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The 7 - Random - Star Wars question
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joe-joe
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#1 Posted on 4.6.02 0756.29
Reposted on: 4.6.09 0759.01
I was just wondering what the significance, if any, is of cutting off hands/arms. In the original,
OB-1 cut off a guy's arm in the bar, the snow-beast and Luke lost arms in Empire, Darth lost (re-lost)
his arm in Jedi, and, of coarse, Anni loses his hand in the latest episode. I think that I am missing a
few besides these. Does George Lucas have something against healthy fingers or what?
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#2 Posted on 4.6.02 0831.12
Reposted on: 4.6.09 0834.49
If you listen to the commentary on the Episode 1 DVD, you'll hear Lucas say that he intends for each of the trilogies to "rhyme" and have "similar" events occur. To further that, there's long been a theory that history repeats itself.
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#3 Posted on 4.6.02 0839.19
Reposted on: 4.6.09 0843.27
Well, technically, Luke lost only a hand in Empire, as did Vader in ROTJ. And in Ep. 4, C3PO loses an arm when the Tusken Raiders ambush Luke when they were searching for R2D2.

I'm not aware of any special meaning behind it. It seems to just be a recurring theme (albeit it one w/out a purpose), similar to the phrase "I've got a bad feeling about this."

The only one (so far) that has any significance is Luke chopping off Vader's in ROTJ, as it makes him realize he is feeding off his anger (and by extension, the dark side). Anni's could possibly foreshadow Kenobi's "more machine now than man" line.
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#4 Posted on 4.6.02 0901.02
Reposted on: 4.6.09 0918.18

    Originally posted by Spaceman Spiff
    The only one (so far) that has any significance is Luke chopping off Vader's in ROTJ, as it makes him realize he is feeding off his anger
Don't forget that it also serves as a reminder of his failure at the cave -- showing him what happens when you give into that anger or basically "This is what you'll become."
Parts Unknown
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#5 Posted on 4.6.02 0930.54
Reposted on: 4.6.09 0937.08
Okay, I know this is may seem totally unrelated, but this makes me think of the TV series Twin Peaks. That show is loaded with arm metaphors. There's a one-armed man, a midget who calls himself "the arm," people who are about to be possessed and/or die complain of arm pain, and Laura Palmer, the murdered chick, says "sometimes my arms bend back."

What I'm getting at with this is perhaps there is some kind of archetypal pattern with arms in various mythologies. It's not inconceivable that George Lucas and David Lynch could have some or many of the same sources.
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#6 Posted on 4.6.02 1005.56
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1006.27

    Originally posted by Parts Unknown
    It's not inconceivable that George Lucas and David Lynch could have some or many of the same sources.
David Lynch's source: LSD and being wierd for wierdness' sake.

George Lucas' source: Mythology, Akira Kurosawa and old movie serials.

Oh, and if you don't have an arm, you can't hold a blaster or fight with a lightsaber. Or use your claws to rip a helpless human in half. And it hurts really bad.
Dr Unlikely
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#7 Posted on 4.6.02 1023.54
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1029.02
Obviously, deciding how much to read into things is a pretty tough subject...sometimes an arm getting cut off is symbolic, sometimes it's just a cool visual. But there are some symbolic interpretations of amputation and dismemberment that seem to relate to how they're used in the movies, or at least the important scenes (not so much in the Cantina or with the Wampa...or maybe). But again, who knows if it's intentional.

The dismemberment motif seems to be about rebirth and transformation. Dismemberment (probably more figurative than literal) was a key part of shamanic training and apprenticeship, where being dismembered and put back together (literally or otherwise) was part of the training experience and becoming empowered to perform visionary works. In other uses of the symbolism, it's about getting rid of a part of you (generally, something evil or corrupt) to become something else. This fits into Vader losing his robotic hand at the end of Jedi before becoming good (and Luke getting the robot hand showing how he's got the potential to be evil).

Hey, you can extend it to Ash's evil hand and getting rid of it in the Evil Dead movies, if you so desire. Or, to tie it into the Twin Peaks note, Mike the one-armed guy cuts off his arm to get rid of Bob. I'd say the symbolism is definitely intentional in these two cases.

In dream interpretation, amputation is supposed to be the removal of something no longer necessary or, on the flip side, a situation in which the person feels or is powerless. The former fits in with the above idea of losing something to become someone else (transformation). Feeling powerless fits in, too.

