10/24/2011

Before the new trilogy, Obi-Wan Kenobi was an interesting cypher when we met him in the first Star Wars. He was an old guy living on Tattooine, and when he met Luke, taught him the ways of the Force. Then the prequels came along and mucked everything up. Here's five reasons why Obi-Wan's exile opens up a whole can of worms.

 
1) Obi-Wan Kenobi hid himself on Tattooine. Out of all the planets in the Galaxy, Obi-Wan decided to hide himself on the planet where Anakin Skywalker was born. That's like trying to hide in Vader's backyard. Maybe he was trying to hide in plain sight, but Yoda had a better idea hiding himself in the middle of a swamp. Even considering all this, you'd think he'd find a less populated planet to hide on, instead of one crawling with villains, bounty hunters, and people guaranteed to recognize him.
2) Obi-Wan kept his last name. Obi-Wan Kenobi could have called himself anything he could imagine, but he decided to call himself Ben Kenobi. Yeah, no one could pierce through that web of deceit. He didn't even change his last name. Even Luke Skywalker figured out that Ben Kenobi was connected to Obi-Wan Kenobi within minutes of hearing the name.
3) Obi-Wan kept the same clothes. Not only did Obi-Wan decide to keep the same name, he even chose to keep the same uniform as when he was a Jedi. You're telling me in twenty years, it never occurred to him to get a new outfit? Maybe something a little less Jedi-y? Which is connected to reason #4.
4) Obi-Wan never changed his appearance. In movies where the hero or heroine is on the run, changing your appearance is usually Job One. They always start with cutting off a beard and/or mustache or dying their hair. Obi-Wan did none of these. Leaving aside the fact that he's in a super-technologically advanced society where he could probably change everything from his height to his skin color, Obi-Wan didn't even do the bare minimum. He didn't even try to cut off his beard.
5) Obi-Wan let the Galaxy fall apart while he hung out doing nothing. Why did he go into exile in the first place? During the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan fought across the Galaxy against evil, and rallied whole planets to his cause. But once he crippled Anakin, Obi-Wan disappeared while Darth Vader and the Emperor turned the Galaxy into an utter hellhole. Obi-Wan could have at least tried to stem the tide of evil, especially by rallying together the scattered Jedi he sent the distress message to in the Temple. Instead, Obi-Wan just sat around on Tattoine in a cave, scaring off the occasional Tusken Raiders.

What do you think? Does Obi-Wan's exile make sense?

[Image Source: 4ugeek]
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7 comments:

Kerry Amburgy-Dickson said...

1) If I remember right, Obi-Wan was originally from Tattooine. The location he chose to live at very near the site of the Tusken village that Anakin slaughtered. Because of the slaughter, the area was saturated with dark side energy (much the same way as the cave in Dagobah was) and this helped mask Obi-Wan's presence.
2) Agreed, that was kind of bone-headed.
3) True, but this doesn't seem to be much different than what most of the natives wear anyways, so I'm not sure how much that would be noticed.
4) Agreed, you would think he would've disguised himself in some way.
5)He was given a mission by his superior (Yoda) to watch over Luke and learn how to become a Force-ghost (that's what he was learning from Qui-Gon's ghost). Like a good little soldier (not that I agree), he followed his orders.

Jim said...

We all know that many sequels are motivated by the opportunity to ride a wave of audience mania and make a pile of cash, period - discussion on this point complete.

Unfortunately, sequels often distort or bury the charm of the source film. This is true in the case of Star Wars. The essential beauty and magic of Episode IV was that enough was put before the viewer to allow the imagination to fill in the Universe before and after the depicted events. This is the essence of well executed fiction (and art) -- put enough on the canvass to imply what cannot be seen and engage the imaginative power of the observer to unfold the surrounding universe as he or she sees fit or does automatically. Sequels (once created and watched) dismantle the imagined but all so crucial extended universe of events. In fact, it is precisely this effect (the automatic unfolding of imagined but not depicted events before and after, etc) that makes Episode IV stand out -- alone -- as a great movie. This is true of written fiction. It is true of sketches and paintings. Each provides a small window or glimpse so convincing that one accepts the illusion that the imaginary universe is full of moving parts, history, etc. Sequels (true of series like the Matrix as well) spoil the effect -- and sadly, this is done to make a buck. My hope is that a film like District 9 does not suffer the same fate. Sure, we would all like to "see" the aliens return to earth to save our Hero -- but we don't need to see it! We see it in our imaginations when we leave the theater -- and this is the effect that makes the source film so precious, so valuable, so artistic -- so real.

Certainly, someone like G Lucas knows what he is doing -- and is expert in the fashioning of illusion and the importance of implied greater reality. Unfortunately, the attraction of wealth (and with it freedom) must draw artists into the unholy act of trading away a source film's magic.

Sequels are generally destructive. Too self-conscious, we see the film maker making movies whereas before, we saw only an imagined world stretching off in all directions in our own minds.

Jim said...

We all know that many sequels are motivated by the opportunity to ride a wave of audience mania and make a pile of cash, period - discussion on this point complete.

