Apparently the Disney Corporation has plans to aggressively expand the Star Wars franchise.
(Reference 1) And why wouldn’t they, after paying a cool $4 billion for it? (Reference 2) That means a lot of new Star Wars stories, and hints have been dropped that fans may get some backstory movies. (Reference 3) With that in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly ask Disney to answer a question which has been burning in fans’ minds for nearly 40 years now:
What went down between Owen Lars and Obi-Wan Kenobi?
In the prequel movies, we get a look at young Owen Lars, dynamically interpreted by Australian actor Joel Edgerton. He’s an upwardly mobile young man-about-Tatooine, learning the family biz (moisture farming - the “plastics” of the Outer Rim!)
Things don’t seem so bad; he’s even got a pretty girlfriend (Beru), which seems a bit remarkable given that they live on a planet which resembles the Saudi “Empty Quarter”.
Onscreen, Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse project a rural "Jack and Dianne" vibe("two Tatooine kids, doin' the best they can"), but with a little edge: there's a scene in Episode II, where Anakin tells them he's going to look for his mother, and Beru and Owen are just standing there quietly, trying to be polite, because Anakin is Owen's half-brother, and they just met him- but they obviously don't give a damn about what he's saying, because they are young lovers who just want Anakin to leave, so they can resume their lustful explorations in privacy. You could cut the sexual tension in that scene with a knife.
"Just fucking leave already, would you?"
But as far as audiences are shown, hardly any other personal repoire develops between Owen and Anakin. One day Owen is attending to the moisture farm. His high-achieving, brooding half-brother flies in, introduces himself, and disappears for several days, only to return with their mothers’ cadaver for a proper burial. Then he’s off again. That’s it; the totality of their interaction.
An unspecified period of time later, Obi-wan Kenobi shows up and saddles Owen and Beru with baby Luke. It’s the first time Obi-wan and Owen Lars meet, and we don’t get to hear the conversation between them. How does that go down exactly? Does Obi-wan introduce himself as a Jedi? Jedis are enemies of the State, and being aggressively hunted to extinction. Does Obi-wan explain about Anakin’s transformation to Darth Vader? Does he explain the dubious plan to “hide” Darth Vader’s son from his in his step-brother’s home, in his hometown, letting the son walk around openly bearing the Skywalker name? It seems unlikely Owen and Beru would knowingly sign up for that.
Fast forward about twenty years, and Owen is a crotchety old dude who looks more like he’s aged forty years, than twenty.
When Luke brings up his father (Anakin) and Obi-wan Kenobi, Owen gets pretty inflamed. Check it out (taken from the online Star Wars- IV screenplay on Scribd.com):
You know, I think that R2 unit we
bought might have been stolen.
What makes you think that?
Well, I stumbled across a recording
while I was cleaning him. He says he
belongs to someone called Obi-Wan
Owen is greatly alarmed at the mention of his name, but
manages to control himself.
I thought he might have meant old
Ben. Do you know what he's talking
about? Well, I wonder if he's related
Owen breaks loose with a fit of uncontrolled anger.
That old man's just a crazy old
wizard. Tomorrow I want you to take
that R2 unit into Anchorhead and
have its memory flushed. That'll be
the end of it. It belongs to us now.
But what if this Obi-Wan comes looking
He won't, I don't think he exists
any more. He died about the same
time as your father.
He knew my father?
I told you to forget it. Your only
concern is to prepare the new droids
for tomorrow. In the morning I want
them on the south ridge working out
Whoa! What happened? Owen thinks Obi-wan died around the same time as Anakin? But Luke says “I wonder if he’s related to Ben” …so the family knows Ben Kenobi, at least by name. Huh?? What gives? Owen not only knows Obi-wan didn't die, he knows Luke knows. If the story is to protect Luke from hanging around a fugitive, why doesn't he just say "Luke, Obi-wan is wanted by the law; stay away from him"? The story can't be intended to keep Luke from becoming a Jedi, because what would that look like?... just Luke and Obi-wan hanging out together, being Jedis in the middle of the Sahara (looking) desert? Unless.. does Owen really know the whole story about Darth Vader? Would Obi-wan really be so dumb as to spill that information to a complete stranger- one who is related to Vader and could well return the baby and join the galactic first family in a lifestyle few moisture farmers could ever dare dream about?
None of this stuff would explain why Owen is so pissy about the whole thing. Did he and Obi-wan have had a fight in twenty intervening years between Episodes III and IV? What could it have been about?
“Crazy old wizard?”, you say? Is that a reference to Jedi Force tricks? Did Obi-wan show off his Jedi skills during those dark days when Jedis were hunted? DId he offend Owen and Beru at their initial meeting? ....Maybe lay a guilt trip on them for not wanting Anakin's kid? I can only imagine how overwhelming that meeting must have been for them. Here they are at the beginning of their domestic life together…
when suddenly Obi-wan shows up with a baby, babbling some paranoid story about how the government was out to kill him, telling them Owen’s step brother whom he only met once- is dead, and now saying they had to take the baby? Geez...
Having a baby together is a big decision, and it’s a big commitment for a young couple, even under the best of circumstances. To have that thrust on you so suddenly… does that explain it? Is that why Owen Lars is so bitter in Episode IV? He resents Luke?
These and many more questions need to be answered. I hope writers at Disney will consider a backstory movie to fill us in.
Fun extra: Owen Lars' likeness used in a political ad!