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yoda pancakesArms and legs.

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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Love to hear from you, yhop does!  Send him questions, comments and blog ideas at jamesh@coffeewithkenobi.com

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9 Comments

  1. Joe Taylor
    February 11, 2014 at 14:29 Reply

    I always thought that Ponda was the one that lost his arm, but Evazan lost his life. I’ll have to watch again.

    Loss of limbs seems an appropriate topic for you.

    1. YHOP
      February 11, 2014 at 15:37 Reply

      I’m pretty sure both of them survived the cantina but I’m not 100% positive. I could have sworn that they both lost a limb.

      1. Melinda
        February 11, 2014 at 15:45 Reply

        I think Joe is right. But you know what? I’ll have to rewatch ANH. 🙂 What a wonderful way to spend part of this (once again!) frigid day! 🙂 (not that I need an excuse. But it doesn’t hurt to have one. lol)

  2. Melinda
    February 11, 2014 at 16:03 Reply

    Great musings! 🙂

    As I read, my first reaction to your supposition that Luke was arrogant when he rushed off to Cloud City to save his friends was: “No! Luke wasn’t arrogant! He certainly knew that he would have a hard time with Vader. He had plenty of misgivings, but wanted to do what he could to help his friends.”

    Then I stepped back a moment.

    Yes, maybe — at least to a certain point — Luke was arrogant. He ignored both Yoda’s and Obi-Wan’s (albeit via Obi-Wan’s Force spirit) urgings to stay the course, to finish his training — so he (Luke) would be better prepared to face the likes of Darth Vader. Eventually. Luke was not fresh off the farm when he ventured to Dagobah to take up his education under Yoda’s tutelage. He knew he’d face a deadly foe in Vader. But still … Luke thought he’d have a decent chance against the Man/Machine In Black. He at least had to try.

    Maybe there was a touch of arrogance in Luke’s decision to ignore both Yoda and Obi-Wan. I don’t know if Luke actually thought he could best the Dark Lord of the Sith. However, I would guess that he thought he really could affect his friends’ situations. Guided by the Force (or at least his capabilities using the Force at that time), Luke probably thought he could hold his own. Is that arrogance? Or merely self-confidence?

    As my husband says, few characters take a beating like Luke does in “The Empire Strikes Back”. 😉 Maybe we can go as far as to say that not only does Luke suffer physically, his ego takes a solid shellacking.

    However, one factor that always spoke to me as Luke crawls out on the apparatus above the chute is that he finally begins to see what Yoda and Obi-Wan were talking about (and gives a clue to what he does at the end of “Return of the Jedi”) — instead of joining Vader to rule the galaxy, Luke lets loose his hold on the rig. There is all likelihood he will fall to his death. He sees the truth that sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good. I don’t think there’s any arrogance there.

    Luckily, events turn out differently.

    I agree with you 100 percent — Luke most definitely comes out the other side a much stronger individual and Jedi. 🙂

    What a wonderful blog! 🙂

    1. YHOP
      February 12, 2014 at 05:18 Reply

      Thanks Melinda!

  3. Melinda
    February 11, 2014 at 16:10 Reply

    I couldn’t leave without commenting on what happened with your Attacktix figure …

    (a) How “timely” considering the topic of your blog;

    and

    (b) I questioned whether it would be wise to inform one of such an occurrence — while one is driving. 😉 It isn’t news I’d be particularly happy to hear while I was behind the wheel of my car. Not that I would get hot and bothered, mind you. After all, it is only “a thing”. Better that than a living being. The bottom line, I know, if that accidents happen. That’s part of life. I think I’d just rather find out such news once I was home, not out on the road. 😉

    MTFBWY 🙂

  4. Becca Benjamin
    February 12, 2014 at 00:08 Reply

    What the heck is “Ponda Baba” Sorry, it took me a moment…. Ok, I’m lying, I had to read the comments to figure it out LOL!

    So what you’re saying is, Big Ego = lend a hand? err…lose a hand 😉

    Great observation, YHOP 🙂 It’s a definite pattern in the Saga. Some characters even “lose their head” to their Alter Ego 😉

    As for your Anakin Attacktix, now that is a total shame. Yet,I can’t help but to wonder, if perhaps that is a “sign” of some sort? You’re a “Dealer” by trade, right? Couldn’t hurt to be a bit more mindful of the “hands” you deal in the near future ;)~

    1. YHOP
      February 12, 2014 at 05:20 Reply

      One day I might write a blog about gambling in the GFFA.

  5. Jay Krebs
    February 13, 2014 at 01:08 Reply

    You know, it is indeed interesting that there is quite a bit of limb-losing in our beloved saga, not to mention the fact that Maul was completely cut in half, and both Jango and Dooku were beheaded.

    With all of the symbolism and archetype incorporation by GL, it wouldn’t surprise me if this all had something to do with a deeper meaning. I read or saw somewhere that loss of limbs or other body parts symbolizes a loss of innocence in some way. There was different meanings for arms and legs, as well as wether it was lost on the right or left side of the body. Maybe I read this in a dream interpretation book or something…? I’ve always been into dream interpretation, so it’s not a stretch for me to think maybe that’s where I saw/read it.

    If we look into the situations where these body parts were severed, it does sort of make sense that there could be some interpretation of “innocence lost” for each character. Anakin lost his when being overly arrogant with Dooku, Luke lost his amidst the revealing of the true identity of his father…so on and so on…!

    Hmmm…much more to ponder on this. I really gotta “hand” it to you…*ba-dum-dum* !!

    And – sorry about your fig…appropriately timed as it may be…!

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A wannabe author with big goals and little talent, James spends most of his waking hours dealing Blackjack, crushing gamblers' dreams and robbing them of their mortgage payments.

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