Most humans rarely give any thought to those four appendages that stick out from their torsos in a mostly symmetrical fashion. We use them constantly but the only time we really tend to notice that they are there is when they are injured, and even then we never stop to consider just how complex and wonderful these things are.
Take a look at one of your hands. Roll it into a fist. Now contemplate all of the mechanics that went into making that happen. Bones have to be the right shapes and sizes for the fingers to move. The muscles and tendons have to move the bones in a very specific way. Nerves have to carry the essential information from the brain to the hand, and vessels must transport blood and oxygen to all of the parts. Even the skin surrounding it has to be flexible enough to allow movement. If any one of these processes fouls up then you are incapable of carrying groceries, opening a door, or even punching somebody if you had to. For most people, fortunately, the process never fails.
Nature is the world’s greatest engineer.
In the Star Wars movies, these marvels of genetics are sliced off and discarded at a fairly alarming rate. By my count–and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong–there are eight separate moments when an arm or a leg (or multiple arms and legs) are amputated by the swing of a lightsaber. Eight times in five movies! That is a whole bunch of body parts that are just lying around, collecting dust.
If I had time to go into detail for each incident I would, but at the rate I write, that blog would take me about six months to finish. Instead, I would like to touch upon a couple of them and offer my quick insight.
1. Doctor Evazan and Ponda Baba.
Obi Wan delivers more than his fair share of “aggressive negotiations” throughout the saga, but he is only allowed one instance to demonstrate his unique method of problem solving to Luke Skywalker. To his credit he tried to placate them with the purchase of a frosty beverage, but some people just cannot be reasoned with.
There is an underlying theme about the personal cost of arrogance with many of the amputations in the movies. The two space thugs picked a fight with Skywalker for no reason other than they saw what they perceived was a weakling child and an old man. In their arrogance they underestimated the latter, and as a result the both of them lost a limb.
2. Luke Skywalker.
The first time Luke meets Vader in combat, he is cocky and self sure, even going as far as to taunt the elder swordsman. Not once does he pause to notice that Vader has control of the situation the entire time, manipulating him to go where he wants him time and time again. Luke is fortunate to escape with his life, but his arrogance still cost him a hand.
It was a hard lesson but Luke came out of it a better man. The next time he meets Vader, he does so with a focused mind, a clearer purpose, and a plan. He learned from his mistake, which is more than can be said for his father.
3. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.
Some people never learn.
I am always intrigued by the fight scene in Episode II between Anakin and Count Dooku, and how it mirrors Luke’s battle with Vader in Empire. Both of them rush into battle, ignoring the warnings of their superiors, confident that they have the skills to best their opponent. Like Luke, Anakin loses a limb.
It is here that the comparisons end.
For a moment it would seem that Anakin had learned his lesson. When he rematches Dooku, he does so with Obi-Wan at his side. That battle ends with a better result for him. It also places Dooku on the receiving end of the continuing theme of arrogance and lost limbs, losing both hands in the skirmish.
But Anakin’s arrogant attitude and his insatiable desire to control everything around him prove to be his undoing. It is with great arrogance that he boasts to his former master, “Do not underestimate my power,” as Obi-Wan stands on the high ground at Mustafar. This time it will cost him all of his remaining limbs, plus his wife, his unborn children, and his soul.
My wife called me as I was driving home from work yesterday to inform me that my two year old son Sebastian had broken one of my Attacktix figures. I guess I would be more upset if I didn’t find the whole situation incredibly appropriate.
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