We all know who the main characters of George Lucas’ six Star Wars films are: Anakin Skywalker, his son and daughter, and their friends. But who’s the narrator? Turns out Lucas had a crazy theory that makes total sense.
On the set of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Lucas shared his ideas with animation director Rob Coleman, when Coleman arrived for his first day. As Chris Taylor relates in his fantastic book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, Lucas told Coleman “his ultimate framing device.” Taylor writes:
“The entire story of Star Wars is actually being recounted to the keeper of the Journal of the Whills—remember that?—a hundred years after the events of Return of the Jedi by none other than R2-D2.”
If the Original Trilogy and the prequels are a story being told by R2-D2, this explains a lot, as Taylor points out. RD-D2 “is prominent in every movie,” and when Episode I begins he’s already “fully formed,” unlike C-3PO. He doesn’t get his mind wiped at the end of Episode III, the way C-3PO does, so he remembers all the events of the prequels. And then in Episode IV, he’s very determined to get to Obi-Wan Kenobi, over Threepio’s protests—perhaps because he remembers Obi-Wan from before, and wants to ensure that “his former master’s son rescues his former master’s daughter.”
But also, if R2-D2 is the one telling the story, that would explain why R2-D2 is always so heroic, Taylor writes. He saves the lives of pretty much every major character in all six movies, and he never makes a single mistake. In a saga that’s full of flawed characters who screw up constantly, Artoo is always right. Maybe because he’s the narrator, according to George Lucas.