Thursday, July 17, 2008

Han Solo Has the Force

This is my thesis, which at least apparently contradicts what we are given about his character in the released films, but actually seems to confirm some facts and resolve some contradictions therein. Han Solo has the Force.

Let me clarify what I mean. I mean that Han Solo is sufficiently strong in the force that he can perform acts that would otherwise be impossible; that, in Obi-Wan's formulation, he is partially guided by it in his actions but that it also responds to his commands. If Han Solo were younger and had been trained to use the Force, he could have been a powerful Jedi; instead, he simply becomes the last of the Jedis' most important ally.

1) Han Solo does things that are otherwise impossible.

Luke and Vader (especially young Anakin) are remarkable, inventive pilots, as is Lando, but Han blows them all away. In one scene after another in Empire, Han is able to perform feats that Artoo or Threepio say are mathematically near-impossible. He does this in a ship that has a remarkable warp-speed computer but which appears singularly unsuited for close-quarters maneuveurs. Finally, he gets the drop on Vader in Episode IV, and while Vader may have been distracted by his sensations re: Luke, this is still evidence that we are dealing with a very special pilot.

2) Han Solo can communicate with his mind.

Seriously, how are we supposed to otherwise believe that Han can talk with Chewbacca, Greedo, Jabba, and every other alien he meets? Jabba needs an interpreter (Threepio) to talk to Luke, the Princess, etc.; but Solo can talk English to him and Jabba can talk Hutt back? Han's communication abilities fall well outside any "he was raised by Wookies" ad hoc hypotheses. Note that Leia, too, possesses amazing communication abilities, able to impersonate a bounty hunter and communicate nonverbally with Ewoks, along with her ability to telepathically connect with Luke. But Leia's also got the Force, son.

This also suggests that different people strong in the force have different strengths and weaknesss. The Princess is a fair shot in combat, but her strength is in mental communication and resistance to the same. Luke is a great physical fighter, Yoda a manipulator of the universe, Obi-Wan skulks and sneaks around, Palpatine experiments with life, dominates underlings, and deals in pain. Vader can do almost everything, but even he is best known for his piloting ability and his gift for crushing windpipes. Solo can fly, dodge, shoot, and talk to the Universe.

3) Han Solo denies believing in the force, but his denials sound like confirmations.

Han says (I'm paraphrasing) "I've gone from one end of the galaxy to the other, and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe that there's some all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no force controlling my destiny, that's for sure." At this, Obi-Wan laughs to himself. But the way Han poses the question is one of control. Han doesn't feel bound or controlled by the force, because he can use it, albeit unconsciously. Han doesn't believe in odds; he thinks he's been lucky, but as Obi-Wan says, "In my experience, there's no such thing as luck."

Likewise, there's no way Obi-Wan gets on just any ship willing to take him and Luke to Alderaan. He's played dumb before, but he knows exactly who Han and Chewie are and what the Millenium Falcon is. If he's going to save the Princess from Vader and make it to Alderaan with the stolen Death Star plans and Vader's son in tow, he's going to need a pilot who's strong in the force. And he may have found the strongest.

4) Han Solo has no parents.

This I'm actually taking from Wikipedia's summary of the extra-cinematic books on Solo's origin, but essentially he's an orphan on Corellia. Right in his name, it tells you that he's self-generated. Now, let's see... who else in the Star Wars universe is born into poverty under mysterious circumstances with crazy-ass piloting skills? Now, if you buy the suggestion in Return of the Sith that Palpatine somehow made Anakin -- that is, manipulated the mitichlorians (groan) into bringing him into being -- isn't it possible that Han Solo is another one of Palpatine's experiments? A gifted pilot, strong in the force, strong enough maybe to defeat Vader were Vader ever to turn on him? But this experiment got out of Palpatine's control, the child was lost, to piracy and smuggling, only to turn up one day on the Death Star's doorstep. All five of them -- Luke, Leia, Vader, Obi-Wan, and Han: very nearly destroyed together. Instead, Palpatine is left to play out his Sith triangle with Vader and Luke. Oh well. C'est la vie.


Gavin said...

Here's a nice take on Chewbacca and R2-D2 secretly being the most important figures in the Rebel Alliance.

Tim said...

I think it was Andy who kicked that piece into our lives. This, obviously, is a very different take on Han and his importance, but it's in the same overall spirit.

I have a theory about Lando, too, that grafts into "A New Sith" -- namely, that Lando is working covertly for Yoda and co., all along -- how else could he suddenly become an Admiral in the Rebel army? -- but he doesn't know or care anything about Luke or Han.

His one job, at least during the events of Empire, is to keep the Princess safe and out of Vader's hands. That's why he's so forward with her (wanting to be close to her all the time), why she and Chewie are the only people he's certain to keep safe, and why he's willing to give Han (and even Luke) up if he can save her. That's also why he actually fixes the hyperdrive on the Falcon -- if the worst comes, he takes Chewie and the Princess and makes a break for it.

Seriously, watch Empire with this in mind and Lando's whole character opens up completely differently.

Hand Solo said...

As far as Han having the force, don't forget that he is a mechanic of incredible means. He basically turned the MF into a ship capable of being wielded by the greatest pilot the universe has ever known.

Han for sure has the force, he just doesn't care. And why should he?

Tim said...

