The sixth and final STAR WARS film marks the end of a 30-year odyssey that has truly been a watershed cultural phenomenon throughout the world. This final film in the series takes us full circle and reveals how Annakin Skywalker actually transformed into Darth Vader and also sets up the entire underpinning of the original STAR WARS.

What makes the whole STAR WARS series such a powerful experience in the genre of Spiritual Cinema is, of course, the whole message of "the force".

Let's remember that the original film was released in 1976, right in the midst of the ferment of spiritual thought in the 70's. Ever notice how many extraordinary landmark books in this arena were originally published in the 1970's? Richard Bach’s Illusions, Frank Herbert's Dune, The Education of Oversoul 7, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, not to mention Bid Time Return and What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson.

There was literally an explosion of titles that have proven over the years to be classics in this genre. Moreover, as the successor decade for us baby-boomers to the turbulent 60's, the 70's were a time of deep soul-searching and, for many, a rethinking of core values. As an old friend of mine (film director Floyd Mutrux) once commented to me "We fought the battles of the 60's and thought we won. In the 70's, we realized that we had only just begun."

Into this ferment then entered "the force" and a classic battle between good and evil – again, within ourselves and out in the world. Luke Skywalker is the classic hero with a destiny. Orphaned, left to himself, he feels the calling of his future, but doesn't know how to manifest it. Again, in the great tradition of spiritual practice, "when the student is ready, the teacher appears". In the STAR WARS series, Luke has three great teachers – Obe Wan Kenobee, Yoda, and his father Darth Vader. He is taught the balance between the light and the dark.

In the sequence in the first STAR WARS where Luke first meets Obe Wan, he learns the history of the universe, his family, and his tradition. It is in this sequence that Obe Wan explains the force as "the energy that binds us, that guides us, that is everywhere at once" (eerily similar to Morpheus’ description of THE MATRIX many years later, yes?). It is explained to Luke that Darth Vader "got seduced by the dark side of the force" and, as mentioned before, the final film in the series actually shows us how Vader was indeed so corrupted.

Darth Vader becomes privy to the powers of the cosmos that are balanced in nature in perfect harmony between the dark and the light. Each are acknowledged with equanimity by the universe. As humans, this is part of our evolution: to acknowledge all sides of our nature and to choose to pursue the power of our beauty; to attain our greatness without losing sight of our frailty and vulnerability. Unfortunately, due to his own desperate love and fears as revealed in SITH, Darth Vader becomes forever enmeshed in the dark.

The climactic confrontation in the first STAR WARS film put Luke in a position that literally "forces" him to transcend the "illusion" around him and trust in a power beyond his ordinary senses. This sequence has brought us one of the most famous phrases in the history of movies, building on the mantra of the film.

Luke has to drop a bomb into a very small opening in the Empire's Death Star so that he can thwart the Emperor's plan to destroy the resistance to its rule. The timing of the drop and the space into which it must fit is so precise that even his on-board computer can't quite get it right. As he nears his last chance to save the day, he hears his mentor's voice telling him to "Trust the force, Luke. Reach out with your feelings." (In REVENGE OF THE SITH, Luke’s father Annakin faces the same choice and makes a very different decision).

"Trust the force." Three words, a powerful lesson for Luke, of course, and an even more powerful message for all of us, phrased so simply with so much depth. ("May the force be with you" was also the inspiration for the title of my book and much of this column is adapted from my discussion of STAR WARS in that book).

One of the big challenges we face as a species is our ability to trust what we cannot see.Luke had evolved far enough along in his training as a Jedi that he could, with justification, trust the force. I find that to be a powerful metaphor because I believe that we as a humanity are in search of trusting something beyond our ordinary senses.


Both Luke and Annakin were urged to trust their own inner connectiveness to the power of the universe and their unique place within it. Both made decisively different choices and therein lies the power of our humanity. This new kind of trust is not about giving the power away and praying that the independent power outside of ourselves will smile benignly and grant our wishes. It is saying that we have the power to trust that the majestic power of the force is indeed within us all.


Thank you, George Lucas, for creating one of the great spiritual film series of all time.

Stephen Simon produced such films as Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come and will next be directing and producing the film version of Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God. He also wrote The Force is With You: Mystical Movie Messages That Inspire Our Lives and co-founded The Spiritual Cinema Circle at http://www.spiritualcinemacircle.comStephen welcomes your comments by email:

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