With all due respect to Sir Alec Guinness, but I prefer Ewan McGregor’s performance more as Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Guinness in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope played Kenobi as an old, wise man who was smart enough to know when to fight and when to do “other alternatives. “But in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he came off more to fill in plot holes.
Rumors have surrounded for years that Guinness both liked and hated his performance in the Star Wars franchise. When he was cast in Empire, he reportedly encouraged George Lucas and director Irvin Kreshner to give some of his lines to Yoda so he wouldn’t have to memorize as many lines. Still, he did receive an Oscar nomination for A New Hope.
McGregor came on when he was slowing rising in Hollywood following the popularity of Trainspotting. It was a bold move for Lucas to cast a Scottish actor who had previously played a heroin addict. But Lucas saw something that Danny Boyle and others had seen. McGregor was going to be a star. His snub for an Oscar nomination for Moulin Rouge is considered one of the worst in the last 20 years.
But playing a younger Kenobi, he was able to grow. Some critics noted that in The Phantom Menace, he came off as more as a sidekick to Qui-Gon Jinn. In the approximate 10 years between that movie and Attack of the Clones, he had grown but you could sense the tension between him and Anakin Skywalker. Whereas Jinn and Kenobi had an obvious older mentor/younger apprentice feel, there was that older brother/younger brother rivalry between the two of them.
In Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin is set on the Jedi Council but they don’t appoint him as a Master Jedi, you could sense with McGregor’s look on his face that Obi-Wan and the rest of the Council didn’t want it. And Obi-Wan had only become a Master on a technicality. Qui-Gon was killed by Darth Maul.
A lot of people have questioned why didn’t Obi-Wan kill Anakin on the volcano planet of Mustafar. Even though he had wounded Anakin by cutting off his legs during a fight, Anakin couldn’t bring himself to kill him, even after he was burned. There’s also a feeling that Obi-Wan was hurt by the betrayal of Anakin but also some guilt that he didn’t already sense something.
Obi-Wan, which premiered on Disney-Plus on May 27 with two episodes, proves that there’s still a lot more to tell. Opening on Tattoine about 10 years after the events of Sith, Obi-Wan lives in a secluded area where he eeks out a living as a butcher for low pay and is able to take a piece of meat home every day. He occassionally checks in on the young Luke Skywalker who is being cared for by his Uncle Owen Lars and Aunt Beru.
However, Owen (Joel Edgerton) doesn’t want Obi-Wan, who now just goes by Ben, to keep hanging around. Ben/Obi-Wan reminds me of how Luke was in an self-imposed exile in The Last Jedi. One thing, fans didn’t like was how Luke was hesistant to return to fight against The First Order. But he had walked away from the failures of trying to train his nephew, Ben Solo, and other Jedis.
I don’t want to give much away but the first two episodes revolve around The Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) arriving on Tattoine with Fifth Brother (Suan Kang) and Reva Sevander, the Third Sister (Moses Ingram) to seek out suspected Jedis on the planet. On Alderaan, Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) has been kidnapped by Vect Nokru (Flea) and a band of marauders.
So, her parents, Bail and Breha Organa (Jimmy Smits and Simone Kessell), call on Obi-Wan/Ben to help. But he’s reluctnat. Like Luke in TLJ, he doesn’t claim to be a Jedi anymore. But he’s going to have to make a choice on what to do. And you don’t need to a detective to know that he’s going to chose to go after Leia.
Both episodes have been directed by Deborah Chow who directed two episodes of The Mandalorian during its first season. She reportedly has directed the entire season. She is able to portray an accurate look at the Star Wars universe in between the events of Sith and Hope. It helps that McGregor brings some middle-aged weathered look to the role that it is needed.
I believe the series is going to explain why Kenobi was so quick to travel to Alderaan in Hope. I feel this is why so many people were upset that Luke tossed the lightsaber over his shoulder in TLJ. But Obi-Wan/Ben has the same reluctance. I’m sure the series is going to build on the relationship he has with Leia and her parents.
While the prequels are becoming better respected now that the Disney trilogy ruined a lot for fans, you’d have to be living under a rock on Mars with your eyes closed and fingers in ears not to know that Hayden Christensen is returning as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vadar. This has long been a fan theory that Kenobi and Vadar had an altercation between Sith and Hope. In the latter movie, Vadar says, “We meet again, Obi-Wan.” And how would Kenobi know about Vadar if he had presumed he died on Mustafar?
While the series looks like it will be as good as The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, It looks like Star Wars fans have started to review bomb it because they don’t like it. Or I think they think they have better ways to tell the story. The original trilogy was supposed to be movies for kids. But since the early 1980s, it became its own religion for many people. And when you mess with someone’s religion, you’re not going to make them happy. There’s also the reported racism, sexism and misogyny among many fans. So, if they don’t like it, maybe that’s a good sign for the rest of the series.
What do you think? Please comment.