The Last Jedi is 2017 in a Nutshell

Culture

The Last Jedi is 2017 in a Nutshell

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré

R

egardless of whether you think any film franchise containing the word “Star” in its title is a total nerd-fest, you need to sit down and watch Star Wars. We don’t care if you’d rather watch douchey dudebros beat up the bad guys while ad-libbing lines that would make a fourth-grader scoff, you need to know that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the best recap of 2017 you will see on screen.

Star Wars isn’t about space aliens fighting each other with what you’d describe as fluorescent tube lights and space ships blowing each other up.

There’s nuance behind all that CGI, and themes that ensure The Last Jedi is a fine example of art imitating life.

Vis a vis the most recent movies, Rogue One and The Force Awakens, there’s a couple of recurring themes. Firstly, there’s the breaking down of privilege, as Rey the lead character and Jedi-to-be comes from nothing. She didn’t come from a place of privilege or a pre-ordained lineage to become a Jedi, much like Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader. Isn’t this reflective of the entire class-privilege debate raging all over the world, especially in our own country?

Simply put, Rey isn’t a sarvana, upper-class, Brahmanical male who realises his destiny and takes over the world, with a little help from his papa. For starters, she’s a woman, which already puts her on the wrong side of the great gender divide, which we will come to later. More importantly, she’s a scavenger, living and subsisting on the detritus of higher-ups, who gets thrust into the spotlight and is immediately expected to do #epicshit. Her arc makes a host of people come to mind, both on- and off-screen, prime among them President Ramnath Kovind and Rajkumar Rao’s character in Newton. The narrative is one we’ve come to expect, one man trying to change the world. But factor in that they’re up against a faceless, omnipresent foe called the caste system, and the parallels to Rey immediately become that much clearer.

Like God needs the Devil, every narrative needs a bad guy to rep its underlying rottenness. Enter Supreme Leader Snoke, an egotistical narcissist under the impression that the Resistance needs to be wiped out purely because it exists and has views at odds with his own. He has limitless resources at his disposal and believes himself to be more powerful than Darth Vader. He feels undermined and challenged by The Force and its inherently feminine energy. You can see where I’m going with this.

If you can’t, Google the words “Border” and “Wall”, or “Gujarat” and “2002”, or “UP” and “CM”.

These gentlemen, one the leader of the free world, the second the supreme leader of the under-construction Akhand Bharat, and the third an out-and-out nutjob, could method act the shit out of Snoke without breaking a sweat. Did someone say state-sanctioned persecution? Or gratuitous abuse of power? Or even a junta in democracy’s clothing? Well, Snoke and these other gents are peas in a pod. I wonder whether the Hindi dub of the film will have Snoke say the words, ‘Khaate hai Force ki kasam, Death Star yahin banayenge’

To wrap this up in a neat little bow, we finally see a more ethnically diverse cast, rather than just white people and aliens, especially with John Boyega’s Finn, and Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook in Rogue One. However, the one sentiment that should echo throughout is millennial angst and its poster boy, Kylo Ren, played by Girls alumnus Adam Driver. Struggling to come to terms with his identity, riddled with guilt over the death of his dad Han Solo, and desperate to fill the mask of his maternal granddaddy, Darth Vader, watching Kylo Ren struggle with these aspects of his life and the torrent of emotions he stifles to be #deadinside 24×7 is like holding a mirror to our daily lives.

And lastly, we return to the great gender divide, like I promised earlier. With The Force Awakens and hopefully The Last Jedi, we’re gradually seeing women assume a position of power, with the female Stormtrooper sergeant in The Force Awakens and General (formerly Princess) Leia Organa. We’ve seen women take on greater roles across the galactic empire. They’re flying X-wings, commanding troops, and kicking ass overall, as compared to simply generating reports, warning of imminent danger, screaming in the face of said danger and then getting taken prisoner, waiting to be rescued while they become slaves, or worse, sex slaves, in the earlier movies. Before, they were eye candy – remember Carrie Fisher and her bikini as Princess Leia in the Return of The Jedi where she’s helpless and gets captured by Jabba the Hutt to serve his every need until Han Solo and the boys come to her rescue? Well, it’s 2017 and women ain’t having none of that shit. They’d rather die giving the bad guys a black eye than become trophies for the Empire.

Add to this the omnipresent threat of annihilation at work, unless they surrender to the whims of a creepy older guy who’s infinitely more powerful (Snoke), and you’ve got yourself an accurate AF depiction of the gender hostility that has come to define 2017. It takes balls to blow that whistle and weather the storm that arises, and a multitude of women have done just that, so taking one single name from the movie wouldn’t do them all justice.

If this isn’t a look back at 2017 and all its major milestones, I don’t know what is. Instead of looking at social media listicles about what went down this year, go watch The Last Jedi; it’s got all the above and space aliens fighting each other with fluorescent tube lights and space ships blowing each other up.

Comments