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'Star Wars The Last Jedi:' Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo

There's much to be learned in their struggle.

Luke facing his worst failure 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been out for more than a month already and since then many reviews and criticisms of the film have been lured in. Although it is critically acclaimed and many critics have enjoyed the film already, many fans have expressed discontent with how the film was presented. Although the film has been very negative, there are some positive aspects that needs to be highlighted as I felt they have been overshadowed by its more negative aspects. The story arc that I felt was a very positive aspect of the movie was the one with Luke Skywalker and the destruction of his Jedi Temple and his exile. 

In the film, Luke exiles himself to the planet of Ahch-To, a planet forgotten by time and the site of the first Jedi temple. There, Luke decides to live out the rest of his life on the planet, wasting his life away with guilt over his failures. He has given up hope on himself, The Force and the Jedi Order. He hopes to die, taking the Jedi Order along with him. As he lives out the rest of his days on the ocean world, a young Force-sensentive warrior named Rey comes and visits Luke. Rey hopes to find Luke Skywalker and bring him back to the galaxy to help the Resistance fight against the First Order. Luke, a hollow shell of his former self, refuses Rey's plea for help and retreats to his hut. This is the first sign of Luke's character, a miserable old man that is haunted with guilt over his past actions. What has happened for Luke Skywalker, the hopeful young Jedi that was to bring back the Jedi Order, to become an old hermit wasting away his years? Well, he became a Jedi mentor. 

After the events of Return Of The Jedi, Luke explores the galaxy, locating old Jedi relics, holocrons and knowledge in hopes to be the basis to starting a brand new Jedi Temple to which to restart. After spending a few years in searching for knowledge, he has finally found enough knowledge and wisdom to start a Jedi Academy. Coupled with finding new padawans, he begins to train the next generation of the Jedi. Among his students was Ben Solo, the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo and a member of the Skywalker family. Luke and Ben's relationship is very significant for the film and their characters. 

Ben Solo, despite being the son of two esteemed fighters in the Rebellion, had a rough childhood. Due to their parents' commitment in the Rebellion and their duties, Ben felt lonely, abandoned and vulnerable. Due to this upbringing, Ben felt conflicted within himself. Leia grew concerned over Ben, fearing that he would fall to the dark side. Being a offspring of Darth Vader, Leia passed down her force-sentivity to Ben. Leia believed that sending Ben to train with his uncle to be the best idea. Luke took Ben under his wing and trained him to be a Jedi. 

Through the years, Luke saw darkness within his nephew, believing that he may be converting to the dark side. Fearful for his safety, Luke goes to Ben's hut to confront him on his conflicted nature. Entering the hut of a sleeping Ben, Luke uses the force to examine Ben's mind and what he witnesses is something far beyond what he could ever imagined. From his vision, he saw death and destruction of those he loved by the hands of his nephew. After confronting this revelation, Luke felt that needed to do something, but what? He didn't know much of what he could have done. If he left Ben to his own devices, he believed that Ben would turn and kill the ones he loved. After saving the galaxy from the Sith, Luke was desperate, he didn't want the dark side to rise again and cause destruction once more. He knew he had to act quick. Luke grabbed his lightsaber and for a brief moment, he had thoughts of murder. He ignited his lightsaber, ready to strike. However, as he ignited his lightsaber, his thoughts shifted and the fear that was swelling inside himself faded. Luke was left ashamed of his own thoughts. He knew he couldn't do this, Luke was no killer, especially to those of his loved ones. But as he was left staring at his lightsaber, he looked at Ben, staring frightfully at Luke, his master. What Ben saw that day was something that would change for the rest of his life. 

When Ben awoke that night, was something of pure terror. Ben woke up to the sound of a lightsaber being ignited. Ben turned over to see that it was his uncle and master Luke Skywalker. Ben saw the eyes of fear and hate being consumed by his uncle. Ben felt scared and knew that he needed to protect himself. Ben called upon his lightsaber and activated it, defending himself from his now former master. As Luke pleaded with Ben to stop, Ben used the Force to collapse the hut, dumping them both in debris. Ben escaped and with a handful of other students, killed the other students and burned down the Jedi temple. When Luke awoke, he was faced with his Jedi Academy burning to the ground and his students slain on the ground. Luke felt guilt and shame over his actions and retreated.

