‘Star Wars’: The Secret Symbolism in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

The latest Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, has fans analyzing it’s every last detail. Surprisingly, few fan reactions focus on the film’s religious symbolism. Here’s an analysis of the Christian elements of The Rise of Skywalker.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information revealed in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The Millennium Falcon in Disneyland | Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Rey – the ‘Star Wars’ version of Jesus Christ?

Religious symbolism has always been part of Star Wars. The way Obi-Wan Kenobi explains the Force in A New Hope is a sci-fi adaptation of the Hindu concept of brahman. Darth Maul resembles the devil and the series’ emphasis on balance is similar to the Daoist concept of yin and yang. For whatever reason, the spiritual side of the saga was de-emphasized once Disney took over.

Until now. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is overloaded with Christian imagery. After two movies of buildup, Rey finally learns her lineage. She is the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine, the archvillain of the Star Wars films. When her mother is first introduced, she is wearing a blue cloak reminiscent of traditional depictions of the Virgin Mary.

A traditional depiction of the Virgin Mary | Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images

The film also introduces a new Force power: healing. Rey is able to heal people just by touching them. In the gospels, Jesus Christ displays the same power, healing the sick and the blind just by touching them.

Rey’s death and resurrection

Finally, Rey sacrifices herself to kill Palpatine. After her death, Kylo Ren sadly cradles her in his arms. The way he holds her is reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Pietà. The Pietà is an extremely famous statue of the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus’ body after his crucifixion. The scene draws an obvious parallel between Christ’s sacrifice and Rey’s.

Michelangelo’s Pietà in Vatican City | Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

Kylo Ren decides he is not as important as Rey. He transfers his life force into her and she is resurrected. The parallel between Christ and Rey is even stronger, as both died for the greater good only to rise from the dead.

The film goes out of its way to create parallels between Christ and Rey, but they’re a touch contrived. Rey is not God. Rey is not perfect. Rey does not become the center of a new religion. She doesn’t even have any followers, as she’s not in charge of the Resistance.

Why does ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ have so much Christian imagery?

Perhaps the film employs Christian imagery because it fits with the themes of the film. At long last, Kylo Ren finds redemption in The Rise of Skywalker. Redemption has always been one of the major spiritual concepts in Christianity.

Daisy Ridley | John Phillips/Getty Images

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker also affirms the value of every human being. Rey is the child of inconsequential parents and the granddaughter of the most evil man in the galaxy. Judging by her ancestry, she should be insignificant or malevolent. Instead, Rey is able to become a hero. Similarly, many biblical figures – from Jacob to Rahab to David – are lowly people who ultimately play a role in God’s plan.

Like all of the recent Star Wars films, The Rise of Skywalker has garnered a mixed reaction. Fans continue to debate its merits. Perhaps fans will think of some interesting theories about its use of religious symbolism.