God at the movies: Star Wars – A New Hope, Neston, 17th May
We explored the overlap between faith and one of the world’s largest film franchises,with additional atmosphere provided by a family of Wookies and their Stormtrooper guards from www.corshamscifi.co.uk! They told me it’s definitely the oddest setting that they’ve watched the film in – with stained glass peeking over the top of the screen. And apologies to anybody who wasn’t expecting to find a headless Chewbacca wandering around our churchyard in near darkness – he was trying to cool down!
Scroll down below the pictures to read Steve’s introduction to the film or download the audience’s notes
Pictures by Tash Wilkinson
Text of Steve’s commentary:
Star Wars wasn’t written as a parallel of the Christian story, and the links I’m making are my own. Like many illustrations some of the parallels break down after a while, so don’t go asking me where the R2D2 and Threepio characters are in the Bible story!
Released in 1977, Star Wars rapidly established itself as a classic, with its stunning special effects. The opening scene where Leia’s diplomatic cruiser is pursued by the Imperial Star destroyer serves to underline the relative power of the Rebels and the Empire. The Star Destroyer flies in from behind you and seems to go on for ever – such is the apparent dominance of the Empire. In our lives sometimes it can seem that – in the words of C3PO ‘we’re doomed’ – one tiny little person against the world.
The subtitle of the film – A New Hope – gives us a hint that all is not lost. George Lucas had a masterplan for a series of nine films, but in this first one, (Episode IV!), we don’t have the backstory, and we don’t know where it is going to.
And that’s where we start to get overlaps with Christianity. You may be familiar with, or at least aware, of Jesus Christ. A man whom Christians believe to be their figure of hope. A man whose existence and life had been predicted by prophecy for millenia. A man who came to save God’s people from their imperfect humanity. Jesus Christ came to a world where rebellion against God and his way of living is standard practice. And then it got interesting. Jesus taught his disciples for three years how to live life by God’s standards, and then to fulfil the prophecies, and his Father God’s plan, he sacrificed himself on a cross and died. His followers thought it was all over. But three days later he came back to life and appeared to them. They recognised that only God could do this, and if they had any doubts up to this point, they now recognised that Jesus truly was God himself. He gave them his power, through another part of his being, called the Holy Spirit, and his former pupils could now heal the sick and perform miracles in his name.
The parallels with parts of the Star Wars story are there. There are several figures of hope in this film, but the obvious Christ figure is Obiwan Kenobi – ”Help me Obiwan Kenobi, you’re my only hope”. At one point he says “Darth, if you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you could ever imagine”. That line of Obiwan’s is probably what Jesus was thinking when he stood before Pontius Pilate and the death sentence was passed on him: “Pilate, if you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you could ever imagine”.
Watch out for Obiwan’s self sacrifice at the hands of Vader, watch out for him looking at Luke, knowing that this is the moment that he must hand over to his trusted pupil. And then later, in the battle over the Death Star, when the pressure is on, Luke hears the familiar voice, reminding him to trust in ‘the Force’ which will enable him to do what he needs to do.
Two thousand years after his death, the man who was executed to silence him continues to influence the lives of billions of people who put their trust in him.
George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, once said this: The overriding philosophy in … all the Star Wars movies … is the balance between good and evil. The Force itself breaks into two sides: the living Force and a greater, cosmic Force. The living Force makes you sensitive to other living things, makes you intuitive, and allows you to read other people’s minds, et cetera. But the greater Force has to do with destiny. In working with the Force, you can find your destiny and you can choose to either follow it, or not.”
We have a choice too. We can choose to live life our way, or we can put our trust in Jesus Christ, and choose to follow him, and receive his Spirit, which will allow us to cope with the challenges that life throws at us. As Jesus knew his end was coming he put his trust in his Father God to know that what he is about to do is right for God’s plan, just as Luke totally puts his trust in the Force to guide him to success in his mission.
Enjoy the film. And may God’s Force be with you, always!