Anakin’s Divine Origin

Strap yourselves in, we’re about to make the jump back into deep Star Wars territory. But it’s really, really, really interesting stuff to consider.

If you’re a geek.

Not so long ago, I tossed out a random thought that prequel haters who reject Anakin’s divine birth while at the same time accepting the concept of the Force are somewhat hypocritical. Jar Jar Hater in specific jumped into the fray, stating

JJH: “Having faith is not tied to one religion.”

kj: Nor is the concept of divine birth/lineage.

Let me further clarify my own response: I do understand that the Virgin Birth is very much related to Jesus Christ/Christianity. As someone who subscribes to that faith, it was also the first thought that popped in my head. I remember the collective gasp at the midnight showing when Qui–Gon received that explanation from Shmi.

Naturally, like ripples in a pond, the impact of this plot point was felt on every shore of fandom. Lucas had brought in religious notes to the Most Revered Original Trilogy, and we all spent the majority of our lives pretending we were intellectually versed on the Heroic Monomyth because he kept referencing Campbell’s seminal work in interviews about the conception points for Star Wars concepts.

Specificity

But a Virgin Birth wasn’t some fuzzy concept drawn from Eastern beliefs for which we had no proper context as children of Western culture. So I want to examine this question: Why would Lucas tie it, in the eyes of people like Jar Jar Hater, to such an easily–identifiable point of belief for a substantial portion of the planet’s population?

Or Did He?

Lucas has given numerous interviews wherein he copped to being spiritual without being religious. Now, unless he was trying to go against that basic personality trait and proselytize to the entire fanbase, we’re left to puzzle why he used such an “easily–recognizable” plot point.

My own conclusion is that it was an easy shorthand for the audience, using the presumption that they know the connotations of a virgin birth, which is safe. So it’s not so much tying to one religion as it is using a story shortcut. He wanted to communicate the idea that this kid was a child whose birth was foretold by a prophecy, and divine birth is a really, really easy way to do that.

So yes, he used an easy shortcut and relied on that shortcut to reinforce to the audience why this child was special. Is it possible that he placed it in there to shore up the idea of prophesied birth since midichlorians would be such a foreign concept to all but Scientologists?

Heck, it’s even possible he came up with the idea of midichlorians after the virgin birth part in order to try to divorce the plot point from the Christian connotations. Arguably, if this is the case, and I have no idea if it is, he did not succeed.

It’s Not a Virgin Birth Per Se

Lucas himself has said that it’s more a matter of a god/gods interacting at a base level with a human, the way Zeus used to run around knocking up Vestals all over the place. Considering the fact that there is a very strong allusion to the culture of Ancient Greece in how Anakin is raised, this would be consistent with the other elements.

In other words, some midichlorians got drunk one night and took advantage of Shmi when she was feeling a little lonesome.

Alternate Interpretations

Lucas himself opens up the interpretation of the truth of Shmi’s story in Revenge of the Sith when Palpatine makes reference to Darth Plagueis’s ability to create life by influencing the midichlorians. So even thought Shmi did not know explicitly that she had been manipulated into carrying a vessel of the Dark Side, there’s a sort of “Rosemary’s Baby” situation happening.

Of course, this relies on whether Palpatine is telling the truth. But even if he is, you’re left to wonder if Anakin was specifically conceived with the help of Darth Plagueis or if Palpatine is using a little bit of truth to get inside Anakin’s head. He would full well know Anakin’s supposed origins, and so he could tell the truth about Darth Plagueis’ abilities, even if Plagueis didn’t create Anakin on purpose.

In the book Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, James Luceno does a really terrific job of exploring the possibility while still leaving it open for people to read it how they want to read it. It’s that rare type of gem in the Star Wars Expanded Universe: worth reading, well written and leaves things open for your own interpretation without violating the text of the films.

Another interpretation is that Shmi was fibbing. This had popular support among the fanboys until Revenge of the Sith came around.

Conclusion

So really, this all goes toward saying that “I get it” about Jar Jar Hater’s complaint, I just don’t give it much weight. Lucas’ intent certainly wasn’t to make a clearly Christian reference. The worst you could accuse him of is using a lazy way to communicate Anakin’s importance.

