Expectations of the Protagonist Part 2

 In A thought, Articles, film

Hello 4381 Productions,

(**in Yoda voice**) Returned I have. Another blog post, I shall make. Discuss I will, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and the exploration further of the protagonist and expectations have they.

For me, Star Wars is the purest form of escapism in film, I mean it literally takes place “A long time ago.. in a galaxy far, far away..” (on a screen). It has literally spent over forty years world-building and adding (and subtracting) from its endless canon and lore. And like The Dark Knight (2008), as mentioned in my last blog post, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is a film that also features the main protagonist(s) failing to achieve their goals, crafting a more captivating, and relatable narrative. Failure is the greatest teacher, a natural part of life, and for Luke Skywalker and friends it will show no mercy.

I’m sure many of you reading this have seen this forty year old film by now, but for those who haven’t allow me to break down the basic plot. The movie begins with our hero, Luke Skywalker, wanting to know more about the Jedi and eventually become one. His companions, Han and Princess Leia deal with their heated relationship issues while outrunning the Imperial navy. Darth Vader, the antagonist of the film, eventually traps Han and Leia which forces Luke to leave his Jedi training incomplete. He gets his hand chopped off, loses his father’s weapon, and finds out that his father IS Darth Vader. While Han’s best friend Lando betrays him and gets him frozen in carbonite.  By the end of the film, the main characters are left imprisoned, crippled, and mind blown with no clear direction for what will happen next. Audiences were left stunned by the time the credits rolled.

This knowledge is common nowadays, everyone knows Darth Vader is Luke’s father, but at the time this was a major revelation for not only Luke, but for audience members as well. Many people (myself included) consider this to be the best Star Wars film, because of the revelations and grave consequences the characters suffer in the film. It puts them in situations you wouldn’t expect to see for a trilogy of children’s movies designed to sell toys. This movie is important, because it teaches that failure is okay and you have to keep going if you want to achieve your goals. Surpassing individual expectations and giving consequence to character’s actions make them more relatable to the human experience. When characters are pushed to their limits, learn from mistakes, grow physically, and mentally, it pushes them forward to succeed in the future (Spoiler Alert: They do).

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Comments
  • Kevin Reynolds
    Reply

    I completely agree! There has been a refreshing change in narrative television in recent years as well. I think this is what made shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones wildly popular. In the past, your main characters were typically safe, especially on TV. No matter what kind of shenanigans they got into, by the end of the episode, they would survive. The idea that no one is safe can build so much more suspense and drama. You never know if today is the day that your favorite character finally dies in some dramatic fashion or, worse yet, in some unimportant and unceremonious way.

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