The Untold Story of Star Wars' Keeper of the Whills

31 August 2023
The Star Wars universe, with its rich tapestry of characters, lore, and galaxies, is a veritable playground for those who revel in the exploration of narrative layers beyond the surface-level plot. Among the various elements that contribute to the saga's enduring appeal is a concept that hovers elusively in the background: the Keeper of the Whills.

While not a household name like Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker, the Keeper of the Whills represents a fascinating bridge between the creator's initial ideas and the expansive universe we've come to love. This discussion aims to venture into the labyrinthine corridors of Star Wars' conceptual history to unearth the significance of this often-overlooked element.

We'll delve into how it originated as part of George Lucas's ambitious storytelling plans, why it didn't make the cut in the films that initially captivated audiences worldwide, and how it has curiously resurfaced in recent narratives to become an integral part of the galaxy's spiritual and mythological underpinnings. So, buckle up your starfighter and get ready for an intellectual journey into the cosmic archives of Star Wars mythology.

The Origin: Lucas's Early Vision

George Lucas's first drafts of what would eventually become the Star Wars saga included an intricate framework that differed significantly from the final product. One of the standout elements was the "Journal of the Whills," a document that was meant to be a framing device for the entire series. 

Initially, Lucas envisioned the events of the saga as being recounted by a "Keeper of the Whills," an immortal, cosmic being responsible for documenting the significant events in the galaxy far, far away. This concept wasn't merely a storytelling gimmick; it was part of Lucas's broader vision to imbue the series with a mythological aura that would echo through time and space.

Changing Tides: Why the Concept Was Shelved

Despite its initial importance, the concept of the Keeper of the Whills was largely abandoned as Star Wars evolved. There are various reasons for this, some practical and some creative. Lucas faced several constraints, including budget limitations and technological hurdles, which led to significant changes in the storyline. Additionally, the story started to focus more on the Skywalker family saga, making the framing narrative less relevant. 

Though the Keeper of the Whills faded from immediate view, its philosophical undertones—ideas about destiny, history, and the greater cosmic tapestry—remained in the narrative's background.

The Droid Narrators: How R2-D2 and C-3PO Replaced the Keeper of the Whills

In lieu of the Keeper of the Whills as the saga's cosmic historian, George Lucas found inspiration in more terrestrial realms, specifically from Akira Kurosawa's film, "The Hidden Fortress." Kurosawa's film features two bickering peasants who provide a grounded viewpoint to an epic tale, a storytelling device that Lucas adapted into the characters of R2-D2 and C-3PO. 

These droids offered an 'everyman' lens through which audiences could experience the grand events of a galaxy far, far away. As the constant companions witnessing pivotal moments across the Skywalker saga, R2-D2 and C-3PO effectively serve as the story's narrators. 

Their roles as the observer and chronicler, although not as overtly grandiose as a Keeper of the Whills, bring a touch of relatable, comedic humanity to a narrative steeped in cosmic import. This ingenious pivot not only pays homage to cinematic history but also adds a unique storytelling layer that has made Star Wars an enduring cultural phenomenon.

Indeed, those little droids went on to appear in every single Saga film + Rogue One.

Resurfacing: The Whills in Expanded Universe and Canon

After the original trilogy and the subsequent Expanded Universe (now referred to as "Legends"), the concept of the Whills was not entirely forgotten. It occasionally appeared in non-canon narratives, fueling fan theories and discussions. 

Chirrut Îmwe guardian whills

However, it was the film "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" that brought the Whills back into official canon. Chirrut Îmwe, played by Donnie Yen, is introduced as a Guardian of the Whills. Although not a Keeper, his role as a guardian of an ancient temple adds a spiritual dimension that harks back to Lucas's original ideas.

The Whills are also mentioned indirectly in the sequel trilogy, particularly in "The Last Jedi," through the ancient Jedi texts that Luke Skywalker has in his possession on Ahch-To.

the last jedi whills

The Keeper of the Whills and Mythical Depth

The idea of a Keeper chronicling the grand narrative of the Star Wars universe enriches the saga by adding layers of mythological depth. This isn't just storytelling; it's meta-storytelling. It presents the events of Star Wars as historical accounts within its own universe, lending an air of grandiosity and eternal significance. This mirrors other mythological archetypes, such as the Fates in Greek mythology, who weave the tapestry of human events. 

The concept imbues the Star Wars saga with a universal, almost spiritual, gravitas that makes it more than just a series of sci-fi movies.

Legacy and Fan Reception

Though not as prominently featured as lightsabers or Sith Lords, the Keeper of the Whills has captured the imagination of a subset of Star Wars fans. Forums, Reddit threads, and fan theories abound with speculations about the role of the Keeper and the Whills in the Star Wars universe. Additionally, official novels like "Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View" offer glimpses into the potential significance of the Whills, maintaining the interest and speculation around the concept. 

While not the centerpiece of any film or series, the Keeper of the Whills remains a tantalizing piece of the Star Wars puzzle, hinting at the vast cosmic history that serves as the saga's backdrop.


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.

About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
Back to Top