Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
As I think back over my own 42-year history with Star Wars I find dozens of beloved moments, each of which are a mossy brick in the Massassi Temple of my fandom. When considering this article though, I was surprised by the one I kept coming back to. The scene that makes my heart swell, tears well in my eyes, and makes me believe in both The Force and the power of myth: Rey seizing the lightsaber on Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens.
Anyone who has listened to George Lucas talk about the origins of Star Wars knows his affinity for Joseph Cambell’s monomyth. When J.J. Abrams gives us Rey in TFA he is certainly conscious of the “hero’s journey” and plays Rey’s development with pitch-perfect accuracy. We see her early in the film as a kind person, willing to help BB-8. We see she can fight when assaulted by Plutt’s thugs. We see she is aware of the myths of the Rebels and the Jedi in repeated conversations with Finn and Han.
And, we see her reject the call, running away from her first brush with The Force in the form of Luke’s lightsaber.
So we as the audience are prepped when she has seen Finn fall to a villainous figure who only moments before took the equivalent of a grenade launcher to the gut. We see the patricidal Kylo Ren reach out for the saber that once slaughtered younglings for the ascendant Darth Vader. The hilt vibrates in the snow…
But the weapon of the Jedi Luke Skywalker comes to Rey instead. It is the titular moment when in fulfillment of the film’s title the Force awakens in our hero; the perfect distillation of what words like “hero” and “Jedi” mean in Star Wars.
And thanks to Rey, perhaps at that moment the Force awakens a little bit in a lot of us.