Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, Part II
I casually started pulling screengrabs for today’s entry the other day, and immediately the glee I felt while rewatching some of these scenes made it abundantly clear to me that I’d be having a good time writing this one up. Some of my VERY FAVORITE THINGS are covered in the portion of this film that we’ll be exploring today, which covers something like FIFTEEN ENTIRE MINUTES OF RUNTIME because THAT’S HOW MUCH I HAD TO SAY ABOUT IT.
Last time, on Going to the Desert to Pick Up a Skywalker Again: Princess Leia’s bio-dad had grounded her and so she’d been forced to jettison Artoo, Threepio, and those Death Star plans that like a LOT of people just got killed stealing (RIP ROGUE ONE) down to Tatooine without her in search of Obi-Wan “Very Sad and No Longer Ginger But Still Handsome” Kenobi. En route to Chez Kenobi, the droids had wound up getting taken in by Sweet Perfect Kind Farmboy Luke Skywalker, who much like his dad had a lot of very angsty feelings about living in the desert. When we left off, Artoo had just pulled one of his patented scams and Luke was off to dinner with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, who we will soon discover are terrible at coming up with cover stories even when they have had LITERALLY NINETEEN YEARS TO CONSTRUCT THEM.
Not to worry! Luke is also going to track down everyone’s favorite hermit in this installment, and I’m sure that guy’s going to be telling him the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Oh, hold on — wh-what’s that, your highness?
Oh, right. Well, as usual, the Duchess of Mandalore is not wrong. Sorry, Luke! I’m afraid that, in lieu of giving you all the juicy details, Obi-Wan is instead going to set you up for a Dramatic and Shocking Plot Twist Reveal, to take place in the next movie on a platform suspended over a giant abyss while the wind whips your hair around and Anakin does a bunch of yelling while clenching his fist. Really: would we expect anything less from those two? Of course not. Hell, knowing those two assholes they probably planned it out this way via text message in advance because they agreed it would be WAY more climactic and emotional to set you up like this.
OK, we’re late for dinner time at the Lars Homestead — let’s pull up a chair and enjoy.
Guess Who’s Getting Namedropped At Dinner
Luke sits down to eat with Owen and Beru and their Famous Blue Milk and frets to Owen that he thinks the R2 unit they just bought might be stolen property. NO — some guys who essentially sold you shit out of the trunk of their car, haggled with you, and then drove off into the night might be trafficking in hot merchandise? GET OUTTA HERE. Luke, you are such a savvy consumer.
Owen asks him why he thinks that, and Luke is like “well, he says he’s the property of this Obi-Wan Kenobi guy?” and OH MY GOD HAHAHA, the look Beru gives Owen is AMAZING. Nice poker face!
Owen barely makes eye contact with her, and then studiously avoids looking at Luke much at all. Luke muses: I wonder if he meant Old Ben Kenobi? Or maybe Old Ben knows this Obi-Wan guy? Do you know anything about Obi-Wan Kenobi, Uncle Owen??
OK. I need to sort of break down this part of the conversation for you all because it has been making me laugh for, oh, multiple decades.
- Owen, in response to Luke’s mention of Old Ben, tells Luke that that “wizard” is “just a crazy old man now”. Well, that’s not very nice, Owen! He also used to have one of the greatest heads of hair in the galaxy, thank you very much! He tells Luke to take the droids to get their memories wiped tomorrow — they’re ours now, kid. End of story.
- Luke replies by wondering, sweetly, about what would happen if this Obi-Wan Kenobi guy comes looking for his robot?
- Owen tells him that he doesn’t think Obi-Wan Kenobi exists anymore, and that he’s pretty sure that guy died at the same time as Luke’s dad. ALL RIGHT: so five seconds ago Owen did not mention having known this Obi-Wan Kenobi guy, but now he apparently not only knows who he is, but he also knows he’s dead? And that he died at the same time as Luke’s dad? OWEN THIS MIGHT BE THE CRAPPIEST LIE EVER TOLD IN STAR WARS, AND THAT IS A HIGH BAR TO CLEAR.
