Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director JJ Abrams and Rey actress Daisy Ridley have commented on why the sequel trilogy ignore midichlorians in their portrayal of the Force.
At a press conference in Tokyo, the cast and crew of the forthcoming Star Wars movie were asked whether George Lucas’ unexplored ideas regarding midichlorians will ever be explored in canon. The question was mangled in translation into English, but led to an interesting discussion nonetheless.
Like many fans, this writer included, it seems that Abrams favours a more spiritual interpretation of the Force – in fact, this was pretty much the only interpretation that existed for two decades, until Lucas introduce the concept of midichlorians in 1999’s The Phantom Menace. In that film, it was proposed that microbes inside a Jedi’s bloodstream determined their sensitivity to the Force, and their aptitude to manipulate it.
“The midichlorian idea is in the movies, so it’s part of the story, and everyone accepts it because it’s what George wrote and it’s part of the lore,” responded Abrams. “And yet, what I remember when I was a kid and I saw the first film and Obi-Wan Kenobi talks about the Force and how it surrounds all of us and it binds every living thing together, and that feeling of that kind of power, to me is the thing that I’ve always felt was a bit more powerful of an idea.”
The concept of midichlorians has proven extremely controversial among fans, many of whom complain that it takes a spiritual concept and makes it mundane. Abrams seems to agree, though he diplomatically stopped short of trashing the concept outright.
“It’s not like anyone here is rejecting midichlorians,” said Abrams, jokingly adding “except Daisy!” He went on to explain, “But the feeling of the Force being something you can feel, you can draw upon, you can believe in – I believe that is a more powerful notion, and that’s what I felt the Force was to me. But the beauty of what George created is that we can all interpret it ourselves.”
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Ridley also gave her interpretation. She explained that she sees parallels between the Force as depicted in the Star Wars movies and the forces that bind us as a species.
“To JJ’s point, I think the beauty of what people love about Star Wars and what I love about being a human is that we’re all connected and everybody has their version of the Force,” she said. “And I think people have it in different ways. So I think we’re all blessed with beautiful sensitivity.”
You can watch the full press conference, featuring several members of the cast and crew of The Rise of Skywalker, on IGN Japan’s YouTube channel. The movie opens on 20 December.
Daniel Robson is Chief Editor of IGN Japan – you can find him on Twitter here.