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TIE Ryder: Lord of The Star Wars Ring Theory

TIE Ryder: Lord of The Star Wars Ring Theory

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I was first drawn to Coffee With Kenobi because of the intellectual way in which Dan and Cory analyze Star Wars, and based on the popularity of CWK I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes how they relate Star Wars to other mythology and literature. I’ve always said that Star Wars is not just some simple sci-fi saga. It clearly has much more depth than that. Last month I was asked by a family member if I thought that George Lucas really knew what he was doing when he created Star Wars or did he just make the right movie at the right time and for the right audience. The answer is probably yes to both, but Star Wars has unbelievable depth and George Lucas definitely knew what he was doing.

The interesting thing about Star Wars—and I didn’t ever really push this very far, because it’s not really that important—but there’s a lot going on there that most people haven’t come to grips with yet. But when they do, they will find it’s a much more intricately made clock than most people would imagine.
—George Lucas, Vanity Fair, February  2005

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A few months ago I had the pleasure of reading The Star Wars Ring Theory: The Hidden Artistry of the Star Wars Prequels (www.starwarsringtheory.com) written by Mike Klimo, and my Star Wars viewing experience hasn’t been the same since. The Star Wars Ring Theory is an essay that explains how George Lucas used a technique called ring composition to reach incomparable heights in storytelling. As a Star Wars fan who loves the Prequel Trilogy I didn’t think my appreciation for Episodes I, II, and III could be increased, but since reading Mike’s work I see the entire saga in a new light.

The Star Wars saga has many repeating themes (faith, family, how seemingly small decisions affect many people, etc), and George Lucas has compared Star Wars to poetry. But in relation to ring composition Mike explains that rather than Episode I relating to Episode IV and III to VI, the ring turns after Episode III. This means that The Phantom Menace corresponds to Return of the Jedi, Attack of the Clones to The Empire Strikes Back, and Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope.

SW-Table41

Precisely nine minutes into Phantom and Jedi there are scenes with a group of characters in a palace throne room watching a holographic message. In Phantom it is on Naboo with a hologram of Senator Palpatine and in Jedi it is in Jabba’s palace with a hologram of Luke Skywalker. I doubt this was just a coincidence.

Palp HologramLuke Hologram

The last act of Sith and the first act of A New Hope revolve around “a destiny-defining encounter between Obi-Wan Kenobi and a Skywalker”. And in both Empire and Clones a Skywalker loses an arm in a lightsaber duel. The examples go on and on, but they are better explained in The Star Wars Ring Theory essay.

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So why would someone take two years of their life, as Mike did, to write an essay about Star Wars? For the fortune and glory, of course, but Mike had other reasons. Recently Mike told me, “There were a lot of different reasons I wrote it. For one, when I stumbled upon what I think Lucas was ultimately trying to do with the saga–the ring composition–I thought it was something that really needed to be shared. I mean, this is a big deal. Not just in terms of Star Wars, but for cinema and storytelling in general. And I want the films (and Lucas) to get the serious critical attention they deserve for it. Another reason I wrote the essay was that I didn’t like the direction the conversation about Star Wars had gone over the years. There was just too much ignorance and negativity (about the Prequels). I thought the ring theory might be a way to get things back on track. At least a little bit.”

Mike explained to me that research for The Star Wars Ring Theory basically began in 1993 when the Prequel Trilogy was announced. He began collecting every article about the Prequels that he could find, especially interviews with George Lucas. He kept this up until the release of Revenge of the Sith so when he began researching the ring theory he had a wealth of resources. And the finished product reflects Mike’s tireless work.

Reviews and response to The Star Wars Ring Theory have been overwhelmingly positive, according to Mike. He’s hoping that readers will get a better idea of what George Lucas was trying to accomplish with the Star Wars saga and to gain a better appreciation for all of the films. As for future Star Wars essays Mike says that he has plans for a follow-up piece to address the criticisms of the Prequels (poor directing, acting, dialogue; we’ve all heard them, unfortunately). But what about researching The Force Awakens for ring theory components? Mike’s not sure about that yet, but personally I hope he does.

