Cinema: Of Myth And Men

A conversation between Bill Moyers and George Lucas on the meaning of the Force and the true theology of Star Wars

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LUCAS: Yes, I know what that is. The groundwork has been laid in this episode. The film is ultimately about the dark side and the light side, and those sides are designed around compassion and greed. The issue of greed, of getting things and owning things and having things and not being able to let go of things, is the opposite of compassion--of not thinking of yourself all the time. These are the two sides--the good force and the bad force. They're the simplest parts of a complex cosmic construction.

MOYERS: I think it's going to be very hard for the audience to accept that this innocent boy, Anakin Skywalker, can ever be capable of the things that we know happen later on. I think about Hitler and wonder what he looked like at nine years old.

LUCAS: There are a lot of people like that. And that's what I wonder. What is it in the human brain that gives us the capacity to be as evil as human beings have been in the past and are right now?

MOYERS: You've been probing that for a while now. Have you come to any conclusion?

LUCAS: I haven't. I think it comes out of a rationale of doing certain things and denying to yourself that you're actually doing them. If people were really to sit down and honestly look at themselves and the consequences of their actions, they would try to live their lives a lot differently. One of the main themes in The Phantom Menace is of organisms having to realize they must live for their mutual advantage.

MOYERS: Have you made peace with the fact that people read into your movies what you didn't necessarily invest there?

LUCAS: Yes, I find it amusing. I also find it very interesting, especially in terms of the academic world, that they will take a work and dissect it in so many different ways. Some of the ways are very profound, and some are very accurate. A lot of it, though, is just the person using their imagination to put things in there that really weren't there, which I don't mind either. I mean, one of the things I like about Star Wars is that it stimulates the imagination, and that's why I don't have any qualms about the toys or about any of the things that are going on around Star Wars, because it does allow young people to use their imagination and think outside the box.

MOYERS: What do you make of the fact that so many people have interpreted your work as being profoundly religious?

LUCAS: I don't see Star Wars as profoundly religious. I see Star Wars as taking all the issues that religion represents and trying to distill them down into a more modern and easily accessible construct--that there is a greater mystery out there. I remember when I was 10 years old, I asked my mother, "If there's only one God, why are there so many religions?" I've been pondering that question ever since, and the conclusion I've come to is that all the religions are true.

MOYERS: Is one religion as good as another?

LUCAS: I would say so. Religion is basically a container for faith. And faith in our culture, our world and on a larger issue, the mystical level--which is God, what one might describe as a supernatural, or the things that we can't explain--is a very important part of what allows us to remain stable, remain balanced.

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