Week eight of myInner Jedi Notebook journey. This week continues the exploration of meditation.
Having practiced meditating for a few minutes every day this past week, reflect on your experience of it. What are some challenges you faced? Have you experienced any positive outcomes?
“After initially struggling with it, I find I look forward to my few minutes of quiet stillness every day. It’s downtime, yes, but also a time when I don’t have to do or be anything–just be. To just be conscious in the world, and of the world. To examine your own mind. Although sometimes I worry I’m just daydreaming, lol. But I do consciously try to let thoughts go and refocus on the present moment. It’s amazing how we’ve trained ourselves to be everywhere except the present moment, and it’s a struggle to unlearn that (“You must unlearn what you have learned,” as Yoda said to Luke). It comes naturally to babies and animals, and it’s fascinating to watch them. They are effortlessly in the now, and are unaware of anything else. It’s delightful.
One thing that surprised me about meditation is that you’re having a relationship with your mind–it’s not a boring, static thing–it’s dynamic. You get to see how your mind works, what it focuses on, how one thing leads to the next–it’s fascinating, in a way. You have to get to know it, in order to calm it.
As far as positives–I’ve always been a calm, collected sort of person, and not necessarily reactive (although sometimes I am). But it’s helpful to fall back onto the memory of quiet time, to be able to retrieve that sense of calm during stressful situations. If it’s busy at work and I’m feeling stressed, with a thousand things going on, I can find my center and power on. I’ll think, these moments will pass, and later it will be just me and the candle and the (meditation) music and the thoughts, and the letting go. There will be peace.
Meditating is the act of practicing peace. So during stressful times, you can automatically reach for that peace.”
Anakin is interesting, as there are two sides to him: the Jedi hero, and the conflicted human being tempted by the Dark Side. I wanted to feature mostly Anakin images here, and maybe do a Darth Vader post later, but I think these images contain one or the other aspect of himself (or both).
I love, love, love Jake Bartok’s Medieval Star Wars series, and his Anakin is no exception. I love how his sword shines blue here, as well as the inclusion of the metal hand wrapped in a bandage. He’s clearly heroic Anakin here, but there’s also something in his eyes that looks menacing and intense.
This image of Clone Wars Anakin is wonderful. We only ever saw an animated version of Anakin fight with the Clones in the war, so this one with Hayden Christensen seems to fulfill a deep need, lol.
I thought this one was really interesting, as it portrays Anakin had he won the battle with Obi-Wan, destroyed Palpatine, and became Emperor himself. He cuts a regal figure.
This is the one in the bunch that I can’t find an artist for, but I wanted to include it. It’s a kind of flip on when Anakin was using the Force to float a ball above his hand when he was with Padme in AOTC. But here he’s gone Dark Side and the ball is the Death Star. Very cool.
There are many images of a split Anakin/Vader, but I like this one the most. I like the realism, the suggestion of dark energy around him, and the red shadows suggesting blood. It’s a very vivid, arresting image.
Do you have any favorite images of Anakin? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!
The Opera Scene. To me, this is the most pivotal scene in the film, when Palpatine tells Anakin about Darth Plagueis and his ability to stop people from dying. It plays right into Anakin’s darkest fears and desires, luring him into Palpy’s hands. In a movie full of battles, duels, and chases, this quiet scene of dialogue is the key that opens the door to Anakin’s fall. It’s brilliantly sinister, and the weird Mon Calamari opera “music” only adds to the dread one feels in this scene, reminding us that we ourselves are watching a tragic opera play out before us.
Battle of the Heroes. Is there really any question on this one? This movie is chock-full of lightsaber duels: Obi-Wan and Anakin vs. Dooku, Obi-Wan vs. Grievous, Yoda vs. Darth Sidious. They’re all fantastic, impressive and exciting as any lightsaber duel, but this one is special–it’s between two individuals who were once friends, and are now enemies. It’s heartbreaking to watch, and the fact that we know the inevitable outcome makes it worse.
A coughing cyborg. Revenge of the Sith isn’t exactly a laugh-fest, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of General Grievous, the cyborg who has a pesky cough. On first viewing, I thought he was a robot and didn’t understand how he could cough. Once I figured out he actually has some lungs in there, it made more sense. It was only recently that I learned Grievous was once a man, and in the book Labyrinth ofEvil it explains how he came to be the cyborg we all know and love. I’m still not sure where the cough comes from, though. Does he stress-smoke death sticks?
Most Impactful Character
Palpatine/Darth Sidious. It was a close race between Palpy and Anakin here, but I had to concede to the Dark Lord of the Sith. The whole Skywalker saga hinges on his machinations. The man is an evil genius, bringing all his long-awaited plans into action and fruition in this climactic film. Kudos to the amount of patience required, the long planning, the brilliant acting job of being the mild-mannered Chancellor that this guy employed to play his Jedi-destroying, Galactic Empire-creating endgame. He’s crafty, he’s cagey, he’s powerful, and he absolutely loves being the evil bastard he is. He’s got the evil cackle to prove it. None of the conflict and pain evident in other “villains” such as Vader and Kylo. Nope, he’s the real deal, and he proves it in this best film of the prequels.
