- "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars (1977)
The Force is a mysterious energy field generated by all organic living things, and connected to their symbiotic relationship with the microscopic Midi-Chlorians. While sensitivity to the Force varies wildly among individuals and species, many can be trained to unlock the innate abilities that the Force may grant, such as telekinesis, enhanced perception, mental communication and others. Mostly, the Force is believed to connect all living things and "binds the galaxy together", as described by Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The concept of the Force is a central point in many religions and cultures, with many stressing out the needs of a balance between the light-side of the Force (associated with discipline, selflessness and peace) and the dark-side of the Force (associated with fear, ambition and passion). Each side can grant access to different abilities. The Jedi Order are notable followers of the light-side, while their enemies, the Sith, are followers of the dark-side.
In the days of the Galactic Empire, the belief in the Force faded into myth, and the majority of galactic citizens were either ignorant or skeptical of it. Few were aware of the fact that the Emperor himself was a Force-user, as was his apprentice, Imperial military commander Darth Vader, whose supernatural abilities were often viewed with skepticism by colleagues and subordinates, barring those who had been unfortunate enough to fall victims to them themselves.
Individuals trained in the ways of the Force tend to develop enhanced reflexes and telekinetic abilities, as well as the ability to influence weak minds to some extent, limited clairvoyance, and a spiritual and cosmic connection to other minds (even at interstellar distance). Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi was able to feel the destruction of the planet Alderaan from several light-years away; an experience he described as feeling like "a great disturbance in the Force... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced".
Adepts of the dark-side of the Force have demonstrated how it can also be used to directly attack and harm opponents in many ways. Sith Lord Darth Vader, for instance, was notorious for using the Force to choke those who angered him. Meanwhile, Vader's master, Darth Sidious, preferred to use the Force to conjure lighting-like energy discharges which he used to torture enemies, and even to kill them.
Particularly skilled Force-users can even retain their consciences after death, thus becoming spiritual beings known as "Force spirits" or "Force ghosts"; which can communicate with the living and manifest as translucent versions of how they appeared in life. So far very few individuals have demonstrated the ability to become Force spirits, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Darth Vader.
The legend of Sith Lord Darth Plagueis suggests that he became so powerful as to be able to persuade the Midi-Chlorians to create life - an ability that hasn't been observed in any other Force-user in history. However, Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn has speculated that Anakin Skywalker may have been conceived by the Midi-Chlorians, given the enormous Midi-Chlorian count in his cells (surpassing every Jedi in existence) and the fact that, according to Anakin's mother, the boy was conceived without a father.