- What is Owen trying to get Luke to believe here? That Obi-Wan Kenobi (whose name sounds a LOT LIKE A GUY THEY ALL KNOW,) is a different person than Ben Kenobi, and Owen also knew him, but he just never happened to mention this ever before? And that this random allegedly dead guy that Owen knew owned a droid who now mysteriously has ended up in their possession? AND THIS DEAD GUY MAYBE KNEW LUKE’S DAD AND LUKE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO FIND ANY OF THIS SHADY?
- (Also, really, was it necessary to throw in that whole “he died at the same time as your father” thing? I KNOW IT’S TRUE BECAUSE THAT’S WHEN OBI-WAN’S HEART DIED, OWEN, BUT YOU DIDN’T NEED TO SAY IT.)
- Luke’s ears perk up at the mention of his dad (aaaaaggghhhh, feelings): wait, this Obi-Wan guy knew my dad?!
- Owen shuts him down: we’re done talking about this. SURE: that’ll put Luke’s concerns to rest! Nothing says “nothing to see here” like making a freaked-out face, getting annoyed, coming up with the World’s Worst Cover Story, and then refusing to answer any further questions.
- Finally, Owen, I know you are not long for this world here, but in general, if you’re expecting a Skywalker to stop talking about Obi-Wan Kenobi, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.
Recurring Theme: You Cannot Deny The Truth That Is Your Fucked-Up Family
Luke and Owen now move on to arguing about whether or not Luke should be allowed to leave the farm and join the Academy for Dorky Space Pilots like his genes are clearly compelling him to. Owen tells him he needs Luke for just one more season and Luke is like aaaaaaaagggghhh I hate it here all my friends are gone and WOE IS ME and he storms off. Beru asks where he’s going and he sighs: NOWHERE, apparently! Aww, Luke. Hang in there buddy. Someday you’ll be living the, er, dream out on Planet Ireland.
Beru looks at Owen: Luke isn’t meant to be a farmer, Owen, you know that. He’s too much like that guy we met that one time who was super dramatic and showed up with that woman who literally wore haute couture in the fucking desert. Owen frowns: that’s what he’s afraid of. I have to tell you: this line SUCKED ME IN on my first viewing. I was like WAIT WHAT GIVE ME ALL THE GOSSIP. I sensed that Tragic Backstory was in the offing, and even at age 6, I wanted in.
Recurring Theme: Wistful Sunset Gazing
Oh man, how much do I love how many of our Recurring Themes got introduced in this film? *sigh* Luke, having marched off to go pout about his boring, sandy life, heads outside to pose in front of a sunset while looking wistful as the Force Theme plays. Ladies and gentlemen: Luke Skywalker IS Star Wars. God help me, I pledge myself to the teachings of both George Lucas and John Williams for this scene alone. YOU GUYS: George Lucas kinda just put this scene in there FOR THE HELL OF IT. There is no dialogue, it’s not even very long — he put it in there JUST TO SHOW US HOW FULL OF FEELINGS LUKE IS ABOUT STUFF AND HE SET IT IN FRONT OF A DRAMATIC SUNSET WHILE THE MOST DRAMATIC COMPOSER EVER PLAYED A FORLORN HEROIC THEME SONG. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that George takes a lot of shit from people, so occasionally I feel compelled to point out that THIS IS THE MAN WHO INVENTED WISTFUL STAR WARS SUNSET GAZING. This contribution to American cinema on its own qualifies him for possible sainthood, OK? CUT THE MAN SOME SLACK.
Luke Skywalker, Duped By a Droid
Luke goes back into the…garage? I don’t know. That same room where Anakin’s meltdown was and where 19-year-old Luke was playing with a toy spaceship before. And I will note right now that this room is very dimly-lit. Ahem. Luke’s gonna fit right in with the Jedi.
Threepio is cowering in the room: don’t deactivate me sir! It was all Artoo’s fault! Yes, to the surprise of zero people, Artoo has taken off into the night in search of Obi-Wan. Honestly: little buddy, I get it! I want to get to the Obi-Wan part of this adventure as much as as — nay, more than — you do, but it’s not safe out there in the dark! Luke is like OH GREAT and heads outside to look through some binoculars:
The music in this scene can be best described as “heartwarming episode of a 1970’s sitcom”, which I find delightful.
