Tonight I got a hankering to sit down with a Star Wars film and the spinning wheel landed on The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe it’s because of the Polar Vortex, or maybe I just loaded a search term into a post. This isn’t about your silly questions.
When I get these hankerings late at night, it’s typically to watch just part of one of the films. It settles me and brings me peace so I can silence the raging beast within and sleep through the night.
But before I retire to my dreams, I was inspired to write about R2D2 because like Lucas himself, I’m a big fan of the little astromech droid. The inspiration naturally spurred from once again seeing my favorite moment in The Empire Strikes Back, when Artoo lays the smoke screen so our heroes can escape Cloud City.
It’s all sorts of amazing that what hit me most this time wasn’t the fact that R2 is arguably the most–consistently heroic character in all six films. It isn’t that he bridges the divide between father and son, and the small ’droid‘s® “humanity” mirrors what the son can master which the father cannot.
It’s that Artoo was originally Padmé’s (or at least transferred to her after her reign as Queen ended), and he continually screws up Vader’s chances to become completely, fully evil.
Had Vader killed Luke in A New Hope, he would have been able to overthrow the Emperor and become the Master of the Galaxy. He would have had a Death Star at his control with which to challenge and topple Palpatine.
Had Artoo not gotten our heroes out of Cloud City, they never would have been able to rescue Luke. Luke was then able to return, as a Jedi, to end the Old Order and bring balance to the Galaxy.
A certain Jedi would have been unable to slaughter Jabba’s henchmen at the Sarlacc pit if Artoo hadn’t spirited his new lightsaber in his dome.
So say what you will. Artoo is a remnant of the passion and humanity that Vader lost and a visible tie to his dead wife and mother of his children. He keeps making sure that evil never wins. In other words, a symbol of Anakin’s love makes sure that the darkness never snuffs out the light.
Was it intentional? Maybe not. But it’s beautiful, and it makes the movies speak to me in a new way. That is art.