New Book Out: Star Wars Scene-by-Scene by John David Ebert

star wars

This book can be ordered on Amazon at—Scene-David-Ebert/dp/1514680572/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1435736022&sr=8-7&keywords=john+david+ebert


by John David Ebert:

“The Capture of the Droids”

(8:48 – 15:10)



A shot of the Imperial Star Destroyer drifting over the desert planet of Tatooine, laced with silvery-blue striations, then follows, giving the viewer a basic vector: from above downwards. These are spirit beings which have fallen to earth and they have escaped from the spiritually masculine order of Father Right.

Down on the ground below, meanwhile, C3PO and R2D2 have made their way out of the escape pod, which has crash-landed onto the crest of a dune. The two characters are always arguing—they have been taken from a similar pair of characters in Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, as is well known—and the present argument concerns which direction they should go: R2 insists that he is on a mission, which C3P0—who is always in the dark about everything—professes to know nothing about. He insists on going to the right, whereas R2 heads off on his own in the opposite direction.

They are silver and gold, these two (R2’s circular revolving head, at least, is silver, with his black mono-eye borrowed from that of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey): that is to say, they are embodiments of cosmic principles, for silver and gold were the metals in alchemy associated with the moon (silver) and the sun (gold), metals which were thought to have actually been woven into the minerals and rocks of the earth by the rotations of those heavenly bodies themselves, moving around it like a spider spinning its web.

C3P0 then heads off across a valley of giant tan-brown sand dunes across which has been splayed the wasted skeleton of some long dead reptilian beast from another age, an age perhaps in which the climate was different and could support the water requirements of such Leviathans.

C3P0 curses his bad luck until he sees something flashing on the horizon: a glint of hope towards which he now begins making his way, although we find out soon enough that he is only running towards his own captivity.

R2D2 fares no better, however, as the next shot displays him in a dark vermilion canyon at twilight, seeming, like a character out of an old Grimm’s fairy tale, to have lost his way in a forest. That impression is further heighted by the presence of little desert creatures known as Jawas who are garbed in brown clothing and hide in the niches of the canyon, from whence they peer out, waiting for prey. Only their bright gleaming gold eyes can be seen, reminding the viewer of the motif of the character lost at night in a forest surrounded by the luminous eyes of various strange and terrible creatures.

The Jawas are essentially a transcription into the language of science fiction of Bedouin tribesmen who make their living capturing runaway slaves and taking them to towns and villages to put them up for sale. The droids here are plugged into the semiotic slot of runaway slaves, like Joseph who was rescued from the well his brothers had thrown him into and then sold into slavery. That apparently random course of events, however, led him to his destiny as vizier of Egypt, just as the capture of R2D2 and C3P0, a chance event, sets in motion a chain of circumstances that lands them right at the center of the power struggle of Empire against the Rebellion.

Whereas Princess Leia had been captured by the technological megamachine of Big Science (i.e. corporate-university science coupled with the military state apparatus) the droids replicate the Gnostic myth of the soul’s fall, sinking and capture of beings of light, sent from a world “above,” who are trapped in the world of physical materiality. But, just as in Gnosticism, in which the soul is on a mission to eventually recover its memories of a lost world of light and luminosity, the droids, too, are emissaries from a higher world bearing a message of light to the One who is trapped into the domesticity of what in astrology is known as the Fourth House; that, namely, of the domestic sphere of the mother.

The Jawas now send a bolt of electricity hurling at R2D2, which causes him to seize up and topple over. The little tribesmen then scurry about, collecting him and carrying him back toward their gigantic, rusty iron Sandcrawler. In Bedouin days, the droids-as-slaves would have been thrown into the inside of some cart pulled by camels, perhaps, but in the Age of Grand Mechanization, the camels and donkeys have been replaced by internal combustion machines pulled in lumbering fashion by tank treads.

It is no coincidence that slavery existed throughout the entire course of human history only until the time of the Industrial Revolution, when machines were at last mastered enough to replace and do the work previously done by slaves. Slavery, that is, ended only when machines were complex enough to become their replacements and do the work for them. Hence, R2D2 and C3P0 are slaves recoded into the semiotics of a post-industrial age dominated by machines.

The Jawas place a restraining bolt on R2—the equivalent of shackling a slave—and then he is sucked up into the interior of the enormous and ancient Sandcrawler, and once inside, he discovers that he has been tossed into the junkheap of various other renegade robots. The Jawas make their living tracking down sundry escaped robots and putting them back onto the market for resale.

C3P0, his gleaming gold carapace shining in the dim interior of the Sandcrawler, recognizes his pal and is overjoyed to see him. But an uncertain fate has befallen them both and casts a pall of gloom over their reunion.

The droids have been ripped from their function as servants to the Rebels and must now be recoded as commodities to be put up for sale. They are flows, in other words, which, like any flow of the capitalist order—water, electricity, gasoline, etc.—must be stopped, arrested and coded with new flows that send them into circulation on the global market.

Thus, Lucas recodes the Gnostic myth so that the soul’s fall and captivity into the world of physical matter—the “soul cages” as the musician Sting, capturing the same myth back in the 1980s, rightly called them—becomes the fall and entry of the soul into the economic order of capital.

But their capture is a necessary one and forms a parallel to Princess Leia’s, who represents the Earth principle itself that has been captured and over-gridded by GPS technologies that are state-sponsored, supported and administrated. (Think of the fall and capture of the Tom Hanks character in Steven Spielberg’s 1994 film The Terminal, who suffers a similar fate). In order to rescue her, the droids must undergo a parallel fall, but in the opposite direction, for whereas Leia has been sucked upwards into the realm of Spirit, the droids have fallen downwards into the realm of Soul. But it is a fall without which Leia cannot be redeemed from her captivity inside the exoskeletal order of the Death Star. (Note that the Jawas are the very opposite of exoskeletal: all we see of them are their glittering eyes which, like Spanish gold doubloons, mirror the mercantile values which they represent, while their bodies are hidden and garbed within the soft folds of their dusty brown robes, for as “Subjects” they are complete anonymities).

This book can be ordered on Amazon at:—Scene-David-Ebert/dp/1514680572/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1435736022&sr=8-7&keywords=john+david+ebert



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