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Darth Paul is the author of this essay on a recurring theme throughout all 4 films.

Published on August 6, 2000

The Great Fall

Star Wars is known for its deep-rooted mythological and theological themes. Several books have been written on the subject. In fact, one such book, The Magic of Myth, was a companion to an exhibit featured at the world-renown Smithsonian Museum. This exhibit's primary focus was on the intrinsic references to world-wide mythology in the Star Wars universe. However, every book, article, and exhibit I've personally read, seen, or heard has never made mention of one very obvious, repetitive theme in each of the four Star Wars movies.

This recurring theme to which I allude is simple, yet very, very suggestive. This is the theme of the "Great Fall." When I saw The Phantom Menace for about the tenth time, I finally had a significant realization. In the scene where Darth Maul is cleaved, his body falls into the dark depths below. I know. This in and of itself is not a significant realization. However, when you compare this climactic scene with other similar scenes in the original trilogy, a pattern emerges.

First, in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker comes close to giving into his fear when Darth Vader reveals the truth about Luke's father. At that moment, when he is faced with the choice between joining Vader on the Dark Side, Luke realizes that his only chance to escape the Dark Side is to plunge himself into the unknown void waiting beneath him. When he safely lands, he is saved by his sister, and he begins his journey to the Light Side.

Second, in Return of the Jedi, we witness the dark and sinister Boba Fett (my favorite character) inadvertently jettisoned into the Great Pit of Carcoon. This marks the great and final fall of Boba Fett into the nether regions of a seeming hell.

Third, and again in Return of the Jedi, we witness the evil Emperor Palpatine tossed into the abyss on the second Death Star. This is the most significant fall of all, and it is the last one in the entire six-chapter play. It represents the fall of evil itself.

So, what do these tremendous plunges have in common? Each time a character falls (usually an "evil" character), it represents one of two things. Usually, it identifies the final decent into hell for the truly evil and malignant. We saw Darth Maul, Boba Fett, and Emperor Palpatine each take a fall. For each, it was their last. However, we also saw Luke take a rather long fall himself. This fall was different from the others for two main reasons: 1. He made the decision to take fall. 2. He took the jump with the realization that if he didn't, he might very well have taken the proverbial plunge into the blackness of the Dark Side. After making his decision and surviving it, he had faced what was, at that point, the most difficult and ugliest truth on his life. He had taken his first big step toward becoming a true Jedi. This is similar to the moment Obi-Wan faced in The Phantom Menace. After Qui-Gon was mortally wounded, Obi-Wan was furious. He attacked Darth Maul using his aggressive feelings which were powered by his fear of Qui-Gon dying and by his hate for Darth Maul for committing the deed. Obi-Wan was teetering close to the Dark Side at this point, and at that moment, he himself was nearly cast into the Great Pit. However, he managed to cling to the side of the pit long enough to regain his composure, concentrate on the task at hand, and launch himself from the edge of destruction to ultimately defeat the Dark Side in two ways--he regained control of his own fear and anger allowing him to dispatch Darth Maul.

The obvious reference to what Western theology holds as Hell is significantly magnified when you analyze it as I have. It is hard to believe that this recurring theme is mere happenstance. It is more likely that George Lucas specifically scripted these scenes to strike a subconscious nerve with his audiences. These great falls are reminiscent of the Great Fall taken by Lucifer in the literary classic Paradise Lost. With the apparent parallels to this and many other literary masterpieces, it is no wonder the Star Wars Saga has wedged itself into our society's consciousness.

Mark my words... When we witness Anakin Skywalker's final descent to the Dark Side some time in Episode 2 or 3, we will see more than the fall of his spirit. We will see his body cast into the deepest, darkest, most frightening chasm pictured throughout the story.

--Darth Paul
San Antonio,TX

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