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Why Does Obi-Wan Kenobi Smile Right Before He Dies?

by Culture Slate about a year ago in star wars

It's Actually Interesting To Think About

Last week, there was a Screen Rant article making the rounds that posed the question of why Obi-Wan Kenobi smiles right before he dies in the duel against Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. On the surface, it seems like an easy question to answer. Obi-Wan sees Luke, who has been built up as the hero for the future all throughout that film. Kenobi says to Vader, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” We see how this plays out. Vader kills Kenobi, Kenobi becomes a voice from beyond who can guide Luke, and Luke becomes victorious. Pretty simple and straightforward.

However, the article spent some time talking about how the reason for Kenobi’s smile may have changed as Star Wars changed with further films. The reason for a smile may have had a specific intent when Lucas worked on that first film, but the later films added to the lore, thus changing (or rather, adding to) why Kenobi smiles in his moment before death.

The article includes the following mind-blowing (at least to me) tweet from Mads (@lite_thespark):

The screenshots illustrate Mads’ point about how the last thing that Kenobi sees is not just Luke, but Luke and his sister Leia reunited. At the time that the first film was made, Leia was not intended to be Luke’s sister. In fact, Luke’s sister was going to be a separate character in a follow-up trilogy. However, Lucas eventually decided to make the sister and Leia one character. So we got the revelation in Return of the Jedi that Luke and Leia are twins.

In Revenge of the Sith, Kenobi was there when they were born and then separated. It is a very sad thing to think about when you take a step back. We knew it had to happen for the story, but just think about it: two babies, who are the closest family to one another, and they have to be separated for their own safety, in case Vader and the Emperor find one but not the other. It is so heartbreaking to think about babies being separated for each other, but it makes it all the more heartwarming when Kenobi sees that they are finally reunited.

I would also like to bring up the 2017 book Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, a short story collection that tells the original film from different perspectives. My favorite short story in that collection, “Time of Death” by Cavan Scott, tells Kenobi’s death from his point of view. I do not recall whether it specifically says why Kenobi smiles, but I do remember it saying that Kenobi sacrificed himself so that Luke would not run to save him, as he would have been no match against Vader, hence Kenobi’s voice saying, “Run, Luke, run!” Of course, between his death and that line, Kenobi’s spirit goes through this torturous journey in which he is reliving the act of dying and seeing painful memories of Anakin, Padme, Qui-Gon, and Maul. So he is not super happy throughout the whole process, but ultimately, he knows that there is hope once he is free of the repetition.

This story is then followed by one from Yoda’s perspective titled “There is Another,” written by Gary D. Schmidt. Interestingly, Kenobi believes Luke to be the Chosen One (something that he is shown to believe in Star Wars Rebels episode “Twin Suns,” despite Anakin being the Chosen One), but Yoda believes Leia to be the Chosen One. This retroactively explains their exchange in The Empire Strikes Back, during which Kenobi, as a Jedi spirit, says that Luke is their last hope, while Yoda asserts that there is another hope, referring to Leia, as it would turn out. It seems odd that Kenobi would not necessarily see Leia as the best hope. Regardless of which twin was the best hope in his eyes, Kenobi probably was very glad to see that the twins were back together just before he died.

Of course, Alec Guinness did not know at the time that the scene was filmed that this could end up being a possibility. It just happens to be one of those things caught on camera that ended up working really well even after Star Wars has been revised. In fact, I would say that the additions to the lore have made the smile more enjoyable to see, given the possible meanings that have been suggested. The best revisions to Star Wars lore are the ones that enhance how one views an old scene, and I would agree that this is one of those instances.

Written By Steven Shinder

Syndicated From Culture Slate

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