In The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson takes everything we’ve come to expect from a Star Wars film and completely shakes it up. When JJ Abrams revived the franchise with The Force Awakens, he followed in the path of the films that came before it. Like A New Hope, The Force Awakens was all about the hero’s journey, overcoming obstacles to forge your path in life and becoming the person you were meant to be. While many people were expecting The Last Jedi to follow suit and be analogous to Empire, it instead took cues from both Empire and Jedi and then forged its own path.

At its core, TLJ is about overcoming failure and hope for the future. These are themes that everyone can relate to. Everyone has failed at some point in their lives and everyone has hopes for the future. Recently, Ted Cruz tried to explain Net Neutrality to Mark Hamill using Star Wars as an example. Cruz stated that those in favor of Net Neutrality are basically the Empire and want the government to control everything. Except, in this case, it’s the corporations who are like the Empire, wanting to make sure they’re the ones who control the internet and those in favor of Net Neutrality are the rebels, trying to make sure everyone has an equal shot at being heard; Ted Cruz got it completely wrong. The United States is facing a crisis, power in the country has been usurped by people who could easily hold rank in either the Empire or now, the First Order.

Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo Ren, and General Hux have much in common with today’s leadership. They want to control that which they can’t control. They want everyone to bend to their way of thinking, and are more or less, willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of the cost to get what they want. As a consequence, the general populace is paying the price. People are losing their faith in the ability of the government to work to better our lives and are losing hope.

Hope is a powerful emotion, it helps us get from one day to the next, even when we are in the darkest of times. General Haldo quotes Leia as having said: “Hope is like the Sun; if you only believe in it when you can see it, you won’t make it through the night.” By the end of the movie, the rebel forces are depleted, there’s only a handful of them left and the First Order is closing in. Finn is prepared to sacrifice himself to save the small group, but Rose stops him, injuring herself in the process and when Finn asks her why she stopped him she tells him the way to win isn’t by fighting what we hate but by saving what we love.

When Luke is fighting Kylo Ren, he tells his nephew that the resistance isn’t over, the war has just begun, and that he is not the Last Jedi as we are shown Rey saving the remaining rebels. Like Empire, The Last Jedi ends on an ominous note. The rebellion suffered a loss and the future is uncertain, but The Last Jedi offers up a beacon of hope back on Canto Bight. We see a Force-sensitive kid, one of the slaves working the Race Track, wearing Rose’s Rebellion Ring and looking up to the sky, much like Luke did in A New Hope and in this film, just before becoming one with The Force. The American people need hope, we need to find a light in the darkness, we need The Last Jedi.

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