I love all the prequels, but ROTS is on a whole other level that is just spectacular, and picking all the favorite moments was difficult. Order 66 gutted me, Padme’s pain choked me up (no pun intended), Obi-Wan is, as always, wonderful. And Hayden Christensen’s performance of the tortured Anakin was incredible. His turn really does break one’s heart.
What are your favorite moments in Revenge of the Sith? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
Like any Star Wars fan, I love a good lightsaber duel, and there’s plenty to choose from over the course of nine films. The ones I like the best have the most emotional heft where the stakes are high, rather than flash and dazzle (though that’s fun, too). Here are my top five faves:
5. Kylo and Rey on the Death Star Wreckage (TROS)
This duel is visually stunning, with the waves of water pouring down on them as they battle it out. I like how the water may be seen to symbolize a sort of baptism for Kylo/Ben, as at the end of the battle, Kylo is washed away so Ben can emerge. The lack of score through a lot of this fight also intensifies the battle, as if any kind of music would be too distracting to the physical and psychic battle going on.
4. Throne Room battle with Kylo and Rey (TLJ)
This battle is emotionally satisfying because we see Kylo and Rey working together against a common enemy–Snoke’s personal guards. It’s a spectacularly choreographed fight scene (it took six months to train for and shoot), and has a bit of flash and dazzle that awes the viewer. We see in this battle what Kylo and Rey could be together and are left wanting more–which makes his refusal to help the Resistance Fleet and her refusal to join him all the more painful.
3. Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar (ROTS)
The prequel series has a lot of great lightsaber duels–the Jedi at the height of their powers is a sight to see. They look like dancers flitting across the battlefield, graceful and nimble and fleet. But watching them fight the bad guys isn’t particularly interesting to me on an emotional level.
The exception to this prequel prejudice is the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar. This is the battle we’ve been waiting for– Anakin’s final fall into his transformation into Darth Vader. The anguish in the two men is palpable: Anakin’s rage, and Obi-Wan’s sorrow at losing his friend to the Dark Side. To see the particulars of Anakin’s physical and emotional pain is disturbing.
2. Vader and Luke on the second Death Star (ROTJ)
Luke’s confrontation with his father, in the presence of the Emperor, is harrowing. The stakes, of course, are extremely high here; not only in the fate of the Rebellion, but Luke’s life and his very soul. There is a point where he gives in to his rage and hacks away at Vader, a glint of dark in his eyes. Looking down at his beaten father, he realizes the path he is treading, and throws down his lightsaber while standing up to the Emperor. This is where the strength of Luke’s character shines through. And of course this battle leads to Vader redeeming himself by saving his son from the Emperor. It’s satisfying in every way.
1. Luke and Vader on Cloud City (TESB)
I chose this battle as #1 for a few reasons. First, it leads to the greatest revelation in all of moviedom: Vader tells Luke he is his father. BAM what!?
Second, it’s the first time the untested Luke confronts Vader, wanting to take revenge on the man who he believes killed his father. But Luke, though capable with a lightsaber, is nowhere near ready for this battle. His innocence and naivete is quite literally chipped away until there’s nowhere left to turn: here we first get a glimpse of Luke’s commitment to the Light, as he chooses to fall to his death rather than join his father in the Dark Side. This is a critical turning point for Luke, leading to the sober, black-clad Jedi we see in Return of the Jedi. Here, Luke grows up.
Third, from a physical standpoint, this duel is a bit of cat and mouse, with Luke escaping and being found again, escaping and being found. It’s ominous, we’re on the edge of our seats on first viewing because we don’t know when the bad guy is gonna jump out at us. This is a great litmus test for battles and duels: what can surprise and startle us.
Kylo and Rey on Starkiller Base (TFA)
This is the first time the two have met in battle, and Rey is just beginning to understand what she is capable of. The moment Anakin’s lightsaber flies to her instead of to Kylo is an important moment. Kylo is injured and an emotional wreck, as he just killed his father and is dealing with the reality of that, and so Rey is able to best him here.
Ben Solo against the Knights of Ren on Exegol (TROS)
This is a fantastic short battle, with the newly emerged Ben Solo fighting off the Knights of Ren after Rey force-hands him Anakin’s lightsaber. It’s fascinating in that he fights in a completely different manner than Kylo Ren, who used brute strength and intimidation in his duels. Ben Solo seems to be lifted of a heavy burden here, and infused with Light; he fights more like a prequel Jedi Knight, with speed and agility. After demanding Anakin’s lightsaber throughout the series, here he finally earns it.
Luke and Kylo Ren on Crait (TLJ).
Though technically not a proper battle, as Luke isn’t even really there, this is an emotionally relevant confrontation between a master and his former fallen student. Luke is using it as a ruse to buy time for the Resistance to escape, but it also gives him some sort of closure on his failure of Ben Solo. It only enrages Kylo, but Luke can now fade into the Force knowing he did what he could and giving these last words of wisdom to Kylo: “See you around, kid.”
So what do you think? Do agree with my list? Or did I miss an obviously important and/or awesome duel? Post your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll talk about it!