“What have you become?” an exhausted Obi-Wan Kenobi yells at the black armor in the darkness in front of him. Underneath must be his former Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker. “I am what you made me,” bellows Darth Vader — played by Hayden Christensen from the Star Wars prequel films (1999-2005), with the digitally edited voice of actor James Earl Jones, who played Darth Vader in the original trilogy. (1977-1983) into an icon.
It was already clear in advance that the new Star Wars series on Disney + Obi-Wan Kenobi, directed by Deborah Chow starring Ewan McGregor in the title role, would be propelled by unresolved trauma and the desire for revenge. The series picks up where George Lucas’ prologue trilogy left off: Obi-Wan lost his promising apprentice Anakin on the ‘Dark Side’, leaving him burning on a lava planet. Two comrades in arms, torn apart by fear, anger, hatred and ultimately suffering. At the start of the new series, the broken-hearted Obi-Wan Kenobi watches over Anakin’s hidden son Luke Skywalker, while Darth Vader hunts Kenobi, and young Princess Leia (10-year-old Vivien Lyra Blair) gets into trouble.
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Reckless jedi fighter
In addition to the mental wounds of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin/Darth Vader, the series introduces a new main character, also with a desire to take revenge: the ambitious Jedi fighter Reva, initially a pawn in Darth Vader’s game, turns out to be to carry a secret. Actress Moses Ingram (among others The Queen’s Gambit) plays her incomparably: ambitious, vulnerable, reckless. The idea that the dogmatic Jedi, notably the heroes, are also responsible for the chaos into which the universe has now fallen, is given more weight in Reva’s life course.
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Obi-Wan Kenobi also gives viewers some of the most beautifully designed and choreographed lightsaber battles in Star Wars history. Darth Vader is more furious and therefore more terrifying than ever. The prequels gave the well-known characters from the original trilogy more psychological depth, in this series they are all searching and, in the same fixed, recurring Star Wars motifs, they circle each other – more connected than they think.
Disturbing are some strange continuity things: why can Obi-Wan, hiding from the evil Empire and the most wanted person in the universe, keep scurrying around in his recognizable Obi-Wan clothes? Why does a crate of lightsabers go unused at a crucial moment? Obi-Wan Kenobi is by no means perfect, but many times more coherent than chaotic The Book of Boba Fett†
What the series does skillfully (and sometimes a bit artificially) does is those few last threads that were still hanging loose between Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977) – pretty clever, because every small shift in the plot leads to higher Star Wars hermeneutics online (‘if they meet here, what does that mean for that line from that movie?’).
In the original three films, Darth Vader was a villain, which turned out to be an ounce of good. In the prequels, Anakin Skywalker was an ambitious hero, prone to evil. In Obi-Wan Kenobi he struggles chronologically and mentally right in between. The eternal battle between good and evil, now more and more of an internal struggle within the characters – it’s been told a hundred times, but it’s still exciting.