VOTD: ‘Existentialist Star Wars’

Looking at Star Wars from a philosophical standpoint is nothing new — there are plenty of essays and books that do just that — but this funny existentialist version of Episode IV: A New Hope takes it to a whole new level by putting the words of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre right into the characters’ mouths. Well, kind of. The video features Star Wars scenes dubbed in French, with French subtitles, but French speakers will notice (and probably be irritated) that the dubbing doesn’t actually match the subtitles. Regardless, it’s entertaining to see our beloved heroes embrace a different kind of dark side by pondering the meaning(lessness?) of existence. Watch the video after the jump.


[via Nerd Bastards]

Sartre’s words turn Obi-Wan and Vader’s lightsaber fight into a philosophical discourse, and R2-D2 and C-3PO’s trek into a musing on loneliness and infinite possibilities. Who knew A New Hope could look so…. hopeless? Sartre’s “dialogue” renders the Star Wars universe far darker than anything Darth Vader could’ve ever come up with. I mean, Existentialist Leia finds the very fact of her existence to be “nauseating.” It doesn’t get more despairing than that.

For those not up on their 20th century French philosophy, Sartre was among the major figures of existentialism (see below). You may recognize him as the guy who came up with the phrase “Hell is other people” — it’s from his play No Exit, in which three people experience just that in a very literal sense.

But what is this “existentialism” I keep mentioning, you ask? Wikipedia defines it as follows:

Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of philosophers since the 19th century who, despite large differences in their positions, generally focused on the condition of human existence, and an individual’s emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts, or the meaning or purpose of life. Existential philosophers often focused more on what they believed was subjective, such as beliefs and religion, or human states, feelings, and emotions, such as freedom, pain, guilt, and regret, as opposed to analyzing objective knowledge, language, or science.

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