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In the final scene of The Force Awakens

…we see Luke Skywalker look at the camera. His expression is difficult to fathom.

Most people I’ve spoken to have said, “Well it’s kind of difficult to tell, but you sort of infer that he isn’t happy about being found.” This inference is interesting, but not convincing without further evidence.

Is there evidence to suggest that Luke is unhappy about having been found?

  • Other than he looks kinda unhappy? :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 27 '15 at 4:39
  • @JakeGould's spoiler edit wasn't very effective when the last line says pretty much what's in the spoiler tag, and even if it weren't the name in the title makes it clear what the question is about. – Johnny Dec 27 '15 at 6:42
  • It's just not clear why "He looks in the camera..." is a spoiler, yet "He is found and unhappy about being found" is not a spoiler? Having him appear in the movie is a surprise, the way he looks into the camera seems less so. – Johnny Dec 27 '15 at 6:51
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    Someone needs to get a nice picture of that moment and check out what this says: projectoxford.ai/demo/emotion – user57547 Dec 27 '15 at 16:50
  • God this scene was so stupid. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 27 '15 at 21:53
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I don’t believe there is any hard evidence of Luke’s happiness or unhappiness in that scene. I believe it was deliberately ambiguous. Ultimately all of the evidence in the film points to Luke being potentially emotionally damaged by a myriad of things we know and don’t know about.

So, I believe saying Luke was “unhappy” or “happy” probably oversimplifies the whole scenario. Let’s look at who he is 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi:

  • He’s Stronger. Thirty years after the “Battle of Endor” and the defeat of the Emperor, he’s better in tune with “The Force” than he was at the beginning of the original trilogy.
  • He Decides to Train Other Jedis. At some point after “Battle of Endor” he felt he was strong enough of a Jedi that he could successfully train others.
  • He Believes He Caused a Tragedy. And it is very clear in the film that despite his best efforts, a massacre of some sort happened and he blames it all on himself.
  • He is Confused and Needs Space. In the wake of that he’s unsure of where the future may lay, he’s exile himself to a far part of the galaxy to reflect and recover from what happened.
  • His Life is Now Similar to Obi-Wan’s. If he is truly the last Jedi, then he might be aware of the tragic irony of his current situation which parallels Obi-Wan’s similar exile on Tatooine.
  • Did He Even Want to Be Found? While there is a map that was put together to find him, it’s unclear under what conditions that should have happened or even who created the map to begin with. Very video game “You have unlocked this level!” logic here, but still. Luke—or someone—made it possible to find out where Luke had exiled himself to. But it’s ultimately one of those things where he might have exiled himself with no hope of ever being found again; basically a slow, passive death.

So knowing that there is a very sad—and rightfully so—Jedi in exile, let’s also consider this:

  • He Most Likely Felt the Mass Destruction of the Planets of the Hosnian System. Remember how Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi felt “…millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced…” but Luke and the others felt nothing? Obi-Wan felt it because he was a true Jedi in the first Star Wars. But Luke didn’t. At this point in his life as a Jedi, perhaps Luke is so in tune with “The Force” he felt the deaths of those in the Hosnian system when the tragedy happened. And yet again felt he was somehow connected to that happening due to his failure to train new Jedi.
  • He Might Have Been Able to Sense Rey’s “Awakening.” Also, the title of the film is The Force Awakens. So perhaps Luke was also able to feel Rey use “The Force” when she was a First Order prisoner as well as someone who was fighting Kylo Ren.
  • When Rey Had Visions, Perhaps Luke Sensed That As Well? Not to mention that when Rey touched Luke’s lightsaber in Maz Kanata’s, Rey clearly had visions of the lightsaber’s past history. Who is to say the moment she touched it that Luke himself also felt some kind of “thing” was happening.
  • Perhaps the Spirits of Obi-Wan and Yoda Still Have Influence? And past that, there is implication in that Maz Kanata “vision” scene that the “Force Ghosts” of Obi-Wan and Yoda are still aware and active in the universe. What’s to say they sensed Rey and then somehow alerted Luke to “Get ready for this…”

Which is all to say, that at the end of the film my interpretation of Luke Skywalker’s expression is simply conflict and confusion based on some or all of the above. We still don’t know his relation to Rey. And we still don’t now why—or under what circumstances—he wanted to be contacted. The chances of him sensing the Millennium Falcon approach and even Rey’s walk up the stairs are high.

