Dave Filoni understands Star Wars on an incredibly deep level, having learned personally from George Lucas and since going on to do some amazing storytelling.
He branched out of animation to work on the live-action series The Mandalorian, on which he is an executive producer, director, and writer, and he has worked very closely with showrunner Jon Favreau.
On the second episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, the final seven or so minutes are devoted to Filoni giving an impassioned monologue to his fellow directors about Star Wars. He began by talking about the famous lightsaber duel featuring Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi against Darth Maul. The iconic song that plays during the fight, and the fight itself, have come to be known as “Duel of the Fates.”
But have you ever wondered what that actually means? Filoni explains it.
The fight is a duel of the fates because it’s a fight for the fate of Anakin Skywalker. Filoni explains that Qui-Gon sees the failure of the Jedi well before the others do (as Yoda realizes it in Attack of the Clones), and knows that Jedi aren’t actually opposed to love. He knows that taking Anakin away from his mother is hard, and so Anakin needs a father figure – Qui-Gon. So this fight is a fight over what will happen to this young boy, and in the end, Qui-Gon loses. And with it, Anakin loses his father figure.
Filoni then explains that Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t that father figure – the two of them become brothers, but not father/son. In fact, Obi-Wan initially sees Anakin as another pathetic life form, so he’s essentially equating him with Jar-Jar Binks – both people they could do without.
So fast forward to Return of the Jedi, and Luke Skywalker throws away his lightsaber. Filoni points out that this isn’t because of Luke’s strength in the Force or training or anything – though those things got him to the table. This is Luke saying he still loves his father, and that Palpatine can’t do anything to stop it. And so then Anakin Skywalker redeems himself and saves his son by giving up all the power in the galaxy to save his son and be the father that he never had.
The story of Star Wars, Filoni reminds us, is about family. And it’s about hope. Here’s how Filoni wraps it up:
“It’s all part of the fated arc. It’s all part of why it works and why we care. It’s not about X-Wings, it’s not about all the things we decorate Star Wars in; it’s important, it’s part of the genuius of it, but we soulfully react. Like, we don’t just want an action movie, we want to feel uplifted, and Star Wars is an adventure that makes you feel good. It makes me feel like, ‘wow, I want to be a part of that.’ So that’s what I always go back to with Star Wars, is this selfless act and this family dynamic, which is so important to George [Lucas], so important to the foundation of Star Wars. That’s in us. And what I like about it is it’s really saying there’s a lot of hope out there. That we fundamentally want to be good people, that we can all be driven to do terrible things, but that we can persevere through selfless actions, so George has this hopeful story. And it’s something that he’s reiterated most times I’ve seen him, after we’ve been making things without him, is remember to make these stories hopeful. Remember to give that to kids, because they really need it. And so that’s just something to keep in mind.”
If you have Disney+, go watch the final seven minutes of this show, because watching Dave Filoni talk about it is FAR better than reading me write about it. I could listen to him talk about Star Wars all day, and I hope there are many more opportunities to do so. Star Wars is in very good hands with Filoni (and others, of course) telling these stories. He understands this on such a deep level that it’s so great.
So yeah, if you’ve ever wondered why that fight is known as the Duel of the Fates, let Dave Filoni explain it to you: it’s the duel for the fate of Anakin Skywalker. And with the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin loses the father figure who truly could have understood him – and maybe prevented what was to come.