How Star Wars animation prepared us for The Last Jedi

I loved The Last Jedi. I’ve listened to the criticisms, and I just don’t agree with most of them, or at least I don’t think they are reason enough for response of a lot of fans. Some of the complaints in particular that I don’t agree with are about the new Force-powers. It turns out that they’re not new, and we’ve seen them before in Star Wars: Rebels and The Clone Wars. Spoilers for The Last Jedi below.

Force-Floating

The first one is Force-Floating. There are actually several examples of this in the The Last Jedi. Luke is floating at the end of the film while doing the Force-projection (more on that below), but he also does in during his conflict with Rey. When they’re fighting with staff and pole if you watch closely when Luke backs up to the stairs and falls back, he uses the Force to hover a bit to set down smoothly.

The other big one is Leia “flying” back to the ship from space. Admittedly, this one is in essentially zero-gravity and therefore probably took the least Force-power of them all, despite the fact that this one takes the most criticism. I’ll come back to this one in a minute.

Perhaps the problem that people have with this one is that the Force is applied to the Force-user, instead of an external object like a rock or a spaceship. This may be true, but you could respond by saying that the Force-user is an object in the world. The Force could in theory act on the “crude matter” that makes up the Force-user just as it would when lifting another person.

The first time I recall ever seeing a Jedi use the Force on themselves was The Clone Wars. Check this clip of Anakin and Ahsoka:

As you can see, Anakin and Ahsoka break their fall using the Force. You might say that this is actually a Force-push on the planet, but that wouldn’t make sense. If using the Force to lift or push objects also pushed back on you with an equal and opposite reaction, then lifting a space ship with the Force would crush you. Therefore, Anakin and Ahsoka must be using the Force to push up on themselves. The Force can act on the Force-user.

If you can buy that Anakin and Ahsoka can use the Force to break their fall by pushing up on themselves, then what Luke did to hover is essentially the same thing, just extended in duration.

Lucasfilm

As far as Leia goes, she’s just doing the same thing, but in outer space, so there is no planet’s gravitational force to pull her back. Some complain that she never used the Force before, but she used the Force to telepathically communicate with Luke at the end of Empire. Telepathy is different you say? Well, nobody complained when Luke used the Force to retrieve his lightsaber from the ice in the wampa cave at the beginning of Empire, and he did this with almost no training other than lightsaber practice with Obi Wan on the Millennium Falcon. Certainly Leia could have learned a little something from Luke in all the years since he told her “you have that power too”.  And like Luke in the wampa cave, Leia was acting out of survival instinct–when great strength can manifest.

One more point about Leia is the claim that being in outer space would kill you. While that’s true, it isn’t instant. It takes about 15 seconds for you to lose consciousness in space without oxygen. So I think the amount of time she was out there is plausible.

Force-Projection

The Force-Projection scene was great because we had never seen it on the big screen before, which led to a great “twist” at the end of the film. However, if you don’t buy that we saw Kylo and Rey basically Force-projecting to each other in their ForceTime exchanges, albeit not by their own volition or power, and if you don’t by Rian Johnson’s tweet pointing out that it was already in The Jedi Path book…

…then you’ll at least buy that it was in Star Wars Rebels. Yoda Force-projected to visit Ezra in the temple on Lothal.

Lucasfilm, Star Wars Rebels

As the exchange goes:

Ezra – Master Yoda, you are here? 

Yoda – Or here, you are, hmmm? 

This sounds a lot like Force-projection. At the time when we saw this, I discussed how this could play into The Last Jedi, but I still had no idea how it would end up working in the film. It also seemed that this was powered by the Temple somehow, and not necessarily by Yoda. This would explain why it didn’t kill Yoda to do this trick as it does Luke, assuming Yoda is also not powerful enough to do it without dying. Nevertheless, it is all there. The interesting thing about this the timing makes me think this skill was part of Yoda’s training to become a Force-ghost. While Yoda was on Dagobah, he may have studied how to project himself to other Jedi temples in preparation for the day that he, like Luke after him, would be come a Force-ghost.

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