It all reads to me as someone like Luke—who has experienced tons of tragedy in his struggle to be good his whole life—is just wrenched with emotion to the point he has no idea how to express it when Rey shows up.

Which is a classic human dilemma: We all prepare ourselves for that one day something unexpected—either welcome or unwelcome—appears or happens… But when that day actually occurs and the someone/something appears at our doorstep, no matter how “ready” we think we are we might never truly be ready even if we are somehow associated with a magical “Force” that can help detect and predict things.

And as Yoda wisely said about the future and “The Force” and a Jedi’s natural limit to understand/predict it:

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.

  • There is only one fight: Dark vs. Light, and Luke must return to it. His expression seemed to be, "I'm too old for this..." – user31178 Dec 27 '15 at 7:18
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    Well, he was in hiding. His exile was voluntary. So of course he didn't want to be found! – Mr Lister Dec 27 '15 at 8:51
  • I have the (partially unfounded) impression that Rey's placement on Jakku and R2's sleep cycle are part of long Thanatos Gambit by Luke. In that context, in addition to what you said above, I get a touch of "Well, ..., I knew this day would come, ..., damn it". – Eric Towers Dec 27 '15 at 20:34
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UPDATE: the WGA script (confirmed as legit on Reddit) does confirm that he is tortured - by his past, presumably - but looks at Rey kindly. Yet his looks says he knows why she came and that she's about to offer him the lightsaber, to call him back to action:

Standing forty feet away from her, his back to us, is a MAN, in a CLOAK AND ROBE.
Rey stares, knowing exactly who it is. But she just stares for what seems like forever. Until he finally TURNS, SLOWLY, to her. Pulls back his hood.
IT IS LUKE SKYWALKER.
Older now, white hair, bearded. He looks at Rey.
A kindness in his eyes, but there's something tortured, too.

He doesn't need to ask her who she is, or what she is doing here. His look says it all.

In response, Rey pulls something from the pack.
LUKE'S LIGHTSABER.
And she holds it out to him. An offer. A plea. The galaxy's only hope.

The Foster novelization does NOT offer much evidence. Just that he's generally haunted, and doesn't talk first.

She halted abruptly. There was—something. She turned sharply. Some distance from her, at the periphery of the forest, stood a figure shrouded in a simple cloak and robe. It did not matter that it was facing away from her. She knew instantly who it was. Yet all she could do was stare in silence. Whether motivated by her stare or by something unknown, the figure finally turned toward her and pulled back his hood. Luke Skywalker.
His hair and beard were white, and his countenance was haunted. He did not speak, nor did she.
Remembering, Rey reached into her pack and removed his lightsaber. Taking several steps forward, she held it out to him. An offer. A plea. The galaxy’s only hope.
She wondered what would happen next.
END OF BOOK :)

Perhaps you can interpret his silence as not being happy to be found.

Frankly, if I ran away and hid heck-knows-where for a (to me) good reason, I'm sure I'd be unhappy if some overly-enthusiastic teenager found me too.

  • Right. And he probably doesn't even recognise her, having seen her last when she was very small. And then she presents him with his old lightsaber, which reminds him of how his hand was cut off. Not a pleasant memory. – Mr Lister Dec 27 '15 at 8:51
  • And more it reminds him of what happened of his failure and his destiny coming back to him. A specific green blood in another tv show would be quite emotionally compromised for that happening (I just love that quote). And I would guess it is for luke just like turning the lightsword in his hearth. (and there not even talking about possible relationships between the two only about what he has been through and tried to leave behind) – Thomas Dec 27 '15 at 9:20

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