Text reads: The Mysteries of Life with Tim and Moby
Text reads: A short while ago, in a garage very, very nearby…
The "Star Wars" theme music is hummed in the background. A garage is filled with a variety of household props like a toaster and an electric toothbrush. Tim is dressed as Luke Skywalker. He faces two robots.
TIM: I'll take the R-two unit.
Moby sits in a director's chair. The chair is labeled "Moby-Wan Kenobi." He holds a megaphone to his mouth.
TIM: Come on, Moby. How many different takes do you need?
Moby holds up a Chewbacca mask.
TIM: No, I don't want to switch roles.
Tim reads from a typed letter.
TIM: Dear Tim and Moby, How do I figure out the theme of a story? And why is finding the theme so important anyway? From, Ben. Thanks for the questions, Ben. A theme is a central message or idea woven into the action of a story. Themes give a story meaning by linking the fictional world with our own. They comment on issues from our everyday lives and from the wider culture. They're a huge part of what makes films and literature so fascinating.
An image shows a basket and three balls of yarn labeled with different themes: power, family, and hate. The screen splits in two and an image appears of Moby knitting a Star Wars sweater with the yarn.
TIM: If you've ever read a fable, you already know a simple type of theme. Fables always include a moral, a lesson about life. Take "The Tortoise and the Hare." The hare’s always bragging about how fast he is, so the tortoise challenges him to a race. The hare is so confident, he stops to take a nap halfway through. Slowly but surely, the tortoise passes the hare and wins.
An animation reenacts the story of "The Tortoise and the Hare" with the Star Wars characters Yoda as the tortoise and Jar-Jar Binks as the hare. The tortoise and hare start to race, the hare takes a nap, and the tortoise wins.
TIM: It might seem like the story is all about speed and running. The larger message is that patience and determination pay off. The race is used to communicate a lesson that can be applied to real life.
The hare watches as Yoda, representing the tortoise, enjoys his victory.
TIM: Themes are usually more subtle in movies and novels. It's easy to be wowed by spaceships, aliens, and princesses. And those are essential parts of the Star Wars story.
Model spaceships, robots, and droids move around the garage.
TIM: But to find the themes, we have to read between the lines.
C3PO ROBOT: Beep.
A robot character examines a script with a magnifying glass.
TIM: Well, not literally. We have to look for patterns or ideas that come up frequently. The repetition of a word or phrase is a good sign you're onto a theme. We call those recurring words or images "motifs."
The robot character flips through the pages of his script.
TIM: The Force is one big motif in Star Wars. We learn more about its symbolic meaning each time it's mentioned.
An image shows the robot's script. The word "force" is highlighted several times on the page.
TIM: Well, like at the beginning, the Force seems to be just a magical power. But over the course of the series, we learn that it's much more than that.
Tim sits at a desktop computer and looks at a reenactment of a Star Wars scene. In the scene, Tim is dressed as Luke Skywalker. He is blindfolded, learning how to use a lightsaber.
TIM: It's a universal energy that connects all living things. And a spiritual balance between light and darkness.
An animation shows a revolving yin and yang symbol. The symbols transform into Tim’s face and Darth Vader’s mask.
TIM: Themes are often set up as pairs of opposing ideas, like with the Force. At its most basic level, it represents the struggle between good and evil.
An animation shows a seesaw in perfect balance. On one side is Tim's smiling face and on the other side is Darth Vader's mask.
TIM: But it's also about nature versus technology; the tension between instinct and logic; or the choice between freedom and destiny.
Additional images appear on each side of the seesaw to illustrate opposing ideas from Star Wars, including a bird and a fortune cookie to represent freedom and destiny.
TIM: They sound complicated, but those themes are all right there in the movie. We find them by analyzing the story elements. For example, we can examine lines of dialogue, what the characters say.
TIM: Like when Darth Vader calls the Death Star a "technological terror." Then he says the colossal weapon is nothing compared to the power of the Force.
Tim puts on headphones and returns to his desktop computer. An animation reenacts a scene from the film showing Darth Vader and a balloon that looks like the Death Star. Moby pops the Death Star with a sharp object.
TIM: His comments set up technology and nature as opposing ideas.
TIM: Plot, the action in a story, is another great place to hunt for themes.
An animation shows the Death Star balloon and a spaceship piloted by Tim as Luke Skywalker.
TIM: OK, Moby-Wan. I will use the Force.
Tim presses an off-button on his spaceship's dashboard.
TIM: I will trust my intuition.
Tim uses a joystick to shoot two fireballs at the Death Star. A bat appears and hits the Death Star, which falls open like a piñata. Candy falls down.
TIM: We did it, R2. We destroyed the Death Star!
TIM: Right. Luke is successful because he relies on the Force. His natural instincts are victorious over destructive technology.
Droids dressed as Ewoks play with the candy that has fallen from the destroyed Death Star piñata.
TIM: Well, in a great story, all the elements work together to support the themes. Look at the settings in "Star Wars," where the action takes place. The Death Star is massive and spotless. Like a lot of advanced technology, it feels sinister and cold.
An image shows droids dressed as Stormtroopers, working inside the Death Star.
TIM: Compare that with the Rebels' ships. They look and feel lived-in, like a home.
An image shows the interior of Han Solo's ship. It is warm and inviting. There is a chess board, and a girl, Rita, is dressed as Han Solo and playing darts. The dartboard has a drawing of Darth Vader on it. The Wookie growls as Rita throws a dart that hits Darth Vader’s face.
TIM: Even the costumes support that contrast. Stormtroopers wear masks, and their uniforms are totally rigid. They look more like machines than people.
An image shows a line of Stormtrooper droids in the Death Star. One trip and they all fall like dominoes.
TIM: Compare that to the rebel outfits, what we good guys wear. Our clothing is loose, comfy, and made of organic materials.
An image shows Tim as Luke Skywalker, practicing with his lightsaber. His movements are quick and fluid. The other characters are also shown.
TIM: Well, appearance is a key part of characterization. That's all the ways a character is portrayed; how he looks, speaks, thinks, and acts. Remember when we first meet Moby-Wan? He lives a simple life, not surrounded by gizmos and gadgets. He's a respected Jedi master, but unlike the bad guys, he's humble and has a sense of humor.
An animation shows a desert planet, with R2D2 standing atop a rock. Moby is dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Tim is dressed as Luke Skywalker. Moby is watering a cactus plant. Then he sprays water on Tim.
TIM: Yeah, those themes really resonate in today's high-tech world. Anyway, let's get this place cleaned up. Dad's going to be home soon.
Moby, who is still dressed as Obi-Wan, points to himself, and then to Tim, who is still dressed as Luke Skywalker.
TIM: You are my father?