A Spoiler-Free Review of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ & Discussion from a Christian Perspective
Star Wars fans the world over have been waiting for the newest installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with baited breath. The tension was palpable among those who, like me, have grown up with the nostalgic wonderment of Anakin, Luke, Leia, Han and the vast array of other imaginative cast of characters. To further intensify matters, those who were disappointed by the prequel series had an added sense of fear that the “light” of their beloved franchise would be further diminished.
For the Christian approaching the film, I’ll provide the same caution I gave myself and my family. Flee from idolatry (1 Cor. 10:14). The lore surrounding the Star Wars franchise is immense. Besides the fact that this is the long-awaited and hoped-for seventh episode, there are toys, games, comic books, full seasons of animated series, and even a long list of Star Wars-related novels. Needless to say, one could easily immerse themselves into “fandom” to the degree that Star Wars could become an idol. However, the Lord gave us entertainment and wants us to enjoy it. So, I’d encourage you to examine your heart and protect it from idolatry. If you find no idolatry there, enjoy the movie!
I thoroughly enjoyed the film and walked away feeling very satisfied. J.J. Abrams re-captured the feel of the original trilogy while featuring the advances of modern film technologies. This episode provides the action, humor, character development and the pacing, for which many had hoped. The cinematography and visual effects are simply stunning, deserving of their own sentence in this review. The storyline and characters are believable, and left me (the way all Star Wars movies have) simultaneously wondering what will happen next, and what happened in their lives prior to this part of their story. To keep this article spoiler-free, I won’t give any further details about characters or story line.
For parents, if you were comfortable with your children viewing the previous six movies, you should be comfortable with this one. As far as language is concerned, I counted two usages each of two words which are contained in the Bible, but I will not allow my children to use, and both were not applied in the context that the Bible uses them (hell and damn). There is also some minor gore (blood) on par with the previous movies. The rest of the cautions are made clear in the rating (violence, etc.).
Thus ends the movie review.
However, there are recurring general themes in all of the films which everyone should already expect from the newest. Some of these provide fantastic opportunities for Christian discussion. There are three I want to highlight here (without spoiling anything).
Star Wars consistently portrays the temptation toward darkness very well. There are times when both Luke and Anakin have, in turns, seemed more “light-side” and “dark-side” than at other points in the story.
There is an obvious and interesting discussion about salvation in this, but since this blogsite is read and written primarily for Christians, I’ll let that one pass. However, there is also an available discussion about how effectively we walk as Christians.
In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So many times we seem to measure our success as Christians by how well we have done at resisting temptation. The movie analogy here is that Anakin’s life seemed to revolve around resisting sin (the dark side) and failing frequently.
Luke, on the other hand, seemed more focus on which direction to go within the light. His internal struggles were centered on being trained verses where to serve.
A Christian is not comfortable in sin, and will not continue to walk in it (1 John 1:5-10). A mature Christian will go a step further by not only resisting temptation, but by abiding with the Lord, and thereby bearing fruit (John 15:4-5).
If you’ll allow the analogy (which I know is a stretch); Anakin could represent a Christian who repented in the end, but never made himself useful, while Luke fought the good fight and kept the faith throughout his life bearing much fruit. We, too, can be more or less useful to the Father based on our actions (see 1 Tim. 2:21 and Psalm 1:1-3). And so, we should ask ourselves if we are pursuing the light or merely avoiding the dark. “…straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…” (Phil. 3:13-14).
Another aspect I find intriguing is that many of the main characters seem to have very humble beginnings, later becoming much more significant to the universe. Both Luke and Anakin had it pretty rough until discovering the “Force.” How many of the apostles had such humble beginnings before discovering and walking with Christ? How about Old Testament heroes? What could that mean for you and me? We can be used by God for God to make eternal differences in the lives of people.
Finally, I want to talk about conformity. There seems to be a strict system of conformity in both the governmental systems and master/apprentice aspects of the “dark side”. Conversely, the Jedi seem to train in basics and then have a more fluid approach to how each Jedi is used to affect change in the universe. This has an obvious correlation to Rom. 12:2 and 1 John 5:15-16.
As Christians, we have clear guidelines in the Word on what our basics are: prayer, evangelism, fellowship, and intake of the Word. But God leads each of us to a different path in order to accomplish His missions through us. The world wants everyone conforming to a life of sin and rebellion. The Lord wants Christians to continue to be disciplined in the basics while searching out His purpose for their individual lives.
To close this article, I want to provide some open ended discussion questions for you to explore with your friends and family.
Here’s some food for thought:
- Do you get as excited about worship as you do about Star Wars? How can we cultivate that excitement in ourselves prior to worship like the marketing experts do before the movie release?
- What are the differences between the Star Wars depiction of becoming and behaving as a Jedi verses the realities of how one becomes and behaves as a Christian? Are you seeking the fullness of His will, or merely avoiding sin?
- How much training do Jedi require before becoming useful? Does more training result in greater usefulness? How much training are you practicing in your walk? Are you making yourself available to be used? How much of a difference do you want to make in the world? Are you training enough to be equipped for God to use you in that way?
- Which characters do you see conforming, and which are not? Are you conforming to the pattern of the world, or are you renewing your mind?