Another “Star Wars” conversation in the newsroom last Friday got me thinking about one of my all-time favorite movie characters.
That being the Grand Master of the Jedi Order Yoda.
I spend more time than I’d like to admit watching YouTube videos examining alternate realities based on if a “Star Wars” character (both from the movies, TV shows and any other story material in both legends or cannon) makes a different decision, or what was going through their minds when they make those decisions. From a movie-making perspective, we can obviously chalk it up to retconning, but it’s more fun to examine what the storytellers come up with. More often than not, Yoda comes up in those topics.
The Emperor’s “little, green friend,” voiced by Frank Oz and 900 years old at the time his identity transformed into the force, shares many quotable bits of wisdom throughout the saga. Among my favorites include, “Do. Or Do not. There is no try,” “Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has? How embarrassing,” “Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is,” and from the most recent movie “We are what they grow beyond. That is the burden of all masters.”
Let’s all agree to take any prequel hate and CGI comments aside for a moment. As a kid, when I watched “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” the two times my jaw figuratively dropped was both times Yoda was in a light saber duel. Just seeing him activate that green laser sword standing across from the late Christopher Lee was enough for me to think, “It’s going down!” Or dueling the Emperor with “Battle of the Heroes” and “Duel of the Fates” playing in the background. Yoda turned out to be an action star for me.
My favorite scenes featuring Yoda are actually from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” television series, where he meets the Shamin of the Whills and is tested of his worthiness of retaining his identity in the force after his death. One of his tests is facing an evil version of himself and defeats it by realizing he shouldn’t try to destroy the darkness within himself. Yoda realizes the darkness will always be a part of him but not to give it the power to corrupt him.
That’s something I wish I understood when I was younger.
As a kid, my main draw to the franchise was the action and the LEGO sets I could collect resembling their star ships. As an adult, it turned into the nearly perfect storytelling at times and character studies for most of the characters.
We all know how popular and universally known this ongoing saga and its characters have become. A lot of the things we learn about our lives can be reflected in many scenes of the saga, while discussed in throwbacks to other classic movie scenes or ancient culture references.
Each character can appeal to certain desires or phases of us, from being strong yet angry like Darth Vader, to manipulation and politics like the Emperor, to the PTSD looks of Ben Kenobi. But for wisdom, I can’t think of anything that stands out more than the object-subject-verb style sentences from the great warrior.
May the force be with you.
Contact Orrin Shawl at