The Star Wars prequels often get ripped apart by fans and critics. Stiff acting and dialogues, over the top reliance on CGI and the lack of wit which characterised George Lucas’ earlier films are among the common – and valid – criticisms of the second trilogy.
Another disputed point is the amount of dull political talk scenes in the movies, which behind the awesome lightsaber and space battle scenes narrate the Galactic Republic’s eventual fall and the evil Empire’s ascent. In the context of 2016, the fantastic tale from a galaxy far, far away mirrors what’s happening close to home…
The premise of Episode I is one of disillusionment with politics as usual, and the Galactic Senate in particular. The Senate, the universal forum which encourages discussion between systems to promote cooperation and prevent large-scale conflicts becomes increasingly vilified, dismissed as corrupt and out of touch with the people. Sound familiar? It should.
As a result of complex, unresolved global issues including failing economic agreements, nationalistic sentiments grow hostile and turn on the Senate’s centralised powers and bureaucracy. By the way, don’t be too mad at opinion polls: The Phantom Menace is a threat even Master Yoda couldn’t foresee.
These negative feelings are further exacerbated by the expansionist policies of the Trade Federation, which annex the vulnerable system of Naboo. Vetoed by the presence of Neimoidians from the Trade Federation in the assembly, the Senate is unable to take meaningful action.
In the end, only a desperate intervention from the Jedi council is able to stop the invasion of Naboo. Unfortunately for Crimea, only the first part of this analogy stands up, and no Jedi came to the former Ukrainian peninsula’s rescue.
The separatists are convinced that the scheming Sith lord has their best interest at heart, unaware of his laughable hypocrisy and close ties to the most corrupt of senators. In this context of sociopolitical schism coupled with the increasing threat of terrorism and war, a charismatic leader rises. He is granted emergency powers to address the crisis.
Like Donald Trump, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is perceived as more decisive than the establishment, and a man of the people. He becomes the most powerful politician in the universe overnight.
Palpatine is a megalomaniac, power-hungry individual whose reign shall be defined by his grand architectural project: a Death Star capable of destroying entire planets – or at least stop Mexicans crossing the US border. He’ll bring back peace and order to the Republic.
And never mind that he was chosen by officials, and not directly by the people. If Theresa May needs no mandate, why should he? He’s got Darth freaking Vader on his side!
Eventually, the Republic is dissolved by Palpatine and replaced by the Empire. Democracy dies under thunderous applause. What follows is a state of fear, oppression and helplessness against the sheer force of the Empire. Once more the Sith ruled the galaxy.
The fall of democracy (and the building of Death Stars) is what happens when good people stand aside and do nothing. Totalitarianism always rises from populist movements, for democracy allows all voices to be heard including the vilest. War generally isn’t far behind.
The responsibility is now ours to present a credible opposition, A New Hope, and show that the cruelty and tyranny of this new political order won’t go unchallenged.
Let the rebellion begin.