Unfortunately, sequels often distort or bury the charm of the source film. This is true in the case of Star Wars. The essential beauty and magic of Episode IV was that enough was put before the viewer to allow the imagination to fill in the Universe before and after the depicted events. This is the essence of well executed fiction (and art) -- put enough on the canvass to imply what cannot be seen and engage the imaginative power of the observer to unfold the surrounding universe as he or she sees fit or does automatically. Sequels (once created and watched) dismantle the imagined but all so crucial extended universe of events. In fact, it is precisely this effect (the automatic unfolding of imagined but not depicted events before and after, etc) that makes Episode IV stand out -- alone -- as a great movie. This is true of written fiction. It is true of sketches and paintings. Each provides a small window or glimpse so convincing that one accepts the illusion that the imaginary universe is full of moving parts, history, etc. Sequels (true of series like the Matrix as well) spoil the effect -- and sadly, this is done to make a buck. My hope is that a film like District 9 does not suffer the same fate. Sure, we would all like to "see" the aliens return to earth to save our Hero -- but we don't need to see it! We see it in our imaginations when we leave the theater -- and this is the effect that makes the source film so precious, so valuable, so artistic -- so real.

Certainly, someone like G Lucas knows what he is doing -- and is expert in the fashioning of illusion and the importance of implied greater reality. Unfortunately, the attraction of wealth (and with it freedom) must draw artists into the unholy act of trading away a source film's magic.

Sequels are generally destructive. Too self-conscious, we see the film maker making movies whereas before, we saw only an imagined world stretching off in all directions in our own minds.

Jim said...

We all know that many sequels are motivated by the opportunity to ride a wave of audience mania and make a pile of cash, period - discussion on this point complete.

Unfortunately, sequels often distort or bury the charm of the source film. This is true in the case of Star Wars. The essential beauty and magic of Episode IV was that enough was put before the viewer to allow the imagination to fill in the Universe before and after the depicted events. This is the essence of well executed fiction (and art) -- put enough on the canvass to imply what cannot be seen and engage the imaginative power of the observer to unfold the surrounding universe as he or she sees fit or does automatically. Sequels (once created and watched) dismantle the imagined but all so crucial extended universe of events. In fact, it is precisely this effect (the automatic unfolding of imagined but not depicted events before and after, etc) that makes Episode IV stand out -- alone -- as a great movie. This is true of written fiction. It is true of sketches and paintings. Each provides a small window or glimpse so convincing that one accepts the illusion that the imaginary universe is full of moving parts, history, etc. Sequels (true of series like the Matrix as well) spoil the effect -- and sadly, this is done to make a buck. My hope is that a film like District 9 does not suffer the same fate. Sure, we would all like to "see" the aliens return to earth to save our Hero -- but we don't need to see it! We see it in our imaginations when we leave the theater -- and this is the effect that makes the source film so precious, so valuable, so artistic -- so real.

Certainly, someone like G Lucas knows what he is doing -- and is expert in the fashioning of illusion and the importance of implied greater reality. Unfortunately, the attraction of wealth (and with it freedom) must draw artists into the unholy act of trading away a source film's magic.

Sequels are generally destructive. Too self-conscious, we see the film maker making movies whereas before, we saw only an imagined world stretching off in all directions in our own minds.

Tony Laplume, Sith Architect said...

It's not like Yoda changed his appearance, either. It didn't matter where or how Kenobi hid. In fact, he went into exile on Tattooine to watch over Luke. Vader's interests went beyond the Jedi the moment the Emperor believed they'd been crushed and he won total control over the Empire. If you want to talk hubris, it goes both ways. It was about regrouping, depending on less traditional methods, because it was traditional methods that completed hosed the Jedi. Maybe a different director would have made that more clear. The point is, neither Kenobi or Yoda were a threat following the acquisition of a strong new apprentice and the elimination of virtually the entire Jedi Order. Even on Geonosis the Jedi had a tough time fighting off a large body of opponents. They were knights of a different age. They were basically space cops. The moment the idea of the Jedi was no longer taken seriously (in large part to the Emperor's public claim that they themselves had rebelled), no mastery of the Force was strong enough to make them relevant. In conclusion, they were not threats. He was not a threat. Or so the Empire believed.


Sometimes when you attempt to simplify something, you overlook the simplicity of the counterargument.

Kath said...

Kerry's point about the presence of the Dark Side at Tattooine is very interesting! I'm reading the Thrawn trilogy of Star Wars novels right now (my first venture into the EU), and here it's explained that Yoda chose to live near the cave where Luke has a vision of fighting Vader because the presence of the dark side in this cave in a way negates the light force energy that comes from Yoda, and thus makes him undetectable for Vader and the Emperor. The case with Obi Wan is very likely the same.
Also, Obi Wan's mission wasn't just to look after Luke, it was probably also to train him to become a jedi and carry on the jedi legacy. If Obi Wan, and Yoda for that matter, had just thrown themselves into the fight they would have been killed, and the Jedi order would have disappeared!

Jason Gilbert said...

Tatooine was a place vader would never step foot on again because of the bad memories and loss of his mother, hence why in episode 4, even though vader is in the cruiser in orbit, he sends a detachment down to get the droids rather than going himself to ensure they get the death star plans back. Kenobi knows this, he knows stormtroopers are weak minded so no problem there. Stay out of cities, ie live as a hermit and avoid bounty hunters and he's golden with no effort. Yoda chose daghobah because of all the natural life on it which acts as a force shield hiding his presence.

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