Do not read further unless you have watched The Force Awakens… YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Here are my thoughts on the final scene:
It’s clear that the movie was trying to bridge the gap between the first generation fans and the potential new generation of fans, Ray’s generation and younger. We see this a lot throughout the movie, in fact a large portion of the text was lifted straight from the first movie.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie, thoroughly, and the familiar phrases added to the nostalgia.
One of the beautiful things that art can do is when it taps into greater societal elements. I don’t think that this was necessarily done on purpose, as is often the case with statements in art, but that is part of what makes the statement so powerful.
The original generation of fans are the baby-boomer generation. Many of them have been hit hard in the 2008 crash and are unsure about how they can/will retire, continue. What is left for them?
They movie in general was about the interplay between the new generation and the older one. Finn and Ray working with Lei and Han. This theme culminates in that final scene.
Recap, Ray is searching for Luke, the last remaining Jedi. She tracks him down and hikes up a mountain where she sees a man standing in a robe with his back to her.
He slowly turns around and we see an old Luke, looking not unlike Obi-Wan in the first movie. She hands him his light-saber and he reaches out for it…
This is a clear visual message stating that no, the older generation is still much needed. As Ray reaches out to pass the light saber to Luke it invokes the feeling of passing the torch, but unlike how the torch is usually passed, forward, this one is passed back.
You are needed Luke, you are needed baby boomers. We need you to help move things forward. Everything is not all better yet, your experience and wisdom will help us get there.
It certainly is a struggle that our generation is contending with.