The Conversion of Han Solo

Following the release of the new Star Wars poster and trailer last week, a lot has been made of the various details contained therein.  Most often, questions about the place and role of Luke Skywalker are the ones that rise to the surface.

Han-Solo-changed-view-of-Jedi-and-ForceWhile interesting, there’s a much more intriguing motif running through the preview that has me (and others) thinking.  As you can see in the photo I’ve included here, it has to do with Han Solo.  While in the first Star Wars film he’s a brash young hero ready to reject supernatural beliefs in favor of his own abilities, it seems that his view of the universe has changed.  Now, after his experiences, he readily admits the world is more complicated.  He has embraced a new reality, if you will.

This kind of conversion motif, if you will, also marks the trailer’s conclusion, as a voice speaks to one of the characters, saying: “The Force is calling to you.  Just let it in.”  Likely a call to enter the Jedi life, this invitation was immediately reminiscent of nothing less than an old-school altar call.  Replace just a few words in that invitation and you’ve got a Billy Graham meeting.luminous-beings-we-are-not-this-crude-manner

The first Star Wars trilogy clearly borrowed from Eastern mysticism as well as Gnostic thought.  Dualism, pantheism, etc.: these were all philosophical and religious ideas that George Lucas borrowed (to great effect) in the films.  Though other themes and ideas could likely be perceived (think of Darth Vader’s last minute “salvation” here), the Force was understood deeply though the lens of Eastern thought as per Yoda.

I wonder, though, if the next film will borrow its broadly religious/philosophical ideas more heavily from a Christian or other conversion-based narrative.  Talking about conversion raises some interesting questions–perhaps most notably whether or not people really ever change.  I’m interested in seeing what the filmmakers have put together, and what opportunities for popular reflection and conversation such efforts may entail.


One comment on “The Conversion of Han Solo

  1. wcosnett says:

    First, I do really like the fact that Han, who played the role of skeptic in the original trilogy now seems to have the role of evangelist or prophet. As you say, the brasheness of his youth, the idea that he knows it all and is in control of his own destiny, has left.

    I would say, though, that at this point, not seeing the new movie, I would call it less “conversion” for Han then simple life experience. Han has simply gone through the normal process of going through the stages of life, albeit in a distant past with spaceships and laser swords. Just as the young adolescent is sure that they have all the answers and are smarter and better than anyone around him, as they go through life they realize, as you said, that life and the world is a bigger and more complicated place then they ever realized. Part of growing old is understanding that you often just do the best you can in situations, and the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know.

    In this sense I don’t think I would call Han a conversion, at least not in the classic sense of the word. He didn’t here a voice or see a ghost. He never took anything on faith. His change was due more to his experiences and observations of the world around him. In the scene that is references all he’s seen is an old man carrying a laser sword, and even by the end of the movie he hasn’t really experienced firsthand anything supernatural. By the end of Jedi he’s had his gun ripped out of his hand by telekenesis. He’s seen Luke leap 30 feet in the air and sense people’s thoughts. By the time the new movie starts I can imagine he’s also had decades of his wife, brother in law, and probably children constantly moving things around the house with their minds. In that sense he’s never really strayed from his original philosphy, he trusts what he can see, feel, and experience, it’s just that as he’s gone through life he’s expereinced a lot of strange things. But then again, I guess the same could be said of any religious walk of faith as well. So I guess I’m left with the question, is conversion realizing that the world you experience isn’t all there is, that there is a deeper meaning, or is conversion simply coming to understand the true nature of the world?

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