“Promise me you will train the boy…”
“When anger rises think of the consequences”, Confucious
“Let’s overturn these tables. Disconnect these cables. This place don’t make sense to me no more.”, Bob Dylan, Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
“My chosen one, whom my soul has approved. I have put my spirit in him. Justice to the nations is what he will bring forth.”, Isaiah 42:1
Qui-Gon Jinn. The wisest of Jedi, and an advocate of the living Force. A critical voice to the Republic’s Jedi Council. A voice in the wilderness, in a period increasingly dominated by bureaucracy, rules and regulation. Qui-Gon was convinced that Anakin was the Chosen One, the one who would bring balance back to the Force.
Qui-Gon and Anakin
Qui-Gon and Anakin were seemingly fated to meet, brought together through a series of seismic events that played out against a galactic stage.
The Force was working in that process, an alignment of history being playing out as intended. Qui-Gon encountered Anakin on Tatooine, quickly becoming aware of his latent Force ability, later testing him for quantitative confirmation of that sense. Science aside, it was clear that Qui-Gon was instinctively certain of the fact that Anakin was the Chosen One, that he constituted a prophecy fulfilled.
As a Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn trusted his feelings and intuition, he was mindful of the living Force. His wisdom in these things went on to influence the post-Order 66 approach in which Obi-Wan and Yoda successfully developed Luke’s skills. Like Kenobi and Yoda would become after his death, Qui-Gon was (in the words of Liam Neeson) —
“almost like a monk, an old-time warrior who is wise and quite philosophical, yet very skilled in the martial arts. He has an incredible confidence, as well as a magical quality that enables him to see into the future. He is not really a rebel, but he has his own code” Making of the Phantom Menace, Laurent Bouzereau and Jody Duncan
Importantly, Qui-Gon had faith that the boy Skywalker would see the prophecy fulfilled. On meeting Anakin he recognises the prophesied individual who will restore balance and harmony to the Force. More than that the two instantly form a bond, kindred spirits that test the boundaries of rules, and are guided more by intuition that regulation.
“You refer to the prophecy of The One who will bring balance to the Force?” — Mace Windu
A key question, is whether the prophecy of the chosen one outlined by Mace Windu (above) pointed to a predetermined fate, or whether it’s initial truth, as perceived by Qui-Gon, could be altered by subsequent events. Events such as Qui-Gon’s unexpected and unforeseen death on Naboo.
If the former then it would be a simple question of whether Anakin was, or wasn’t, the chosen one to fulfill the prophecy. If the latter then is it possible that the prophecy’s course was nullified or altered by Qui-Gon’s subsequent death? Had events followed another path could mentorship under Qui-Gon as opposed to Kenobi, have led to Anakin’s fulfillment of the prophecy? Or rather his fulfillment of it by following a less painful path? Was it less a case of a prophecy misread, and more a case of a prophecy misled by the course of events?
We are all too familiar with the fate that befell Anakin in Qui-Gon’s absence. He was left to a kind, but ultimately novice, mentor in the form of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Likewise Kenobi’s stewardship was provided by the strangely pre-occupied Yoda (who it became apparent sensed the rise of the Sith long before anyone else). At this time Yoda comes across as a cold and distant figure in relation to Anakin, and this trait is reflected in his engagement with the youth on behalf of the Council.
Had Yoda not been so preoccupied he may have been able to provide greater assistance and help young Anakin develop his substantial Force powers, and shoulder the burden of the prophecy, alongside Obi-Wan. The Jedi Council in fact does nothing to comfort a bewildered young boy, and even in later years a young man, who has been torn away from his mother and thrown into a strange and consistently unwelcoming environment in Corsuscant.
The Jedi Council itself was at this point working within such tightly bound strictures, rules and routine set processes, that it had become an anathema to the intuitive approach displayed by Qui-Gon before his death. Indeed Qui-Gon was absented from its rather staid membership.
“Qui-Gon has been passed by for a seat on the Council. This is due to his bold headstrong nature and his favouring of risk and action, which sometimes bring him into disagreement with his Jedi peers and elders.” Star Wars Episode I, The Visual Dictionary, page 12
Does the quote above remind you of anyone? Almost word for word it could be used to describe Anakin Skywalker. After Qui-Gon’s death, and without an experienced and perhaps sympathetic champion to guide him, and shield him from Palpatine’s machinations, Anakin fell to the dark side.
We are all aware of the absolute tragedy of that tale. For as much as he displayed anger and hate, one senses that Anakin, and even Vader as he was to become, was never an embodiment of a deep pool of evil in the same way as Palpatine.