Han the Mechanic is something else he has in common with Anakin, especially baby Anakin. And isn't it worth noting that "Han Solo" essentially means "one hand" -- i.e., just like Vader and Luke?

Here's the "pushing it" thesis. Han's story is the same as Vader's story, from self-absorption into redemption. Han is Vader sans Jedi training. Han has no parents and Vader has no parents -- they were both incubated.

So I argue that Han and Vader are genetically identical. In other words, Han is Vader's clone, or substitute -- without Vader's knowledge. Han looks like an older Anakin. This completes the Han-Luke-Leia triangle into an Oedipal triangle.

Anonymous said...

Very nice. Not sure sure I see any real evidence for the Palpatine experiment or genetic argument, but I dig the symmetry. Spot on with the rest.

Anonymous said...

Hand Solo, you can't base your mechanic argument on him maintaining a ship capable of being flown by a great pilot himself, when the argument for him being a great pilot is because he can fly this ship the way he does.

Tim said...

Here's something else, again re: the "A New Sith" argument linked to before. Chewie sabotages the Falcon at the beginning of Empire so he and Han can't leave Leia and co. That's why it won't fly, why Han and Threepio have such a hard time getting it to work again. As soon as they get the Falcon to Cloud City, Lando's people are able to repair it right away (the imperial Army only flips a switch or breaks a fuse or something that R2 can fix immediately). Han may want to beat a hasty retreat, but Chewie wants to stay where the action is.

Tim said...

Also, while we're on the subject of mechanic skills in Star Wars, here's another beef with the prequels, Revenge Of the Sith in particular: There's no way that Palpatine and his cronies build that suit for Vader. Vader is Iron Man; he would build his own suit.

Andrew said...

There's been an alternate ending for RotJ kicking around for some years that plays into this idea: the thought was that Lando and the Millenium Falcon would not make it out of Death Star II as it went nova, and Han's earlier statement re: the Falcon, "I have a funny feeling like I'll never see her again." would be borne out.

Thus revealing once and for all that he really is in touch with the Force.

Also, this would raise the stakes of the closing of the movie a bit, in a way similar to your Short Schrift riff on Han: this effort takes sacrifice, not all heroes survive. Sure Biggs dies in ANH, but we don't see enough of him in the theatrical cut for it to be that big of an impact, and Obi Wan dies, but it is Noble and he is Old.

And losing Han at the beginning of RotJ would've had a much bigger impact than just a pall over the ending celebration, so really your counterfictionals win.

Andrew said...

Also, I've got a post on Anakin coming... If I can just get this drafting done.

Tim said...

Speaking of Biggs, one of my favorite moments in Ep IV is when the leader of Luke's and Biggs's Red squadron (Garven Dreis), after just missing the exhaust port on the Death Star, calls off Biggs, Wedge, and Luke when they try to help him. His starboard engine is shot, and he tells them to get set up for their attack run. After Darth Vader shoots him down, we get a long take of him screaming "Yeaaaaaaaaaaaa" as he crashes into the surface. It always gives me chills.

Andrew said...

And then it cuts to Luke's reaction shot and we see him both devastated and resigned.

Now imagine how powerful that moment would've been like if Biggs's scenes on Tatooine had made it into the movie. What with his rakish 70's mustache and cape and all...

When I was little, I had the "Star Wars Storybook," which had photos and dialogue from those omitted scenes.

After Biggs disappears in flames during the death star run, Luke whispers, "we're a couple of shooting stars."

Tim said...

Yeah, I'm sorry, but I think the Biggs on Tatooine scenes stink. Notwithstanding that marvelous cape. (Isn't he wearing Lando's clothes?)

Andrew said...

Right. For me this is totally the nostalgia of youth making them out to be better than they were (and my imagination that created a better scene than there ever was from the scrap of dialogue in the story book).

I actually think the tiny added stuff on Yavin with Biggs in the Special Edition is more than enough to get the point across (that's not my imagination, right?).

But the special edition changes are a point for another post...

Tim said...

Back to Andy's point about sacrifice. There's a weird way in which nothing is ever sacrificed in Star Wars, at least nothing big. Anything good that is damaged is always restored.

The prototype would be in the first movie, when two things happen. First, Obi-Wan is killed by Vader. But in about ten seconds, we hear Obi-Wan's voice, so we know he's not completely destroyed, and is actually more powerful now than when he was an old man.

The second is R2-D2, who gets pretty beaten up in the assault on the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin. Threepio is devastated by this, both when he first hears about it and sees him being pulled down from Luke's X-Wing. Luke, Han, and Leia clearly don't give a shit. The mechanics say they'll try to fix him, they run off for a quick three-way. Or whatever. At the very end of the movie, we see R2, as clean and shiny as Threepio himself.

Everything broken is put back together again. Luke loses a hand, he gets a new one. Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Vader die, they all come back as ghosts, redeemed in the force. The Organas and every inhabitant of Alderaan are murdered, and nobody ever mentions it.

The prequels are a little more driven by loss: all of the Jedi and younglings are killed, Amidala dies, Anakin's mother, too. The loss of Vader's limbs help complete his transformation into a monstrous machine. But somehow all of this eventually brings "balance" to the force. You almost can't think about sacrifice in the universe of Star Wars. Everything that's given somehow is returned.