Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Revenge of the Sith (6)

Galaxies we have lost

Ben: I guess it was a while back. I was a Jedi Knight, like your father.

Luke: But my father didn't fight in the clone wars. He was no knight. Just a navigator on a space (sic) frieghter.

Ben: Or so your uncle told you. Owen Lars didn't agree with your fathers ideas, opinions or his philosophy of life. He believed your father should have stayed here on Tatooine and not gotten involved in....Well, he thought he should have remained here and minded his farming. Owen was always afraid that your father's adventurous life might influence you and pull you away from Anchorhead. I'm afraid there wasn't much of the farmer in your father. {....} All this reminds me. I have something here for you. When you were old enough, your father wanted you to have this...if I can ever find the blasted device. I tried to give it to you once before, but your uncle wouldn't allow it. He believed you might get some crazy idea from it and end up followng old Obi-Wan on some idealistic crusade. You see, Luke that's where your father and your uncle Owen disagreed. Lars is not a man to let ideals interfere with business, whereas you father didn't think the question even worth discussing. His decision on such maters came like his piloting. Instinctively..."

Luke: How did my father die?

Ben: He was betrayed and murdered by a very young Jedi named Darth Vader. A boy I was training. One of my brightest disciples. One of my greatest failiures.

Star Wars
by "George Lucas" (*)

"When your father left, he didn't know your mother was preganant. Your Mother and I knew he would find out eventurally, but we wanted to keep you both as safe as possible, for as long as possible. So I took you to live with my brother Owen on Tatooine, and your mother took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa, on Alderaan."

Return of the Jedi,
by James Kahn.

Aided and abetted by restless, power hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Seantor Palpatine causes himself to be elected President of the Republic. He promised to reuinite the disaffected among the people and to restore the remembered glory of the Republic. Once secure in office, he declared himself Emperor, shutting himself away from the populace. Soon, he was controlled by the very assasstants and boot-lickerts he has appointed to high office, and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears.

Star Wars by George Lucas

(*)Presumably Alan Dean Foster

If you have enjoyed this essay, please consider buying a copy of George and Joe and Jack and Bob >which contains all of  my essays on Star Wars (going right back to the opening night of the Phantom Menace!) and related subjects.
Alternatively, please consider making a donation of £1 for each essay you have enjoyed.


Anonymous said...

I think I would have enjoyed this last movie more if it had been shown from the point of view of Obi-Wan. Lucas clearly wants Anakins fall to be viewed as tragic, but by following him around as he gets more and more confused by what to do, about how to remain true to the Jedi and save Padme, he makes Anakin (and therefore Vader) into a kind of sympathetic character. This is distressing since it kind of ruins Episodes 4-6, where we are supposed to see Vader as the supreme embodiment of all things evil rather than as some wayward and love struck soul that made a pretty big mistake.

While it would not solve all of the problems with the new trilogy (Andrew has adeptly listed many), I would have preferred that the character we are asked to sympathize with be Obi Wan. Screw Anakin. I think a writer and director more talented than Lucas could have created an emotional link with the audience during Anakins fall by having us view it through Obi Wan's eyes. There was a bit of it at the end ('you were like my brother'...'I loved you'), but my goodness there could have been a lot more.

By using that perspective, you could use all the terrible things we know Vader is going to do in the next movies to create an even stronger link with Obi Wan (he thinks it's bad, but we know it's going to be even worse than he imagines). Instead, because we sympathize with Vader, it minimizes the horrible things he does later.

Just a thought. Reading it back it doesn't express what I am thinking very well, but maybe someone else will get the idea and restate it better for me.


Charles Filson said...

I think I understood you, and if I did then you said it rather well.

Make episodes 1-3 be about Obi Wan. Ep 1 could be about a young and naive Obi Wan finding this young man (not a boy for the sake of all that is good in film) who has great power, and is already arrogant and passionate.

Teh Jedi Council rejects the idea of training him, but Obi Wan's softhearted arrogance causes him to train the boy...out of compassion. (There could be some tragic alternative like knowing that Anakin will go bad or something)

Ep 2 becomes about Obi Wan growing to realize that Anakin is very dark and troubled. The audiance could already be aware of his lust for power and in Ep 2 we could have seen him already as an apprentice of Palpatine behind Obi Wan's back. The climax of Ep 2 is when Obi Wan comes to the realization that Anakin is evil and that he has failed. He hides Anakins wife with Organa and that is the big conflict for Ep 2...getting the wife and kids out of harms way.