Luke can’t see Artoo anywhere, and laments to himself, “how could I be so stupid?” and…well, I’m just gonna bite my tongue here. It’s not entirely your fault though, Luke. You can’t deny the truth that is your family, honey. He punctuates this thought with “Blast!”, which is the most hilarious thing for a 19-year-old FARMER from the ass end of space to be saying. I LOVE THIS.
Luke announces that they’ll have to wait until morning to go look for Artoo, and so here we get the first of several indications that while Luke may occasionally be a dope, he is MILES AHEAD of his father and possibly even his mother in general level-headedness. Anakin and Padme would probably have been like “LET’S GET A POSSE TOGETHER! I’ll bring the bombs, you bring a bunch of Jedi. WE RIDE THROUGH THE NIGHT TO SAVE OUR ROBOT, DAMN IT! I DON’T CARE IF WE LOSE 100 MEN! ONWARD!”
Owen tells Luke that he’s shutting down the power. Luke grouses to himself that he’s “gonna get it” tomorrow from his uncle for losing Artoo. So, Luke is a nineteen-year-old man who has a set bedtime? And Owen’s going to punish him? What is Owen gonna do to him, ground him? Dock his allowance? Take his toy spaceship away? Luke is in a really weird place, maturity-wise, in this movie.
Recurring Theme: Fateful Mission
It’s the next morning now and Owen’s looking for Luke, who Beru says has already gone out with the droids. Owen gripes that Luke better have a whole bunch of chores done blahblahblah or “there’ll be hell to pay” and just COME ON Owen. I get it: you got stuck with all this against your will. But really, stop being an ass.
Luke and Threepio are out in the family sedan, hunting down Artoo. They catch up with him, as some Tuskens (DUN DUN DUUUUUN!) creep around in the shadows with their banthas and let me just say that I cannot see any bantha-related material now without thinking about Obi-Wan’s “family” here on Tatooine and I die a little every time.
Threepio scolds Artoo again: Luke is your rightful owner now! We’ll have no more of this Obi-Wan Kenobi gibberish! and I AM SORRY, THREEPS, but I’m afraid I can’t allow that.
Recurring Theme: Luke Skywalker, From a Long Line of Reckless Hotheads
As they’re discussing all of this, Artoo starts freaking out because he’s picked up that the sand people are on their trail. Luke, no joke, is like “OH NO IT’S THE SAND PEOPLE. WELP, LET’S GO TAKE A LOOK!” LUKE. FFS. (Of course, the eventual resolution to this sequence is even funnier when you consider that they get into this mess partially because Luke is pretty much just like “Hey cool; something that could kill us! Let’s go check it out!”)
So while Luke is on his ill-advised recon mission here, one of the Tuskens shows up and starts wailing on him. Oh no! A Skywalker is in trouble because they did something kiiiinda a little bit stupid! If only someone with extensive prior experience in this field would show up and save the day!
Artoo is hiding in a cave as the Tuskens dump Luke’s unconscious body on the ground and start rifling through his stuff. The sounds of the tussle are echoing off the nearby rock walls…and that’s when help arrives, yelling and throwing its arms around dramatically.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Skywalker-Saver
AHHHHH. *bounces in my seat* We now begin my FAVORITE PART of one of my FAVORITE MOVIES as one of my FAVORITE CHARACTERS meets up with my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE CHARACTER. Eeeee.
A strange figure who looks like he’s just checked out from a shift brewing weissbier at the monastery scares off the Tuskens, and then kneels over Luke and touches his forehead. All hail nerdy callbackery!
AND ARTOO. I can’t handle Artoo in this scene. He kind of shifts nervously back and forth all isithim isithim isithim???!! And I’m like YES IT IS IT’S HIM LITTLE BUDDY.
It’s OBI-WAN! Oh, happy day. Older and grayer and with his handsome now provided to us in the form of Alec Guinness, but still our favorite sad space dad nonetheless. He greets Artoo (“Hello there!”), and I die, not for the last time in this scene.
