I went to see The Last Jedi yesterday, and was surprised that libraries and archives are such a strong theme. Director Rian Johnson may have been thinking about some of the same things as us, maybe he should come and do a residency at the Frontyard library. The surprise is obviously because I haven’t kept up on my Star Wars fan sites, blogs and wikis- and maaf sebelumnya to all who are across this way before me. Spoiler alert: if you are yet to see it, don’t keep reading.
Luke Skywalker is living on a rocky island, spearing fish, milking strange alien sea mammals and meditating. He is also protecting/conserving/cataloguing/designing (but quite definitely not reading) the ancient sacred Jedi library. In this context, and furious by the demands on him to come out of retirement, he lights some kind of Jedi molotov cocktail and gets ready to burn the whole library. Yoda appears and has a little chat, challenging Luke’s attachment to the sacred Jedi text by sarcastically asking ‘read them have you?’ and describing them as ‘not exactly page-turners.’ Yoda then sets the library aflame himself by summoning a bolt of lightening through the force.
Time it is, for you to look past a pile of old books.
Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess.
This wonderful scene implies that Luke (and possibly none of the Jedis) has actually read these books. In fact, as Ryan Britt explains, we are not even sure if Luke can read. There is very little literacy in Star Wars after all. Who needs books with all those holograms and flashing lights?
But there are many Star Wars fans who think books may actually be more than a waste of space. And luckily for those of us, Rey has actually stolen the books when the library burns – they are safely on the Falcon. In this instance, Luke Skywalker is the Australia Council, Rey is Benjamin Forster, and Frontyard is the Millenium Falcon. I’ll leave it there.
More reading in a good Wired roundup here.