Many people take the Star Wars series rather lightly – it is a commercial success, kids love it, some adults who seem to not have grown up love it too, and that’s about all. The truth is that the Star Wars saga carries deeper meaning than most people think. Like many successful stories, Star Wars is actually a morality tale, in spite of its sci-fi epic coating. Let’s dig deep into the story!
It’s about the good and evil
Every story in the world is based on the fight between the good and evil, and Star Wars makes no exception to the rule. Lucas wanted to create a story that everybody could understand and show people ideas like what makes a hero, the importance of sacrificing yourself for something higher, and what real friendship is like. As the film’s screenwriter put it: “Fairy tales are about how people learn about good and evil… it’s the most intimate struggle that we cope with – trying to do the right thing and what’s expected of us by society, by our peers, and in our hearts.”
It contains violence, but in a stylized manner
The effects of violence are not portrayed realistically. Star Wars contains fantasy violence and weapons that don’t exist, such as lightsalbers and laser pistols. Someone looking to hurt people in real life would not be inspired by Star Wars and in the series violence is used only when characters don’t have any alternative to it. This proves that the sci-fi saga has a strong anti-aggression message. Moreover, the idea of using force only for self-defense is explicitly mentioned in the Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda tells Skywalker that the Force should be used only for self-defense and information purposes.
Fairy tales give people hope
The first movie in the Star Wars series appeared in a troubled era, when the most burning issues in America were the war in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, and the assassinations of personalities such as the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr. Myths and fairy tales would help people forget about negative aspects in the real world and stop feeling demoralized. Actually, the world has never been a peaceful place and stories have always helped people feel better. Star Wars and other sagas continue to be successful these days too, when the humankind is dealing with problems such as global terrorism and wars in the Middle East just to start with.
Creating meaning for those who are trying to find themselves
The human condition is intimately linked to mythic and religious stories because they help people find an answer to major questions about their identity and life purpose. Viewers of Star Wars and other mythical stories feel like looking into a mirror because these films provide them with an imaginary canvas where they can project both their desires and fears. Fairy tales present us heroes that we can identify with and villains whose character and behavior we want to avoid.
Most people may not expect morality when they think of a film like Star Wars because it contains violence, but the series is different from other cultural products as lying is considered here morally illicit. Star Wars characters do lie, but at least they do it in a manner justified by the circumstances or for tactical reasons, like sneaking in to rescue someone or to avoid tragedies.
The universal hero
Lucas himself admits that he has based the Star Wars epic on the traditional hero quest – the main character in a fairy tales leaves the ordinary world and goes to a supernatural place where he faces multiple trials, goes through impossible hardships, is rescued by characters he has been good with, and eventually returns home to share his wisdom and make everyone happy. This epic formula has existed for millennia because it gives people hope they can overcome the evil they see in the world; it can be used by any talented writer by adding heroes, villains, and saviors to it.
Explaining what is unseen in the universe
Star Wars films refer to “the Force”, an energy field generated by all living beings in the world, which has a light and a dark side. The light side is connected with good and peace and is the power of the Jedi, and the dark side is related to evil and anger, and is the power of the Sith. Lucas has explained in interviews that the light side is a symbol for God, and even the phrase “May the Force be with you” is based on the “May God be with you” formula that we have been using for centuries. However, the idea of “Force” in the Star Wars films can be seen as problematic by some religions because the light side does not seem to be originally stronger than the dark one, thus resembling more the yin-yang relationship in Taoism than the Christian dogma the Western world is more accustomed to
Using one’s critical thinking ability allows Star Wars audiences to see the moral and spiritual elements in the films and understand that, after all, any story, regardless of its time and space, is about the battle between the good and evil.