I love that Obi-Wan reassures Artoo that Luke will be all right in this totally casual “another day, another near-Skywalker death” tone of voice (and really, if the comics are any indication, Luke almost dies pretty much every single time Obi-Wan sees him, so it probably is just another day in the desert for him.)
Recurring Theme: George Lucas YOU MONSTER
Obi-Wan helps rouse Luke back to consciousness, and then tells him to take it easy: he’s fortunate to be all in one piece! LOL OMFG THIS IS TERRIBLE and the best part is that George Lucas somehow accidentally set HIMSELF up to have this line be HILARIOUSLY MORBID by writing the rest of the saga. Yes, Luke: you ARE lucky to be all in one piece. This guy of all people would know, considering half the people he interacts with walk away in need of robotic limbs.
Luke squints: Ben? Ben Kenobi?! Boy, am I glad to see you! ME TOO, LUKE. SAME.
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Can Tell He’s In For a Bad Time
Obi-Wan asks Luke: so, what the hell are you doing out here cheating death this time? Luke gestures at Artoo: this little droid! AND OH MY FUCKING GOD, YOU GUYS: Obi-Wan’s FACE WHEN HE LOOKS MORE CLOSELY AT ARTOO. I cannot get over how well some of these things click together given how much time it took them to complete the first 6 films, and given that when this movie was made they probably didn’t assume it would become a Big Huge Thing that would eventually involve eons of backstory.
Obi-Wan…looks, well, let’s say he looks like he’s figuring a few things out:
Luke is like “this robot keeps looking for his former master; I’ve never seen this kind of devotion in a droid before!” At this, Artoo makes this cute little noise like he’s saying “well…yeah…” AWWWWW. Oh my God, someone send help. I will never get through all of this. I am going to die of Star Wars Feelings first.
When The Time Is Right
Luke continues: he claims to be the property of an Obi-Wan Kenobi. I love that Obi-Wan has the same facial reaction to hearing his own name that BERU did before:
Obi-Wan freaks out a little more, slowly sitting down while my heart explodes. Luke asks: is he a relative of yours? Obi-Wan says calmly: Obi-Wan Kenobi? Huh. How about that.
I need to mention that Alec Guinness is maybe 80-90% of the reason I am here writing this blog today. He is AMAZING in this role. I love him, I love this character, and he was perfect. On my first viewing, I did not know who this sad old man was but 30 seconds into his screen time I already loved him. His face goes through multiple Stages of Grief as he settles into this conversation.
Luke says that he thinks Owen knows Obi-Wan, but Owen said he was dead. Obi-Wan instantly clarifies that Obi-Wan Kenobi is not dead…”not yet“, and he looks up with this expression of total exasperation because God knows SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE TRIED TO KILL HIM as he says this AND I CAN’T LOVE THIS MAN ANY MORE:
Luke is like “so…you know him?” and Obi-Wan declares: Of course! He’s me! It is I, Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Saddest Man in the Universe!
Artoo dances back and forth at this all I KNEW IT and awwww. Just…awww.
Obi-Wan continues: I haven’t heard that name since before you were born, except not entirely since this is a minor continuity error and/or I sort of forgot because what the hell, either way it has been a long-ass time! Also I’m going to presume Maul didn’t say my first name when he swung by a couple years ago to get his ass kicked, but I guess we’ll see because that episode of Rebels hasn’t aired yet!
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Super Tired
Luke is like “well, great! So this IS your droid!” and Obi-Wan makes this…very tired face, like…I can’t even describe it, and says, “I don’t seem to remember owning a droid” and Artoo kind of shifts around in response. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that this is because he wasn’t Obi-Wan’s droid and they BOTH KNOW IT AND THAT THE LAST TIME THEY REALLY HUNG OUT IT WAS ON MUSTAFAR AFTER ALL THAT STUFF HAPPENED.
Obi-Wan remarks that they should get inside before the Tuskens come back. They discover that Threepio’s gotten his arm ripped off, and go to help him up. Threepio, being one of the more dramatic Skywalkers, laments that he’s done for and LOL @ Obi-Wan’s face. This guy has to be thinking “OH GOD THIS DROID’S HERE TOO BECAUSE OF COURSE.”
