There are stories that give the audience a riddle and solve it at the end. The viewer is occupied with guessing and deducting all the hints that are given during the plot. A twist at the end solves it all and the audience is satisfied, because of the surprise or because they had already guessed the solution.
Then there are stories focusing more on other things than on a big riddle. For example, on the relationship of characters, the battle of good vs. evil and so on. Some of those stories include a mysterious element which isn’t solved. A certain kind of tension is kept in the background, creating more of an atmosphere than the viewer’s will to solve a riddle. In this case the “riddle” has more of a supportive role.
The riddle called “The Force”
In Star Wars we have an atmospheric riddle: The Force.
We, the viewers, all know what The Force is and at the same time we don’t really know. It is something about good and evil, there is this Dark Side, which is connected to emotions like anger and hate and there is the Light Side, which needs a very serious approach and a lot of control.
We get the impression that Jedi like Yoda or Sith like Darth Sidious know much more about The Force than we are told. But those secrets are not mentioned, not clearly categorized. All the knowledge about The Force is kept vague, mysterious, mythical.
The characters of Star Wars have their opinions about The Force and the viewers don’t get an objective, absolute truth.
All those factors create an atmosphere which pulls Star Wars away from the science part of the term “Science Fiction” and make it a unique story and probably even a unique genre. There is this certain thing which science can’t explain, a riddle that can be guessed but can’t be solved: The Force.
And then Midichlorians happened.
Suddenly Qui-Gon Jinn tests Anakin Skywalker’s blood and talks about Midichlorians, life forms who carry The Force. More Midichlorians in one’s blood seem to boost one’s ability to use The Force.
The Force, until now being vague, mysterious, mythical, suddenly can be measured. It’s not about feeling, that The Force is strong in this one, anymore. It’s about numbers which tell us that this person has more potential than that person.
“Even more than Master Yoda”.
And then we hear about this Darth Plagueis guy, who was able to manipulate the Midichlorians to create life. At least that’s what a not so trustable chancellor tells us. In vitro forcepowers, anyone?
Demystifying the riddle.
The atmospheric riddle is gone. The introduction of Midichlorians suddenly created a scientific approach, which destroys the vague, mysterious, mythical aura of The Force. There seems to be a possibility to objectively calculate or measure a Force user’s potential. All the mysterious Jedi talk about feeling this and that, potential here and talent there, Chosen One this and Sithlord that, seem to be hollow if the next moment some scientist of Midichloriology can appear and solve all the riddles.
From ‘sort of knowing’ to knowing that it has something to do with lifeforms in one’s blood, we have learned that it’s not an old religion, it’s something scientific.
And for what? Just to point out that Anakin Skywalker is so talented and potentially The Chosen One? Just to make sure that every viewer gets it? To introduce a system of measurement, which uses numbers to prove one’s talent?
I think the introduction of Midichlorians blew it. Demystifying The Force was the worst thing that could have happened to Star Wars, because it destroyed that specific atmosphere around that vague, mysterious, mythical thing called The Force.
There is a possibility to turn the tables, though. Episode 1 – 3 didn’t do that, so we have to wait and see if and how the Midichlorians will become a topic in the upcoming Star Wars movies.
May the vague, mysterious, mythical thing be with you!
Tom is an Austrian actor and director, working in theaters since 2001. He studied acting in Salzburg and currently lives in Germany. He loves being creative, putting the crazy thoughts in his head out into the world and dreaming of being a Star Wars character. In addition he is also studying Media-Management, but only if his thoughts don´t drift to galaxies far, far away.
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