Attack of the Clones,  Prequel Trilogy,  Revenge of the Sith

io9: “Revenge of the Sith had the best Star Wars title reveal ever”

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From io9:

“No matter how, when or where we find out the title for Star Wars Episode IX, there’s little doubt it can touch what Lucasfilm did for Revenge of the Sith. And that includes Ewan’s red carpet realization.

The year was 2004. It was a simpler time in fandom. A time when fans could get passes to San Diego Comic-Con any time they wanted and only had to line up for Hall H a few hours early, instead of a few days. At that time, Saturdays in Hall H used to be called “Star Wars Saturdays” and that year, fans were eager for updates on the next, and final, prequel film: Episode III.

Lucasfilm delivered. In the depths of a packed Hall H, the lights went down and this video played.

[Click here to see the video]

I was in Hall H watching this clip 15 years ago. As it was going on, you could feel the anticipation rising in the room. People quickly realizing how each montage ending with the title of the film could mean what we all hoped it would mean. Then, George Lucas called “Action” and we were watching some of the first behind the scenes footage from Episode III. And not just any footage. Footage from the long-anticipated showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.

Finally, were the quick cuts against black. The word “Revenge,” Anakin, and finally the title, Revenge of the Sith, revealed to the world for the first time.

I jumped out of my seat and screamed. So did the 7,000 other people in the room. It was electric. Unforgettable. And when the lights came up the panel’s host, Steve Sansweet, was wearing a black t-shirt with the title on it in red. He said they were on sale now at the Star Wars store on the show floor and people began a mad dash for the doors. I’ll never forget any of it. […]”

0 Comments

    • Cryogenic

      @ LL:

      Some very exciting and furious, high-octane editing in that video. And the teaser trailer has a similar intensity about it. Good times.

  • Cryogenic

    It’s a great title — albeit a very obvious one.

    Lucas had already used “Revenge Of The Jedi”, as a temporary/misdirecting title, for Episode VI; so this was like the saga coming full circle.

    Moreover, I remember the clamour for “Revenge Of The Sith” from message boards at the time. People often suggested that one along with “Rise Of The Empire”.

    And, of course, it nicely links the end of the PT journey with the start, since Maul says to Sidious on Coruscant, in their only corporeal scene together (and also, incidentally, the first reveal of Coruscant in the saga in episode order), “At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.”

    And then there was that weird rumoured title circling around at the time: “The Creeping Fear”. I’ll be honest, I kinda like that one, as it’s a bit more elusive in nature, as “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack Of The Clones” are (despite the blatant b-movie serial cheese — also perfect) before it. “Revenge Of The Sith” makes complete sense; almost too much sense. The other title, along with AOTC, would have slightly broken the monotony of the prequel titles syncing strongly with the OT titles — although, that, too, is the point.

    But anyway, note the allusion in the title, especially since it brings what was latent (the word “revenge”) in the title of ROTJ, the end of the Lucas saga, and his final statement on heroism and villainy: The Jedi sort of become the Sith in the film; there is barely more than a hair’s breadth between them. Obi-Wan certainly takes his “revenge” on Anakin at the end of the movie. Perfectly setting the stage for Luke to right some serious wrongs.

    Solid title. Made an even better t-shirt.

    Here’s an archival news article:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/3924077.stm

    • Alexrd

      I’d say Attack of the Clones syncs with The Empire Strikes Back. The same way The Phantom Menace does with A New Hope, and Revenge of the Sith with Return of the Jedi.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Alex:

      Conceptually, it matches, but syntactically, there is a break/split. “The Empire Strikes Back” tells you exactly who is performing the “striking back”: i.e., the Empire. And while “Attack Of The Clones” also links the verb with a subject, it has a different form: “something” of the “something”; versus “something” doing “something”. In this regard, the Episode II title acknowledges the prior pattern, yet defies it — as if the souls of Anakin and Obi-Wan themselves are intertwined within the title itself.

