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As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Saturday, August 02, 2014


I happened upon this story in Business Insider regarding Samuel L. Jackson's "one request" for The Avengers—a request which was, apparently, denied and, apparently, news worthy.

But that's not what gave me cause to take to the keyboard and hack out this bit. Rather, it was his purported request to George Lucas for his (Jackson's) character of Mace Windu to have a purple lightsaber. From the article:

While filming Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, Jackson requested a purple lightsaber for his character Jedi Master Mace Windu so he could find himself in a big action-sequence of around 300 lightsabers.
Jackson recounted that George Lucas originally tried to tell him lightsabers only came in three colors but eventually relented.
One of the areas of focus I have enjoyed teaching in high school English is that of archetypes. In a manner of speaking, it is literally my job to teach Star Wars. Well, part of my job, anyway. The part that's really awesome.

The reason the Jackson request resonates with me is because I had presumed (and taught) that Windu wielded a purple lightsaber because of his character. It would make movie sense for Mace Windu, a Jedi Master, to burnish a blue lightsaber, especially in consideration of his line from Episode II when he tells Emperor Supreme Chancellor Palpatine that Jedi "are keepers of the peace—not warriors."

Green, in case you don't recall from your own high school English studies (or fail to recognize what happens in nature during springtime), represents rebirth and a community with nature, but that's not important for this discussion. What is important are the colors blue & red, the other common colors Lucas indicated as options for lightsaber color.

For a Jedi, red would be right out. After all, it's the only color we've seen Sith lords use, and, by the time Episode II rolls around, we've seen darths Vader & Maul. By the time the film ends, we've also seen Count Duku's; also, red. The Sith's use of red goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Red denotes anger, passion, war. Mars (the planet) has a red hue to it, matching it up perfectly with Mars the god. God of war, at that. On the other end of the lightsaber spectrum is blue. In archetypes, blue is oft-associated with peace, serenity, cooling, and other such pleasantness. Naturally, blue is far more appropriate for a Jedi and is likely why we see so many Jedi use blue for their glowing blades.

Mace Windu is an interesting character. Admittedly, I've not read Shatterpoint, the novel focusing on his character and his unique abilities, although I am somewhat aware of those abilities, as they are mentioned in the novel of Episode III. Also mentioned is Windu's fighting style, Vaapad, named after a creature which "attacks its prey with whipping strikes" (Stover, 328). Windu definitely does this when fighting Palpatine. Stover (author of the novel for Episode III) goes on:
Vaapad is as aggressive and powerful as its namesake, but its power comes at great risk: immersion in Vaapad opens the gates that restrain one's inner darkness. To use Vaapad, a Jedi must allow himself to enjoy the fight; he must give himself over to the thrill of battle. The rush of winning. Vaapad is a path that leads through the penumbra of the dark side. 
Mace Windu created this style, and he was its only living master. (Stover, 330)
How Stover discussed Windu's fighting style is what led me to conclude that Mace Windu's lightsaber is purple because of Windu's position as Vaapad's "only living master." Windu was the only Jedi Master able to master the extraordinary discipline necessary to walk the thin line separating the two sides of the Force, light and dark. If the light side of the Force (Jedi) often opt for a blue lightsaber blade, and the dark side of the Force (Sith) stick with red, the line separating them (Vaapad) would be a combination of the two.

Thus, Windu's lightsaber is purple.

It could reasonably be argued that Stover came up with the whole Vaapad line after the fact as a means of rationalizing Windu's blade, but Lucas is no dummy when it comes to archetypes—and the Episode III novel is based on Lucas's story & screenplay. Further, Lucas's writing and directing is purported to have been widely influenced by the work of Joseph Campbell, a man whose Hero with a Thousand Faces brought archetypes to the masses—and that was before Star Wars. I am without certain whether or not Samuel L. Jackson ever read Campbell's work directly, though he, for certain, had seen Star Wars.

Lucas and Jackson can say whatever they wish—and people can and will believe what they wish—when it comes to why Mace Windu's lightsaber blade is purple. But consider this: When it was announced that Samuel L. Jackson was going to play a Jedi in the Star Wars prequels, one running joke was spun off of Jackson's role in Pulp Fiction, where Windu would muse, ala Jules: Which lightsaber is mine? It's the one that says bad ass mother[expletive]!

While there were no closeups of the Windu lightsaber in film to show BAMF engraved on the hilt, the Master Replicas model does not sport such engraving—I know, because I have it. But, knowing what I do of both archetypes and Vaapad, such engraving would be superfluous. The purple blade says it all.

Works Cited

Acuna, Kirsten. "Samuel L. Jackson Had Only One Request for 'The Avengers'—And He Was Denied." Business Insider. 31 July 2014. Web. .

Stover, Matthew. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. New York: Lucas Books, 2005.

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