Posted Sunday morning, October 7, 2018.
The galaxy in ruins: a scene from the dystopian action-adventure “Solo: A Star Wars Story”.
Finally saw “Solo”. It was our feature presentation for Family Movie Night last night. (Review in the works.) It’s billed as “A Star Wars” story but its strongest connection to Star Wars for me was in its reinforcing my longtime conviction that the movies take place in a dystopian civilization based on ancient technologies and science that people know how to operate and how to fix but which nobody alive in the movies’ timeframe except the Wookies, Anakin Skywalker, and Jyn Erso’s father understand in principle---the physics, chemistry, and biology at work behind it all is a mystery even to the chief engineers, technicians, and so-called doctors. Han Solo is an expert in percussive maintenance. Bang on it it until it works! He wouldn’t even get the Millennium Falcon off the ground without Chewie. At one point in “Solo” Lando Calrisian says that a proposed fix to the Falcon is “theoretically” possible, but he doesn’t mean anything by it except that he thinks he read something about it in “Repairing Interstellar Guidance Systems for Dummies” once. Nobody does the science. They just read the manuals and follow the instructions. So there’s no real invention or innovation, only technical improvements that increase power and efficiency and the size of the resulting explosions. The galaxy is in stagnation where it isn’t in decline and decay. On most of the planets we see, the denizens live among ruins, junk yards, garbage dumps, and scrap heaps. This is the case politically, economically, culturally, and socially, as well as technologically.
When Obi-wan expresses his nostalgia for a “more civilized age” in Episode IV, he’s idealizing a time that passed a thousand year before he was born.
George Lucas was telling us a cautionary tale about what happens when a society puts itself in the control of the military and religious leaders.