Apocalyptic Imagery in Star Wars

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Fall 2014


The apocalyptic imagery in the biblical book of Revelation remains surprisingly current in modern pop culture. This video demonstrates how this is especially true in the case of Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. For example, the stormtroopers that serve Vader can be likened to the swarm of locusts in Revelation, especially as the stormtrooper helmet itself is bug-like. The TIE fighter ships have spider web designs that are similarly threatening, and the sound of their flight is insect-like. Another similarity between Star Wars and Revelation is Yoda and Obi-Wan’s roles as “the Two Witnesses” who die but are then resurrected (one could also compare their assumption into the Force to the disappearances of Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament). A major conflict in Revelation is that between the Christian Trinity and the Unholy Trinity of the Dragon (Satan), the Beast from the Land (Antichrist), and the Beast from the Sea (False Prophet). In Star Wars, the Emperor is most like the Dragon/Satan in initiating the chain of events that lead to the Jedi’s destruction (the Emperor’s voice at times is also deep and demonic). Like the Dragon pursues the Woman Clothed with the Sun and her Child, so too does the Emperor antagonize Padme and her children. Darth Vader, meanwhile, stands as an Antichrist figure in making war on the “saints,” or Jedi, by martyring them. Both Vader and the Beast from the Sea also recover from mortal wounds. Third and finally, we have Grand Moff Tarkin, who is like the Beast from the Sea in being able to “call down fire from heaven” via the Death Star. It is important to note that the Star Wars films were made during the 1970s and early 80s, when the United States was facing tough times and apocalyptic thinking was prominent in pop culture. As the United States faces increasing dangers around the world, imagery taken from Revelation will likely continue to be popular in the cinema.

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