      Moreover, we have a big “macro” baddie explicitly named in “The Empire Strikes Back”, but the Episode II title untethers the clones from a greater political body and leaves us guessing. Much like the plot of the film and various micro details within, “Attack Of The Clones” is a title with a deliberate element of misdirection.

      On first glance, given the serial antecedents the title evidently derives from and homages (e.g., “Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman” — AOTC’s IMAX poster is an obvious reworking of that earlier 1950s sci-fi B-movie poster), it sounds like the clones are an invading force: a threat from without, as opposed to what the film actually suggests: a threat from within.

      There’s something pretty mercurial, shady, and clever about the title for Episode II. It has a unique set of twists and hidden meanings packed tightly within. It’s a title that is both respectful and recalcitrant. And in that way, it is an ideal engraving for the movie it encloses.

  • archdukeofnaboo

    “Revenge of the Sith” was such an awesome, unambiguously villainous title, I don’t know if it’ll ever be matched again. It makes for a splendid contrast to the more mysterious and less certain “The Phantom Menace” which opened the trilogy.

    “Attack of the Clones” seems more unwieldy. One might argue, however, that it serves as a needed counterbalance to the theme of romance which dominates the Episode II poster.

    Great article. More please 🙂

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      Good point on the contrast between the first and last prequel titles. What begins in murk and ambiguity, ends in devastation and brutal clarity.

      It’s interesting that all three prequel titles are like horror-movie titles that point to sinister and foreboding (TPM), brash and ironic (AOTC), and tragic and ruinous (ROTS) moods and events.

      “Attack Of The Clones” is a slight gear-change from the other titles — much like the movie it encompasses. Note that the first letters are mirrors in their upper-case presentation (ATTA), which syncs with the episode numeral (II), and the year of release (2002).

      “Always two there are” are Yoda’s solemn words regarding the return of the Sith at the end of Episode I, so the letters seem to encode that epigram of Yoda’s, too. The word “clone” also implies a duplication or doubling. And “AT-ATs” are the walker units that appear in proto-form in the Battle of Geonosis.

      Also, if you check into the etymology of the words “attack” and “clone”, you’ll discover that the title, interpreted in a “root” fashion, actually means “stickiness of the sticks”, and there are many stick forms throughout the movie. Here, for example, are a few:

      http://starwarsverses.tumblr.com/post/38617505613/attack-of-the-kl%C5%8Dnes

      Along with “The Phantom Menace”, the middle prequel — the poetic nidus of the entire trilogy — is perhaps the best of all the Star Wars movie titles. Although I don’t even think the Disney titles are all that bad! Perhaps I am easy when it comes to the titles. But just to say one more thing:

      Lucas very deliberately crafted AOTC to be much more serial-like and abstractly old-fashioned and superficially silly/outrageous than the other installments. I am referring to all six. Clones has a unique place in the Star Wars pantheon. In Star Wars, something is always the exception, or as Lucas obliquely put it in “The Beginning”: “Jar Jar is the key to all this.”

      • archdukeofnaboo

        I read the word ‘Attack’ derives immediately from the 16th century French word ‘attaquer’. I had no idea, I was certain it was of solid Germanic stock. it just goes to show how much in debt we are to Latin and the Ancient Romans. Like the New Republic should be to the original GR.

        Still doesn’t touch the savagery inherent in ‘Revenge’ though!

        I will give ‘Clones’ this though, I much prefer its final scene – the interweaving of the Skywalker wedding with Palpatine overlooking the new Grand Army of the Republic is at one moment full of joy, but on another faintly unsettling. The cinematography meanwhile is breathtaking, arguably my favourite in the film. It also perfectly mirrors the mixed emotions we got at the close of ‘Empire’.

