What 'Star Wars' Can Teach Us about Character Arcs

20th Century Fox

Watch this video essay and learn one more thing from George Lucas’s iconic trilogy.

It is probably safe to say that the ever-growing Star Wars franchise has impacted everyone’s lives. Even the people that have never seen one of the films or, if it’s even possible, absolutely despise everything about the whole universe has to spend an inordinate amount of time avoiding this pop culture behemoth. For fans of the series, it is a lifelong relationship offering a never-ending treasure trove of lore and theories.

While it easy to get swept up in the otherworldly creatures, awesome lightsaber duels, and famed twists, George Lucass original Star Wars trilogy is great storytelling on a fundamental level. A three-act structure within a larger three-act structure, the epitome of the hero’s journey, amazing foils in the light of Luke Skywalker and the dark of Darth Vader. There’s a reason these films are timeless and garner new fans with each generation in a way that others do not; Lucas tells a very simple story with relatable characters on an epic scale.

In a new video essay by Daniel Tidden of Think Story, he shines a spotlight on the character arc of our favorite hero, Luke Skywalker. Focusing primarily on Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Tidden provides an in-depth look at how character arc emphasizes the theme of the story and how the now fiercely debated character development of Luke compares to the other characters. Using K.M. Weiland’s template for a character arc, Tidden tracks the want, need, lie, and ghost of Luke as well as Han and Leia. Unsurprisingly, Luke is the only character who fulfills all of the requirements to have a complete character arc, according to Weiland’s definition. Han and Leia are not as fleshed out as Luke and their arcs do not drive the story in the way that Luke’s does.

Beneath all of the action and elaborate costumes, there is a human story with an earned, natural arc. Forget the spectacle for a moment and return to the basics by watching the video below!

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