On May 21, 1980, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back made its theatrical debut. To celebrate the classic film’s landmark 40th anniversary, StarWars.com presents “Empire at 40,” a special series of interviews, editorial features, and listicles.
Looking for an activity that’s fun, engaging, and educational? Each week, Teaching with Star Wars will offer unique lessons for you and your younglings that promise to foster opportunities for discovery and learning, all through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. And it sounds like the bell just rang, so let’s head to the classroom now. Punch it, Chewie!
Lando Calrissian is a notorious scoundrel determined to make an honest living for himself. He is the Baron Administrator of Cloud City, eager to prove he can leave the shadows of his past, and be a stand-up guy. Change and growth are certainly things to admire, and Lando is adamant that he has made that happen. No one has ever really gotten the best of him, anyway (at least, in his own mind). What could possibly go wrong?
But it’s really difficult to run from your past, as Lando learns in his visit from Darth Vader and the Empire. Vader makes him an offer he can’t refuse, and Lando is manipulated into betraying his long time friends, Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as Princess Leia. While it is fair to say that not many people would have been able to say no to Lord Vader, it is also accurate that Lando has, once again, deceived Han Solo and taken something precious from him. Lando’s questionable luck and penchant for trickery has not helped him to reinvent himself, as he had hoped. It certainly did not do Han any favors.
Yet, we always have a choice. Does Lando want to let things stay the way they are, or does he want to make things right? The current status quo does not look promising (never make a deal with Darth Vader!), and Lando will have to own up to his potentially fatal decision — his friend’s life is at stake. It takes a big person to stand up to Vader and the Empire, potentially losing Cloud City for good, but it takes an even bigger person to take responsibility for their actions and own their mistakes.
With an ego like Lando’s, that could be even more challenging. However, Lando is not like most people. He chooses to right the wrong — to free Leia and Chewbacca, and alter Darth Vader’s deal in order to save his friend. While it is not successful, Lando has proven that he has changed, even in the face of overwhelming odds. While it is certainly most impressive that he went against Darth Vader, it may be more relatable that he admitted his mistake, and did his absolute best to correct this error.
Ask your Padawan to think about a time that he or she made a mistake and have them think about the following:
- What two choices did you struggle between and what were the pros and cons of each choice?
- Why is it so hard to admit when we are wrong? How do we benefit from these choices? Is it ever worth the end result?
- Have you ever had a different point of view from your friend that led to a disagreement, and if so, how did you handle it?
Thankfully, you will not have to face Darth Vader. But, you may find yourself in a situation where you make a choice you instantly regret. If you do, be sure to think like Lando Calrssian, hero of the Rebel Alliance. Here goes nothing!
Dan Zehr is the host and brand director of Coffee With Kenobi, a podcast that examines the mythology of Star Wars from a place of intelligence and humor. He is also a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning.
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