Obi-Wan’s age bothers me the most. He’s about 30 in Episode III, which would make him 50 in Episode IV.
people just forgot about the Jedi?!
The Jedis weren’t completely forgotten. The few that remained just became regarded (disdainfully) as “old wizards” and practioners of a “hokey religion” who use “ancient weapons” who live out in the hinterlands and off the grid. Over the course of 15-20 years, and with the active help of a right-wing political opponents too lazy and cynical to point out the truly problematic aspects of the Jedi order, they’ve lost the cultural cachet and political clout they once enjoyed. Some still practise and pay lip service to a twisted version of the old ways in service of the new order.
At a stretch, using the timeline years, the closest analogue I can find to the Jedi is the 1960s counter-culture (the new order would be neoliberal globalism, with Darth Vader being either a neoCon or capitalist practioner of the Californian Ideology). But that’s just fun noodling. I doubt there was much intent by Lucas, certainly not initially, to draw that parallel.
I can see it being a rough 50 after the life he’s lived and after being on the lam for decades and living on a harsh desert planet.
What exactly is significant about the timeline, and being so specific about anchoring it to the current day? If all he did was work out when the movies take place relative to each other, there’s no added value in linking that timeline to the current day.
Are the years themselves supposed to roughly mirror world (or US) politics? What “big bad guy” was 9 in 1952 (Bernie Sanders was born in 1941)? What “deathstar” fell in 1984 (it was Reagan’s second term)? What “empire” fell in 1988 (the East Bloc collapsed in 1989, USSR in 1991)?
My mind remains stubbornly unblown.
I don’t think there are any explicit or direct parallels. It’s just putting the events of the series in a more tightly defined temporal framework most of us don’t really think about and considering the general results (e.g. how long it takes to forget a cultural or political movement or how the characters age in terms we understand).
I had the same question, but it seems like they took references from the most recent films and counted backwards. Having experienced the wait for sequels and prequels from the beginning, trying to apply this method to films by Lucas isn’t likely to add up in any meaningful way.
Exactly. My parents easily recall the invention of the ballpoint pen, and now we’re on the internet.
My Memere (great-grandmother) died in 2000 at the age of 99 and saw things change SO much.
Nice write up!
And fumbling towards an equally ignominious end.
Every time someone in Rebels or The Mandalorian or what-have-you whispers about the Jedi as if they’re an ancient legend that may never have really existed, it kicks my suspension of disbelief right in the teeth. There was a Jedi Council! Operating in the galactic capital! Within living memory! It’d be like people today debating whether or not the Reagan Administration ever really existed!
For what it’s worth, Alec Guinness was 63 when he played Obi-Wan. He played the part older than he himself was, I guess; 63 ain’t that old.
On the capital planet there was presumably a campaign of Orwellian erasure, which would not be without precedent in the real world, and certainly the trillions of people elsewhere in the galaxy would be unlikely to meet any of a few thousand Jedi in an average lifetime, and of course any stories about them would sound fanciful and unlikely
The Jedi are like the Men In Black, they can be real and a hokey legend at the same time
I can’t believe I’m defending Star Wars
This bothers me too, but consider: as far as I can recall, there is no mass media in the SW universe (almost no media at all save hand-written books and holograms that are apparently un-copyable). Most of the films (+ Mandalorian) are set way out in the boondocks; it’s likely that folks on Tatooine never really knew much about how the Republic/Empire worked, they just noticed that the space cops changed uniforms and attitude now and then.
Part of the Star Wars cannon is a completely different information landscape than our world. Communication happens face-to-face or via person-to-person radio, and news is only spread by rumor. That’s a benefit for story-telling purposes but would make it really hard to manage a wide-spread government (as evidenced by the fact that it’s never not crumbling).
(edited to fix misspelled mandalorian!)
When we see “Episode 4” and we’re ten years old, 63 is fucking ancient
Then we see the prequels and we’re the same age as Ewan McGregor
who will of course (like us) never get old
can’t possibly play the same character, fifty-year-olds never have white hair and bad skin, unpossible
Ewan McGregor was 28 in Phantom Menace so if Obi-Wan was the same age he’d be 41 in Revenge of the Sith.
I am reminded of the CCP’s erasure of the events of Tiananmen square. Not taught ins school, not talked about publicly, only whispered about with people that you TRUST can go a long way to making something seem mythical rather than real.
The writers could have drawn on the real-world history of, like, whatever happened to the samurai between the Edo period and World War II, or something, but it seemed like George Lucas was just winging it and didn’t really care about plausibility or any specific relationship to historical events
My main complaint here is that the base starting date is the original movie, which came out in 1977. Everything should be extrapolated forward or backward from that date.
People in China know that Tianmen Square happened; they just know better than to talk about it.
We know that Star Wars is a fantasy series that takes place in a fantasy universe with different laws of physics (space is made of some sort of sound-conveying medium, for example, and “hyper” travel is possible), and the planets are actually quite close together (which is why, in the recent trilogy, the characters could see the new Death Star’s beam firing at a planet), and to me implies the solar systems and planets therefore are actually quite small - it’s why planets can have single biomes, connected by the medium of space, somehow, which is also why space has megafauna. This just reinforces the “small galaxy” idea - otherwise, there’s no way an actual galaxy-spanning culture could change this quickly, especially in the absence of mass media. It would take centuries, millennia, even, for these kinds of cultural changes to propagate across the empire, realistically. It also explains why the same damn characters keep popping up - the whole galaxy only has the population of a large city at most.
Worse, they were turned into a distant myth - which implies that many people must not have believed in them even when the council still existed. Although it doesn’t explain why Han thinks they’re a myth, given that his partner literally worked with them. (Lucas’s need to reuse characters really bites him on the ass in terms of plausibility.)
You can compare it to your own lived experience with the culture and the times in question, and the whole thing becomes more obviously absurd.
He was not only making it up as he went along, he was very clumsily retconning it too, with no concern for consistency, either.