The Last Jedi symbolism

The Symbolism in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Many of us at Digital Fox have lots of problems with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

No one can deny that at times, The Last Jedi was actually pretty deep. And that’s why today we’re going to be exploring the symbolism in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Having seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi earlier last week, I can’t help being disappointed. The main thing I’ve been telling everyone is that the movie was okay. But because it was okay, it was bad.

I just expected so much more from a Star Wars film, and ultimately, I felt let down. Hell at times, I was even bored, and surprised by how long the movie was dragged out. The fact that I was actually waiting for a Star Wars film to end is not a good sign. And the fact that I needed to pee for the last hour did not impact that decision dammit.

In any case, that’s not what this article is about. This article is about going into depth the symbolism in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which I believe can provide us with some clues about the trilogy’s future.

Also, I’m not holding back from spoiling the film, so only read this once you’ve gone and seen it!

Walking on Salt

the symbolism behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Whoever’s in charge of cinematography for The Last Jedi deserves an Oscar. Source: Lucasfilm

Do you all remember the final confrontation between Kylo and Luke during the Battle of Crait? During the lead up to their actual confrontation, director Rian Johnson makes a point to focus on their feet. Specifically, we see that as Kylo walks on the while salty surface of the planet, he leaves a trail of red tracks. On the other hand, Luke doesn’t seem to leave any tracks at all. In fact, wherever Luke walks, the environment seems to remain undisturbed.

And this symbolism serves several purposes. Firstly, it’s a reflection of both of their characters in the film; Luke remaining passive, while Kylo being totally unconcerned by the damage he inflicts in his quest for power. Secondly it shows their affiliations with the Force. Luke leaving no trace of his existence, is almost setting himself up to be united with the Force (which he does by film’s end). For Kylo, it appears that he has perhaps gone further down into the Dark Side than ever before.

This metaphorical play on the paths that Luke and Kylo lead perfectly sets up the next film. Showing us that who is the true villain of the series, and perhaps that Luke will lead an existence much like his former master, Obi-Wan.

Interestingly, this scene also fills in a potential plot hole. If Luke had been really there, fan-persons would be crying “well how come Luke didn’t leave any prints on Crait?!” Having Luke project his astral form to Crait means that he wasn’t actually there at all.

So yeah, that should have been the first clue hinting that Luke wasn’t on Crait. The other being the impossibility of him getting into the Rebel base. And how did he even know that they were on Crait? DAMMIT RIAN, GIVE ME SOME ANSWERS.

Luke and the Twin Sunset

the symbolism behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I honestly can’t think of a better send of for Luke. Source: Lucasfilm

Immediately following on from this conflict, we are met with the end Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi. In his final moments on the planet Ahch-To, Luke gazes at the setting suns where we hear John Williams’ ‘The Force Theme’ playing in the background. Wait… suns? There’s only been one sun on this planet?

But never fear fans who fear about plot inconsistencies! This was very much intended. At least I think so. And everyone else should think so once they hear me out.

During A New Hope, just before Luke is thrust into his hero’s journey; of finding old Ben-Kenobi, and learning that his father was a Jedi, all that good jazz, Luke was gazing at the twin sunset on his home planet Tatooine, where we as fans heard John Williams iconic thing for the first. Also, on a side note, I am genuinely surprised that Microsoft Word isn’t calling me out on Tatooine being a made up word.

Anywho, that entire scene in A New Hope is quite literally the beginning of Luke’s journey. It’s an iconic moment in the Star Wars franchise, and dare I say it, cinema. It’s only too fitting that Luke’s final moments be spent seeing a twin sunset, bringing his final arc full circle. Shut up, I’m not crying, you’re crying!

The Burning Tree

the symbolism behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Now imagine this… but on fire! Source: Lucasfilm

Now let me take you back to a time where Luke was about to burn the last/first Jedi texts. Before he’s about to commit this cultural crime, force-ghost Yoda comes in and shouts “lol, look at them books burn.”

In case you couldn’t tell, Yoda did not say that. Regardless, Yoda does the deed of burning down the entire tree housing the books, which really makes Luke’s goal to be the Last Jedi pointless. Let’s be real if Luke was really keen on being the Last Jedi, he would’ve burned those books years ago. But I ramble.

What stood out to me in this scene was the obvious comparison to the Burning Bush in the Old Testament. In Chapter three of Exodus, Moses comes across the famous burning bush, where he essentially converses with God for the first time. God instructs Moses to liberate the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and lead them to the land of Milk and Honey (Canaan). Fast forwarding quite a fair bit, while Moses did succeed in liberating the Israelites from slavery, he was not able to take them into Canaan.

Now stay with me, because this isn’t some elaborate ploy to indoctrinate Judeo-Christian theology. But how does all this relate to Star Wars? Well let’s compare Luke to Moses for the first part. Luke, when we see him in The Last Jedi is nearly as isolated from his home as Moses is when he meets God for the first time. And Luke, much like Moses, receives the ‘word’ from a power beyond life as we know it about where he stands in the universe, and what he must do. And what Luke must do is reignite the hope of the people living under the First Order’s tyrannical rule.

What does that imply for Star Wars Episode IX?

the symbolism behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi
This literally has nothing to do with the future of Star Wars. Just thought it was a hella cool image. Source: Lucasfilm

So the way I see it, it seems that director Rian Johnson is pegging those living under the First Order as biblical Israelites, and their land of Milk and Honey being liberation from the First Order.

But I mentioned previously that Moses was not the one who lead the Israelites into Canaan. His Right Hand Man (Alexander Hamilton plays in the distance) Joshua, is actually the one to carry on his legacy. But who is Joshua in Star Wars? Well if we’re looking for a person, that’d have to be Rey. She’s Luke’s successor, and is definitely The Last Jedi who’d be able to carry on his legacy.

But while Rey would be an excellent choice of a symbolic leader for the Resistance, much like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, it makes more sense that the Resistance itself would be our Joshua. And that just makes a lot of sense. With Carrie Fisher (General Leia) passing away only this year, the third instalment in the trilogy will need a new leader. And would you just look at that? Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has had some pretty solid character development. Making him the ideal candidate of being THE Resistance Leader in the final instalment of this trilogy.

Or I could have read into this way too much and the burning tree was just a burning tree.

The Trilogy is really about Rey

the symbolism behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi
How cool is Rey though?

Coming out of The Force Awakens, everyone was in consensus that the film was about Rey. Quite literally, it was about the Force awakening in her. Now taking the entirety of film into perspective, I believe that The Last Jedi is also about Rey. While the trailers indicated that the last Jedi was referencing Luke, I believe the semantics of the word ‘last’ shifts the interpretation regarding the identity of the film’s true protagonist.

If we consider the word ‘last’ as in ‘end’, then obviously Luke is the last Jedi. It was set up from the trailer that he would be the last Jedi when he says ‘It’s time for the Jedi to end’. And boy was that compounded like there was no tomorrow during the ENTIRETY of the film.

But if we consider the word ‘last’ as being, the ‘last remaining’, then the identity of the true protagonist is Rey. Now many people will claim that Rey is not a full-fledged Jedi, but that’s a different article entirely. Rey is quite literally the last remaining Jedi standing. Everyone else is gone. Except for that one kid at the end of the film who was able to use the Force to get a broom – how cute though.

And with that interpretation in mind, not only is it clear that the film centres around Rey, just as much as The Force Awakens does, but it indicates something else. And that is that we can infer the fate of the last film based on its title. But for that we’ll just have to wait and see.

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