Star Wars: The Last Jedi from a Chinese Philosophical View
"In Chinese mythology Yin and Yang were born from chaos when the universe was first created" (Mark Cartwright, 28.11.2012; https://www.ancient.eu/Yin_and_Yang/)
With much unbridled and uncensored anticipation, excitement, joy, as well as enthusiasm I entered the Gold Class cinema opening night to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Episode VIII. I settled in with the intent to be immersed in "a Galaxy far, far away...."; reconnecting with old friends (e.g., Master Jedi Luke Skywalker, C3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca and Princess Leia) and with the aim of developing depth to the relationships with new characters, such as Rey, Finn, BB-8, Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron and Captain Phasma (eek....first female StormTrooper!). At the conclusion of the movie I felt varied and mixed emotions. I wanted to feel elated; I wanted to feel compelled to share with everyone I knew how fantastic the movie was and that they must urgently watch Episode VIII, if they had not done so already. Instead, I paused and hesitated when asked what I thought of the movie; I delayed in communicating my thoughts and feelings, a rarity when I communicate generally about Star Wars.
The theme that proliferated the dialogue and story arc, from my perspective, was that of balance; the balance of opposing forces. I appreciate that the balance of opposing forces is a consistent philosophical underpinning of the Star Wars movies: Empire/Rebels; Dark side/Light side (the whole of the two halves is The Force); Negative emotions ("Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering" - Yoda to Anakin Skywalker; The Phantom Menace)/Positive emotions; Male/Female (Leia and Luke Skywalker; Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala). The balance of opposing forces prompted reflection upon Chinese Philosophy, Yin Yang, Taoism (favouring Yin), and Confucianism (favouring Yang), with Yin Yang - the concept of duality forming a whole with recognition that the separation of the two creates destabilisation and disharmony. From a Taoist perspective "both halves are chasing each as they seek a new balance with each other" (https://personaltao.com/questions/what-is-yin-yang/). Yin Yang is a system of recognising how to see patterns that are occurring, while also finding acceptance with the overall whole. Acceptance requires a willingness to be mindfully present, observing and psychologically flexible. Within Star Wars: The Last Jedi there was a a chasing of two halves, Kylo Ren and Rey, as they sought balance with each other, as well as balance of light and dark within themselves. One aspect of the story arc that I desired was the shipping, defined as the "act of wanting/supporting two individuals involved in a romantic relationship" (Urban Dictionary https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Shipping), of Kylo Ren and Rey.
So where do I feel unbalanced? I have lowered attachment to and connection with the protagonist and antagonist of Star Wars VII and VIII. I have a tendency to love the Rogue/Scoundrel/"Bad" boy. I loved Hans Solo. I felt compassion and sadness for Anakin Skywalker. I felt the pain, uncertainty and conflict of Luke Skywalker. I query whether Poe Dameron is being established within the role of Rogue/Scoundrel. I feared the Sith; the Sith in Episodes I to VI were fierce, powerful and intimating.....The Empire was a force to be reckoned with, until Episode VIII in which I experienced neutrality. The reflection I had was that the current Episode is establishing the factors historical and contemporary that transitions and solidifies Kylo Ren's connection to the Dark Side of the Force, leading to superhuman power, arcane knowledge along with the erosion of empathy, kindness and love. The question remains, can Kylo Ren find within himself the balance of two opposing forces and is Rey destined to bring balance to the Force unifying the relationship between her and Kylo Ren? SPOILER ALERT: From my perspective, Episode VIII provided the opportunity for a reset and reboot; the best analogy is that of Fire Ecology, in which fire is considered a 'natural disturbance' that contributes to the evolution of species and controls the characteristics of ecosystems (The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Pickett, Steward T., 1950-, White, P. S. Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press. 1985). I had the sense that a natural Fire Ecology was occurring from which an evolution within the Empire, the Sith and the Dark Side will occur, akin to the rising of the Phoenix. So what will rise? Will there be balance and harmony within the Force and what would this look like?
From a less philosophical perspective, the reasons I experienced mixed and varied feelings included my perception that the role of the Droids was superficial, almost minimalistic. I love C3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8. I welcome the interactions between the Droids that provides humour and comedic relief; the balance of fear by C3PO and the courage of R2-D2. Yes, BB-8 is cute and yes, the introduction of BB-9E has sparked my curiousity. I wanted more from the Droids; maybe my expectations were unrealistic. I reluctantly admit that I...ummm....liked Jar Jar Binks from The Phantom Menace ("Ex-squeeze me", yes I did and still do!)....and so the Porg Invasion did highly amuse me, as well as the relationship that formed between the Porg and Chewbacca. SPOILER ALERT: Yoda is a beloved character of mine, as shared within the introducemyself post. Yoda made an appearance within Episode VIII and I question the value of his contribution to the story arc.
Porg Image sourced from: https://lumiere-a.akamaihd.net/v1/images/porg-main_16933d3b
In summary, I encourage the viewing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi Episode VIII. Philosophically, theologically, psychologically and ecologically there is much offered within Episode VIII, as was present in Episodes I to VII. The story arc successfully brought Kylo Ren and the Empire to a low point (the same could be reflected for Rey and the Rebels), removing the structures that were depended upon, consequently directing the characters to find internal and external strength, as well as resources without those structures . The movie was successful in creating a reflective and contemplative questioning of: Will there be balance and how will balance be achieved? I avidly await the final instalment of the triology to see the concluding evolution of Kylo Ren and Rey's growth and change, simultaneously the growth and emergence of the Empire along with the Rebels. And ok....I admit that I am curious about whether there be a shipping of Kylo Ren and Rey (LOL - KyRey or ReyKy or ReyRen); have some fun and let me know how you ship and if you ship Kylo Ren and Rey 😀. I'd also welcome reflections, thoughts, feelings and comments about the content of this post.
I sign off wishing you balance, harmony, equilibrium, peace and always....MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!