Ben Solo soon became Kylo Ren, Snoke's apprentice and one of the leaders of the First Order. Luke Skywalker then retreated and exiled himself away from the galaxy's affairs. Their relationship is one of tragedy and adds many nuances and complexities to their character. Ben Solo's conversion to Kylo Ren is tragic as for his entire life, Ben was looking for someone to trust and love, but was faced with rejection and abandonment. This led to Kylo killing Snoke and forging his own path to leave the past behind him and create something new. The Sith and The Jedi doctrines were ones fraught with failure and thus pushed him toward something greater. Luke's failures led him to believe that the Jedi teachings have failed him and his students and many others in the past. This made Luke realize that the Jedi created many Sith warriors that have caused destruction to the Jedi, citing the example of the Jedi trying with his father, who later came to the destroy the Jedi. This made Luke want to end the Jedi Order once and for all. 

Kylo Ren is a creation of Ben Solo's weaknesses. Much like how Darth Vader was created from the ashes of Anakin Skywalker, Kylo Ren is a rebirth, a new identity in which he can reconstruct himself in a different image. Throughout his life, Ben hasn't had much of a solid authoritative figure he could look up to and admire. He couldn't look up to his parents as they weren't around much growing up, he couldn't look up to his uncle anymore as from his point of view, his former master tried to murder him in his sleep. After destroying Luke's Jedi Order, he looked towards Snoke and attempts to see him as a new figure in which he could look up to. However, as his training under Snoke continued, he found him as a abusive figure that only used him to enact his plans. Being warned that Snoke will eliminate Ben once he becomes useless, he has nowhere to turn. He was lost and didn't have proper guidance through his training. He began to look at his grandfather Darth Vader as role model for success. Seeing his ruthlessness as a prime example of leadership, Kylo adopts a darker, more brutal side. He displays his cruelty onto others to demonstrate power and fear to people below him. However, his constant use of brutality and his past history of failure has resulted in him becoming emotionally unstable. He loses his temper when he fails and takes out on everything around him, slashing everything around him and hurting those around him. Ben Solo's life is one of turbulence and tragedy. 

Through their stories, one can learn something valuable, that a teacher and student relationship is difficult. Luke was left with the responsibility of rebuilding the Jedi Order, a task only being performed by one man. Being the last Jedi left in the galaxy, Luke was overwhelmed and stressed. From birth, Luke was to be the one to rebuild the Jedi Order, to help protect the galaxy once more from the dark side and the Sith. Learning much from the Jedi, he believed that the Jedi way was necessary to protecting the galaxy once more. when faced with Ben becoming conflicted with the dark side, Luke knew what the dark side was capable of. Looking at his father, he knew the death and destruction they would bring. He has sacrificed his mentors, years of training and even his own arm in order to defeat the Sith. He knows exactly what the Sith were capable of. Watching his own nephew harboring powers that he couldn't fathom, Luke was desperate, Luke was fearful of the dark side rising and reacted instinctually. He knew that stopping the dark side in its tracks would work, by killing it before it could rise would be his best option. This led him to almost killing his nephew. However by almost doing so, he inevitably caused the rise of the dark side and the destruction of the Jedi once more, repeating what the Jedi did before him. This interesting dynamic between Luke and Kylo is a theme and relationship that's echoed throughout the three trilogies. It adds a layer of depth to the involvement of the Skywalker family's involvement in the Jedi and the Sith together. Anakin and Obi-Wan, Luke and Darth Vader and even Kylo and Rey. The tragedy caused by the Skywalker family is a theme that will be prevalent throughout the films. Even better, it teaches the relationship between teacher and student and the responsibilities of being a student and being a teacher. 

In the end, Luke makes amends for his actions as Kylo still searches and continues to be a great warrior. Luke leaves Rey to be rebuild the Jedi Order and to defeat Kylo. With the three trilogies about the tragedy of the Skywalker family, having Rey become a Jedi, defeating Kylo and rebuilding the Jedi will be poetic in its own right and end the Skywalker involvement in the galaxy, paving way for a new trilogy of films.  

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