The whole group of them set off to head to Obi-Wan’s house for some more exposition, and to get out of this heat.
Recurring Theme: Old Man Tells a Crazy Story
Inside, Obi-Wan and Luke get into a light, easy subject of afternoon conversation: Anakin Skywalker. It had been almost 5 whole minutes without the saga dumping some Kenobi Pathos on us, after all. The scene opens with Luke explaining to Obi-Wan that no, his dad was no war hero – he was just Some Guy From Tatooine Who Died. Obi-Wan wastes no time correcting what Luke’s uncle’s told him, telling Luke outright that his dad was a great guy, a hero…
Luke is entranced: hold up, you knew my dad? Wait, war hero? Were you involved in the Crazy Clone Wars, Crazy Old Man?
Obi-Wan sets off on his recounting of the Condensed and Heavily Edited Version of Things and explains that yes, he and Luke’s dad were both Jedi Knights and that they fought in the Clone Wars, but regrettably Obi-Wan leaves out all the important stuff like getting “drugged” by pirates/just getting drunk with Anakin and then blaming it on pirates, and hunting for Ziro the Hutt, and that time that he launched Anakin clear across the sky so he could duel Count Dooku and also that one time that Anakin asked him about his sexual past with the Duchess of Mandalore and…OK, fine, I digress. I’m just saying: the Clone Wars ended up being SO MUCH FUNNIER THAN THIS MOVIE EVER LED ME TO BELIEVE THEY COULD BE. So much of Star Wars ended up being SO MUCH MORE AMUSING than I could have EVER imagined when I was going off of this movie alone. I love it.
Recurring Theme: The Unbearable Sadness of Obi-Wan
Luke sadly says that he wishes he’d known his dad (OH WHY STAR WARS.) Obi-Wan leans back and says that Luke’s dad was a gifted pilot and a heroic warrior, before adding in the MOST RUEFUL VOICE EVER that his dad was also a good friend and then my heart snaps in half because God, Obi-Wan’s life is terrible and I cannot handle Obi-Wan and Anakin’s tragic love even a little bit.
Recurring Theme: This Weapon Is Your Tragic, Sorrow and Dismemberment-Filled Life
Obi-Wan stands up and walks over to a trunk: he has something for Luke! It’s Anakin’s lightsaber, which he explains that Luke’s dad always wanted Luke to have. This is a line that gets called out as a continuity error a lot, but I actually like it a lot as is. Obi-Wan has had 19 YEARS to think over what he was going to say to Luke about this handoff. I like to think the words he chose, he chose because in his own heart, it’s what he feels or hopes Anakin would have wanted, if Anakin had only “lived” long enough to convey that. I think he feels that the person he loved would have wanted his son to fight for the good in the world. I’m sorry to get so Real with you all in a recap that is largely supposed to be ridiculous but COME ON. This is like Grade-A Premium Star Wars Angst Content here.
Naturally, Luke immediately almost kills both himself and Obi-Wan with the lightsaber by swinging it around without any prior training while inside of Obi-Wan’s tiny house. Wouldn’t that have been some ending to the saga.
Obi-Wan goes on about how much better lightsabers are than blasters because this is something that is evidently VERY IMPORTANT TO HIM, and notes that the Jedi protected the Republic before everything went to hell. Poor Obi-Wan. He looks traumatized just telling Luke THIS MUCH of the story. And he’s skipping over all the worst parts!
Recurring Theme: The Really Unbearable Sadness of Obi-Wan
Luke, clearly fascinated and sensing that he is about to get information he’s needed for a long time, asks Obi-Wan how his father died.
Alec Guinness does so very, very much with this scene in such a short few lines. His face totally changes at this question. He explains, carefully, that a former student of his – Darth Vader – turned to evil, and conspired with the Empire to hunt down and exterminate the Jedi. This guy, Darth Vader, betrayed and murdered Luke’s dad. And then the halves of my heart shatter into tiny fragments, because even though I KNOW this scene wasn’t written to explicitly be in the story it is in now, that is the single saddest and most poetic way to NOT tell Luke the truth while still absolutely telling him the truth. Oh Anakin and Obi-Wan. I JUST WANT YOUR FORCE GHOSTS TO BE HAPPY, DAMN IT.
