“It’s like darkness wants to be part of the painting.”
These poetic words from the protagonist of the new short, “Sith”—El Guiri Studios’ contribution to Star Wars: Visions Volume II—are as haunting as they are prophetic.
The protagonist’s name is Lola—voiced by Úrsula Corberó—and she’s a once-Sith, Force-wielding painter who has exiled herself to a remote, uninhabited world, with no one but her droid, E2, for company.
Is she there simply to perfect her art? That seems to be how she spends her days. (And wow—the animation is gorgeous!) Or, is she running from her Sith master and whatever past sins led to her bionic arm? She does appear to be determined to stay off the grid—and thus, focused on keeping her warning beacons on the grid.
Whatever her true purposes, they’re not clear—and they don’t need to be. Because the story is really about a Force discovery, both personal and cosmic.
And it comes back to that all-important line: Darkness wants to be part of the painting.
When Lola’s Sith master finally tracks her down—those beacons just weren’t as reliable as they needed to be—Lola flees rather than stand and fight. But it’s quickly clear that what she’s fleeing is the darkness the Sith represents in her.
She’s given up that life. She’s left the Sith behind, even if they won’t leave her alone. She lives in some sort of station lined by walls that are blank, white and well-lit.
But darkness wants to be part of the painting. And Lola doesn’t yet trust herself to truly paint.
Cornered, out of options, on the wrong side of a red lightsaber and yet still determined to chart her own path away from the Sith, Lola reveals to her old master the world of paint and color and potential that she seeks.
“Darkness is your fate,” the Sith screams, thrusting Lola backward with the Force. She falls; her lightsaber clatters to the ground.
And then she realizes something.
“Light and darkness are part of the painting,” she says. “Part of me.” She lifts droplets of black paint all around her, and they suddenly become every color of the rainbow—dark and light.
She ignites her double-sided lightsaber—yellow and red—and defeats her old master. As he vanishes into the dark side, he chuckles. He thinks he’s won—won her over to the dark side for good. Sith, you’ll recall, deal in absolutes.
But Lola will still chart her own destiny. “I’m no Sith.”
This beautifully done short ends with Lola and E2 blasting off into space, leaving the planet and self-imposed exile behind in a splash of color.
But that scene speckled with black paint droplets that suddenly turn red and blue and purple and yellow—that’s the one that sticks with me. Because it points to the nature of the Force, of the dark side and the light and the agency we all have to choose which we will embrace in each and every moment. It’s not a question of absolutes but of agency.
Lola’s painting—her own life—was necessarily made up of darkness and light, and they both were part of her, part of who she was and was becoming. Darkness cannot be simply scrubbed over, washed out or replaced.
But too often in Star Wars, we think of the dark side and the light side of the Force as these two separate ends of a very long, dichotomous spectrum: I’ve made choices that land me on the dark side; I’ve made choices that land me on the light side; and, the journey between the two is arduous, a saga in and of itself.
What “Sith” reminds us is that these two halves of the same whole exist in each and every moment, and we have the agency with which to change the proverbial color, right here, right now. The past does not determine our present or future, and each moment is primed with potential.
And Lola learns that lesson—and more importantly, learns that the fullness of her painting, her very self, needs to be shared with the wider galaxy.
Exile, loneliness, shame and self-doubt—these are the way of the dark side. And still, how quickly the dark can turn to light.
Star Wars: Visions Volume II is streaming now on Disney+.