SW nitpick on age of Jedi recruits

In The Phantom Menace, the Jedi Council won’t accept Anakin for training because he’s “too old.”

  1. The kid is no older than twelve. Why do they have to get them any younger than that?

  2. If they have to recruit them at the age of six or younger . . . that sounds kind of nasty. Like the baby-conscripts in Soldier, their life path is being marked out for them before they’re old enough to make anything like an informed career decision; isn’t that an infringement of their civil rights?

  3. Luke Skywalker didn’t start Jedi training until he was in his 20s. He still made a good enough Jedi to satisfy Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda.

The Jedi Council’s view, at the time, was that if weren’t able to train a kid from a young enough age they would already have learned the kinds of emotions and reponses which aren’t acceptable in a Jedi. In Anakin’s case, he was fearful and angry.

The Jedi do have to get the parent’s permission for the kid to be trained. And once they’re a Jedi Knight, they’re not forbidden to go see their parents; it’s just frowned on. It’s essentially a sort of more stringent boarding school.

This is an area where some Sith differ, actually. Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku, played by Christopher Lee in the 2nd and 3rd films) in particular had plans to forcibly just take any Force Sensitive children from their parents to build them into an army of the Sith (though this is only pointed out in the EU).

As they said, however, he was their only hope. Only Luke (and possibly Leia) have enough potential in the Force to be able to hope to defeat Vader. There were (if we go from EU novels, here) other Jedi and Force Sensitives about at the time, but none that Yoda knew of had the level of ability the Skywalkers had innately.

And Yoda argued with Obi-Wan on Dagobah about training Luke, anyway. He was extremely reluctant:

“Too old. Yes, too old to begin the training.”

It’s heavily implied, if you look at the total EU, that this is a relatively recent innovation among the Jedi. They used to, for example, have families fairly frequently, and many picked up women. It was also once common for youths, teens, and even the odd adult to take up the Jedi path. It may have to do with there being diferent schools (literally: the Jedi formerly had multiple academies) and philosophies.

Some people look at the prequels and suppose that Yoda is behind many of the recent changes. He is, after all, the biggest proponent of the system (“Nah, I don’t want to train Luke. He might go Dark Side. Which would make the current situation marginally worse in some abstract and irrelevant fashion.”), and has a bad habit of ignoring anything which doesn’t fit into his worldview (Yoda was quite willing to ignore both Anakin and Luke, and both choices would have been disastrous; Anakin would have simply been picked up by Palpatine with no opposition and no eventual return to the Light, and Luke would have died in ignorance).

Or it could be an artifact of the script-writing process. Luke, the protagonist, has to make an active choice to become a Jedi; this requires him to place a higher priority on becoming a Jedi than he places on saving his ship and rescuing himself. He couldn’t well say, “Okay, I’ll become a Jedi, since I’m stuck here and there’s nothing better to do.” He couldn’t say, “Maybe if I became a Jedi I could free my ship.” Both choices are weak, from the standpoint of character development.

From a script standpoint, Yoda only presents Luke’s age as an obstacle so Luke has an opportunity to press his suit and say “yes, damn it, you little frog, I wanna be a Jedi.” This means it is Luke’s choices which drive the story, which, up until this point, he hadn’t done.

Think about it: Luke accidentally ran into a Wampa, which he escaped; but Luke collapsed in the cold and lay around while Han rescued him. Other people were successful in the battle, while Luke simply gave orders. Luke’s speeder was shot down. He does attack an AT-AT with his saber in what is a defensive action, which fails to prevent the destruction of the Rebel Base which the Rebels were abandoning anyway. Luke went to Dagobah because Obi-Wan told him to, and when he gets there, Luke crashes his X-wing. Luke also fails to search for Yoda, because Yoda finds him. Up until this point, Luke has been pretty passive — he has made choices which have amounted to pretty much bugger all so far.

Allowing Luke to step up and demand to be trained is the first story-driven choice he makes the whole film.

Let us presume, for this and all future CS threads for all time, that any SW nitpick is to be adressed and resolved by reference to the feature films only unless otherwise specified in the OP. Novels, even if Lucas acknowledges them as canon, do not count. Neither does the Christmas special. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Reason being: The feature films should be, or should have been, written to stand all on their own as a set of narratives, even if they had never spawned any novels, fanfic, games, or merchandising tie-ins. I do not think it is unreasonable to hold any director or screenwriter to that standard.

I always thought Luke was, at most, in his late teens in ANH.

BrainGlutton: Naaaah. The LucasArts games and Dark Empire and Shadows of the Empire should count, as well as Zahn. And the Dark Horse comics besides Dark Empire.
They just should be noted.

Personally, I found it, like much of the movie, to be an artifact of the japanese films Lucas bit off of. The army of children shows up a lot in Japanese anime and Hong Kong kung fu movies.

