Anakin as Christ-figure

Starwarslastsupper

[Image from GiantMag.com] The question of Anakin as Christ figure has come up before. Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who is an atheist, has some really interesting thoughts that i read a few years ago in “The Fragile Absolute”.

“First, the Christological features of the young Anakin. If you know the movie you know that his mother hints that she became pregnant with him in an immaculate conception. Then we have the ways in which Anakin wins. It clearly echoes the famous chariot race in Ben Hur, this tale of Christ. Second, the fact that he’s identified as the one who has the potential to restore the balance of the Force.

Now, here’s my question: Since the ideological universe of Star Wars is the New Age pagan universe, it is quite consequent that its central figure of evil should echo Christ. Within the pagan horizon the event of Christ is the ultimate scandal. Furthermore, what if we take the premonition that Anakin will restore the balance of the Force, not as the faithful misapprehension, but as a correct insight? What if the suffocating character of the pagan universe resides precisely in the fact that in this universe the dimension of radical evil, that in it the balance was way too much in favor of the good?

So I think that that’s the solution, that precisely in this sense Anakin restores the balance. It is in order to emphasize this suspension of social hierarchy that Christ addresses in an accentuated way those who belong to the very bottom of the social hierarchy, the outcasts of the social order–beggars, prostitutes–as the privileged members of his new community. This new community is then explicitly constructed as a collective of outcasts, the antipode to any established organic group. Perhaps the best way to imagine such a community is to look at it in the lineage of other eccentric communities of outcasts that we know from past and present, from lepers and circus freaks to early computer hackers, groups in which the stigmatized individuals are united by a secret bond of solidarity. ” Slavoj Zizek, Read PDF

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

18 Comments

  • now, I’m no star wars geek (who am I kidding), but that’s not Anakin sitting in the center of the table …. that there is Luke, who is to me the more interesting messianic figure.

  • Pardon me for being a Star Wars geek, but there are three main steps in Jedi training- knowing the Jedi Code, constructing a lightsaber, and being tempted by the darkside. I’ve read a number of Star Wars books in my day and many of the accounts of being tempted resemble Jesus being tempted.

  • ah huh
    some stars wars geeks . .
    well here is the paragraph before the one i quoted, which really gets to the heart of what Zizek is saying . . .
    But in clear contrast to this logic, Christianity asserts as the highest act precisely what the pagan wisdom condemns as the source of evil: the gesture of separation, of drawing the line, of clinging to an
    element which precisely disturbs the balance of all. The pagan
    reproach that the Christian insight is not deep enough, that it fails
    to grasp the primordial One-All, this primordial abyss, primordial
    void, thus misses the point. Christianity is a miraculous event that disturbs the balance of the One-All. It is the violent intrusion of difference which throws off the rails the balanced circuit of the
    universe. From this standpoint it would be interesting to approach the
    ideological ambiguities of a very bad movie, George Lucas’s Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. The film, one of whose few interests resides in the way it endeavors to outline the answer to the question of the origin of evil, How did Darth Vader become Darth Vader? That is to say, How died Anakin Skywalker, this sweet boy, turn into the monstrous instrument of cosmic evil? Two things
    are here crucial: First, the Christological features
    . .” [go to blog post to follow this thought]
    interesting to hear an atheist talk about a pagan film and come up with some Christian theology.

  • Curiously, would any of those posting here happen to read the Bible and if so how do you parallel the associable information contained in the Bible to that of the star war movie; the more details used of your illuminated discernment will be most interesting…?
    I wish you well,
    Watchman

  • I’m curious how you can look at the central charactor of Star Wars (Anakin Skywalker) who becomes the epitome of evil as Christ like. Temptation is one thing…but he falls. Only after he is redeemed by his son is he restored to a right relationship. Luke is more of a Christ figure than Anakin.
    Yes there are some parallels for Anakin, but the inability to resist evil and the desire to kill on demand does not follow Christ in Scripture.

  • glad to read another christian thinker diving into zizek. i went through a period a few years back of putting this work under the noses of every theologian I could corner (to little avail, though I did manage to get my phd reading chort to read and discussion On Belief). the puppet and the dwarf, one fo his more recent works, is sitting in a pile of “just read must review for blog” books.
    btw, today’s editorial in the guardian touches on Christ figues in films. nothing even remotely new, but interesting to see a paper like that taking it as an editorial line.