Ep 3 is then Anakin hunting down the Jedi knights. Obi Wan has to go confront Vader, and in his arrogance trys to talk him out of evil. Anakin pretends to repent and Obi Wan is tragically fooled. As a result Padme is killed by Vader or some other Jedi are killed or the Republic crashes down due to Obi Wan's arrogance and naivete. Finally Obi Wan has to tearfully kill his surrogate son, Anakin.

That's a series that could have been consistant and watching Obi Wan's back story unfold would have been interesting. We could have loved him and grieved for his tragic flaws. Anakin/Vader was a forgone conclusion.

Porlock Junior said...

Teh Jedi Council rejects the idea of training him, but Obi Wan's softhearted arrogance causes him to train the boy...out of compassion. (There could be some tragic alternative like knowing that Anakin will go bad or something)

Right. If you let the irreplaceable manuscript get burned up so that you can save the baby, he grows up to be Hitler.

Seriously, it's a good scenario. Beats the carp out of the prequels as they turned out. (Or at least the two that I've seen, the only two I'm likely ever to see.)

LD said...

There was a bit of it at the end ('you were like my brother'...'I loved you'), but my goodness there could have been a lot more.

And really, after a fashion, it would be entirely appropriate for Obi-Wan to blame himself for much that happened in Ep 3 and beyond in terms of Vader and the Empire. Not only had he failed as a friend, but also as a mentor. His charge grew to become the most visible emblem of the Sith dominance in the galaxy, while also destroying the entire Jedi Order. It was Obi-Wan's "failures" as a teacher (training his padawan, continuing the work Qui-Gon - his own mentor - had begun, and so forth) that allowed Vader to be...even if the Emperor was pushing all the right buttons, as it were.

Obi-Wan's perspective (especially in confronting the choices of raising and training Anakin) would've certainly helped make for a more dramatic and meaningful prequel trilogy, in general. Of course, this sort of character development wouldn't be what Lucas was interested in, in terms of pulp serials. Following Obi-Wan's plight and his choices in the end (leaving Anakin to die) would have offered a more significant perspective on the original trilogy, as well. Especially if Obi-Wan had actually been the secretive and manipulative person that Guinness' portrayal becomes in hindsight with the prequels' changes to the storyline: molding Luke to be his weapon to ultimately strike down Vader (and possibly Palpatine) from beyond the grave.

Anonymous said...

An Obi-Wan centric prequel trilogy was clearly never on the cards. Lucas has this Whole Big Thing about the good old Hero's Journey, and Anakin was the only candidate.

Essentially Lucas was trying to reinvent the Star Wars series as a six-episode "Story of Anakin Skywalker" rather than as a three-episode "Story of Luke Skywalker". I have a horrible feeling that if he made the originals today, they'd be from Vader's perspective as well...

Interestingly, he is also now denying that there were ever any plans to do three sequel movies to the original trilogy: "It was always the Darth Vader story" he says.

As Andrew observes, Lucas has clearly gone completely insane.

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions for places to find more interesting commentary on these films?


Andrew Rilstone said...

Assuming that you mean more interesting-commentary, as opposed to more-interesting commentary, then you might wish to suffer your way through my epic dissection of "Clones", which starts at http://www.aslan.demon.co.uk/mask-of-god.htm

Anonymous said...

I'll leave my meaning ambiguous and let the reader decide.

Aslan.demon is no stranger to me. I've been working my way through it this past week or so. Especially enjoyed the synopsis of Wagner.

While additional sources of pieces like yours would be great, I am looking for a decent discussion board that can provide more of a dialog. The readers/posters here are terrific, but not active enough to satisfy my jones. IMDB.com is like looking for your wallet in a septic tank. At some point you realize you don't want your wallet that badly.


Anonymous said...

IMBD reminds me of this quote
The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill


Anonymous said...

OK, This one!
The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.

Winston Churchill

Anonymous said...

You might want to check out Salon's TableTalk forums. They have a segment devoted to films. I haven't lurked there very much so I can't really testify to their quality, but what I've seen has been pretty decent. You can lurk for free but have to pay to participate.

For several years now, I've been a member of the book discussion site Readerville. As the name implies, it's mostly devoted to books, but there is a an active movies thread and we did discuss RotS a little. Registration is free (for now).

I also imagine you could find copious discussion on RotS on Slashdot.