So anyway, yeah, there's definitely a background for dismemberment symbolism, especially if you want to look at Star Wars and compare the idea of training to be a Shaman to a Jedi. Of course, who knows if it's intentional or if it's supposed to mean anything at all. It is interesting to read about, though.
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#8 Posted on 4.6.02 1046.33
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1048.15
I think it's all as simple as: "Jedis have lightsabers and they cut things." Jedis don't always aim to kill their adversaries, but rather disable them from using their arms to harm anyone else.

There is the Luke/Anakin analogy, where Luke's hand getting chopped off is like Anakin's arm getting chopped off in Ep2 (right down to the closing shot of the movie with them getting a new arm and posing with 3P0 & R2 with Leia or Padme). Luke looking down at Vader's hand and then his own mechanical hand in ROTJ is where he sees himself slowly becoming "more machine than man," like his father, but that's the only one with real meaning I think.

Other than that, it's just cool shots of Jedis cutting things.

(edited by SKLOKAZOID on 4.6.02 0847)
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#9 Posted on 4.6.02 1101.21
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1108.32
    Originally posted by Dr Unlikely
    So anyway, yeah, there's definitely a background for dismemberment symbolism, especially if you want to look at Star Wars and compare the idea of training to be a Shaman to a Jedi.
Not to discount your theories and your research -- it's all accurate and good (and you can apply it where you like, I'm certainly not knocking you for that) and I don't want you to think I'm telling you that you're wrong or anything because personal interpretation is, as it would suggest, a personal matter and is entirely up to the individual.

Anyway, it's a fact that Lucas is heavily influenced by Japanese and eastern mythology and culture. The Jedi are CLEARLY Samurai. Darth Maul from Episode I has a look and design based on a djinn. Darth Vader's armor has a heavy Bedouin influence, along with the Tusken Raiders and Jawas. Look at the Jedi names, even: Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Ki-Adi -- all three of these are similar to Japanese name with the mono or dual syllables separated by a hypen.

Akira Kurosawa, people. Akira Kurosawa.

As for Ash's Evil Hand, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are Three Stooges nuts. They just wanted to do an hilarious scene where Ash is abused by his own hand.

So yes, deciding how much to read into things is a pretty tough call.

(edited by Papercuts! on 4.6.02 0902)

(edited by Papercuts! on 4.6.02 0908)
Dr Unlikely
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#10 Posted on 4.6.02 1111.30
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1129.01
Well, thanks for not discounting it!

I don't believe in any of the dream stuff or psychic reconstruction that I mentioned, and like most people by now, I'm fully aware of the Hidden Fortress references and the like, but someone asked if there's an archetypal or symbolic meaning that usually gets applied to arms and hands getting cut off, and there it is.

Does it mean anything? Did it play into putting certain scenes in certain movies and TV shows (as in, could there be multiple sources of inspiration for a work, which isn't all that uncommon, or could certain motifs have shared sources, which is kind of the basis for the Hero With a Thousand Faces thinking that's been attached to Star Wars and countless other works)? I dunno. I'm just answering a guy's question, is all.
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#11 Posted on 4.6.02 1118.40
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1129.03

    Originally posted by Dr Unlikely
    I don't believe in any of the dream stuff or psychic reconstruction that I mentioned, and like most people by now, I'm fully aware of the Hidden Fortress references and the like, but someone asked if there's an archetypal or symbolic meaning that usually gets applied to arms and hands getting cut off, and there it is.
Right. I was just making the distinction that this shouldn't necessarily be applied to Star Wars. You used the word "Shaman" a number of times as well, indicating Native American culture. I was seeking to clarify that Lucas has drawn on an Eastern cultural influence rather than Native American influence. You should know by now that if you give some posters even an iota of stuff to even remotely take as a POSSIBILITY (which I tried my best to make clear that I was acknowledging on your behalf) they'll grab ahold of it and run with it as immutable fact.

I intended no offense with my post.
Dr Unlikely
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#12 Posted on 4.6.02 1145.35
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1146.07
I understand, I just think you're being a little dismissive of other posters and the question that was posed in the thread. Closing off possible influences or routes of discussion amounts to the same problems taking everything as gospel.

The primary influence in Star Wars comes from Kurosawa and The Hidden Fortress, but the whole basis of the last decade or so embracing Campbell's Hero for Star Wars is that various religions and beliefs and cultural precepts share certain key concepts, characters and motifs. A lot of the visual and naming clues came through with the structure of Hidden Fortress, but there's just as much Christian symbolism, as well as the Tree of Life (especially on Dagobah, I think there's even a part of the score there called "The Magic Tree" or something similar) that pops up in a lot of religions. The spiritual-power related aspect of the Jedi seems to come from a lot of sources, some Christian, some Hindi, and maybe even some of that Shaman business.