The unique thing about Star Wars fandom, as many of us know, is how invested we are as fans. There are so many amazing podcasts, blogs, fan films, and essays dedicated to Star Wars and they are done just because we fans love George Lucas’ saga so much. And they are supported by other fans. I hope everyone will take the time to read Mike Klimo’s The Star Wars Ring Theory. It is another example of fan dedication that we all have come to appreciate.

Have any of you already read The Star Wars Ring Theory? If so, what did you think? I’d love to know so leave a comment below, email me at ryderw@coffeewithkenobi.com, or contact me on Twitter @ryderwaldrondds. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog.

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10 Comments

  1. Carsten
    January 12, 2015 at 09:21 Reply

    I also love the prequels and think the ring theory is awesome. It has increased my respect for Lucas tenfold.

  2. Lisa
    January 12, 2015 at 13:51 Reply

    I hope more people take the time to read Star Wars Ring Theory. I read it last year, and it was phenomenal! Mike Klimo’s work really does give you a whole new appreciation of the Saga as a whole (and I do mean “whole” – PT and OT!). Thanks for bringing more attention to it, Ryder!

  3. Ryder
    January 12, 2015 at 15:14 Reply

    Thanks for reading, guys!

  4. Craig Dickinson
    January 12, 2015 at 16:49 Reply

    Great post, Ryder. I read the Star Wars Ring Theory essay earlier this year and found it fascinating. A lot of the commonalities between the films are things we take for granted and it’s wonderful to see them pointed out–along with the reasoning behind them. And it definitely gives me more material for my annual Star Wars unit.

  5. Melinda
    January 12, 2015 at 17:05 Reply

    Absolutely awesome, Ryder!!! 🙂

    I, too, am a big fan of the Prequels. I honestly don’t pay any attention to the naysayers. (However, I do believe each individual has the right to his/her opinion.) Truth be told, I have a real soft spot for the OT (I grew up with Luke … figuratively speaking, of course 😉 ), yet I really like the prequels, and what they add to the entire Saga. I have noticed various similarities — that one CANNOT accept as mere coincidence! — between the two trilogies, but WOW! was I blown away as I read your blog!!! How insightful all this is, and I can’t wait to read Mike Klimo’s essay!

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. You learn something new every day — if you open your eyes, your heart, your mind. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

  6. Jay Krebs
    January 12, 2015 at 18:01 Reply

    Wow. This is really mind-blowing. I’ve not heard of the Star Wars Ring Theory before, so I’m glad you opened my eyes to this aspect of our beloved saga! I am going to put this on my reading list. I’m enthralled by the idea. It will indeed be interesting to see if – or how – The Force Awakens figures into Mike’s ideas.
    Great entry, Ryder! 🙂

  7. Pam Bruchwalski
    January 12, 2015 at 18:50 Reply

    I KNEW IT!! I knew there had to be some “real” explanation for the similarities between the films, but I’ve never been able to put my finger on the specifics. Thank you so much for bringing my attention to this piece. I look forward to reading it.

    I. too, love the PT. Love it. I’ve always thought that the PT is misunderstood, and hopefully this helps people to “get it.”

    Great entry, Ryder!

  8. Ring Theory Interview |
    January 12, 2015 at 20:12 Reply

    […] With Kenobi has an interesting interview with Mike Klimo about his site, Star Wars Ring Theory. Which you need to check out if you […]

  9. Star Wars Ring Theory: An Interview with the Author, Mike Klimo, and Why You Should Read It |
    January 12, 2015 at 21:57 Reply

    […] UPDATE: Mr. Klimo and his work are getting even more of the recognition they deserve, as Ryder Waldron over at Coffee With Kenobi has an article/interview up now as well! […]

  10. Becca Benjamin
    January 13, 2015 at 18:32 Reply

    For the record, I have never heard of the Star Wars Ring Theory…what a concept! I’m totally dumbfounded and already started to read it. Can I just say, my son just pointed out (last week) that the idea of SW fans dismissing (he actually said, “Not picking.”) TPM altogether was “dumb.” It appears that my 12 year old is right about that and I’ll be sure to tell him too.
    Thank you so much for bringing this to my (and everyone else’s) attention 🙂

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