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Obi Wan Kenobi – Wise Old Man and Sacred Warrior

Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi via Wikipedia

In the Star Wars Original Trilogy (1977-83), Obi Wan Kenobi is an honorable Jedi knight, played by actor Alec Guinness. He is also a spiritual teacher for the young hero, Luke Skywalker.

Obi Wan is the only character to appear within the first six Star Wars films. He appears in voice for the seventh but is absent in the latest Star Wars incarnation, The Last Jedi.¹

Guinness was nominated for an academy award for his 1977 Star Wars performance.

In the Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005), Obi Wan is portrayed by Ewan McGregor.

Most moviegoers and critics generally agree that the Prequel Trilogy isn’t quite as good as the Original Trilogy, but it does highlight the early development of Obi Wan’s charitable character.

Embed from Getty Images

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In Jungian thought, the Alec Guinness version of Obi Wan exemplifies the archetype of the wise old man. Obi Wan’s miraculous ability to manipulate “The Force” for the greater good also fits with the archetype of the Sacred Warrior.

In the PBS TV series The Power of Myth (1988), the American mythology expert Joseph Campbell says the original Star Wars films are a modern myth. They take ancient themes and recast them in a modern light.

Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (right) and Padawan O...

Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (right) and Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, as portrayed by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace via Wikipedia

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, consulted with Campbell while making the original trilogy so the classic “hero cycle,” as scholars put it, would ring true with 20th century moviegoers.

Campbell met regularly with Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade, Karl Kerényi and other notable scholars of myth at the annual Eranos Conferences.

So this is a good example of scholarship having relevance, meeting with pop culture, and actually reaching the people—unlike some scholars who use academe as a kind of hideaway where they can enjoy the good life while doing mediocre work.

¹ Apparently there was not enough archival material to include him, and director Rian Johnson felt that a meeting of Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan played by Ewan McGregor (the second actor to portray Obi Wan) would be emotionally unsatisfying.

Related » Bhagavad-Gita, Yoda

 Star Wars: Obi-Wan Movie Gets A Gorgeous Fan-Made Poster (screenrant.com)

 Why ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ didn’t bring back a character fans thought they may see (businessinsider.com)

 Christian Bale Confirms He Was Almost in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, Is Hopeful for Future Discussion (aceshowbiz.com)

 Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off film to start shooting in 2019 (telegraph.co.uk)

 An All-Time Favorite Star Wars Character Makes an Epic Cameo in The Last Jedi (time.com)

 Could Star Wars-style lightsaber duelling be fitness fans’ new hope? (telegraph.co.uk)

 What Does the ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Ending Mean for the Future of the Trilogy? (slashfilm.com)

 Best way to deck out for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (imore.com)

 All 9 ‘Star Wars’ movies, ranked from worst to best (mlive.com)

 This ‘Star Wars’ coat costs $1,300 (foxnews.com)

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Princess Leia – A Star Wars icon lives on

Carrie Fisher who plays Leia – Wikipedia

There’s a new Star Wars film out which some say is the best since The Empire Strikes Back, and Princess Leia is up next for revision.

A nice coincidence, especially since actor Carrie Fisher, who plays the original Leia, also plays Leia in later years as Senator and General Leia Organa.

In the Star Wars Trilogy, Princess Leia is Luke Skywalker‘s twin sister and Darth Vader‘s daughter.

Reflecting attitudes of the late 1970s, Leia is cast as a feminist and still serves today as a feminist role model.

A few people say she’s not a great feminist icon, but on the whole Leia is seen that way.

Perhaps the critics don’t like the male chauvinism that pervades the early Star Wars scripts.

Han Solo, for instance, condescendingly says he knows, despite Leia’s apparent disgust toward his sexual advances, that she “really wants it.” And Leia’s role in the film sometimes evokes a more traditional female sex role stereotype.

As noted in a sidebar at Wikipedia:

Leia wearing her iconic golden “metal bikini” slave outfit at Jabba’s palace. Leia’s appearance has been voted one of the most memorable swimsuit moments of cinema history.¹

English: Christy Marie as Slave Leia Organa.

Christy Marie as Slave Leia Organa – Wikipedia

Is this a showcase for the feminist sentiments of the time? I suppose it depends on the person interpreting. Like most social movements, feminism moves within a total context so has been evolving… slowly.

