The first Star Wars movie (the first one that was made, not the first one chronologically) loosely followed the structure of a fairy tale in a sci-fi setting. In that sense, Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan (or “Ben Kenobi”) fit into the role of the wise, old wizard who guided the hero on his quest and inspired him to save the day.
In the prequels, we saw him as a young man, played by the great Ewan McGregor, but he was just as wise because after the slaying of his mentor, he was thrust from the position of padawan to master in a second. Here are Obi-Wan’s 10 Wisest Quotes.
10 “I have the high ground.”
This quote has two meanings. The most obvious one is that Obi-Wan is literally standing on higher ground than Anakin, and therefore will have an advantage in their potential battle. Anakin is on lower ground, and therefore won’t have much of a chance of defeating Obi-Wan if he decides to attack him (which, of course, he does anyway).
But the metaphorical one is that Obi-Wan is on higher moral ground, because he stuck to the teachings of the Jedi. He kept his mind clear and his focus on creating peaceful order in the galaxy. Anakin turned evil, so he’s on lower moral ground.
9 “Goodbye, old friend. May the Force be with you.”
There’s an added poignancy to this line in that it’s the last thing Obi-Wan says to Anakin before he gives in to his Dark Side urges, turns his back on the Jedi, and becomes Darth Vader. Obi-Wan has no idea that Senator Palpatine has been controlling Anakin like a puppet, corrupting his mind with evil thoughts and dark emotions, in a grand plan to take over the galaxy.
As far as he’s concerned, they’re a pair of Jedi Knights who will bring peace to the galaxy. Little does he know, that’s the last time they will ever speak on good terms.
8 “Be mindful of your thoughts, Anakin – they betray you.”
Obi-Wan could just give up the whole Jedi thing and be a philosopher full-time, because he has as much wisdom and knowledge of the human condition as someone like Plato or Aristotle. You have to keep an eye on what your mind is actually thinking, because your emotions have a strong tendency to be irrational.
They can cloud your judgment and change the way you see situations. If you can keep that in check, you’ll be able to see much more clearly. In terms of being a Jedi, that was Anakin’s downfall. His emotions got in the way and it led him down the dark path to the Sith.
7 “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power...It binds the galaxy together.”
This is the quote that disproves all that nonsense from the prequel trilogy about midi-chlorians. George Lucas might have been making the Force a genetic thing to tie into the themes of family and bloodlines in the story – i.e. the Skywalker bloodline being tainted by Queen Amidala’s royal daughter Leia marrying some smuggler from Corellia.
But the Force is only inspiring to fans if it’s a spiritual thing that exists all over the galaxy. Obi-Wan confirmed this early on. “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”
6 “You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!”
This quote hits particularly hard, because it’s past Anakin’s point of no return, and yet it disproves the whole reason he turned to the Dark Side in the first place. Anakin didn’t like the fact that Obi-Wan saw himself as more powerful than him and spoke down to him, like a father.
But as Obi-Wan points out towards the end of Revenge of the Sith, he actually thought of Anakin more like a brother, someone on his level who he cared about and wanted to protect. This one line and all that it represents is most of what makes Revenge of the Sith the best prequel.
5 “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
Obi-Wan was our first introduction to the power of the Force. No moviegoer had ever heard of the Force until he came along and started telling Luke what it was and how powerful it could be. And then when they headed into Mos Eisley Spaceport and got stopped by Stormtroopers, he showed us all how truly awesome the Force can be.
The Stormtroopers asked for their identification, and with a slight wave of his hand, Obi-Wan convinced them they didn’t need to see their identification, R2-D2 and C-3PO weren’t the droids they were looking for, and they could move along.
4 “The truth is often what we make of it.”
It’s quotes like these that seem to suggest we should look to Obi-Wan Kenobi in these times of division. With all the talk of fake news and collusions and climate change, people are divided based on the facts as they want to believe them.
Obi-Wan tells us exactly how that works: “The truth is often what we make of it; you heard what you wanted to hear, believed what you wanted to believe.” The prequel trilogy’s heavy use of the Galactic Senate’s inner workings means it’s not difficult to politicize Star Wars, but this is a broader way of looking at it.
3 “The Force will be with you, always.”
If it wasn’t for the Force, Luke would’ve had no hope of getting that photon blast through the tiny hole in the trenches of the Death Star and blowing it up, thus saving the lives of everyone on all the planets that Darth Vader would’ve enslaved or destroyed.
He wasn’t using the Force to summon his lightsaber or lift his X-wing out of the swamps of Dagobah (yet), but he was learning the kind of focus that using the Force required and he did use it to destroy the Empire’s greatest asset and send Darth Vader into a tailspin. So, it’s a win in the Rebels’ books.
2 “If you define yourself by the power to take life, the desire to dominate, to possess...then you have nothing.”
Obi-Wan has had to deal with a lot of bad dudes in his day: Darth Maul, Count Dooku, Senator Palpatine – even his closest ally Anakin Skywalker eventually became the most evil person in the galaxy. His whole philosophy is that if you serve others and bring peace instead of chaos, you’ll feel a lot happier and more fulfilled.
This is summed up perfectly in one particular line: “If you define yourself by the power to take life, the desire to dominate, to possess...then you have nothing.” It’s Obi-Wan’s version of that Bruce Lee quote about learning to fight so you never have to fight.
1 “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
Based on this quote, some fans have theorized that Rey is a reincarnation of Obi-Wan and that’s what he was referring to. Kylo Ren might be the same for Anakin Skywalker, and that’s why they have such a close, conflicting love/hate relationship. Either way, there are few moments in movie history more powerful than when Alec Guinness uttered these words to Darth Vader before being slain in front of Luke’s eyes.
The whole confrontation was so incredible and established such a strong connection that a whole prequel trilogy was made about the backstory of Obi-Wan and Vader’s relationship (with mixed results, obviously).