Teaser images for the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) depict a weathered and broken lightsaber. The broken lightsaber belongs to Cal Kestis, the game’s protagonist. Broken lightsabers appear in many different Star Wars stories, often paralleling critical plot points and reflecting key personality traits.
Why do Star Wars fans and lightsaber enthusiasts love broken lightsabers so much? What’s the appeal and the meaning behind a broken lightsaber?
BROKEN AS SYMBOLISM
A broken lightsaber often serves as a vivid visual representation of a larger problem. The breaking of the Skywalker lightsaber in Star Wars: The Last Jedi symbolizes the rift between Kylo Ren and Rey after she refuses to join him to rule the galaxy. The breaking of the lightsaber also demonstrates that Kylo Ren and Rey are evenly matched in the Force to the extent that neither can overpower the other. The lightsaber, a tangible object, breaks before the strength and resolve of either Force user.
Kylo Ren’s own crossguard lightsaber is visibly broken in a different way, emitting unstable blades powered by a broken kyber crystal. The unstable blades reflect Kylo Ren’s own volatile energy and unstable temperament.
The broken lightsaber in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order symbolizes the fall of the Jedi Order and Republic, and the arduous, makeshift, and transitionary times for a would-be Jedi.
A less talked about broken lightsaber is Anakin Skywalker’s broken lightsaber in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. In Episode II, Skywalker is depicted as a young, ambitious, but reckless Jedi Apprentice. The destruction of the lightsaber represents Skywalker’s recklessness and lack of experience. “Not again,” Anakin says after the lightsaber gets broken. He had previously nearly lost the lightsaber earlier in the film. “Obi-Wan’s gonna kill me.”
RELATABILITY OF BROKEN ITEMS
One of the charms of the Star Wars universe is the ‘lived in universe’ feel. Broken lightsabers, along with broken droids and ships (think of all of the problems with the ‘piece of junk’ Millennium Falcon!), add realism and charm, helping Star Wars fans relate to characters. Although Star Wars fans may never endure the pain and loss of a real lightsaber that’s broken, fans instead may contend with a real broken phone, computer, or other essential everyday object.
BROKEN LIGHTSABER PROP REPLICAS
Some custom lightsaber makers have constructed custom broken lightsabers, most of which are static display pieces. Sabersmith Shameem Moshrefzadeh created a run of custom broken Graflex lightsaber prop replicas. He named the piece ‘Brokeflex’. EBay user je-7364 sold a custom Darth Vader lightsaber prop replica that looks like it got melted in the Death Star explosion. Additionally, AGConstruxDesign (Etsy) [affiliate link] sells a lightsaber trophy specifically designed to look like an inoperable lightsaber.
COVER IMAGE CREDIT Lucasfilm/Disney
Image depicts Rey’s broken lightsaber in Star Wars; The Last Jedi