Before her untimely death in 2016 Fisher occasionally introduced vintage films with Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne.

She also struggled with mood swings that she managed with drug use. Embracing the diagnosis of “bipolar disorder” given to her by the medical establishment, she evidently had no other way to decode her feelings and the medical model arguably didn’t help too much.

This is unfortunate. I often feel that if some took a broader view of their unconventional psychological experiences they might get a better grip on them—without the use of heavy drugs or, as Fisher underwent, ECT.²

General Leia is in theaters as I write this. The posthumous release of Fisher’s performance in The Last Jedi is helping to make box office records.

Like all Hollywood greats, Fisher lives.

¹ This quote is from several years ago. The link and caption has changed to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Leia%27s_bikini 

² Recently I was surprised to learn that the medical establishment still practices ECT. When I took psych in the 1980s ECT was frowned upon as a part of psychiatry’s dark history. That this practice continues today, with such spurious scientific backing, imo is horrific.

 These limited-edition Columbia Sportswear coats are inspired by ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (businessinsider.com)

 ‘The Last Jedi’ Doesn’t Care What You Think About ‘Star Wars’ – And That’s Why It’s Great (slashfilm.com)

 Star Wars: 15 Crazy Minor Characters You NEED To Know About (screenrant.com)

 ‘The Last Jedi’ first premiere reactions are here and – you guessed it – the Force is strong (mashable.com)

 Review – ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ (space.com)

 Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones review: ‘a pleasant surprise’ (telegraph.co.uk)

 The Ultimate Star Wars Quiz: Find Out Which Character Matches Your Personality (time.com)

 Star Wars Project Demise Due To “Team Health” Issues At Visceral, Not Single-Player Focus (wccftech.com)

 “The Last Jedi” Felt Like a Dream. I’m Not Sure I Even Really Saw It. (motherjones.com)


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Romeo and Juliet – Not my fav but respected

Photo - Wikipedia

Photo – Wikipedia

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare (1595-6). It portrays the brief lives of two “star crossed lovers” who come from feuding families, the Capulets and the Montagues.

In Shakespeare’s time it was one of his most popular plays, as it remains today.

Myself, I never really liked Romeo and Juliet too much. It seems small and dark. Romantic love is fine. But when it gets all messed up and doesn’t work out right, it doesn’t really capture my imagination.

I find it sort of silly and dramatically frustrating that someone would commit suicide because he thought his true love was dead. And guess what? She wasn’t even dead after all. So what happens? She wakes up and kills herself.

Maybe I just like happy endings. I realize life doesn’t always turn out that way but still, Romeo and Juliet for me is a bit of downer.

Like many of his plays, Shakespeare didn’t come up with the idea out of the blue. There were precedents, some very clear.

Romeo and Juliet borrows from a tradition of tragic love stories dating back to antiquity. One of these is Pyramus and Thisbe, from Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, which contains parallels to Shakespeare’s story: the lovers’ parents despise each other, and Pyramus falsely believes his lover Thisbe is dead. The Ephesiaca of Xenophon of Ephesus, written in the 3rd century, also contains several similarities to the play, including the separation of the lovers, and a potion that induces a deathlike sleep.

One of the earliest references to the names Montague and Capulet is from Dante‘s Divine Comedy, who mentions the Montecchi (Montagues) and the Cappelletti (Capulets) in canto six of Purgatorio:

Come and see, you who are negligent,
Montagues and Capulets, Monaldi and Filippeschi
One lot already grieving, the other in fear

Image - Wikipedia

Romeo and Juliet (detail) by Frank Dicksee – Wikipedia

In 1938 the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev wrote a ballet after the story. And Berlioz (1839) and Tchaikovsky (1869) also wrote classical pieces on the theme.

There have been several screen adaptations. One of my favorites is Franco Zeffirelli‘s 1968 Romeo and Juliet. I remember marveling at Olivia Hussey as a kid when I saw the film in junior high. For me, she was the epitome of womanly beauty back then.

¹ See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet

In India, the Mahabharata epic tells of a family feud that leads to total war between the Pandavas and the Karavas. This war is also central to The Bhagavad Gita, which is a part of the Mahabharata (some believe a later addition because it differs stylistically). I don’t think the Capulets and Montagues were related but the Pandavas and Karavas were. Of course, Shakespeare most likely did not have access to Hindu myth (in this case, the Puranas) because it hadn’t been translated into European languages yet. But for thinkers like Adolf Bastien, Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung (who believe that certain psychological “patterns” or “structures” arise independently around the world) this wouldn’t have been a huge problem.