I know full well who’ll jump all over that comment, but don’t care. Lucas has been many things, but intellectually lazy has never been one of them.

11 thoughts on “Anakin’s Divine Origin

      1. Thanks. Just pre-ordered it in paperback. Due for release in October. Hopefully will be well on my way through the Legacy of the Force by then.

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          1. It is set about 40ABY. It isn’t something to jump straight into. I am on my second time of reading them. I went back and read the New Jedi Order books as the Legacy books refer so much to those years. There are two books that span both ways of the timeline. Crosscurrant and Riptide have Jaden Korr as the protagonist. He’s from the Jedi Academy game.

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  1. Hey now, Attis, a Phrygian god from Asia Minor, Dionysus, the son of Zeus, Egyptian God Osiris, Mithra, the god of Mithraism, were all divine beings that we’re born before Jesus, or the stories of Jesus came about. the virgin birth is nothing new to hokey religions (and te Force is a hokey religion, just ask Han Solo). To associate it exclusively with Christianity is something an educated man like you should not do.

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    1. Also, you ever think that Shmi was high on Kessel (the “spice”, not you) and she actually was a Kessel Junkie that just wanted attention? It was probably all made up by an attention starved being.

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      1. There have been fans (as I noted) who do/did think she wasn’t being honest with Qui-Gon.

        Regardless, Anakin’s other traits: foresight, visions, midichlorian count higher than Yoda and the ability to pod race at nine years old all pointed in support of Shmi’s story.

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    2. Jar Jar Hater was the one who felt it was tied exclusively to one religion, not I (note the excerpt I quoted, silly). I merely acknowledge that as a group raised in America, that the immediate trigger is to associate that story element with the one known best.

      Whether or not I believe Christianity, as I readily acknowledge, is a side point at best. I just said that I understood why JJH would feel that it tied to one religion. I wouldn’t presume to bring up someone’s personal beliefs as a point of debate regardless of whether they were a Christian, a Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Zoroastrian as it’s not the point of what I wrote.

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  2. It was sloppy writing. I didn;t even connect Darth Plagueis powers to Schmi’s comment until your brought it up. Yes, VB mythology predates Christianity, but (at least in American culture) it is strongly tied to Mary and Jesus. Lucas had to know that would be the natural association. It doesn’t work because in the Christian mythos, Mary is theotokos, mother of God. Anakin may be the fulfillment of prophecy, but he was never supposed to be God incarnate. Making the association of Plagueis’ powers (if not intervention) definitely ties things up a little, brings the inference down a notch, but it flopped. That reveal happened way too late for an strong association to be made. Really, for it to have worked, it would have had to have been introduced before Schmi’s confession. The audience would have needed to be prepared.

    All that being said, I think if Anakin was conceived by sith manipulation, it would have been Sidious who did it. He told Anakin all these stories of powerful Sith masters to indicate his power without being direct about it. He kept Anakin alive when he should have died. He also caused his conception. Anakin was more than his apprentice. He was his “son.” He was the pinnacle of his ambition. He created him in order to become Vader, in order to use him to crush the Jedi and control the empire.

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  3. I just took a shower, and the more I thought about it, the more clear it becomes. Sidious conceived Anakin. He was full aware of the prophecy and manipulated it to his advantage. The Jedi took Anakin in on Qui Gon’s recommendation (ultimately) even over Yoda’s objections on the merits of the prophecy. Anakin was trained by legendary Jedi. He was completely infiltrated and all the while, Sidious kept him close to his own influence.

    Sidious used apprentices left and right as long as they served him, but he went out of his way to preserve Vader. Why? Not because he was the only one left after the purge, there were undiscovered candidates he could sense and find. He preserved Vader because he made Vader and even damaged, it was only ever going to be Vader. Vader was his lynchpin. Vader was the crux of his plan and his design, more than the Death Star or the storm troopers. The reasons go deep, but if it wasn’t Vader, Sidious would be vulnerable.

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