Star Wars: The Story Of Ben Kenobi

Published on November 29th, 2009 in: Issues, Movies |

By Christian Lipski

My pride has had terrible consequences for the galaxy.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Return of the Jedi

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The Star Wars saga was designed by George Lucas to have the two comical droids, C-3PO and R2-D2, act as consistent observers through the years that make up the tale. Having a constant thread run through the movies gives the audience a known framework through which to consider the story. The saga also depicts a story of good versus evil, the Empire against the Republic. Perhaps most famously, it’s the story of Darth Vader’s rise and eventual defeat by his son Luke Skywalker.

But there’s another story thread running through the six movies that gets overlooked, and that’s the journey of Ben Kenobi, which in some ways is equally as epic as any of the others.

The story begins in Episode I, The Phantom Menace, with Kenobi as apprentice to Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn, helping to mediate the trade dispute between the Trade Federation and the planet Naboo. In the battle that breaks out due to the influence of Sith Lord Darth Sidious, Kenobi helps to rescue Queen Amidala from imprisonment. From the beginning, Kenobi is influential in the events on which the future of the galaxy hangs.

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Like Luke Skywalker years later, Kenobi sees his teacher cut down in front of him. The young apprentice is then forced to step up and become the instructor for Anakin Skywalker, despite Kenobi’s inexperience and Skywalker’s vote of no-confidence from the Jedi Council. The first movie ends, and Obi-Wan bears a great burden: to train the young child who may be the Chosen One.

In Episode II, Attack of the Clones, Kenobi is placed in the untenable position of having to simultaneously investigate an assassination attempt on Senator Amidala and continue the training of Anakin, who is distracted by his feelings for the Senator. Obi-Wan acts here as the main force of the story, unraveling plots and secrets while the Chosen One complains and the Republic becomes a dictatorship. Skywalker’s dark character begins to emerge, but primarily in terms of how it diverges from Kenobi’s teaching. We begin to see how Obi-Wan’s divided attention becomes the fatal flaw in the development of Darth Vader.

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The first trilogy ends with Episode III, Revenge Of The Sith, in which Kenobi’s protege finally abandons his master’s teachings to join the Dark Side. This begins during their mission to free the kidnapped Chancellor, where Obi-Wan is rendered unconscious. This lapse in attention allows the Chancellor to convince Anakin to murder Count Dooku. By the end of the film, Jedi and former apprentice must face each other in battle, and though Kenobi decidedly defeats Skywalker, he makes the critical decision to leave the young man alive, a choice that directly causes the events in the next three movies. It is also Obi-Wan who, after helping Senator Amidala deliver her twins, orchestrates the removal of the infants Luke and Leia to distant planets in order to hide them from the newly-born Empire.

Throughout the first three movies, Kenobi directly influences the plot both by his presence and, more tragically, by his absence. His teaching helps to preserve what good remains in Anakin Skywalker, but his lack of focus allows Anakin, in his confusion, to be manipulated by dark forces. Kenobi sets the stage for the next trilogy and waits for the right moment to continue his mission.

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