BrainGlutton, I try and make sure that if I refer to the EU at all in my answers to SW questions, that I say so, mainly so that people don’t think they’ve missed something entirely in the films.

That said, there’s a reason it’s called the Expanded Universe; it allows us to expand on detail and characterisation that films and the novelisation (which are allowed in your view? That’s where I got the Dooku stuff from) don’t have room to put in. I haven’t seen anyone complain about bringing the Silmarillion in in LOTR threads (and yes, I know, that was actually written by Tolkein, but the EU is of similar levels of canon). I don’t see why we should stop referring to other sources at all. Who knows, the general geekery of the boards is enough that some people might be interested - and if not, horrible cliche as it is, don’t read it.

Why should the movies have to stand on their own? Why can’t a director have created the movies with the intent that they fit into a larger framework of other media? Even though this was not Lucas’s intent with the original movie, it very clearly was his intent with the prequels. Is there any particular reason for us to ignore this intent, other than your preconception about how a movie “should” be written? Do we apply this to other franchises as well? If we’re talking about Joss Whedon’s Serenity, are we forbidden to reference the events that preceded it in the television show Firefly? What about the role of the X-Files movie in the context of the (at the time) continuing TV show? If we’re talking Star Trek, can we only talk about that series, and not any of the others? If we’re discussing The Next Generation, is referring to Deep Space Nine verboten?

Sorry, but your restriction simply makes no sense. Plus, it requires us to ignore a large body of work that is, quite frankly, vastly superior to the original source material.

Sure, but you don’t get to include the hundreds of books written in the Star Trek universe. Gotta draw a line somewhere, no?


Organizations often adhere to rules simply out of tradition and without much thought going into why they do what they do.

I agree, it is nasty, and I think part of the downfall of the Jedi was that they seperated themselves from everyone else. They arrogantly put themselves above everyone else.


An army of the Sith, eh?

I thought the whole Sith organization admitted only of one Master and one Apprentice… What’s the “career path” for a non-Darth-titled Sith? I guess they’re not “Sith Lord”, just “Sith Peon”?

Because we’re talking about nitpicks here. The film and the (principal) manifestations of a given franchise can be assessed on the same level, they’re aimed at roughly the same audience or kind of audience; then there is another level of fans who will go out and read the spinoff books. But that is no excuse for discontinuities or bad logic or other storytelling sins in the more, shall we say, vulgar (in the nondisparaging sense, e.g., the Vulgate Bible) iterations of the story; they should stand on their own and if they don’t, but the holes can only be reconciled by reference to the spinoff material, that’s not fair to the wider TV/film audience who cannot reasonably be expected to hunt down and read the novels, or play the games, or whatever.

If in, say, 1980, you were a Trekkie and called Roddenberry on some plot hole in ST:TOS, Roddenberry would be within his rights to call you a total loser for asking/caring, but not to insist that point was resolved/explained in the paperbacks or [shudder] the animated series.

:confused: Sith when?

Please forgive me. I’ve been waiting for a chance to use that one for years.

And yet, strangely, the animated series had the same voices… the same writers… and is considered at least partly canon.
Yesteryear’s background for Mr. Spock has been written into the main series.
The Holodeck shows up there.
Tiberius is mentioned as a middle name there.

And, of course, Star Fleet Battles includes the Animated Series, including the Kzinti.

Really, you can’t ignore the Animated Series in Star Trek. You simply have to state when you reference it.

When Lucasfilm themselves say that official canon includes the EU so long as they don’t contradict the films outright, then I would argue that the line HAS been drawn, and it’s not where you think it is. :slight_smile:

IMHO, Yoda’s comment that Luke is “too old” in ESB sounds to me like the cranky ramblings of a Zen master who is trying to see if the prospective pupil is really serious about studying under him (and thus distract from the fact that Yoda sounds like a cross between Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy ;)). I can imagine that the Jedi would take young children as apprentices, but they’d also take older folks as well. That Lucas would appear to change his mind on the subject, just proves to me that he can’t be trusted to remember anything that he’s said or written. (Don’t forget his contradictory claims that it was going to be a 9 part series followed by him claiming that he never said such a thing.)

Naw. The “only two Sith at any one time” rule was introduced by Darth Bane in one of the EU books (novel? Comic?). Before Bane came up with that idea, the Sith were legion. He reasoned that they lost the war against the Jedi was because there were too many Sith running around. They were fractious while the Jedi were united.

A non-Darth-titled Sith is just a Dark Side practitioner, I think. Again in the EU there were many Force sensitive individuals who followed the Dark Side but didn’t have the Darth in their names since they were neither master nor apprentice. Most famous, I think, was Asajj Ventress from the Clone Wars cartoons.

Taking the whole EU, Vader and Palpatine had dozens of apprentices, at least. And many of their students had several understudies.