The Last Jedi from a Feminist Perspective
I’ve been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember. I think I was my Taid’s (Welsh for grandfather) influence. He had a keen interest in all things space. A love of Star Wars was probably one of the few interests that just he and I shared. I never thought there would be an Episode VIII, let alone that one day I’d be sat here writing about The Last Jedi from a feminist perspective.
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Star Wars Franchise from a Feminist Perspective
Before I talk about the latest film I’d like to talk about the Star Wars franchise as a whole from a feminist perspective.
The more I read about feminism and feminist issues the more some parts of the original trilogy make me cringe nowadays. Specifically the initial dynamic between Han Solo and (at the time) Princess Leia. There’s just something a bit sleazy about Han in the first few scenes between them. The way he keeps trying to win her over shows an unwillingness to take no go an answer. I hate that she eventually falls for him too.
Whatever the Leia-Solo dynamic, Leia was and is still a positive female character in a major film franchise. She was trusted with the plans of the death star at the beginning of A New Hope and also saved them from the line of fire when Luke and Han came to rescue her. She always spoke her mind and ranked highly within the leadership of the rebellion. Fast forward to The Force Awakens and we find that she is now General Organa and leading the resistance in the fight against the First Order and her son.
For me, this is proof that she is all about the greater good. For a mother to fight for what is right, against her own child, must take immense strength. Especially when its a war you’ve been fighting for most of your life.
The Last Jedi
To summarise, The Last Jedi begins with the first order having discovered the resistance base and beginning to attack it as they are evacuating. Poe pulls off a daring plan to blow up one of the First Order’s ships while the resistance get away. As the resistance flee to a new base the First Order track them and put them under siege. When Leia is left unconscious following an attack on her ship, Vice Admiral Holdo takes command much to Poe’s dismay. Dissatisfied with her efforts to end the siege he hatches his own plan to disarm the first order’s tracker. Meanwhile Rey has been sent to find Luke Skywalker and to convince him to help the resistance. He is refuses and she eventually leaves to find Kylo Ren. Eventually Luke and Rey come separately, to save the rebels.
From a feminist perspective The Last Jedi ticks a lot of boxes as far as plot goes because it centers around female characters (more on this later).
This film took a while to get going. At one point I wondered if anything was going to happen. When Rey tries to persuade Luke to join the resistance she spends what feels like an age with him on the island. She follows him around and we even see the natives who look after the buildings on the island. But once it got going I really enjoyed it.
There are a few positives in The Last Jedi from a feminist perspective.
This film centres around Rey who is a female who discovered her power with the force in The Force Awakens. She is sent by Leia to go to Luke Skywalker and to convince him to re-join the rebels. When she fails she leaves and finds the rebels just in time to help them escape attack from the first order.
The best part of The Last Jedi from a feminist perspective, is the number of women within the resistance. Their top 2 ranking officers are both women Leia (General Organa), and Vice Admiral Holdo, who takes charge when Leia is injured. According to IMDB 18 of the credited cast were women compared to 2 credited female cast members in A New Hope.
In The Force Awakens I really liked Poe’s character. He’s a great pilot who cares deeply about the rebel cause. However, I found him to be quite arrogant in The Last Jedi. During the attack on the first order ship he ignores Leia’s orders to retreat. Even though his crew are successful in their mission many lives were lost and upon his return to the rebels Leia demotes him.
When Leia is injured Vice Admiral Holdo takes command of the rebel ship and doesn’t share her plan for escape with Poe. He launches his own mission, unknown to the Vice Admiral, to disarm the tracker on the first order ship. This mission ends in failure and almost scuppers Vice Admiral Holdo’s plans for escape.
In this situation Poe’s male entitlement shines through. Despite being out-ranked he refuses to follow orders because he thinks he should know what’s happening. In not trusting her judgement he put all the rebels at risk. Some are killed as a direct result of his actions.
So there you have it, The Last Jedi from a feminist perspective. Have you seen it yet? What do you think?
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