M: Owen and Beru Lars are very quickly forgotten by Star Wars fans, just as they very quickly burn up into some rather disturbing skeletons in ANH.
K: Both of those circumstances are a shame. Because, honestly, they deserve better.
M: They are seriously delightful humans, and more than simple plot devices killed off to call Luke to adventure and kick him across the threshold. This is especially true when you add in the prequels. In AotC and RotS, they’re such a cute little couple, very much in love.
K: In a shockingly stable, calm way that contrasts wildly with the passionate, overly dramatic upheaval of emotions Anakin and Padme are going through in that movie.
M: A mature relationship! And then, in ANH Uncle Owen is basically your crabby but endearing uncle, and Aunt Beru is that neighbor lady who buys all her clothes at K-Mart and makes cookies for all the neighborhood kids during the summer. People that aren’t the center of the story, but certainly ones you’d be glad to meet.
K: Also, look at the child they raised: Luke is polite, sweet, and always ready to help his friends/slight acquaintances. You don’t get that kind of kid with just any surrogate parents. Speaking of them being surrogate parents, do you think that means Beru couldn’t have children? Or that they chose not to because it would be too dangerous, what with Luke’s dad being the secondary Big Bad in the galaxy at this point?
M: I have always wondered about that, and have always assumed that they couldn’t have children of their own.
K: That’s what I figured too. Beru just looks so delighted when Obi-Wan hands her baby Luke at the end of RotS, and considering the circumstances that led up to that event (*chokes back sobs*), I find her uncomplicated happiness adorable.
M: Well, and then they look off into the suns a la ANH, so it sort of suggests that Luke is their hope as well.
K: Ooh, yes, I like that. The AotC novelization (which is actually pretty good) gives the Lars family a lot more “screentime” than the movie does, and Beru is so cute.
M: I think she’s *darling.* She seems to be that person who is always willing to help. I love that she helps out with the dishes and with the injured Cliegg Lars after Shmi is gone. She seems to be a permanent fixture in their home, even when she’s just dating Owen.
K: There’s a lot of commentary from Shmi’s point of view in the novelization about how Beru is exactly the kind of woman who is going to do well on Tatooine. She is, as you say, always willing to help, and she doesn’t need much to make her happy. She’s steady, and isn’t going to be beaten down by life on a dustball of a planet.
M: Valuable praise coming from the amazing Shmi. And then, in ANH
, she’s sort of this quiet smiling force behind everything. Owen and Luke are bickering and she gently gives them advice while wearing her K-mart mom clothes and pushing space vegetables into a gurgling machine. You get the sense that she’s one of those people who makes the most sensible idea feel like it was *your* idea, and so can wield a soft but potent power. She’s not pushy, but manages to push a person in the right direction anyway.
K: Yes! Also in the novelization, there’s a brief moment where Padme and Beru make awkward small talk while Anakin’s off in the desert taking his first step to the Dark Side. Mostly it’s there to show how different the two of them are, but it also further underscores that Beru, although she’s not as conspicuous as Padme, has just as much inner strength. And I love that. More appreciation for all of our Star Wars ladies, please.
M: Louder for the people in the back! Also, for as much crap as Obi-Wan (and George Lucas, really) gets for dropping Luke off with these unknown relatives, it really says a lot about those relatives that they’ll welcome a child into their home with s
K: The Dursleys, they are not. (But Obi-Wan is totally Space-Dumbledore.) Owen and Beru aren’t even Luke’s blood relatives, but they’re willing to take the enormous risk of raising him anyway. And they do it with so much love. Luke clearly loves his aunt and uncle right back, even when he whines. His face when he makes the realization that the stormtroopers are headed for his home is heartbreaking, as is his reaction to seeing Owen and Beru dead.
M: (Space-Dumbledore, I love it) Yes, that scene where he says “that would lead them back… home” is exactly what I was thinking of too. He doesn’t even think– he immediately hops into his speeder to go and check on them. I love how normal his relationship with them is, and it really punctuates the fact that Luke comes from rather humble beginnings. He squabbles with his acting parents and they squabble back. He simply wants to have more free time and fewer chores like any other normal kid… and it’s because of Owen and Beru that he was given such a stable, loving upbringing. And that’s what sets him up to be stable and loving!
