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Religious Symbolism in "The Rise of Skywalker"

Updated on January 21, 2020
Mark O Richardson profile image

Mark is from Utah and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


Good vs Evil

I have gotten to the point in life where I only see movies once. One and done. But I liked this movie so much, I saw it twice. The second time, I took notes. I observed several themes in this movie that I considered to be religious.

Most movies have good vs. evil, so that is a given with this type of movie. But early on, it is made clear that there is an army of evil, led by the emperor who was previously presumed dead. In one of the early scenes, it depicts Emperor Palpatine (Darth Sidious) as a type of zombie, as if he is being kept alive by machines. Often, evil has a counterfeit of something good. The counterfeit of zombies would be the Christian belief in the resurrection. Zombies would be evil. Some believe in them, especially places with influences from voodoo.

The Emperor, Darth Sidious
The Emperor, Darth Sidious | Source

The Emperor

In Exogul, the Emperor’s lair, there were many shadows and it was dark. Shadows are often associated with evil. There is much dread and doom from this early scene. Those as part of the dark side have much hatred and contention.

Another example of evil is where the planet that has the small hacker, for lack of a better word, that unlocks the concealed memory banks of the android C3PO. On the planet, it was revealed that children were forced to join the evil empire’s army. This reminded me of Herod killing the small children in the Bible at the time of Christ.

The Battle Within

Many of the main characters (typically the protagonist: Rey and the antagonist: Kylo Ren (Ben Solo)) have negative thoughts that torment them. Many of the thoughts are lies. It is just like in real life how Satan can remind us of our failures. Many of the negative thoughts are regrets for mistakes (sin), which stems from the characters losing control. The characters often felt alone. A major theme in this movie was what I would call duality, the fight of the natural man, or inner struggles as a fight within. Rey is told that she is Emperor Palpatine’s Granddaughter, which one could think this would destine her to follow the same dark path. Rey and Kylo have similar thoughts that they can’t go back because of their mistakes. Regarding the natural man, we are to believe that the dark side is in the nature of the main characters. It is as if they are told that they should give in. There is a lot of fear and the characters are afraid of what is within.

There is a small group that are good, just as many may perceive in the world we live in. Those who have the force with them do many things such as practice patience and meditate. They defend others from evil. In the movie, the protagonists flee darkness and evil. They have optimism and follow the light, which is like having faith. They often sense evil.

C3PO | Source

C3PO-A rebirth

With C3PO, when he had his memory accessed then cleared, it made me think of forgiveness and baptism because he had to start over. Also, it was admirable that C3PO had a code of honor where he refused to disclose information on the Sith (the evil group that were part of the dark side). Throughout the movie, it was as if there was one way. This is like the Biblical teaching on a straight and narrow way. But in the end, the heroes claimed there were “more of us”. The small band of heroes were rescued. There is a comradery with the heroes. The heroes stick together. There are instances of seemingly divine help or a rescue out of the blue- The term is Deus ex machina (God from the Machine, a plot device which is when a drastic event is as an act of God).

Kylo Ren/Ben Solo
Kylo Ren/Ben Solo | Source

Kylo Ren/Ben Solo

The most powerful scene in the movie is where Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) hears his father say, “Hey kid. I miss you son. Kylo Ren is dead. My son is alive. Come home.” Then Ben says, “It’s too late.” This is as if Satan was telling him that he could not change and repent of his wicked actions. Ben goes on to say, “I Know what I need to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength.” With Ben Solo, there was redemption for his bad choices. Then he adds to his redemption by throwing his weapon of destruction into the waves of water.


Princess Leia

I have some thoughts on Princess Leia…Poe Dameron, the courageous yet impulsive pilot, says “I’m not Leia…” to Fin, an ex stormtrooper who has joined the resistance, when struggling with his decisions. Oftentimes we say that we aren’t like those heroes in the Bible when we make bad decisions. Leia’s death is an instance of loss, which is a part of life. She is gone, but not what she stood for & fought for, just as those examples around us and in scripture. Leia knew the heart and spirit of Rey, the main protagonist, who is the granddaughter of the evil emperor. Leia knew who she was but didn’t tell anyone. This shows character.

The Final Battle

Then there was the FINAL BATTLE. Life can be a battle or a fight as we strive to be good and to resist temptation. It is good to focus on what is good, just as the Force took focus. The emperor, who would symbolize Satan, used his hatred and anger to encourage Rey to kill him, which would have likely bred hatred and anger within her. He told her lies, just as Satan would. But she put him in his place with the truth. Satan is the father of lies and he tries to minimize who we are, and does not want us to know that we are children of God. So, the emperor fed off the life force of Rey and Ben, who were overcome with despair. In the end, there was an army of good, which would symbolize the army of God, whose members were ordinary people. If God is on your side, you become strong. The emperor lies again and said that Rey was nothing. In the end, after Rey defeats the emperor, Ben Solo gives the ultimate sacrifice of love with his life force, which brings Rey back to life.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Mark Richardson


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