Obi-Wan Kenobi: The true meaning behind the Jedi’s name explained


Obi-Wan Kenobi arrives on Disney Plus on May 27 and Star Wars fans are excited to see Ewan McGregor reprise his role. Hayden Christensen, who originally played Anakin Skywalker in some of the films, is also returning for the TV miniseries. Linguistic experts at language learning app Babbel revealed the origins of Obi-Wan’s name.

Where did Obi-Wan Kenobi’s name come from?

The upcoming series is set a decade after the events of Revenge of the Sith, which saw Anakin Skywalker turn to the dark side.

Ewan McGregor acts as executive producer, as well as starring as the fan-favourite title character.

The series follows the Jedi Master as he lives in exile on Tatooine.

Darth Vader has created Sith Inquisitors to hunt down any surviving Jedi after Order 66 destroyed them.

Obi-Wan is living under the name Ben on Tatooine, but Babbel spoke to about where his real name came from.

READ MORE: How to watch Obi-Wan Kenobi: Release time, cast, trailer

They said: “Like the word Jedi, this is another homage to the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa and to Japanese culture.

“An ‘obi’ is the sash used to tie a kimono, ‘ken’ is Japanese for sword and ‘wan’ sounds somewhat like the Japanese honorific ‘san’.

“The history of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s casting also suggests Kurosawa’s influence on Star Wars.

“Before casting Sir Alec Guinness in the role, [George] Lucas approached Japanese superstar Toshiro Mifune to play Obi-Wan.

“Mifune starred in many of Kurosawa’s jidai-geki, including The Hidden Fortress and Seven Samurai.

“You could consider this a coincidence if it weren’t for the fact that Lucas has repeatedly cited Kurosawa as an influence.

“He’s even stated that the two bickering peasants in Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress were his inspiration for R2-D2 and C-3PO.”

Themes like good versus evil, light versus dark and nature versus technology are ever-present in the Star Wars universe.

The same can be said when it comes to the names of the characters.

As for Darth Vader, Lucas claimed the name is a combination of two ‘evil’ phrases, “death water” and “dark father”.

Babbel added: “This doesn’t mean the vader-father connection was deliberate foreshadowing.

“In early drafts of the Empire Strikes Back script, Vader was not Luke’s father, so Lucas couldn’t have had that planned when he named the character years earlier.

“Another theory, if the naming convention of the other Sith is any indication — Sidious (Insidious), Maul, Grievous — Vader might be short for ‘invader’, thus ‘Dark/Death Invader’.”

The miniseries will be made up of six episodes and it will see the title character leave Tatooine to go on an epic adventure.

Obi-Wan Kenobi airs on Disney Plus from May 27.


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