Guest Editorial: The Symbolism of “The Last Jedi” by manybothans

We haven’t featured a guest editorial from one of our readers on the site in a while.  That being said, we recently received an essay from our reader, manybothans, and we wanted to share it with the rest of you as it might spark some interesting conversation in the comment section.  In the essay, manybothans brings up a lot of interesting points about The Last Jedi and takes on the possible reasoning behind the title choice for Episode VIII and what that may mean for the movie itself and the entire saga moving forward.  Take a look after the jump.


The Symbolism of The Last Jedi

By manybothans


“Then I saw it. I saw a mom who would die for her son. A man who would kill for his wife. A boy, angry and alone. Laid out in front of him, the bad path. I saw it. And the path was a circle. Round and round. So I changed it.”

– Looper


What’s in a name?


Star Wars fans can speculate endlessly on the most meager crumbs of information. Take the recently released title of Episode VIII. The Last Jedi is a compelling moniker, but most people would just say “cool, I like it” or “eh, could be better” and go about their day. It’s just a name, right?


Well, yes and no. Like the world myths that George Lucas borrowed from to create it, everything in Star Wars has significance. Lucas himself is famously elusive on this subject, offering everything from Joseph Campbellian philosophical takes on his space opera to “it’s just a Saturday morning kids serial from the ‘40s.” And in truth, Star Wars is all of those things – it’s a nursery rhyme and an epic poem, popcorn and pop art.



One of the most famous fan-stoked examples of this duality is ring theory. Posited in online forums ever since the release of the prequels, and codified on Mike Klimo’s extremely detailed blog, ring theory very simply states that Star Wars is a rhyming poem. Episode I mirrors Episode IV, Episode II mirrors Episode V, Episode III mirrors Episode VI. Events in the former have their proximal analogy in the latter. History repeats itself. This is meant to mimic the sublime symmetry of ancient epics – the very foundational texts that form the basis of our psychology. The compositing of life into heroic couplets, so that we may better understand it.


So, yes, The Last Jedi is just a name, but it’s also much more than that. One aspect of Star Wars ring theory that people may not realize is that even the titles are all symbolically and poetically linked. The Phantom Menace = A New Hope. Attack of the Clones = The Empire Strikes Back. Revenge of the Sith = Return of the Jedi. Each has the same amount of words as the other, and contain similar action verbs and tenses. They also seem to speak to each other thematically, the prequel line implying a descent into tragedy, the mirrored original trilogy sequence suggesting the struggle for redemption and a return to the light. And of course, these are exactly the themes of each leg of the tragedy of Darth Vader and his redemption through his son Luke Skywalker.



The Force Awakens looked to continue this trend. There are those three words again, just like A New Hope and The Phantom Menace. The meaning is perhaps more ambiguous than the previous two analogies, but that’s partially because we haven’t seen the whole trilogy yet. Surely this was the beginning of a new rhyming cycle, and we should next expect our darker, aggressively titled middle chapter, complete with action verb signifying impending struggle.


And then Rian Johnson changed it.


While The Last Jedi, with its accompanying red STAR WARS title font, does seem to suggest another possible descent into darkness, it most definitely is not four words long and does not contain an action verb. Rather, it’s brief and definitive – the repetition of a line we first read in the opening crawl of The Force Awakens, referring to Luke Skywalker, implying that the ceremonial handing off of the lightsaber that ends Episode VII will be the “next on” for Episode VIII.



The breaking of the cycle.


We’ve heard stories and rumors about how Rian Johnson was going to do something “weird” and different with his eighth episode of the Star Wars saga, taking the story into uncharted territory. It’s going to pick up right where The Force Awakens left off. There may be flashbacks. The nature of the force will be explored in new and strange ways.


All and none of this can be gleaned from a title. The film itself will have to do the dirty work. But for now, we endless speculators have this morsel to chew on. Rian Johnson knows this. He’s an internet nerd like the rest of us. He knows we’re watching, sitting there smugly in his editing room, “Episode VIII THE LAST JEDI” from the opening crawl of the next film cued up on his computer screen. You think the man who made Looper doesn’t get ring theory?


The Force Awakens was a rekindling of Star Wars fandom. Rogue One burned a deeper path into the Star Wars galaxy, but still on the fires of nostalgia. Everything we’ve heard about The Last Jedi suggests stranger things are ahead. Yes, we only have a title, but that title is full of potential meaning. If close reading can teach us anything about the future of the Skywalker saga, it’s this: the circle is now complete. The Last Jedi is the beginning of something new.



+ posts

Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he's not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.

Jordan Pate (Hard Case)

Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he's not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.

33 thoughts on “Guest Editorial: The Symbolism of “The Last Jedi” by manybothans

  • February 2, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Get help.

  • February 2, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Ok… thanks for the brief summary of known information.I was hoping for more of an analysis and theory.