I mean, there's as much American Old West influence in Star Wars as Feudal Japan. A lot of westerns were inspired by samurai film, too. And both the Western and the Samurai movies share a lot in common with Ur mythology and symbolism that predates them both. Who knows what else he was reading or watching, or what inspired Kurosawa when he was writing or John Ford when he was directing?

Same thing with Raimi. I know there's the slapstick/Stooge running jokes (with the Shemps and everything), but he also has an odd recurrance of injured or deformed hands and transformation in the Evil Dead movies, Spider-man (in interviews before the movie was released, he seemed fixated on Peter Parker hiding his hands in the movie) and even the For Love of the Game baseball movie he made a few years ago. Is it intentional? Maybe not. Could be. But if people are asking about it, there's no use trying to make them not talk about it or getting frustrated about it.

People are going to speculate about interesting plot complications or issues in threads where people are talking about plot issues and what might happen next. Same thing with weird symbolism, even if its goofy stuff that none of us buy into. And some of them are going to come up with implausable ideas that we just shake our heads at in disbelief. No use getting all worked about about it. It's just people talking about Star Wars and 'rasslin to kill time.
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#13 Posted on 4.6.02 1156.21
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1156.47
I follow you now. I'm the one not being clear enough. So here goes.

Yes, losing an arm does have its connotations in mythology, as Dr. Unlikely has clearly shown. However, I sincerely doubt that is the case in the context of Star Wars. That said, if you want to speculate and discuss what it could possibly maybe on the off chance mean in Star Wars, I won't stand in your way.

The things you're discussing, Dr. Unlikely, are things I'm actually VERY interested in and fascinated by. I'll talk your ear off and theorize all day about them. I just don't think they apply to Star Wars. People tend to go way overboard and read far too much into these five movies, throwing all reason and sense out the window -- from saying they're encouraging paganism to the ultra extreme in that it's all just a big plagaristic joke on Lucas' part -- I've heard it all.

Now, if we want to talk multi-religious and cross-cultural symbolism in a popular motion picture, I'll glady bring up the Matrix. But that probably should be another thread.
Parts Unknown
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#14 Posted on 4.6.02 1217.26
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1217.37
Beowulf - Grendel's arm is pulled off by the hero
The Fugitive - a one-armed man kills Kimble's wife

COINCIDENCE? I DON'T THINK SO!

Think about it...Greedo = Grendel.
Kimble = Qui-Gon!

Or not. :)
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#15 Posted on 4.6.02 1322.41
Reposted on: 4.6.09 1329.05
No, you were being clear enough. And for what it's worth, I agree with you that the symbolism wasn't necessarily intentional in Star Wars (though I think it clearly was in Twin Peaks) and it's just some dudes in space cutting arms off because it looks cool.

I was just throwing some exising symbolic interpretation out there and how it might apply and maybe even was percolating beneath the surface because Parts Unknown asked about the meaning behind arms getting cut off in other works and mythologies when he said: What I'm getting at with this is perhaps there is some kind of archetypal pattern with arms in various mythologies. It's not inconceivable that George Lucas and David Lynch could have some or many of the same sources. Like you, I think it's pretty neat stuff to talk about and would be happy to discuss other movies in threads in the future.
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#16 Posted on 5.6.02 0029.47
Reposted on: 5.6.09 0030.40
I think ol' George just needed an injury that was both visible and impressive. With the exception of the parallel in Return, which is fairly obvious.

What better way to show how impressive the Jedi's chosen weapon is than to lop a limb off, after all? It's PG, they couldn't exactly have Walrus-Man get decapitated or disemboweled. So, removing a limb is a handy (HAHAHAsorry) way to get the point across that a lightsaber is a bit more than a big-ass glostick with sound effects.
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#17 Posted on 9.6.02 1155.46
Reposted on: 9.6.09 1159.02
I just saw Attack last night, and thought I would jump right on in.

While Lucas does draw a lot of inspiration from Eastern mythology, he equally draws inpiration from phychoanalysis, especially Carl Jung (I have no evidence for this, just my own particular take -- please don't yell at me Papercuts).

-- Jung talks about the ancient Australian myth of Mana, which was thought to be a power which infuses and surrounds everything and everyone and which is harnessed by magicians and the gods. Sounds like the Force to me.

-- Jung analysed archetypes in myths which resonate in people's unconsciousness. The Hero is a warrior who rescues the hidden treasure, but who is a bit dense (Luke). The Old Man is a wise sage who assists the Hero in his quest (Obi Wan). The Trickster is an evil imp or demon who tries to defeat the Hero (Vader).