This scene had such an impact on Young Me from the first time I watched it. I didn’t really know who this old guy was, but I already loved him so much, and I was so sad for him and I knew whatever he was talking about, it must have been bad. (Then later I found out how bad it was — BAD. VERY VERY BAD.) I didn’t know what the deal was with this Vader guy, but I wanted them to go crush him because he seemed like an asshole.
That betrayed and murdered line, and the way it was said, and Luke’s face after hearing it really stuck with me. Thus began my lifelong affinity for this pompous bearded Jedi and his terribly sad life story.
OH MY GOD I AM SO SORRY THIS RECAP IS GETTING SO LONG. OK: so then Kenobi blathers on a little bit more about how the Force gives a Jedi his power because evidently Luke’s never heard of it. The best part of this is that Luke looks kind of like “Uh, OK…sure Old Ben…” while he’s going on and on about energy fields and whatever.
Finally Artoo, over in the corner, is like HELLO REMEMBER ME?! I HAVE A TOP SECRET MESSAGE? CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ON FROM YOUR DEPRESSING STORY KENOBES?!
Recurring Theme: Thanks For the Heartbreak, Star Wars
Yeah, we’re not going to be wrapping this one up that easily: so Obi-Wan walks over to Artoo and Leia’s message, in full this time, starts playing. Please understand the many ways in which this destroys me:
- She addresses him as “General Kenobi”
- She mentions Bail Organa, who has sent her to deliver this message
- Artoo is playing this message
- Luke brought him here
- LOOK AT OBI-WAN’S FACE WHEN HE SEES LEIA YOU GUYS. LOOK AT IT. WALLOW IN THE FEELINGS WITH ME.
So, no big. Anakin’s pet droids just showed up with his and Padme’s son to deliver a message from their daughter on behalf of one of Obi-Wan’s dear friends. Everything’s fine. I’m fine.
Anyways, Leia is like “Dear Obes Kenobes: please take Artoo to Alderaan, thanks. I can’t give you this message myself, because your ex-boyfriend is a melodramatic jackass and has taken me prisoner. Sincerely, Leia.”
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Sly Crafty Bastard
Obi-Wan sits back and considers his options. And then he looks sideways at Luke and gets this “I am totally up to something” face and…hahahaha. OK, so, Obi-Wan is sad and broken but he also seems legitimately kind of jazzed about finally having something real to do other than save Luke from the sand people or pirates over and over and over.
He smirks (yes he does because Obi-Wan HAS LITERALLY ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THIS): you should become a Jedi, Luke! And come with me to Alderaan and help this girl with me!
Recurring Theme: His Whiny Legacy Lives On
Luke immediately goes into Full Skywalker Mode and starts whining at him about how he caaaaan’t leave the farm! He’d LIKE to help, mister, hooooonest, but he caaaaaan’t. He offers to give him a lift to elsewhere on Tattooine so he can get off the planet, but he’s not coming with him. He just caaaaan’t! Now, note that I’m not holding his objection itself against Luke – it’s sweet that he wants to uphold his commitment to his family and Luke is clearly one of the Best Ones – but still. I’m laughing.
Obi-Wan, who is no doubt suppressing an episode of full-blown Skywalker-Related PTSD right now, at first looks like he’s trying to avoid either having a stroke or lecturing him (old habits do die hard), then calmly and wise-old-man-ly says OK, Luke, you do what you feel is right. Hey, I guess Obi-Wan must have read a book about parenting difficult teenagers during his time in exile, huh? Unspoken, of course, is Obi-Wan’s internal monologue, which I assume has some interesting language in it. He looks a bit peeved, and the scene ends…
…and so does today’s recap! Next time, on Luke Skywalker’s Nerdy Hero’s Journey, the Empire has a meeting, Anakin doesn’t like it when people shit-talk the Force even though GOD KNOWS it hasn’t really done much for him or anyone, and Luke and Obi-Wan get into what is possibly not even their first bar fight ever.