Star Wars: The Last Jedi continues the narrative structure created by Joseph Campbell decades ago

Whenever the name Star Wars appears in movies, toys, or even in video games, there is tremendous success, even when fans do not approve of the product. This not only guaranteed the longevity of the most famous franchise in the world, but also the possibility of risking the plot and the special effects, which always gave the production its unique and innovative character. The same can be seen in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

But how did this anthology of movies manage to create such excitement for so long? The answer comes from the time when George Lucas, creator of the movie universe, had just created another film that would put him on the map: American Graffiti, 1973. Always concerned with understanding the basic narrative structure of a story, George Lucas began to see their own creations as a result of a larger mythology, which ranged from ancient folklore to modern tales.

But it was not Lucas who first observed this ancestral structure of mythological tales. Rather, his vision was strongly influenced by American writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell, who theorized about the hero archetype in The Hero of a Thousand Faces, a 1949 book that shows all the steps a character needs to walk in order for his story to be well- successful. Moreover, according to Campbell, this archetype is part of all human cultures, which makes all the mythologies of history have a common structure.

If this is true, such a structure is very powerful and can create striking tales. And it was in these ideas that George Lucas supported himself to create Star Wars, where his main characters, his relationships with his families, friends and masters, and even the famous “force,” the invisible power that powers the characters, are created by from Campbell’s ideas.

The result was so strong that Star Wars became, and still is, the most successful independent film of all time – one that competes easily with any studio movie (before the franchise was sold to Disney). And if we add to this structure the fact that Lucas decided to start the franchise in a non-linear fashion, starting in the fourth episode, the success formula is guaranteed. After all, after identifying with both the plot and characters that came to life in the 1970s, who would not want to see the first episodes, which came 20 years after the series premiere, and also the sequel to 2015?

Even so, success came with ups and downs. Concerned about general film innovation, which was moving into the digital revolution, Lucas paid attention to special effects and ground-breaking cinematic techniques in the early episodes that began in 1999, while fans saw many problems in the plot. But while such impasses seem to have been solved when Disney began producing the sequels in 2015, the technological innovations (so characteristic of Star Wars) disappeared, almost a remake of the old movies (and fans, always waiting for a movie with the glamor of the originals, thank you).

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be a success: it continues the mythological structure that gave the whole its fame, with loved characters and universes that we can all identify. However, its innovative character is far from that expected by Lucas. Even so, this will not be a problem in a plot heavily influenced by Campbell’s ideas.

(article translated from the original version in portuguese, by Google Translate)

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