-- Jung really made improvements to Freud's theory of the oedipus complex -- rather than people actually wishing to have sex with their mother or their father, Jung says that it is the influence of the parent that must be overcome if a person is to truly grow up into their own person. (Luke's gotta avoid becoming his father, Vader)

-- the unconsciousness, where most psychological struggles take place, can be symbolized by caves or underground lairs. Luke's training with Yoda when he decapitates a vision of his father is pure psychoanalysis.

-- many myths involve incest. The Egyptian and Greek gods didn't worry too much about family lines when it came to sleeping around. I always wondered why Lucas had the whole Luke/Leia/Han love triangle ... it seemed creepy in hindsight. But it fits into the mythological character of the movies nicely.

-- Jung talks about the Shadow. We all have personality traits which we are ashamed of and repress into the unconsiousness. These constellate into the Shadow, which is like an 'evil' personality within you. Healthy people aren't troubled, or haunted, by their Shadows too much. On the other hand, Jung would say that Darth Vader has come to identify himself with his Shadow, and with his black armour and breathy voice it is quite literal. Luke's avoiding the dark side has nothing to do with his denying his personality traits (anger, fear, desire for revenge), but his coming to terms with them and not letting them possess him like they possess his father.

-- Adler talks about the Will to Power. Everyone has one, and in healthy people it motivates one to accomplish things. In unhealthy people it drives one to dominate. All the evil people in Star Wars talk about Power -- join the dark side and you will become so powerful! The dark side is just that ... an unhealthy obsession with power.

My main point: Star Wars = good introduction to psychoanalysis.

There is much more in the five movies, but this post is long enough. I think Lucas is a smart guy and he did intentionally put symbols like the cutting of arms into the movies. All myths have symbols.

My thoughts on Attack of the Clones? There was a very good movie in there, desperately trying to get out. Unfortunately, like a thin man in a fat man's body, it couldn't escape from under all that excess weight.

Edit: Excess weight as in too many scenes that aren't needed, not excess intellectual weight which is quite pleasing to see in a Hollywood movie.



(edited by Gavintzu on 9.6.02 1002)
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#18 Posted on 9.6.02 1422.05
Reposted on: 9.6.09 1429.01
Anyway, it's a fact that Lucas is heavily influenced by Japanese and eastern mythology and culture. The Jedi are CLEARLY Samurai. Darth Maul from Episode I has a look and design based on a djinn. Darth Vader's armor has a heavy Bedouin influence, along with the Tusken Raiders and Jawas. Look at the Jedi names, even: Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Ki-Adi -- all three of these are similar to Japanese name with the mono or dual syllables separated by a hypen.

Just wanted to correct you on this one point. It's the Chinese and the Koreans who have the two syllable, hyphenated names. The Japanese usually have multi-syllable names like Mutou Keiji, or Kurosawa Akira.

Also, since people keep arguing Shamanism vs. Eastern Mythology, I might as well throw out that the ancient Koreans practiced a form of Animism which was very similar to American Indian Shamanism in many respects.
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#19 Posted on 9.6.02 1741.32
Reposted on: 9.6.09 1741.47

Having finally seen the crappy movie today (ie lieu of wanting to sit around and do interview research), I think this is all just Lucas' oversimplification and repetitiveness at work.

I'm just happy it's only a father/son thing. I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that Yoda had cut off Dooku's hand who had cut off Qui-Gon who ...

And, yes, Lucas stole from John Ford as well as Kurosawa, which is no surprise, since Kurosawa's samurai films were inspired by John Ford westerns.

I'd also chalk the arm thing to being YET ANOTHER thing in Episode that was hammered home so that even the 2-year olds in the audience could get it. I think we all understand that Jengo Fett's son is Boba Fett, so do we need to see him holding his father's head/helmet after the battle? WE GET IT!


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#20 Posted on 10.6.02 0123.37
Reposted on: 10.6.09 0128.16
Lucus invented the "Force" after an auto accident. his first dream was to be a hod rod racer, and he wrecked and spent months in the hospital...i guess being stuck in bed, he wished he had the power to move objects to him....

i found out that info from his bio on www.imdb.com

quote:
**************
I think we all understand that Jengo Fett's son is Boba Fett, so do we need to see him holding his father's head/helmet after the battle? WE GET IT!
***************

acutally, boba is the unaltered clone of jengo that obi-wan was told about when he went to the clone place...

(edited by rikidozan on 10.6.02 0225)
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