    • February 2, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Nah, I think he said everything that could’ve been said at thus point. Which means, yeah, nothing new. But he put it into words quite beautifully

    • February 2, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      “I was hoping for more of an analysis and theory.”

      Which you didn’t get. So you can either just move along and deal with it, or you can be a dickhead and leave a meaningless comment. I think we see what you’ve chosen.

      Let’s see you take a crack at writing an article.

      • February 2, 2017 at 9:51 pm

        The irony here is delicious.

        • February 2, 2017 at 11:07 pm

          Eat it up.

  • February 2, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    What if Rey joins up with Ren, meaning Luke literally is the last Jedi?

    • February 3, 2017 at 3:01 am

      That would be a nice surprise. But it’s not going to happen.

  • February 2, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    It’s just a cool sounding title. I know you want some sort of profound and deep meaning to it and these films but at the end of the day they are meant to be fun adventure stories. That’s all.

    • February 2, 2017 at 11:40 pm

      Indeed, Swords and Sorcery in Space. Though they do of course borrow quite a bit from various mythologies, with Celtic mythology prominent.

      The whole rhyming thing was so restrictive anyway and Lucas, with his limited talent, obviously struggled within those constraints – thus the monumentally awkward and naff PT.

      • February 3, 2017 at 1:50 am

        Did you just say Lucas has “limited talent?” We wouldn’t even be here on this site without his GENIUS! Sure there were some flaws, and the PTs were Pre-destined to not live up the OT. What films can? But to say limited talent, you don’t even deserve to be on here? I suppose The Beatles were just elevator music too. Go write for the “Lughington Post,” I am sure you are qualified!

        • February 3, 2017 at 2:34 am

          ease up there cowboy. lucas himself has admitted his own shortcomings: screen writing, editing and working with actors just to name a few. he is the creator but he isn’t perfect.

          • February 3, 2017 at 3:07 am

            Oh I wouldn’t bother if I were you Admiral, there’s no reasoning with his ilk, they’re like a cult.

          • February 3, 2017 at 3:23 am

            Worth a shot. 😉

          • February 3, 2017 at 3:45 am

            Look, I apologize Admiral, but I did say there were flaws. And yes, I have read and seen interviews with Lucas talking about his own shortcomings. But I have been reading this forum for a long time and to use the term “Limited talent” with Lucas is still, you must admit, kind of harsh. I just find it amazing that people expected him, begged him to do more, and when he gave them more, almost everyone complained? I too had some difficulty with the PT but like I said, they were NEVER going to live up to the OT. So far, I am Intrigued and invested in the ST, but even it was a reboot of sorts (so far). People are now complaining about Disney. I mean, for goodness sakes, it looks as though they are at least trying to be careful with the story and give us fans quality films. On that note, R1 was pretty darn good IMO. And Lugh, My “ilk” used to skateboard to a band called THE CULT, but I am not part of one. Happy GroundHogs Day to ya gents!!!!

    • February 3, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      I’m right there with you!

  • February 2, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    I just wished they used a different logo. All the other movies have different logo’s but “The Last Jedi” just copies “The Force Awakens”.

    • February 3, 2017 at 1:43 am

      Didn’t the prequels all have the same logo but with the titles switched out?

      • February 3, 2017 at 2:00 am

        I guess I should have said different title. Yeah the Star Wars logos should always be the same but the name of each movie should be different

  • February 2, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    I’ve just had a revelation…. Luke Skywalker IS Darth Vader’s father! 😉

    • February 3, 2017 at 4:16 am

      C’mon, man!!!! SPOILERS. Yeesh…

  • February 2, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    The force awakens the last jedi from his nap.

  • February 3, 2017 at 12:08 am

    I see what you are getting at, but we humans are innately attracted to names with good rhythm and flow, just like we gravitate toward classic story arcs (like a Hero’s Journey) and musical arrangements (like a Fanfare). So those names are probably not so much a result of some poetic cycle, but rather a result of popular taste.

  • February 3, 2017 at 12:23 am

    The author didn’t… die to bring us this information… did he/she/they?

    • February 3, 2017 at 4:14 am

      *golf clap*

  • February 3, 2017 at 1:47 am

    Re: manybothans

    A common case of mistaken dialogue:
    It’s Manny (Manuel) Both-Hanz, Mon Mothma’s lover – you can see the distress in her face when she announced his sad death.

    • February 3, 2017 at 4:33 am

      i guess billy dee knows who donald glover is now. 😉

  • February 3, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Will be a teaser in the superbowl?

    • February 3, 2017 at 6:20 am


    • February 3, 2017 at 10:06 am

      There will be super bowl teasers… For GOTGV2 and POTC5. Star Wars will have to wait for a while, most likely until Celebration Orlando.

      – Pomojema

  • February 4, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    If they were going to steal a title from an old EU novel, I wish it would have been from one of the good ones. Crap like that one was why they cancelled it in the first place.

Comments are closed.