What is The Force in Star Wars?


With Star Wars: The Force Awakens now in theaters, we ask the necessary question: Since Han says it’s so real, what is “the force” anyway?

What is the Force? Let us quote the great Obi-Wan Kenobi in answering this question:

Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together…. A Jedi can feel the force flowing through him.

And with this brief, yet concise description, Star Wars invented an entire religion in their first movie, and sealed their legacy as a movie that seamlessly combined both hard science fiction and basic myth making into one being that classrooms would use to show how Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces was relevant even today. it was also something that everyone could understand easily, and worked with other eastern and western religions as being related to the soul, and the inner life force.

Twenty two years later, Lucas would revisit this explanation, and attempt to overlay a scientific techno-babblesque explanation that included the midichlorians. But, as we discussed in our last installment, this was a direct contradiction to the original explanation, and in fact drove the entire concept of “The Force” into a dead end of questions. It was not just a needless delving into the gears of how things worked, it was an explanation that gummed up the original gears.

But the real problem with this question is that it misses the point of the entire Star Wars mythos. The original trilogy didn’t care what “the force” was. It was this nice mystical thing that some people believed in and scruffy nerf herders scoffed at. And if it was how Luke made that one in a million shot, or if it was just was what made Luke thing he’s made that one-in-a-million shot that took down the Death Star, it didn’t really matter. The Force is not a mystery–it just is. Just accept it.

Just let it in.

Next: What are midichlorians in Star Wars?

Check out the entire Star Wars Force Awakens cast list.