One of the reasons for the enduring appeal of “Star Wars” is that different people can take wildly different meanings from the films, depending on which character or characters they feel most drawn to. Case in point? David Fincher, currently promoting “Gone Girl,” gave an interview in which he presented an interesting read on the first two films in the ongoing space opera saga.
I'm sure some fans are going to accuse Fincher of overthinking this, but I think he's got a valid point about the “Star Wars” universe, one that I've thought about a fair amount as I've gotten older and as I see the films from a fresh perspective. George Lucas spoke early on about how he considered R2-D2 and C-3PO to be the leads in the entire series, and I remember him saying they would be the only characters to show up in all of the movies. While I don't really like the way C-3PO's backstory is handled thanks to the prequels, I have an inordinate fondness for the two characters, and in particular, I remember how it felt as a kid when I first saw the film and realized that the droids were the ones having the adventure, with all the human characters coming together because of the actions of the droids. I've always considered them to be hugely important to the movies.
But if we are to accept them as actual characters and not just household appliances that have been created to cleverly mimic human behavior, then we have to assume that they have something like a soul. They are sentient. They feel. They have hopes and dreams and fears. Both of the droids exhibit plenty of personality over the course of the series, and they behave with such clear independence that it doesn't even really feel like it's up for debate. They are alive, and if they are truly alive, then yes… David Fincher is correct. As he said during his interview with “Total Film,” they are slaves.
“I always thought of 'Star Wars' as the story of two slaves [C-3PO and R2-D2] who go from owner to owner, witnessing their masters' folly, the ultimate folly of man… I thought it was an interesting idea in the first two, but it's kind of gone by 'Return Of The Jedi.'”
It's troubling in the same way my questions about the world in which “Cars” is set are troubling. It's troubling because once you start to pull on that thread, it's possible to totally unravel the entire fabric of the narrative. You can't consider the droids slaves without having to seriously question the moral character of everyone in the “Star Wars” universe. The existence of the “restraining bolt” that we see used in “A New Hope” would lend some weight to Fincher's read on things. If the droids aren't alive, then I'm confused by their behavior in the films, and if they are alive, then how can everyone treat them like garbage?
It would be amazing to see David Fincher turned loose in the “Star Wars” universe to do whatever he wants, and I'd pay $50 for a ticket to see a film in which he tackled these ideas outright. Give him one of the spin-off films, Disney. Let him remake “Spartacus” with droids. I can just see it… wave after wave after wave of droids, all standing up to the leaders of the Republic, all of them echoing the same declarative statement of war: “I'm R2-D2!” “No, I AM R2-D2!” “I'm R2-D2!”
Seriously, though, Fincher would make something really special if unleashed with this particular toybox. In the meantime, “Gone Girl” arrives in theaters Friday.