Home > Ape Mind, Critical Thinking, Dystopia, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Zero Sum > Alternative Interpretation of Star Wars Movies: 01

Alternative Interpretation of Star Wars Movies: 01

Unless you have been living in a hole for the last 30-odd years you have probably seen at least one star wars movie or are familiar with the general story-line. However I believe that the conventional narrative of the story is incorrect.

Before I talk about an alternative interpretation, let us review the conventional narrative:

An evil scheming senator (palpatine) convinces a tortured soul (anakin) to defect to the dark side. He does so and helps destroy his own colleagues (jedi) and enslave the galaxy. Two decades after that event, his kids (luke and leia) with the help of a ragtag group of characters lead a rebellion which ultimately succeeds in overthrowing the empire and a cocky pilot (han solo) gets the princess and order is restored.

I do however believe that the real story is more complex and carries a very different message. Let us consider a few things, shall we..

Why did senator palpatine go to dark side?

When the story starts, senator palpatine is already a sith lord, but have you ever wondered how he got there. What made him go to the dark side? The prequels suggest that palpatine was a respected middle-aged senator from a minor planet system (naboo).

My theory is that palpatine was an extremely ambitious and competent man who realized that the byzantine power plays of the old republic would always keep him from living up to his true potential. He was not charismatic or skilled at playing corporate politics, but he was rational and ruthless. He went over to the dark side because that was his only hope of fulfilling his destiny. The old republic was an old boys club, populated by degenerate and incompetent men from ‘important’ planet systems. If it had worked as a real meritocracy, palpatine would never have had to embrace the dark side.

Why was palpatine successful at destroying the old republic?

He was successful because the old empire was sclerotic, ineffective, protocol ridden and special interest driven. Nobody was acting in good faith, and everyone wanted to maintain the status quo so that they would keep on receiving their unfair share of the pie. Remember that the jedi for all their vaunted role as protectors of the order never gave a damn about slavery, indentured labor or fairness. The empire was malfunctioning and nobody cared.

Why was palpatine successful at getting anakin to come over to his side?

Because anakin was also not getting anywhere. Even though he was the most naturally gifted jedi, he was never part of the inner clique. He was always seen as an untrustworthy outsider by fellow jedi. He could not stop his mother from being kidnapped and killed. You see, she was the only human being who had ever loved him unconditionally, and he could not save her. I see this event as the point where he snapped in more ways than one. The padme death vision was merely an excuse for what had started before that.

How could anakin kill his fellow jedi, including kids?

Because by that point, all he felt was hate and anger. He had never been treated well in his life, and he simply returned the favor. While killing kids might seem morally problematic to us, he had lost all empathy towards others. They might as well have been inanimate objects in his path. His lifelong mistreatment gave him no reason to treat others as equal human beings. You reap what you sow.

I might write alternative interpretations of other movies in subsequent posts.


  1. February 12, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Lets see… a group of insurgents is led by a religious fanatic living in the desert, to fly into and blow up a giant building 😉 (Unfortunately I cant take credit for that interpretation.. Ran Prieur pointed it out in one of his interviews: http://www.ranprieur.com/me/interviewtb.html )
    haha.. but do you get my point? People do not choose the dark side because they have options.

    • No One Important
      July 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Wait… the World Trace Center was a planet-destroying super laser of death?

      Holy crap I had no idea.

      • EvilOne
        July 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm

        I think you’re important!

      • Field negro
        July 10, 2016 at 12:16 am

        They are both resource draining symbol of potency that do squat when tested

  2. chris
    February 14, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    this is awesome.

    —I read several of your articles…why am i commenting on this one, and not the others—

  3. chris
    February 14, 2010 at 7:20 pm


    holy fucking shit.

    this just blew my mind,and i agree with it, looking back on the story.

  4. Tom
    July 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm


    I never thought about a deeper meaning to star wars.

  5. Julianus Apostatus
    July 20, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    To a degree the story was an adaptation of the fall of the Roman Republic with Palpatine playing the role of Octavian who later becomes Augustus. Vader is his Agrippa (though he was always loyal to Octavian/Augustus rather fall from some idealistic light side). Lucas just bought in the light side / dark side thing to provide a moral and dramatic device for the series.

  6. Rollo Tomassi
    July 21, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Some things to consider:

    1.) In episode 1 Palpatine is already an active Sith lord, having instructed Darth Maul in the Jedi arts well enough for him to defeat a standing Jedi Master (Qui-Gon Jinn) and fight Obiwan to a standstill. He is secretly a senator, but his turn to the Sith would’ve happend well before this.

    Yes, he turned to the dark side fairly early on in his career

    2.) Again in episode 1 Palpatine is in league with the greedy Trade Federation (an interesting association) imposing a blockade of Naboo (his home planet), why? For whatever reason, Naboo is considered valuable enough to invade militarily. It should also be noted that the Trade Federation exclusively uses droids to do it’s fighting for them.

    He used every trick in the book to destabilize an already rotten system.

    3.) In episode 2 Anakin proves to be the biggest beta AFC the galaxy has ever known. In every instance he’s with Padme he drops every beta chump line and behavior ever conceived. We know he’s fatherless (a virgin birth by her account) and raised by a single mother until about 8. We know he’s dutiful and more talented than any Jedi before him. We know he wants to do right, but his greatest thumbscrew is his fear of loneliness and rejection by Padme – his ONEitis – who is also forbidden to him by Jedi strictures. While I wont deny that Anakin’s ambitions being held back by the Jedi was a factor in his fall, it was really his obsessive ONEitis for Padme that ultimately pushes him to the dark side in an effort to keep her.

    He first visibly succumbs to the dark side after finding the corpse of his mother.

  7. Commander Shepard
    July 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Absolutely brilliant. This is one of your best blog entries. I’d definitely like to see more alternate theme discussions for film, television, literature, etc.

  8. No One Important
    July 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Oh my gosh! You acknowledged my existance!

    I guess you want me as an acolyte don’t you.

  9. EvilOne
    July 31, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Acolyte? I can’t even spell it!

  10. feli giorg
    February 9, 2017 at 4:50 am

    Interesting interpretation but you are wrong inthe idea that the jedi did not care about slavery or tried nothing to stop it, the protolcal ridden special interests as you said that impeaded their efforts not to mention they were a little preoccupied. And they did have the disadvantage of serving the republic being run by a sith lord. …….. Isense there is still good in you.

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