Holy Star Wars!

Holy Star Wars!

After almost a month of sacred readings of Star Wars, I have been thinking a lot about how to ensure that my writings are as accessible to a...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Icarus and Daedalus/ The Clone Wars S1E1: Ambush


Daedalus and Icarus

       Murder! Famed inventor Daedalus has been cast away to the island of Crete as punishment for murdering his own son.
       Trapped in a labyrinth of his own creation for crimes even further, Daedalus and another of his sons, Icarus, devise a plan to escape. Daedalus's bloated ego may hinder his escape, but the perils lurking deep within the labyrinth may also knock him down to size...


       A galaxy divided by war! Peaceful worlds must choose sides or face the threat of invasion. Republic and Separatist armies vie for the allegiance of neutral planets.
       Desperate to build a Republic supply base on the system of Toydaria, Jedi Master Yoda travels to secret negotiations on a remote neutral moon....
Size is so often used as a metaphor for power, in literature as well as in real life, that the metaphor has permeated our perception of the world that we often forget that size and power are in truth mutually exclusive measurements. Today’s episode of The Clone Wars, Ambush (S1E1) as well as today’s myth, the Greek story of Icarus and Daedalus, are sopping with both implicit and explicit examples of size with several different ways to help us understand its meaning.

The episode starts right off with Sith apprentice Asajj Ventress making comment on how Jedi Master Yoda is a small creature. While the comment is purely descriptive, the context is meant to imply his small stature should make him an easier foe to vanquish for the much larger built droids and their larger still tanks. This is only the first size-related mistake the Separatist Army makes in their skirmish with the Republic on Toydaria. The next mistake was assuming the size of their army would be more than enough to fend off three clones and a single Jedi

Daedalus was a tragic character who fell to the persuasion of size in a different way. Rather than physical largeness, Daedalus’s bloated arrogance drove him to believe himself bigger or in his particular case, wiser and craftier than others. His excessive self-adoration and illusions of grandeur would lead him to attempt to translate his sense of being so large into actions manifesting themselves in similar size-related metaphors. Namely, Daedalus had another son beside Icarus whom he feared so greatly would one day become better and more important than him that he threw his son off the top of a mountain. Not only a repulsive act, but the symbolism in a man who thinks himself to be above everyone else would thrust his own son down a cliff to permanently proclaim himself higher than all others.

Similar juxtapositions were made between Yoda and his clones against the droid army. The most obvious are the physical. Yoda and even the clones are tiny compared to the height, width, and weight of the super battle droids they are up against. Their weapons pale in comparison to the assumed might of the tanks the droids operate. Even the camerawork is designed to make the viewer believe the odds are stacked against the smaller’s favor. Shots of super battle droids are taken from the ground up, making them look bigger and more intimidating. There are also several panoramic or sweeping shots of the droid army, meant to show just how large it is, whereas most shots of the Republic forces are close up and in smaller frames. This is, until eventually the Separatist forces become desperate and their fate becomes sealed.

To atone for his crimes and after a series of other short happenings, Daedalus finds himself having constructed a massive and virtually inescapable labyrinth on the island of Crete in order to keep a minotaur trapped in the middle. For helping the hero named Theseus escape from Crete with his love, King Minos’s daughter Ariadne, Daedalus and his son Icarus were sentenced to be imprisoned inside the very labyrinth that Daedalus has built. The size-related metaphor here is at last truly fitting. It may possibly have been this humbling experience that led Daedalus to realize he was in-fact not mightier than thou. The vastness of the labyrinth he designed to be inescapable may possibly have led him to finally recognize the smallness that he was in the grand scheme of the world. Of course, perhaps he did not. But the way he set about banding together with his son Icarus, shedding his pride to do so as well as issuing a heartfelt warning that would have had not influence on whether Daedalus escaped or not leads me to believe he must have been softened some amount. The metaphor extends beyond the labyrinth to when Daedalus and Icarus dawn the wings and take to the open sea. They are tiny compared to the endless skyline and the power of the sun and the water to instantaneously take their lives. I imagine that for all the growth Daedalus had between killing his other son and being trapped in the labyrinth, no moment was as shrinking to his ego as the moment Icarus flew too close to the sun and perish at the waves of the ocean. All at once his perception of self must have crumbled; that even a humble man can suffer just the same as an arrogant one.

Master Yoda knows all too well how insignificant size is in the grand scheme of the Galaxy and the Force. Before engaging in combat against his bigger and more numerous enemies, he meditates on his position within the Force, allowing him to become more powerful than all his foes combined. When the battle does come to its end, it does so in a perfect display of the inversion of physical size as it relates to power. The screen captures below show the nearly empty canyon below the clones, populated by only a few seemingly destructive droideka units that will eventually be crushed by a rocket-blown cliff. The promise of an upper-hand Ventress believes the droidekas will bring are miniaturized by the zoomed-out camera that highlights how tiny the machines truly are. Then, after victory was assured, a final shot of the clones standing far off not atop a cliff, but defending one. The double symbolism therein are the first zoomed out shot of the troops against a large mountainous backdrop, showing they are still small in spite of the great feat they have accomplished, and the decent from the top of a mountain, usually a size-related symbol of power but instead, a size-related symbol of the relinquishing of power.

Size is not necessarily a matter of physical comparison. Of course, it is, but that is far from the entire picture. Imagine a picture of an elephant’s head. We know it represents something large, but that photo can be zoomed out to a point where the elephant begins to look small in the greater picture. We are all that elephant. Sometimes we are big. Sometimes we are small. It is important to recognize when we are which and act accordingly. Some instances truly do call for bigness while others call for smallness. May we all have the awareness to tell our size at any given moment.

Next time:

On Thursday, look out for part two of Tarkin by James Luceno, another parable from the Christian Bible, and a discussion on "trust." Get stoked.

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