Flashback Blog: It’s all About the Final Shot

The great migration of the blogs from the original kessel korner continues! (I almost have spelled continue with a “k” but…yeah…no. Krusty taught me that lesson.)

In this particular gem, I forayed into analyzing only the last moments from the films, and what they were telling us. It’s interesting to flip through these things and see how I was tentatively still trying to find a style. I imagine if I wrote this today, I’d toss in a token pot-shot at Star Trek fans just for the heck of it. As tempting as it is to edit and include that…nah. I’ll deal with them soon enough again.

Anyway, hope you enjoy my attempt at film analysis here. Oh, Professor Joe Miller, wherever you are…I blame you.

It’s All About the Final Shot

Originally published on July 28, 2005, at the original kessel korner.

The final shots of Star Wars films tell you a lot about them. They show, in a brief moment, one of their tying themes and one of their key philosophies; togetherness and the place of the hero.

One of the greatest things that George Lucas seems to have learned from John Ford westerns is the importance of community, family and togetherness to the saga of the hero. The hero belongs not just to the community, but within it. The success of his journey depends on his functionality within the society.

That is how you know the hero is necessary to the wellness of that which he is trying to save, and that it is worth the sacrifice. If we did not belong to something, why would we fight to preserve it?

Let’s look at the final shots of the films and see what they are telling us. You’ve seen them hundreds of times, and processed all of this information whether you noticed it or not.

The heroes always look out, toward some future we cannot see. Whether celebrating a great victory [Episodes I, IV, VI] or regrouping and gathering strength for a future struggle [Episodes II, III, V], the players stand and look out to the future to meet it.

Endings are never the end. Arguably, this is more clearly the case with Episodes II, III and V – the resolution leaves major questions unanswered. But it’s also the case in the other films. At the end of The Phantom Menace, Anakin is a boy and we know that his journey lays before him. At the end of A New Hope, Vader has survived, and we know that the entire Empire did not fall when the Death Star was destroyed. At the end of Return of the Jedi, the Emperor is vanquished, but the Jedi have yet to be rebuilt and there’s a galaxy that needs rebuilding. So at the end of each film, there is always something more awaiting our heroes, and whether it is with anticipation or reluctance, they are going to meet it together.

The hero is a part of a whole. The hero never stands alone at the end of a Star Wars film. With these shots, Mr. Lucas stresses the fact that the hero cannot do it alone. Padme with Anakin, Leia with Luke, and Owen & Beru together with Luke – families that will stay by each other and fight both alongside and for each other.

It’s the final curtain. The act is over, the story goes on, but for now the players must bow. It gives the audience what I call a “theater moment,” one that allows them (and Mr. Lucas) to acknowledge the players as the curtain calls for intermission, and finally closes at the end of this beautiful melodrama. It’s a great art that seems to be dying in modern Hollywood. The moment at the end of the act/play that gives you a breather, that lets you know this is the end. I could go on and on about how other filmmakers could take a note from this.

So that’s my take. Amazing what amounts to less than five minutes of total screen time can tell you about a story and its teller.