Disney couldn’t have been smarter to go with their third standalone film as being about Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Especially if tell us his life story.
As Darth Vader might say, it’s “all too easy.”
That’s because Obi-Wan plays a role in all seven of the Star Wars saga films so far.
As with all its films, of course, Disney should definitely put story first, and that might bring the script to an end before the character’s role in the saga so far, when his one-sentence whisper is heard in “The Force Awakens.”
But that doesn’t mean that the prequel and original films can’t be revisited in a powerful way, with audiences also getting more on Obi-Wan’s character that they haven’t seen before.
In the Obi-Wan life story, the first phase would be of him starting his Force-filled path as a younger person, with the help of a select couple of Jedi; the second, his defining years with Anakin; the third; his morphing role during the reign of the Empire; and a prologue that connects the story with the first classic film as impactfully as “Rogue One” did.
Here is how each section should play out (previously shot scenes can be reused or reshot):
As an infant, Obi-Wan is found by Yoda and identified for Jedi training by the Master. Flash forward to the moment when Obi-Wan, as a boy, is chosen by Qui-Gon Jinn as his Padawan.
(Star Wars canon is that individuals are identified for training as infants and by Jedi as apprentices, but this has not been explored on screen yet. Why not with a character about which we care so much?)
It is made clear that Yoda and Qui-Gon are the mentors in Obi-Wan’s hero’s journey, the coming-of-age formula by Joseph Campbell which ingredients include mentors and that has been seen over and over in film.
A few key, select moments of Qui-Gon’s tutelage are shown, as is at least one scene of Obi-Wan’s training in the Jedi Temple. (A couple of other aspects of Jedi training legend that have hardly been explored.)
This phase ends with Obi-Wan’s promise to Qui-Gon to train Anakin after Darth Maul kills Obi-Wan’s master.
This is where Disney will ‘remake’ the prequels. A better version of Anakin’s fall will be told, but since this is Obi-Wan’s movie (as “Episode I – The Phantom Menace” should have been anyway), it will be told through his eyes. (This will satisfy the vast majority of folks pining for reboots.)
This will also be the longest of the film’s sections. That’s because what Obi-Wan learns from teaching and working with the Chosen One, the figure who will reshape the galaxy’s fate, will largely reshape him as well and prepare him for his ultimate and perhaps most important quest.
A focus on Obi-Wan and Anakin during the Clone Wars (as the battles stay due to their reference in the original film and more importantly, because they provide the needed conflict) may put them together where Anakin is alone or with Ahsoka during the Clone Wars TV show.
So, the show may need to take a backseat in canon.
I’m not anti-Ahsoka one parsec, but to get Anakin’s fall right and tell the best story of Obi-Wan, this may need to happen. If even because you need to get enough stories from Anakin and Obi-Wan together in a film that will be at least close to typical running time but have two other phases and a prologue.
This is where Obi-Wan needs to apply what he learned from his experiences with Anakin and Anakin’s fall and the Empire’s rise. (Overall, humility – that he and the Jedi weren’t and it contributed in a big way to the individual and galactic tragedies.) That’s because he will be transitioning from warrior to protector during the “dark times.”
That assignment was given by Yoda in “Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” as was the charge to learn how to commune with Qui-Gon and learn how to pass from the mortal realm to the “netherworld of the Force,” as his Master is.
The guardian role will be for Obi-Wan to watch over Luke Skywalker, as it was indicated in “Episode IV – Return of the Jedi” that Obi-Wan did.
As was brilliantly outlined at the end of “Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader” Obi-Wan will learn through communion with Qui-Gon that the masked figure striking terror across the galaxy and hunting down remaining Jedi is indeed the former Anakin Skywalker.
In parallel fashion, Obi-Wan will learn in his beyond-mortality communication that he is watching over a new hope for the galaxy. So as much as he struggled in his new role until this point, he will realize the importance of abiding on Tatooine to keep the son of Skywalker from the twisted father.
The themes will intensify simultaneously to a climax.
(Obi-Wan will also be found to be talking out loud while communing with Qui-Gon, another reason, besides the pursuit of the netherworld of the Force, as to why locals consider him to be a “strange, old hermit,” as we learn in “A New Hope.”)
A black screen is accompanied by the sound of the clashing of lightsabers, and it will be audio from the lightsaber duel of Obi-Wan and Vader in “Episode IV – A New Hope.”
Upon fading into the scene, the audience will be looking through Obi-Wan’s eyes. From that perspective, they will see Luke run into the adjacent room, Obi-Wan stop, look at Vader, ready to react, and Obi-Wan’s closing of his eyes and raising his lightsaber, allowing for Vader to cut him down.
(This will be powerful because in “A New Hope,” the audience can see in those shots that Obi-Wan has a vision and plan that goes beyond Vader’s, Luke’s, or anyone present at the scene.)
A red flash will ensue, accompanied by the slashing sound of a lightsaber blade. The screen will go dark, accompanied by Luke’s “no!”
And then the screen will fade to white. The voice of a certain Master will say “Welcome home, Obi-Wan.” Then, the voice of a certain diminutive wizard will say “complete, your training is.”
Knowing of Yoda’s charge to Obi-Wan to learn how to pass to the Force’s netherworld, the audience will understand what has happened – and what that the protagonist has achieved the ultimate task of the Force.
When Obi-Wan’s voice and spirit is heard and seen in “A New Hope” and, so far, the following three sequels, they prove as powerful sequels in of themselves to this film.
This may be a three-hour film. (If I didn’t think it wouldn’t be, I would advocate for an exploration of the netherworld through Obi-Wan’s experiences in it.)
But it will be as powerful as any Lucasfilm production. That’s because it will tell key moments of the saga through a character who has the most interesting outlook on it all comprehensively.
Along the way, the needed task of telling this character’s story will be accomplished.
There has reportedly also been talk of an Obi-Wan trilogy, and as this suggested script would have three phases, it should be rather linear to expand to a trilogy.
Photo credit: IMDb