Death of Qui-Gon Jinn

“When he dies, it’s almost as if a major part of the galaxy has died too.”

The above quote is from a Qui-Gon Jinn essay I wish to recommend. Another reason I want to mention it here is that it inspired me to write my own short snippet below.

The link to the essay:

“The man is just full of great, truthful wisdom.”

***

One of the questions that doesn’t have an answer and that fans are free to interpret themselves is the question of whether Qui-Gon’s survival would have made a difference in Anakin’s life and/or in the events in the galaxy.

I believe both Qui-Gon’s actions in TPM and also his death had “a lasting impact on the entire Star Wars saga.”

Obviously, Qui-Gon could have become Anakin Skywalker’s Master. In this scenario, his death led to Anakin lacking an experienced Master and a true father figure, which in itself is a plausible explanation of his downfall.

But I think that’s only one way of looking at Qui-Gon.

I believe that any major Star Wars character is a fusion and interplay of at least two aspects and thus can be considered on at least two levels – personal and mythic. On the personal level, the characters are people. Ordinary or extraordinary, powerful or not so much, they are just people with their own thoughts and feelings, choices and mistakes.

On the mythic level, these characters are not people – they’re substitutions for something else, representations of various concepts and ideas. Some of their actions and events surrounding them become more consistent and understandable if you have an idea what these characters may symbolize. Because these actions and events can be linked to not the character as a person but to the character as a concept.

Qui-Gon is an adept of the Living Force, a maverick whose rebellious nature still doesn’t make him leave the Jedi Order. He’s wise and knowledgeable, not only in the ways of the Jedi arts but of life – he’s finely attuned to it, which gives him the ability to just fit in any place or situation. In the film, Qui-Gon Jinn represents skills and talents that Jedi Knights apparently possessed in previous generations and that almost died away by the time of Episode I.

When the Order lost Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, one of many Masters in its ranks, it might not have been a tragedy to the Jedi as a community.

When the Order lost such traits as the ability to use an unconventional approach, faith in the will of the Force, attention to the moment and so on – it proved disastrous and eventually led to its extinction, which we witnessed in Episode IV. In this sense, the death of Qui-Gon Jinn truly had a lasting impact on the events in the galaxy.

I love Qui-Gon; he’s one of my favorite characters. When I consider him as a person, I wish he had survived in TPM and experienced a few more years of joys and sorrows, struggles and triumphs. But when I consider him on the other level, his death actually adds to his appeal as a character, making him tightly interwoven with the fabric of the saga as a whole, making him even more pivotal.

In terms of the saga’s storyline, his death in TPM was inevitable. Among other things, it signified the fading of the Living Force in that world.

“When he dies, it’s almost as if a major part of the galaxy has died too.”

And it would be decades before Life would re-assert itself.

***

Many thanks to Helen and Merry for help and beta reading!

The Color Of The Phantom Menace

The Color Of The Phantom Menace (An Essay)

The Star Wars saga is about wars, obviously. It is also about everything else – viewed against the background of war.

I don’t like wars, but I adore the Star Wars saga because it’s also about peace. The ultimate goal of most major characters here is peace for their worlds, a galaxy without war as it was revealed to us in The Phantom Menace.

I love this galaxy! I love TPM for showing us how things were before everything was turned upside down, “before the dark times.” Episode 1 presents the universe as it was when the flow of life knew no restrictions, and the joy of life knew no inhibitions. A kind of innocence permeates the atmosphere, the kind that is a luxury for those who don’t know war. Virginity, naivete, youth, or just lack of artfulness are frequent themes here. Queen Amidala is “young and naive,” Obi-Wan Kenobi is often called a young apprentice, not to mention that TPM is the only Star Wars episode with a main character, Anakin Skywalker, in his childhood. And even older and wiser characters can be included in this list – Qui-Gon Jinn, for instance, a Jedi Master who can be playful, mischievous, and is ready to speak to a child as an equal.

I love Qui-Gon Jinn. I love Jedi, they’re my favorite part of the saga, and I love seeing what the Jedi Order was like in its full power; what the Jedi Knights were like when they were looked upon as what they should be – guardians of peace and justice. The subsequent episodes put their abilities as peacekeepers to the test, which they fail. But without Episode 1, we wouldn’t know what exactly they lose and what exactly they might find again.

For me, the image of The Phantom Menace galaxy adds greatly to the experience of watching the rest of the saga, because I know what the characters are striving for, and what they might gain in the end if they are victorious.

All of these things are why The Phantom Menace stands out among the rest of the episodes. It is a film that has sometimes been referred to as “not Star Wars,” and on the surface it is indeed not Star Wars – but only on the surface.

In AotC the Galactic War is fast-approaching. In TPM it’s still intangible, elusive, phantom – while undeniably present. The film ends with Qui-Gon’s death, which both symbolizes and signalizes that the time of peace has ended. This death is both a reason and a consequence of the imminent darkness. He was the first victim of it, in terms of the story, and his fate sealed the fate of the galaxy. At the very end we see Obi-Wan, Padme and Anakin and this shows us the beginning of the end. The saga will center around their lives. What Qui-Gon Jinn’s discovery and death has set into motion has begun for them.

The Phantom Menace is possibly the most accomplished Star Wars episode because it manages to tell us about a war while showing a world without it.

I’d say, to a degree, every Star Wars episode stands out – every one has its own prevailing color, its own quality. This, I believe, is the main reason why the saga is often separated into films, and it’s become a tradition to choose a favorite episode, as well as a least favorite one.

The colors of The Phantom Menace are sparkling rays of sun. In Attack of the Clones a half-transparent veil obscures everything, giving the episode a misty quality. It then gives way to the red, burning darkness of Revenge of the Sith that overwhelms the senses.

A night has fallen, so there has to be a dawn, and it comes in the fourth episode. The sandy grey color of A New Hope is that of life lying dormant in anticipation. This seed of hope bursts through in the next film The Empire Strikes Back, its color is lush greenness, the color of growth and development. Return of the Jedi has a blue and grey electrically charged quality that leads to the dramatic conclusion of the saga.

Will it be a long time until the galaxy heals its wounds? The films don’t tell us that. But they do give us the image of bright afternoon that precedes twilight and night, the memory of a summer that can sustain a person through the winter.

Note: Thanks to Helen for encouragement and helpful suggestions, and Merry Amelie for beta reading.

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