OBI-WAN KENOBI

The not-so-crazy old man

Empire (UK) - - ON.SCREEN - JAMES DYER

EWAN MCGRE­GOR CER­TAINLY claims the bulk of the char­ac­ter’s screen time, and cer­tainly no-one since Chuck Nor­ris has sported the mul­let-and-beard combo with sim­i­lar aplomb. But for the quin­tes­sen­tial Kenobi, we need look no fur­ther than Sir Alec Guin­ness. A clas­si­cally trained thes­pian who con­sid­ered the en­tire en­deav­our be­neath him (“Fairy-tale rub­bish”), Guin­ness brought a much­needed grav­i­tas to the role, and to Star Wars as a whole, ef­fort­lessly sell­ing the kooky con­cept of the Force (“It sur­rounds us and pen­e­trates us; it binds the galaxy to­gether”) in a way few lesser ac­tors could. From the mo­ment he strides, howl­ing, from the Jund­land Wastes to res­cue Luke from Tusken Raiders, Guin­ness’ space wiz­ard in­stalls him­self as the story’s mo­ral com­pass, in­spir­ing, teach­ing and men­tor­ing, be­fore lay­ing down his life so that his pupil might live.

Nor did he go qui­etly into that good night, ei­ther, stick­ing around as a bluetinged Force ghost to shape events long af­ter his un­timely pass­ing, beau­ti­fully an­nun­ci­ated ep­i­thets pop­ping into young Sky­walker’s head in his hours of great­est need. The Gan­dalf to Luke’s Bilbo, the Mor­pheus to his Neo, Kenobi con­tin­ued the grand tra­di­tion of mys­te­ri­ous pa­trons dis­pens­ing cryp­tic wis­dom and be­stow­ing great power. Yes, his star pupil wiped out the Jedi, slaugh­tered mil­lions and doomed the galaxy to decades of tyran­ni­cal rule, but that’s a mi­nor blem­ish on an oth­er­wise spot­less record.

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