Sebastian Boyle is the author of this essay on Jar-Jar Binks.
Published on July 25, 2000
The Luke Skywalker of the Prequels is...
. Not Obi-Wan
, not Anakin, not Amidala. Jar Jar Binks. The Gungan many people considered to be annoying, clumsy, even racist! But these people are taking Jar Jar at face value, which is almost as bad as being racist. Jar Jar is the hero of the prequels.
I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who's half a man,
or the man who's half a boy.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Lost World
Over twenty five years ago, George Lucas
wrote that on the draft of the movie that would start a phenomenon,
the scale of which the world had never seen. Star
Wars. Of course when he wrote that quote he was meaning
the joy he could bring to the masses who would flock to see
the movie. But the quote can show something else...
Luke is the boy who's half
a man. Jar Jar is the man who's
half a boy. Though it may not seem very clear at first, Jar
Jar and Luke parallel
each other more than any other characters. And it all comes
from the Hero with a Thousand Faces...
years ago I set out to make a movie for a generation without
- George Lucas
In myths and legends, there's something called a "Hero's
Journey". It consists of the steps a hero must take on the
path to glory. Lucas read of this
in Joseph Campbells book "The Hero
with A Thousand Faces". In the original trilogy,
Luke had to take this hero's journey, and he succeeds
where his father failed. In Episode I, Jar
Jar also takes the first steps.
In ANH, we see Luke as an
innocent, wide-eyed farmboy. In TPM, we see Jar
Jar as an annoying, clumsy Gungan. Though they come
from very different backgrounds, and their destiny may be
a little different, they are in fact very similar. Luke
is called to adventure (one of the steps in the Hero's Journey)
by a humble droid, who falls from space and comes to him with
a message. He then finds himself in the presence of his "wise
and helpful guide", Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Jar Jar is called to adventure
by the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn,
who also falls from space. Qui-Gon
is to Jar Jar, like Obi-Wan
to Luke, a wise and helpful
In every hero's quest, there are threshold guardians who
block the heros way to adventure. In ANH, these took on the
form of sand people, who attacked Luke.
Obi-Wan, his wise and helpful
guide, saved Luke from them.
In TPM, they're the other Gungans, who are going to punish
Jar Jar. Qui-Gon,
who is Jar Jar's wise and helpful
guide, saves Jar Jar from them.
After both these adventures, both Luke
and Jar Jar turn down their
guide's call to adventure (although Jar
Jar's only resisted for a few seconds).
The next step in the Hero's Journey is the threshold, which
every hero must cross. For Luke,
the threshold was the Mos Eisley spaceport, where Luke
found creatures he'd never dreamed of, faced danger, and found
his future friend, Han Solo.
For Jar Jar, the threshold
was both the planet core and Theed, where he faced the humans
the Gungans hated, avoided getting eaten by sea monsters,
and found a friend in Amidala/Padme.
The labyrinth is the next adventure a hero must go through.
The Death Star was the labyrinth Luke
entered, where he faced danger around every corner of the
battle station's many corridors and trenches. Jar
Jar's labyrinth was the unknown worlds of Tatooine
and Coruscant, where he too faced danger. Both manage to escape.
The hero must next engage in battle, take part in mortal
combat. Luke rode his X-wing
up into the starts to attack the Death Star, while Jar
Jar rode a kaadu out onto the grassy plains of Naboo
to face the Trade Federation's droid army. In the end, both
come out the victors.
So what can we expect from Jar Jar
in the future? Well, maybe an epic battle in Episode II where
we'll first see the changes in him, and maybe even a confrontation
between him and Anakin once
Anakin starts down the dark
path. Whatever happens, there'll be a transition, much like
Luke's transition from the boy who wants to go to Toshi
Station to pick up some power convertors, to the man who faces
the greatest evil in the galaxy...