Top 100 American Movie Quotes of the 21st Century: #81

The actor:Frank Oz
The character:Yoda
The film:Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The quote:“Luke, we are what they grow beyond.”

Putting thoughts about The Last Jedi on the Internet is sort of like going to Chernobyl without one of those protective suits. Anyway, The Last Jedi, everybody.

I’ve read through Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative a couple times, and one of the phrases you find in there a bunch is “cut his supply lines.” It is, to put it in the vernacular, the ballsiest thing that a military commander can do. To cut one’s own supply lines is to balance positive risk with negative risk. Men who might have defended the supply lines can be given other duties; the slow progress of the army’s wagons and beeves can be done away with and a quicker march can be sustained. But of course cutting the supply lines renders one’s entire force vulnerable. It requires troops, perhaps a body of tens of thousands, to sustain themselves through taking resources from locals, foraging, and so on. In this moment, Rian Johnson cuts his supply lines from the rest of Star Wars, and while some of applauded the move, there are many, many loud people, like JJ Abrams, who will never forgive him for it.

Forget the “Holdo Maneuver,” forget telling Rey that she’s no one from nowhere, forget the prank call Poe makes to Hux. Heck, forget that moment in the movie where we find out X-Wings and TIE Fighters are made by the same corporation. (Trust me, the eight-year-old who still lives in my heart and who pored over this book for many hours was like, “No, Incom makes X-Wings and Sienar Fleet Systems makes TIEs!”) This is the truly destabilizing moment in The Last Jedi, the time when Johnson makes that most odious play for fans. The burden of all masters, Yoda says, is that they are transcended. They must be set down, or set aside, and look on as they are supplanted.

In Greek myth, Zeus falls in love with the nymph Thetis, only to learn that there is a prophecy stating that her son will be greater than his father. Zeus decides that Thetis must marry a man, choosing the Saronic Peleus, and after a pretty, uh, one-sided courtship, Thetis gave birth to Achilles. This story made an impression on me even before I was learning about the craft of the Ssi-Ruuvi Imperium. Could a father want his son to be greater than him? In my tiny pride, I felt I understood Zeus’s own hubris, though as I’ve gotten taller I’ve come to understand the tacit reproach in the story. That Zeus cannot abide the idea of a child greater than himself—knowing that he usurped his own father—says more about Zeus’s ego than his judgment, his desire for power more than his openness to progress.

The prequels were different animals. Although I’m sure there must have been some anxiety from Star Wars fans or former Star Wars personnel, they were directed by George Lucas, guaranteeing some kind of carryover. And more importantly, they were tremendously unpopular with the faithful upon release. While they were obviously popular in the larger sense and even the haters went to see them, I don’t think it took more than a couple days after the release of The Phantom Menace for everyone to know that all three prequels would not measure up to the the originals. It wasn’t until The Force Awakens came out to a rapturous financial, critical, and fan reception that I think there was some kind of threat to whatever spirit of Star Wars existed previously. The Force Awakens played a second verse same as the first; The Last Jedi changed a couple lines here and there. We are what they grow beyond. If only.

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