Related » Projection, Radha


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Sign of the Cross – Sign of the Times?

Originally published in 2007 at Earthpages before we migrated to WordPress

The other night Turner Classic Movies ran a wonderful 1930’s production called The Sign of the Cross. Basically it’s about early Christians being hunted down and persecuted in the Roman empire. Toward the end, the film gives a dramatic portrayal of the power of faith as imprisoned Christians face the prospect of being eaten alive by wild beasts at the Colosseum (which really happened), with an especially inspired performance by Elissa Landi.

After the close of the movie, the critics at TCM said absolutely nothing about the power of faith but zeroed in on the importance of a woman’s breasts being partially shown in a milk bath and how a lusty gay scene was mostly edited out some years later once Hollywood prohibitions kicked in. Interesting stuff, but really quite tangential to the main message…


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Odo – Change is the name of the game

Image credit – Wikipedia

Odo is a character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine played by actor René Auberjonois. He belongs to a race called “changlings.” Basically a shapeshifter, he can assume practically any form he likes.

This idea is similar to the changlings and shapeshifters found in mythologies and folklore pretty much around the world. The idea is also found in literature. Sometimes one changes shape against their will or by surprise, as in Franz Kafka‘s Metamorphosis, other times the change comes through choice or perhaps divine intervention.¹

¹ A good list here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shapeshifting#Fiction


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Ophelia – Victim of a twisted parent

Mary Catherine Bolton (afterwards Lady Thurlow...

Mary Catherine Bolton (afterwards Lady Thurlow) (1790-1830) as Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1813, opposite John Kemble’s Hamlet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ophelia is a tragic Shakespearian character whose twisted father asks her to reject her lover, Hamlet. Ophelia’s father exploits her misguided loyalty to him and manipulates her into agreeing to reject Hamlet.

Ophelia’s father also had been spying on her while she was seeing Hamlet.

Tormented by conflicted loyalties, Ophelia eventually goes mad. Ophelia represents the too many women (and men) pushed into insanity by a misguided sense of loyalty to an unscrupulous parent or parents.

Mary Pipher reflects on this dynamic in her book, Reviving Ophelia (1994):

Psychologist Mary Pipher named her non-fiction book, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (1994), after Shakespeare’s Ophelia. In it, Pipher examines the troubled lives of the modern American adolescent girls. Through her extensive clinical work with troubled young women, Pipher takes a closer look at the competing influences that lead adolescent girls in a negative direction. For example, Pipher attributes the competing pressure from parents, peers, and the media for girls to reach an unachievable ideal. Girls are expected to meet goals while still holding on to their sanity. These pressures are further complicated when young women undergo physical changes out of their control, like the biological developmental changes in puberty.¹

Actor Jean Simmons provides a classic performance of Ophelia in Sir Laurence Olivier’s film version of the play. Simmons’ vacant stare and melodious voice give Ophelia a mystical, ethereal quality just before her demise.

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophelia

Related » William Shakespeare


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Robin – archetypal apprentice or unspoken lover?

Batman with his sidekick Robin. Painting by Al...

Batman with his sidekick Robin. Painting by Alex Ross, based on the cover of Batman #9 by Jack Burnley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also known as “The Boy Wonder,” Robin is Batman‘s sidekick. He arguably represents the younger half of an archetypal master-apprentice or teacher-disciple relationship.

At least, that’s a Jungian interpretation. It has also been suggested that the relationship between Batman and Robin has homosexual overtones, especially in the TV show. Carl Jung tended to see homosexuality as a developmental problem, so I’m not sure how he’d depict this particular relationship within his archetypal theory.¹

¹ Jung’s ideas can be too vague and conjectural at times for my liking. To his credit, Jung, himself, admits that he is simply making a modern myth. He doesn’t claim to have the final word. Those interested in his views about homosexuality might find some ideas here.

C. G. Jung on Risk and Safety

OUTstage – GLBT Theatre Fest – BENT

FACT CHECK: Homosexual behavior present in animals, Manny

Why Men Stomp on Homosexuality

Why Are So Many Animals Homosexual? – Facts So Romantic

80 Percent of Black Men in Atlanta are Gay?