Caution: Minor spoilers for TCW, Aftermath, and The Force Awakens.
“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.” –Obi-wan Kenobi
The Force is one of the most iconic parts of the Star Wars franchise. It’s the driving force (heh heh) behind nearly all of the major events in the galaxy. The films give us a small taste of its true nature, but in order to understand this mysterious power, you have to delve deeper into other supporting media.
Most people know there’s a dark and a light side and that it allows its users to perform extraordinary feats like telekinesis, but the Force is a bit more multifaceted than that. So without further delay, let’s explore its nature and the various concepts associated with it.
I’ll start with the obvious aspects.
The Light Side:
“Do not hate him, Father. It is his nature.” –Daughter
The light side is the part of the Force usually associated with the Jedi Order. It is associated with life, compassion, self-sacrifice, honesty, etc. Those who adhere to its principles are highly altruistic and will only fight in self-defense or in defense of the innocent.
In the Mortis arc of TCW we met a woman who was essentially an anthropomorphic personification (see above: green haired humanoid/gryphon) of the light side. She and her brother (I’ll touch on him below) lived with their father in isolation until Obi-wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka were lured to their “planet” as part of a test.
True to her nature, she sacrificed her own life to prevent the death of another, much like a certain Chosen One would do for his son decades later.
Interestingly, she told her father not to be angry toward her brother, despite the dark-sider’s role in her death.
The Dark Side:
“Sith? Yes. And no.” –Son
The dark side is another facet we are all familiar with. It is associated with selfishness, deceit, death, and aggression. It is most attributed to the Sith, but there are other practitioners like the Nightsister witches of Dathomir or Imperial Inquisitors under Vader.
As mentioned above, TCW introduced us to a family of powerful Force-wielders. The Son was the physical embodiment of the dark side. Like his sister, he had a humanoid and animal form (batlike creature.)
Enamored by Anakin’s status as the Chosen One, the Son attempted to lure him to his side in order to escape his imprisonment and overthrow the Sith, promising Anakin there would be peace in the galaxy afterward. Here’s a short video of the vision the Son shared with Anakin. Note the brief musical note from Revenge of the Sith in the beginning. (Still gives me chills!)
Of course, status quo is God, and Anakin had his memory of this vision erased. Still, it’s interesting to wonder what would have happened if he had turned to the dark side this way in order to prevent his true future.
Despite being selfish by nature, the Son did express genuine grief over his sister’s death, stating she was the only one he ever truly loved. Might seem like an unimportant story detail, but I think I don’t think it was an arbitrary statement. I believe that light and dark share a more dynamic relationship than most people assume. This leads to my next point.
“You have a very simple view of the Universe. I am neither Sith nor Jedi. I am much more, and so are you.” –Father
This aspect of the Force is a lot harder to flesh out because it’s been left slightly ambiguous as to what Balance actually entails.
Here’s what we know: light and dark are both aspects of the Force. No matter how hard the Jedi or Sith try to destroy their opposing alignment, they will always continue to exist. The light side survived the destruction of the Jedi Order to continue through Luke. Similarly, the dark side survived the fall of the Sith via cults like the Acolytes of the Beyond and the Knights of Ren.
The Force was severely imbalanced toward darkness during the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War because of the actions of Palpatine and his corrupt rule.
On Mortis, we met the personification of Balance – Father. He wanted to verify Anakin’s status as Chosen One; an individual who could bring both of his children into a state of submission.
Father set up a test in which Son and Daughter would kill his master and apprentice unless he brought both of them under his control simultaneously. Anakin passed his first test of balance and would later go on to do the same by wiping out the Jedi and eventually the Sith.
Although he didn’t elaborate on it, Father also stated that the light side growing too strong would be just as disastrous. I’d love to see future clarification on this.
Now that we’ve covered the dichotomy of the Force’s aspects, let’s take a look at its “building blocks,” if you will.
The Cosmic, Living Force and its Messengers
“All energy from the Living Force, from all things that have ever lived, feeds into the Cosmic Force, binding everything and communicating to us through the midi-chlorians. Because of this, I can speak to you now.” – Qui-gon Jinn (spirit)
What’s that sound? Oh it’s just all of my readers leaving.
…still here? Okay. Let’s cover the most controversial aspect first.
I get why people hate the idea of midi-chlorians. These microscopic life forms have the potential to seriously demystify the Force and reduce it to boring biology. However, you need to remember two things: first, I sort of see what Lucas was going for with his theme of symbiosis and second, despite what I have heard multiple times, these organisms are not the Force itself. They merely give living beings the ability to touch the Force.
Subsequent media has attempted to give the Force a more mystical angle, likely in response to the backlash. Even the Force priestesses Yoda visits to learn of immortality make an offhand comment something along the lines of “what your science calls midi-chlorians,” leading me to believe that not even Jedi scientists fully know what they’re dealing with.
The Force, as ever, is still very much unknowable to non-Force-sensitives and Force-users alike.
On to the next related topic: the Living Force. This is the aspect most influenced by life in the galaxy. As detailed in Qui-gon’s quote above, everything that has ever lived or died feeds its energy into the Force. This energy in turn sustains the more unifying aspect – the Cosmic Force which is responsible for binding everything together.
So basically the Living Force allows life to exist and the Cosmic Force connects the universe and is responsible for the more metaphysical aspects like Force visions.
(If this all seems a bit vague, I apologize. I don’t have a lot of canon material to work with other than the final story of The Clone Wars. I would love to get more information soon.)
“There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The dark side and the light.” –Supreme Leader Snoke
With today’s topic being the Force, I wanted to briefly touch on the new film that’s so (excruciatingly) close to release.
I don’t think they chose the title The Force Awakens without a good reason. I’m theorizing here, but I get the feeling that after finally going into a state of balance, the Force has gone into a dormant state. This could also be attributed to a lack of serious Force-users (sans Luke) in the galaxy.
I believe that with a resurgence of dark-siders (refreshingly, non-Sith if Abrams is to be believed) and perhaps a new generation of young Force-sensitives ready to train as Jedi, the Force is truly coming out of its “sleep.”
We’ll have to wait until December 18th to see if my theories are even remotely correct.
Thanks for reading!
“The Force will be with you. Always.”