In her post Redefining Disability #11: Thoughts About Star Wars, Symbolism and Amputation, my friend Rose brought up interesting points about all both Star Wars movie trilogies, and how Anakin’s and Luke’s journey as Force users. As she mentioned, the visual symbolism (and poetry, albeit sometimes darkly) is something very important in the saga, and it has been something speaking to me not only as a viewer but also as a vidder. To me using symbolism is not only important in my writing but also in my vidding, all the more when working on alternate universe ones, such as the ones I made for One Path.
I find it very important that the cybernetic hand isn’t just something used as a bad omen, but also as something positive, a reminder of what can still be. There is always a choice, which is also why the Star Wars universe focusing a lot on redemption (on many levels beyond just the Skywalker family) is so important.
I always wondered what exactly Mace Windu’s amputation might mean in the grand scheme of things. Anakin does the amputation, but didn’t try to kill him right then and there. To me that showed how there was still good in him and added to Palpatine’s manipulative ways (and sadly, success). In a way it reminds me of the scene in Return of the Jedi, when Luke cut Vader’s hand (without knowing it already was a cybernetic one until after the action) but refused to do more and then Palpatine used Force lightning on Luke. The lightsaber motifs are also echoing each other to a degree as Luke tosses his lightsaber away when refusing to slay his father, and Mace’s lightsaber is shown falling outside of the shattered window, both times before Palpatine uses his deadly abilities, though he had already displayed his Force lightning against Mace, prior to the Jedi Master’s losing his hand in Revenge of the Sith.
The two scenes aren’t the same in terms of dynamic, but each times, Palpatine used his Force lightning abilities on either a member of the Jedi council or on the one who will help rebuilding the Order. The fact that Vader eventually dies of having been exposed to Palpatine’s power after he tossed him in the Death Star shaft also seems to bring things full circle, and both Mace and Vader actually have shots that shows bit of their skeletons in overlays, when exposed to the Force lightning.
Just like Rose, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one Skywalker loses a limb, but that this time they really focus on having the character go through the process of getting used to the cybernetic replacement. The one scene to me that really showed a hint at this before is at the end of Revenge of the Sith when Vader falters on his new legs after being released from his physical bounds. This shows that the idea of dealing with the aftermath of the amputation and especially the replacement limb can be seen, but it would really benefit from a stronger and lengthier description and screen time.
I remember finding it interesting in The Young Jedi Knight novel series that we got to see Tenel Ka lose her arm in what should have been a regular training session with Jacen Solo. I thought it was a strong story decision, especially with how it affected both characters. Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta did a more solid job at having her deal with her amputation, including to the point when she decided that the cybernetic limb wasn’t for her, no matter how her family and peers were shocked by this choice. I liked that Tenel Ka’s accident didn’t happen to Jacen, as it could have been an easy decision, and that what occurred was also due to her own impatience and will to show she was ready and powerful. The loss of limb functioned in the same way as Luke’s and later Anakin’s did.