Star Wars fans delight in their familiarity with the saga’s wide-ranging cast of characters, but it turns out there’s a single constant figure in each entry, and according to George Lucas, that being represents the hidden narrator behind the entire story.
Lucas made the admonition on the set of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, according to io9, while speaking with animation director Rob Coleman on his first day. Related in Chris Taylor’s book How Star Wars Conquered The Universe, Lucas revealed that not only does the saga have a narrator, but it is none other than Luke’s trusty astromech, R2-D2.
“The entire story of Star Wars is actually being recounted to the keeper of the Journal of the Whills—remember that?—a hundred years after the events of Return of the Jedi by none other than R2-D2.”
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) April 22, 2016
The idea that R2-D2 could be the narrator of the Star Wars saga may take fans aback at first, but under closer examination, it does make a great deal of sense. Artoo is in every film, playing a somewhat prominent role. It is only during the events of The Force Awakens that the droid takes a place in the background, spending much of the movie in low power mode. He comes into the saga as a fully formed character, appearing in the earliest scenes of The Phantom Menace and avoids getting his mind wiped like C-3PO at the end of Revenge of the Sith, so he carries within him memories of the prequels.
— Classic Star Wars (@ClassicStarWars) April 23, 2016
It is precisely because he retains those memories that Artoo is so insistent upon finding Obi-Wan in A New Hope, almost certainly remembering the Jedi master from the Clone Wars. His mission to find Kenobi sets the events of the original trilogy spiraling into motion, eventually leading Luke to join the Rebellion and succeed in crippling the Empire. If Artoo is the one telling the story, it would also explain why the diminutive droid appears so heroic in each successive film, saving multiple characters over the course of the saga.
George Lucas and R2-D2 prototype, 1975 pic.twitter.com/YGyuoMm0YH
— History Pics (@ThatsHistory) April 20, 2016
The fact that Lucas references the Journal of the Whills in his statement is also significant, as Uproxx points out. Known only to the most devoted Star Wars fans, the journal is a framing device that first appeared in the novelization of A New Hope. This journal exists within the broader Star Wars universe and references the Jedi but was conceived of by Lucas as a way to connect the events of the saga with reality. Although it has not often been acknowledged, it did survive the expanded universe purge that took place after Disney purchased Lucasfilm. The Journal of the Whills has most recently been utilized in the novelization of The Force Awakens, suggesting that there is something of great importance in the concept, which Disney may hope to use in their future development of the series.
The actor who played R2-D2 hated the actor who played C-3PO pic.twitter.com/OQHdzfP1uq
— OMG Facts (@OMGFacts) April 19, 2016
While Artoo seems to be out of commission during The Force Awakens, the official canon notes that he is spending that time “dreaming” of his greatest adventures. While it might be a stretch to suggest that the first six episodes of the Star Wars saga are nothing more than the memories of an astromech, it seems that fans now have little doubt that R2-D2 is the direct link to the Journal of the Whills and the driving force behind the series.
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]