If you’ve been around the internet for any time at all in the last year or so, you’ve probably heard (or been part of) the Star Wars discourse regarding the latest trilogy, Rian Johnson, the books by Chuck Wendig, and Rey and Kylo Ren. It has been…somewhat tumultuous, to say the least, no matter which side you landed on or if you took part in the discussion at all. What looked to be a major dumpster fire, for lack of a better description, continues to be a minefield, but if you can look past the fans, I’d encourage you to go see The Rise of Skywalker and revel in the completion of a 9-film saga that delivered on what it promised so many years ago: the story of a group of individuals who became family, despite the odds, and decided that who they were had little to do with who they wanted to become.
The Star Wars stories are about hope. They’re about redemption. They’re about familial cycles, healing, hurt, and the choices we make that affect those around us. Rise of Skywalker is, in fact, a heartfelt addition to the Skywalker saga, and deserves recognition for bringing their story full circle without bringing it to a close.
Whether you side with the creators or not, it’s still important to recognize the themes that have been woven throughout the tapestry of this specific space opera. The original story came from a time when we were feeling hopeful, when everything seemed possible, even though the world was falling down around us. The world is still falling, but hope is still accessible. There are still people out there looking up at the sky and imagining a better future, one where individuals can be more than where they’re from, where the young and poor and innocent can become people of power who do battle against the forces of evil. A universe where we can fight for our freedom against oppression, no matter the odds.
Star Wars is ageless. Its themes are universal. We return to it over and over, generation after generation, because it means something. It speaks to us, it challenges us, it gives us something to aspire to, something to hope for, a future to look forward to in spite of where we are right now.
That’s what great stories do. It doesn’t matter if we don’t live in the same universe, the truths are real no matter when or where we live or who we are or become. If you were to go back and re-watch the entire 9-film saga along with all the side films and shows, time and again you would see the same thing being said: no matter your status, your past, your family, only you decide your destiny. It is up to you to choose who you will be and how you will live.
It doesn’t matter what point in history you come from, it matters what you do during that specific point in time. How are you going to live? Who are you going to love? What will you do to fight against evil? What do you want to leave behind?
The value of this story is that we can all find someone to relate to, whether it’s a stormtrooper who refuses to kill innocent civilians, like Finn, or Luke, a poor kid from a wasted planet who decides that his friends and family are more important than the greater good, or Shmi, who entrusts her child and his future to someone she believes can give her child a better life and potentially bring balance back to the universe.
If you’re on the fence about going to see The Rise of Skywalker, if you had mixed feelings or very intense feelings one way or the other about The Last Jedi, or if you haven’t ever sat down to watch the Star Wars saga in its entirety, I’d encourage you to look past the fans, past the discourse, past the main storylines, and look for what’s underneath — a message of hope, redemption, and new beginnings.
You can watch most of the Star Wars stories on Disney+, and The Rise of Skywalker is still in some theaters and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD and on several streaming services for purchase later this year.