  • Watchman – to do what you suggest right now would be to stop the conversation. Zizek needs to be heard out before we whip out a can of biblical christology and silence him.
    I am saying – lets listen for a moment to what an atheist says about a movie that he says espouses a pagan worldview. In Zizek’s analysis, I see more of a connection with fascism (Christians by their weakness and pity are destroying the balance) than a christian worldview – BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT! – i am saying . . . lets listen to what some of our worlds own poets are saying . . .
    Ken – I am not the one seeing Christ in Anakin. Zizek is making the connection.
    Personally, Anakin has always been an anti-christ figure to me – with a suspicious relationship to the “sons of Anak” (Gen 6) and the presence of the insidious midi-chlorian life forms inside him that to me, sound demonic.
    But i am not going there with this post. I am just saying . . . here is an atheist, looking at paganism, and wanting to talk about Christ and theology.
    Maybe its just me, but i find that very interesting and i hope that small-minded christians who do not know how to listen will not shut up this atheist and stop him from thinking further about Jesus.
    BTW – the full name of Zizek’s book i bought a few years ago was “The Fragile Absolute, Or Why the Christian Legacy is Worth Fighting For”
    When a prominent, world class, atheist philosopher writes a book with a title like that, of course i am going to buy it.

  • by small minded . .. i dont mean you . .. i mean people like i used to be- unwilling to listen or to be quick to hear and slow to speak.
    of course, anyone who interacts with this blog is highly inteligent.
    thats a given
    does intelligent have one “l” or 2?

  • Good day Andrew,
    Nice to see some Zizek being bandied about on the old blog. I saw him earlier this year while in New York. During conversation someone called him a “non-Christian.” He stridently took offense at such language and launched into (in that singular way that is part Karl Marx and part Roger Ebert) a passionate defense of his Christian identity–a fascinating, revolutionary-minded Lacanian Paulinism.
    Anyway, if you like the recent turn in Zizek’s work toward the Christian texts you may find Vattimo, Badiou and Agamben of interest as well. They are all currently writing on Christianity in general and Paul in particular.
    Cheers,
    dan

  • Andrew wrote-“…belong to the very bottom of the social hierarchy, the outcasts of the social order–beggars, prostitutes–as the privileged members of his new community”. Well, many prostitutes are definitely NOT in the lower pecking order, although some other “many” are. Depends where you end up.
    Don’t be a moth when you emerge from the cocoon!
    Find the true light not a streetlamp!
    I mean, like where is your power cable plugged in?
    Boltono. http://boltono.typepad.com
    blatant advertising for the counter force.

  • boltono
    What is the differnce between “blatant advertising” and comment spam?
    please leave a link IF you have a post that relates but not if you just want some more readers for your blog . (or i will have to edit your many comments)
    And the quote you mention is what Zizek said, so you have wrongly attributed it to me.
    Next time stay longer on my post and please read what it says . ..
    have a great sunday!

  • Star Wars Christology

    I read a curious blog entry today regarding Anakin Skywalker as a Christ figure. This struck me as odd due to the events in Anakin’s life. He just doesn’t jump out and scream, “Look at me, I’m symbolic of Christianity!” But then I started thinking a…

  • hey – great article, Ripope. Here is the direct link to Zizek’s article so my kids dont have to read your R15 language.
    Great to see something fresh from him and linked in to what he has already said (the long tail of zizek)
    I dont think i will call Zizek an atheist anymore . . . he probably would not want that label and i dont want to stand in the way of his spiritual journey and its directions.

  • About Anakin being an anti-Christ figure, I think that is precisely Zizek’s point. If you’ve read Yeats’ “The Second Coming,” that too refers to how in the pagan world Christ is the ultimate ‘devil’-figure. Christ is the anti-Christ who changes the order to emerge as ‘Christ’, such that he can no longer be thought as evil, and defines what ‘good’ stands for. A new age Christ would, by definition, be ‘evil’ because this world cannot see him as good. Only once s/he has changed everything in this order can s/he be recognised as Christ-like.
    “Within the pagan horizon the event of Christ is the ultimate scandal.” So for Anakin to turn evil and kill the jedi.. is what is actually ‘good’ in the new age world?

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