who also have a sort of symbiotic relationship with each other, where each performs an essential function that the other depends on. This duality is a strong archetypal reference. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are Yin and Yang, opposite sides of the same coin. More than just contrasting personalities - the duel Jedi give us a fuller idea of life of The Jedi order and The Force itself. They express a duality within The Force that goes beyond Light vs Dark. The Living Force - Growing up with the Original Trilogy we always wanted to see a fully trained Jedi in his prime, and we weren’t trying to read a bunch of Legends books cause we’re not nerds. So, that’s the main thing we wanted to see when the Prequels came out. We would have to wait until Attack of the Clones for a full-scale lightsaber battle, but Episode I gave us something much more powerful. With Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, we got two Jedi who, through their two markedly different approaches to the Force, demonstrate two very different world-views and senses of self. Obi-Wan is dogmatic* in his obedience of the Jedi Council and Code. Along with the most other Jedi of this era, Obi-Wan is more attuned to the "Cosmic Force" which is the organizing principle of life in the universe. Through the midi-chlorians who "speak" to the Jedi, they experience the "will of the force" in extra sensory perceptions and premonitions of the future. To know the Cosmic Force is to know The Truth. It is how Jedi make rational sense of the world. Abiding by the practices of the Cosmic Force, Obi-Wan is the sober-minded conservative, preserving the status quo of the Jedi. Qui-Gon, on the other hand is the bohemian of the Jedi. He is fiercely independent and self-reliant. He seeks out the "Living Force" which is a natural energy permeating the galaxy and all living things. It surrounds us at all times and it's source is life itself. Practitioners of the Living Force must remain mentally present, and learn through observation. Following the Living Force, Qui-Gon does not seek to rationalize The Force's will only to follow where it leads. He does not try to manipulate The Force either, refusing to use his "powers" to resolve issues that ought to play themselves out naturally. Just as Jedi derive their clairvoyance and telekinetic abilities from their connection to the Cosmic Force, The Living Force imbued Qui-Gon with unique powers as well. In particular, his connection to The Living Force allowed him to "become one with" it after death. Fortunately, Qui-Gon’s teachings did not die with him. He would later impart the secrets of this ability to Yoda and Obi-Wan. Forever impacting the course of the Saga. That’s the main reason why Qui-Gon is still #1 in the DYM Jedi Power Rankings (updated 5/25/19). The Episode IX trailer ended with Palpatine's unmistakable laugh, which was so prominent that we would not be surprised if Force Ghosts played an even more pivotal role in IX than they did in Last Jedi. *NOTE: Jedi Dogma A few characters in the Prequels are critical of the Jedi’s dogmatic clinging to the rules of their Order. The idea of "Jedi Dogma" always seemed counter-intuitive to us as well. If The Force speaks to the individual Jedi at all times and gives them personal insights into The Truth, what use would they have for rigorous traditions and dogma? There is a similar dis-congruence in the duality of The Force presented in The Phantom Menace: The Jedi of the Republic era favor the Cosmic Force, it is their "official" view of The Force. The irony is that the Cosmic Force is cultivated in the Jedi through meditation and "reaching out with your feelings," while the Living Force speaks to those most empirically "focused on the here and now." By our “modern” standards, The Living Force ought to be considered the more objective and even handed, yet it is treated as fanciful and out dated by the Jedi of the Prequels. Setting aside this apparent contradiction, it is important to notice that the holder of the accepted establishment view of The Force (Obi-Wan) is the one who survives Episode I and becomes the wise mentor of the rest of the Prequels. Qui-Gon’s spirit of rebellion essentially died with him. He was a short-lived role model for Anakin who inherited Qui-Gon’s fearlessness and independence. But when Anakin became the enemy of the Jedi, not a force for change from within, the Jedi Dogma was justified in remaining the dominant philosophy of The Force, and continued to filter our view of The Force all the way up until the Sequels when Luke outright rejects the Jedi Code (while remaining a force for Good. More on that in PART 3). So in this sense, we suppose, the critics are right to say that Star Wars did change quite a lot after George Lucas completed his work on Episode I. In PART 3, we'll talk about how we all probably shoulda changed a lot since then too.