LOS ANGELES, MAY 21 (ZENIT).- Yes, the movie has arrived and everyone is
talking about it as if there were no tomorrow. It seems to have been
reviewed from every angle, vantage-point and perspective possible. But
after all the hoopla about new planets, underwater worlds and podracers
dies down, some are asking themselves if there is any real message behind
the whole 2 hour, 12 minute saga. Are the dialogues no more than
transitions between saber battles and galactic attacks, and is there really
any intellectual content behind all the computer-generated special effects?
From the reaction of some reviewers, it would seem there is. True, most
movie critics agree that the drama, in the words of L.A. Times film critic,
Kenneth Turan, is "ponderous and plodding" compared to the original
trilogy, while others, let's call them 'Christian critics,' have focused on
some of the more specifically spiritual elements that to them are cause for
concern for Christian viewers.
Although the original Star Wars series was complete with religious-sounding
karmas like "The force be with you!" and the Franciscan-looking warrior
monk Obi-Wan Kenobi, some seem to think that, in this latest of the series,
creator-writer-director and resident mythologist, George Lucas, is pushing
the envelope a little too far with new elements of the Star Wars myth that
comes conspicuously close to mocking Christian scriptures and beliefs.
In an internet movie review, complete with stills from the main scenes of
the new release, David Bruce and John Vitti remark that "there are lots of
parallels to the Bible. Anakin has no father, 'virgin born' like Christ. He
is a slave (living in a desert) hoping some day to set his people free,
like Moses. Jedi Knight Qii-Gon Jinn believes that Anakin is the Promised
One (Christ) of prophecy who will bring harmony to the universe and
proclaims his belief as John the Baptist did of Christ. Anakin has a unique
connection to the Force, as Jesus did to the Holy Spirit."
In one scene, Anakin stands before the Jedi council, "as Jesus did before
the temple priests" and hears words -- they maintain -- that are very
similar to the Gospel passage of Matthew 11:3, "Are you the one who is to
come, or are we to wait for another?"
Even Queen Amidala, the young matriarch of the besieged universe, in her
elaborate costumes and headdresses, often seems to come complete with an
artificial, or should we say, computer-generated, halo.
Of course, Lucas has been quick to play down the religious- mythological
aspects of the plot to emphasize that it's really just an action movie made
for 13 year-olds. At a New York news conference last week, Lucas told
reporters: "It's only a movie." And referring to those who try to read too
much into his script, he added, "People should get a life."
In the May 22 edition of World Magazine, R. Albert Mohler points out that,
thanks in part to Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy, "in the years since
1977, Americans have become primary consumers of Eastern philosophies and
ancient mythologies -- dumbed down for popular consumption and dressed up
for a media age."
"The mythology of Star Wars," Mohler continues, "is perfectly adapted to
the spiritual confusion of postmodern America. 'Go with the Force' is about
all many citizens can muster as spirituality. When Christianity ceases to
be the dominant worldview of a culture, paganism is quick to fill the void."
Whatever the spiritual or mythical undertones of the new "Star Wars,
Episode I - The Phantom Menace," it's sure to be a box-office buster that
will set new cultural standards, as high or low as that may be, at least
until the next sequel to the prequel is released. So brace yourself for the
barrage of Pepsi promotions and new double-bladed laser toys that are about
to invade the everyday lives of our children today and their fantasies
tomorrow. And ... May the force be with you! Whatever that means.