WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters now.
Despite dividing the fanbase, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an undisputed critical and commercial success. And a lot of the love the film has been shown owes to its progressive aspects, and its willingness to break away from the trilogies of old. Simply put, writer/director Rian Johnson successfully created a Star Wars film for a new generation; even if his execution is sometimes lacking, his ambition is spot on.
Despite becoming sidetracked in the trilogies by trade disputes and parliamentary procedure, George Lucas was keen to chronicle the fall of democracy and the rise of fascism (“So this is how liberty dies … with thunderous applause”). But with The Last Jedi, Johnson explores the politics of a galaxy far, far away like never before. It’s not only about the ethnically diverse cast, but about thought-provoking statements on issues that resonate in the real world.
The Realities of War
In their search for a codebreaker to help them sneak aboard Supreme Leader Snoke’s flagship, Finn and Rose Tico travel to the casino city Canto Bight, a playground for the fabulously wealthy seemingly far removed from the conflicts ravaging the galaxy. However, as Finn and Rose soon discover, these one-percenters aren’t oblivious to the war — they’re profiting from it.
As they flee the city’s police with their shady new ally “D.J.,” Rose and Finn learn they’ve stolen a ship belonging to an arms dealer who sells weapons and technology to both the First Order and the Resistance. The hacker then explains the ethics of war to the naive young rebels: These dealers play both sides, ensuring there’s a constant demand for what they supply.
In Canto Bight, the wealthy spend their leisure time gambling, drinking and having their every need and desire attended to as they rub elbows with politicians and celebrities. But there’s another side to the glistening resort city, one where the fathiers — the enormous “space horses” used in high-stakes races — are beaten and penned into tight quarters, and attended by children left behind by losing gamblers.
It demonstrates the wide chasm that exists between the galaxy’s haves and have-nots, the greedy and the needy. It reminds Rose of her own home on Hays Minor, the impoverished mining colony exploited for its resources — both the minerals and the people. It’s a stark reminder that classism is indeed universal.
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