Life lessons from The Empire Strikes Back [part 11]: The Duel

2010/09/28

OK, so now the long-anticipated duel is on. And, true to his chilling declaration that Luke is not yet a Jedi, Darth Vader manhandles the boy from the start…
  • driving Luke to the floor with the second blow.
  • disarming Luke with ease (just after Luke boasts of being full of surprises).
  • knocking Luke down the stairs.
  • And then into a pit, nearly freezing him.

He even flies, sort of. VADER OWNS YOU, BOY.

Of course, Luke has some impressive talents himself and manages to not only survive “Plan A” of Vader’s trap but to actually knock the dark lord off the chamber platform into a shadowed area some 10-20 feet below.

Instead of taking this respite from battling the stronger Vader to seek a way to escape, Luke chooses to pursue the dark lord.

What?

I’ve asked my brother, who was six-and-a-half at the time, about what he was thinking during this scene when he first saw it. His reply:

“What are you DOING, Luke? RUN!!!!”

I wondered the same thing. I thought he was trying to rescue his friends. Granted, by killing Darth Vader he might accomplish that goal. But realistically, that’s not quite in his ability yet.

More to the point, the purity of his motive for coming — loyalty to his friends — is revealed to be suspect. In his heart, he wants to destroy Vader as much as he wants to help his friends.

I suppose I can’t fault Luke for wanting to kill two birds with one stroke of a lightsaber. But I do fault him for being too arrogant to learn the LIFE LESSON that Lando Calrissian taught me earlier in the film: Quit while you’re ahead, fool!

Bu Luke doesn’t. And so he gets horribly beaten up when Vader hurls the contents of  an entire room at him with the Force. And then Luke is thrown out of a window into a bottomless pit!

This was a very shocking moment for me.

Even after all this, I still didn’t think anything really bad could happen to heroes in a story. After all, didn’t Han survive the freezing? And weren’t the other heroes making good their escape while Luke fought Darth Vader?

And remember…Luke is THE hero of the story. The one who blows up Death Stars without a targeting computer and fells Imperial Walkers with ropes, his ‘saber and a single grenade. Even when he’s down on the floor with Vader’s sword at his throat, I still don’t think Luke can possibly lose to the bad guy.

Vader wins. End of story...?

And then, suddenly, Vader literally disarms Luke, ending the lightsaber duel. This moment taught me perhaps one of the most important LIFE LESSONs I picked up from this film at age nine: Sometimes the worst things happen to the best people. Sometimes the good guys DON’T win. Seeing this play out onscreen helped me accept this truth a little better in reality.

But the worst was still yet to come. Join me next time as I reminisce over the biggest twist in film history.

Advertisements

One Response to “Life lessons from The Empire Strikes Back [part 11]: The Duel”

  1. Kris G Says:

    Biggest twist in film history? Tough one… Psycho comes to mind. I mean, who the heck saw that coming?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: