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The 30 Greatest Star Wars Characters
From Admiral Ackbar to... Yoda - we count down Lucas' best creations

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12. BEN KENOBI

Ben Kenobi

"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." On paper, that reads pretty silly. Out of the mouth of Ben 'Obi-Wan' Kenobi, in the silver-haired guise of Alec Guinness (whose voice could varnish wood), it sounded like holy liturgy. For all the special effects, space cowboys, arch villains and comedy droids, it was Kenobi who gave Star Wars conviction. It was Guinness who made us believers.

George Lucas had, of course, been boning up on his archetypes, and here was a classic mentor figure cut from the Merlin/Gandalf cloth - the givers of wisdom. Putting him in the hands of a classically trained British thesp who could quote Shakespeare at 'will' was assuredly building on rock. Hooded in mystery, vaguely priest-like, the strange hermit out beyond the Dune Sea gave the concept of Jedi Knights a mysticism and authority no amount of blather about "midi-chlorians" could undo.

Yet the two best performances in the whole saga arguably came from the two actors most resistant to Lucas' dreamy mythos - Harrison Ford's Han Solo being the other. Perhaps their distance from the script actually left room for depth.

There are endless stories of Guinness' distrust of fandom; Star Wars remained a burden to the actor until his death. How he loathed being hailed as "Obi-Wan" in the street. One poor moppet was supposed to have tapped him on the arm to boast, "I've seen Star Wars 100 times!" before imploring his hero for an autograph. Guinness nodded sagely, Jedi-like in every supple movement, before agreeing if the small child promised never to watch it again.

There were undoubtedly tears before bedtime. Even during production he was tiring of this science-fiction nonsense: "I'd had enough of the mumbo-jumbo," he sighed in interviews. Yet, such mumbo-jumbo was to land him an Oscar nomination, make him adored by millions and also very, very rich (he was wise enough to also have points).

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Your Comments

1 RE: I Agree
To paraphrase Palpatine, likeable is a point of view. More

Posted by Litshttam on Wednesday July 9, 2014, 20:47

2 I don't agree.
'George Lucas's 30 worst creations'...? Nah, it's just going to be slagging him off, for the sake of it... AGAIN! Its really good to see more appreciation (and fairness) in articles towards George. Just check out 'The Guardian online', they take every opportunity to slag Star Wars off, including loads of unqualified opinions and non-truths. The film critic even started a recent post saying 'Star Wars isn't known for its creativity...' - its farcical. As a character from another space franchise said "...its easier to destroy than create". More

Posted by Funk_Knight on Thursday July 3, 2014, 10:17

3 I don't agree.
'George Lucas's 30 worst creations'...? Nah, it's just going to be slagging him off, for the sake of it... AGAIN! Its really good to see more appreciation (and fairness) in articles towards George. Just check out 'The Guardian online', they take every opportunity to slag Star Wars off, including loads of unqualified opinions and non-truths. The film critic even started a recent post saying 'Star Wars isn't known for its creativity...' - its farcical. As a character from another space franchise said "...its easier to destroy than create". More

Posted by Funk_Knight on Thursday July 3, 2014, 10:17

4 I Agree
A WORST Star Wars Characters list will be more interesting. Jar Jar obviously would be No. 1. Though I also agree he had a good character arc (But that doesn't make him likable) More

Posted by Darren47 on Wednesday July 2, 2014, 23:50

5 RE: Binks' Arc Is Actually One Of The Best In The Saga
Or Boris Johnson. Or Bush Jr. Take your pick, really. More

Posted by Litshttam on Wednesday July 2, 2014, 22:04

6 RE: Binks' Arc Is Actually One Of The Best In The Saga
L: Litshttam Jar Jar Binks starts off as mythic-archetype - the fool / jester the hero meets by the roadside - and becomes a commentary on the nepotism in politics; his befriending of Padmé Amidala in The Phantom Menace leads to his appointment as Gungan-representative in the senate by Attack Of The Clones. The unfit-for-purpose-but-sincere plonker inadvertently starts the Clone Wars, too, falling for the Hegelian-machinations of Palpatine hook, line and sinker. Sure, Yoda he ain't, but I like him. o, Jar Jar Binks is... Tony Blair? (How wude.) More

Posted by chris kilby on Wednesday July 2, 2014, 12:45

7 RE: Predictable...
L: GrizBe I'd much rather see the 30 worst / dumbest Star Wars characters. We all know Jar Jar would top that, but it'd be more fun then this. ax Rebo? Droopy McCool? More

Posted by chris kilby on Wednesday July 2, 2014, 12:44

8 30 Greatest Characters?
Loads of these were generic 'Stormtrooper', 'Scout Trooper', 'Jawa' etc, not actual characters. Also, Anakin/ Darth Vader, whether you like it or not, is the same dude! Also Ben and Obi-Wan. I've seen several top Star Wars character lists, this is the worst attempt I've seen. More

Posted by AyannaNyx on Wednesday July 2, 2014, 01:26

9 Binks' Arc Is Actually One Of The Best In The Saga
Jar Jar Binks starts off as mythic-archetype - the fool / jester the hero meets by the roadside - and becomes a commentary on the nepotism in politics; his befriending of Padmé Amidala in The Phantom Menace leads to his appointment as Gungan-representative in the senate by Attack Of The Clones. The unfit-for-purpose-but-sincere plonker inadvertently starts the Clone Wars, too, falling for the Hegelian-machinations of Palpatine hook, line and sinker. Sure, Yoda he ain't, but I like him. More

Posted by Litshttam on Tuesday July 1, 2014, 13:38

10 Predictable...
I'd much rather see the 30 worst / dumbest Star Wars characters. We all know Jar Jar would top that, but it'd be more fun then this. More

Posted by GrizBe on Tuesday July 1, 2014, 11:13

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