K: Yay for stable Skywalkers! We get far too few of them. But, I feel bad that we skipped over Owen back when we were talking about Beru. He’s a pretty stand up guy. There’s a really lovely section of the novelization (I know I keep bringing it up, but it really informed my opinion of AotC so…) where he comes out to talk to Shmi while she’s looking up at the stars and thinking about Anakin. It’s sweet because he’s there to comfort her and even though he knows he can’t replace her biological son, he wants her to know that she’s loved. He really cared about his stepmom and is very protective of his family in general.
M: Protective, yes. That’s why he wants to keep Luke around the moisture farm, and is afraid of how much of his father he has in him. In the EU, Owen is known as a rather cranky guy, particularly to Obi-Wan. But the thing is, we usually take that from Obi-Wan’s point of view… and Owen has all the reasons in the world to be wary of Crazy Ben and his influence.
K: Yeah, for real! I find it interesting that Luke is even aware of Obi-Wan in ANH because Owen (and Obi-Wan) make it clear that he has done his utmost to keep that “crazy old wizard” away from his nephew/adopted son. He wants Luke safe and not going out into the galaxy getting into dangerous situations with an aging Jedi.
M: An aging Jedi who, as innocent as he is, has a habit of getting into trouble. I mean, we mentioned the normality of Luke’s rural childhood, and I think that’s exactly what Owen and Beru wanted to make for him. We saw what being “the Chosen One” did to Anakin, and there’s no way they’re going to do that to Luke.
K: I find it slightly hilarious that their one interaction with Anakin was enough for them to be like “Ok, yep, this kid is a mess.” And then they do their best to make sure Luke doesn’t end up that way. (And succeed, for the most part.)
M: Haha, Anakin is definitely the opposite of stable. And he certainly didn’t hide how miserable he was from them. Not at all.
K: (Anakin: *dramatically collapses to the sand by his mother’s grave* Owen and Beru: “Ok then.”) I just had a really amazing thought though. Owen and Beru probably told Luke about his grandmother!!!
M: OMG of course they did! Shmi Skywalker, one of the most underappreciated Star Wars characters.
K: As with any of the information Luke and Leia received about their biological parents growing up, I’m sure it was incomplete and littered with half-truths and omissions, but STILL. He probably got to hear about how loving and strong and amazing she was.
M: Given how much lineage matters in Star Wars, I absolutely love this idea, and I love that Owen and Beru would be able to provide that for Luke.
K: They also told him something about his father clearly, but Luke’s still on the lookout for any crumb of information they’ll drop, so they probably had a harder time with that (understandably).
M: Again, they don’t want Luke to grow up with a shadow hanging over him… and honestly we see how miserable learning Vader is his father makes him, so it’s probably best he was an adult when he found out. Shifting gears, I also think it’s fascinating that Owen and Beru are really the blue-collar, “all-American” types of Star Wars. If we read Star Wars from an auteur/biographical perspective, I think that Tatooine and the Larses are similar to Modesto and the Lucases. Like George, Luke wanted to get out and do more and be something more , and yes, any parent/guardian-child relationship is complicated. But it’s obvious that this sort of upbringing is a positive for Luke. A good foundation, just as it was for George.
K: Relative to the short amount of time they are in the picture, Owen and Beru probably have the greatest impact on Star Wars as a whole. They keep the “new hope” safe, cared for, and alive for almost twenty years, and in doing so promote the values that lead to Luke saving the galaxy (with help, of course).
M: Yes, they have an enormous impact! And while it’s true that they come to an abrupt and rather smoky end, that tragic demise is symbolic for why Luke needs to get off of Tatooine and get started on his heroic journey. Owen and Beru are exactly the type of innocent, honest people that the Empire is betraying. They’re the every-people, and I appreciate them!