Movies (Part 2)

“Why?”  There is no “Why”!!

Star Wars


“What does Yoda’s statement to Skywalker mean?”

I asked the class.

We had just seen a video clip from the movie The Empire Strikes Back.

“Skywalker wants to know a reason for what is happening,” one young voice proclaimed.

“Yeah.  ‘Why?’ is a question of purpose,” another astutely observed.

I smiled.  The students were beginning to understand.

Star Wars LUCAS“You mean,” I pressed the issue, “George Lucas who directed this film was telling us his story, his belief?”

Heads around the room nodded up and down.

We should write Mr. Lucas a letter,” Dave offered.  “We should ask him what he believes.  Maybe he would tell us how his belief became the basis for his film.”

So we did.  We wrote to Mr. Lucas.  We received a very nice reply from his assistant.  She told us that Mr. Lucas does not discuss his beliefs.  She thanked us for our inquiry and hoped we would continue to enjoy the Star Wars movies.

We waited 10 years to hear the answer.  In the April 26, 1999 issue of TIME magazine, Bill Moyers interviewed George Lucas. Not one of my students, former or current, were surprised by the answers Lucas gave to Moyers.

LUCAS: I think it’s important to have a belief system and to have faith.Star Wars TIME

MOYERS: Some people have traced the notion of the Force to Eastern view of God–particularly Buddhist–as a vast reservoir of energy that is the ground of all our being.  Was that [a] conscious [decision]?

LUCAS: I guess it’s more specific in Buddhism . . . When I wrote the first Star Wars, I had to come up with a whole cosmology: What do people believe in?

MOYERS: Is Star Wars  your spiritual quest?

LUCAS: Part of what I do when I write is ponder a lot of these issues . . . some of the conclusions I use in the films . . . “Trust your feelings” is my way into understanding the universe. [1]

Star Wars Father“Trust your feelings” is what Luke’s father tells him to do.  With feelings there is no reason, there is no “why?”

My students had been right.  “Buddhism” was the answer my students gave to my original question.  We had been studying what other people believed about life, belief, and story.  None of us, then or now, is surprised.

Everyone’s view of life comes out in their story, their statement of belief.  Our culture loves its beliefs wrapped in celluloid stories.

God communicates His Story in stories.  In fact, the Christian narrative runs from “once upon a time” to “happily ever after.” The Bible is the origin of all epic tales from the past.  Stories have the same elements as God’s First Story:

  • Good-EvilLOTR Return of the King
  • Lost-Found
  • Road-Destination
  • Despair-Hope
  • Acceptance-Rejection
  • Beginning-End

Fee and Stuart answer Lucas

The Bible is God’s Story—a story that is utterly true, crucially important, and often complex.  It is a magnificent story, grander than the greatest epic, richer in plot and more significant in it characters and descriptions than any humanly composed story could ever be. [2]
Stories and story writers are the key to every movie.  Mark loves to study them all.  Dr. Mark Eckel has been using films since the 1980’s to teach Christian Life and World Studies.
[1] Bill Moyers interviews George Lucas, TIME 26 April 1999.
[2]Fee and Stuart. 1982. How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth (Zondervan)


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One comment

  1. It wasn’t until I started reading your blog last year that I began to analyze movies a little more and think more in depth about them. Since then, I still enjoy a silly movie every now and then, but movies I really enjoyed in middle/high school I’ve realized are completely and utterly ridiculous and filled with nonsense and things that shouldn’t be in my head. So thank you for the blog posts about this!

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