Fans have leveled criticism at The Force Awakens for similarities to A New Hope. While many may not care overly, a few deem it lesser for copying the original. Did J.J. Abrams want to relive the glory of the original trilogy, or was it just the best choice? As a third option, could artistry be involved? A theory is rolling around noting how strange similarities in the prequels and original series line up. The funerals are one example.
Both trilogies end in a funeral, in very different circumstances, and bringing the trilogies to different emotional ends. The two dead—Padme and Anakin Skywalker—are two halves of a couple. The dark side kills both (Anakin kills Padme, Darth Sidious kills Anakin), the public mourns both deaths, and both died trying to protect someone from the Dark Side. In Anakin’s case it was his son Luke; in Padme’s case Anakin himself. Both scenes carry the importance of an ending era, and John William’s beautiful soundtrack highlights both.
There are plenty of differences, however, highlighting the different circumstances of their deaths. Anakin was burned in a funeral pyre in his Darth Vader suit. The western world used the funeral pyre as a common way to dispose of the deceased—often chieftains and notable warriors. On the other hand, Padme’s rested on a bed of flowers during her funeral—common symbols of love for the deceased. She nearly glows in the Naboo twilight.
A cycle of funerals
Scenes of the world they ushered in surround both funerals. Padme’s body proceeds down the capital of Naboo as Darth Vader and his master inspect the growing Death Star. While Darth Vader’s body burns his son sees the approval of the Jedi he once knew. Padme’s funeral comes with rebellion, civil war, and tyranny, even though it presents as peaceful, quiet, and beauty. Darth Vader’s comes with celebration, victory, and happiness, despite his loud, fiery, and sparsely-attended end.
This mix of notable similarities and differences bringing each trilogy to a close add even greater power to the Ring Theory (linked above). They further work to change our perception of George Lucas as a filmmaker, even after his distance from the movies.
There are two parts to the Ring Theory: first, both trilogies follow a pattern. Second, the trilogies mirror each other. We see Darth Vader’s funeral pyre at the end of Return of the Jedi, and a similar scene for Qui-Gon Jinn at the end of The Phantom Menace. Padme’s funeral is not mirrored, yet Luke and the other characters mourn Obi-Wan Kenobi, whom Anakin also kills.
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