Vader traded instead in the currency of righteous fury and white-hot anger; and almost natural force. Even at his worst Vader remained driven by a pure demonic possession — turbulent nature — as opposed to the cold calculating menace of Palpatine the grand strategist. One does wonder if under the intuitive guidance of Qui-Gon, rather than the rules-based system of the Jedi Council and the young Kenobi, Anakin may have found away to control these passions.
A prophecy Biblical in tone
The prophecy of the chosen one in Star Wars, and the associated symbolism, is overtly Biblical in tone. It is one of the many nods within Star Wars to religion. Lucas saw the Force as representative of a form of universal religion. If one is to think of the Chosen One within Christianity one immediately thinks of the Messiah prophesied, within the books of what now forms the Old Testament. In the New Testament the reader is presented with prophecy in scripture, and then the fulfilment of that prophecy through the Christ figure.
In Skywalker saga, again we know there is a Prophecy, and the fulfillment of that Prophecy is purported to be Anakin Skywalker. Anakin is presented as being born through immaculate conception by his mother Shmi. If we are to contemplate the obvious parallels, can we then ask why the trajectory of the Christ narrative breaks in Anakin’s story? Inevitably we will come to the role of Qui-Gon as part of this analysis.
In my view, the answer to this question is that Qui-Gon represents a John the Baptist type figure. A messenger sent ahead, who “came as a witness, to bear witness to the light, so that through him everyone might believe”. Qui-Gon certainly bears witness to Anakin being the one to fulfill the Prophecy. To the Jedi Council, Qui-Gon too is the “voice of one crying in the wilderness”.
Qui-Gon — a calling unfulfilled
I would assert that Qui-Gon’s calling was deliberately left unfulfilled by Lucas. Perhaps to show an abrupt disruption in the familiar Biblical narrative or to remove any direct Biblical association from a secular, or at least a multi-faith-influenced saga.
It is the disruption of that familiar narrative however that causes Anakin’s fall to hit viewers so hard. He is the young boy that was so pure. He was removed from his mother, his mentor-protector figure was killed, he was governed by a rule-driven Jedi Council, a distracted Yoda, and left to the attentions of a novice Master. He was ripe for corruption and a warped destiny. Lucas in the Prequel Trilogy shows us an inverted Messiah in Anakin. A Messiah who went to the metaphorical wilderness of The Clone Wars for 40 days and 40 nights and succumbed to, rather than resisted, temptation.
Had Qui-Gon lived he may have prevented Anakin’s fate. He would have been a much more sensitive bulwark for the young apprentice, and much more attuned to forces that were moving against him. Part of that sensitivity had clearly been passed to Obi-Wan. In Attack of the Clones Kenobi turns to Anakin, and advises him to “beware your friend Palpatine”. By that stage though it is clear that the ruinous road has already been embarked upon. We know that Palpatine was watching Anakin’s progress from a young boy, “with great interest”.
Obi Wan was sensitive to Palpatine’s malign influence on Anakin but fatefully did not intervene. Other members of the Jedi Council were of a similar mindset — at a gut level we know that they see something “off” about Palpatine, and that they were suspicious of his connections with Anakin. None of them, however, did what Qui-Gon would have done. None of them took Anakin aside and signaled another path for him in an assertive fashion. Instead they simply forbade his further involvement and humiliated him. Collectively they were incapable of advising and mentoring him.
I was reminded of this recently when re-reading a book in the New Jedi Order series. In the book Kyp Durron turns to Jaina Solo and asserts that, “Something happens to Jedi Masters as they grow older in the Force. They become so concerned with light and dark; they can’t act, but only be acted upon”. The statement was in relation to a totally different circumstance, but the words can equally be applied verbatim to Anakin’s Jedi elders. Qui-Gon, a kindred spirit, an advocate of the living Force, may have been the one exception to that trend that Anakin so badly needed.
Another future, an alternative path
The possibilities for Anakin and the Jedi had Qui-Gon lived to guide Anakin are immense. He may have played a role in bearing witness to the light of the youthful Anakin as the prophecy fulfilled. It is a particularly interesting to muse on the possibility of whether Anakin could have been guided towards a Christ like figure in the truest revolutionary sense.
Could Anakin have learned to control his rage? Could he have channeled those feelings in such a way that would have seen him instead “overthrow the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves” from the Jedi Temple? Could he have led the Jedi from its staid and rule-based demise, towards a better more balanced way in his life, rather than in his closing moments on the forest moon of Endor?
We can only dream and debate these questions with our friends and fellow fans — lets have some fun doing it.
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