        By contrast, the happy-go-lucky imagery of Obi-Wan with baby Luke at the end of Episode III feels out of place. I would have ended it on the newly-minted Sith Lord and/or the deceased Padmé instead. It’s a dark, brutal, raw, almost depressing film and there’s no need to wedge in an optimistic note. It is in many respects the end of a self-contained story, of a Shakespearean tragedy, and the next film is set so many years in the future it might as well not matter. Who cares about Luke or Leia – Anakin and Padmé do not exist simply to bring them into the world, to service the OT, they are interesting characters in their own right, who have one of the most beautiful weddings I can recall in any film, and nothing should distract from their deaths.

        It may come as no surprise to you then to learn that I’ve always felt quite aggrieved by Obi-Wan and Yoda on the spaceship at the end of ‘Sith’. These are two characters who, as part of the Jedi Council, were complicit in forcing Anakin into the closet about his marriage. And yet here they are now feeling entitled to his (and Padmé’s) children. I mean, who made you custodians? Do you not feel any regret over how you treated the couple? It almost serves as an allegory to OT fanboys treatment of the PT: “I never really liked you, but I’ll gladly take the Darth Maul or Duel of the Faiths from you.” How ungrateful.

        That’s why I love Episode III. It’s a masterful portrait of flawed human beings, where nobody who isn’t dead by the closing credits can say that their integrity is still intact. The Luke of TLJ is a like a commentator on the these events, of the downfall of the Galactic Republic. Or at least in my head cannon he is – It’s the only way I can make sense of it.

        You really need to join Reddit. The folks on r/StarWars tend to gorge themselves in their hatred of Episode II, it’s so over the top, even for someone like me who has a few issues. You could create some balance to the debate – it is your favourite SW film, after all. They don’t like The Last Jedi very much either, so there would still be bashing-parties open to you 😛

        Do check out my recent reply to you on the Yaddle thread.

        • lovelucas

          Really disagree with this, “By contrast, the happy-go-lucky imagery of Obi-Wan with baby Luke at the end of Episode III feels out of place”. Happy-go-lucky, huh??? Obi-Wan leaving Luke with the people who will raise him is the punch-you-in-the-gut. poignant finish that brings on the tears.. Then Beru and Owen replicate Luke’s own pose and watch those twin suns…while the classic piece of John Williams’ music soars. All of this proceeded by the quick cuts of Padmé and Anakin following identical yet opposite paths. Gets me every time and I treasure that feeling when it happens. George really is that genius.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        You always add so much substance and provide so much to respond to; or pirouette off of!

        Yeah, when you look at the word “attack”, think of “attach” (one letter changes), then stack, tack(y), stack, stake, etc. The word basically alludes to “stickiness”.

        Note, again, the various stick forms in the movie. That graphic from the “Star Wars Verses” Tumblr, while great, only covers some of the more basic ones (though the Dex hair-braid one is particularly subtle and the key to the whole thing — in my opinion).

        For instance, Obi-Wan does battle in the arena with a crab/stick-insect-like creature (its lethal articulated appendages are important), and arguably the most memorable of the arena beasts, and what’s it called? The acklay: “ack” being the last three letters of “attack”.

        I often say as well: ATTACK ANAKIN

        The whole movie is kind of about him. The topsy-turvy, variegated topography of the movie, with its various changes in mood, and rich intermingling of genre references? It’s a bit like the exploded-out tapestry of a teenager’s up-down mind, mentality, and libido…

        Once Darth Vader was a teenager in love! It’s such a peculiar and poignant film. And yes, I suppose, in many regards, it is my favourite. Other people have said it better than me. The mood, the tone, the atmosphere, the expansive feel, the storyline, the subtle character beats, the operatic overtones, the visual design, the cinematography, the direction, the sound, the music, the action sequences, the resonances, the implications!!!

        Good analogy on the Galactic Republic and the New Republic. It should be noted, in AOTC itself, there’s a reference to multiple republic lineages/reformations, when Palpatine says: “I will not let this Republic, that has stood for a thousand years, be split in two.” The term “this Republic” strongly implies earlier republics and constitutions. Palpatine may be more historically literate than, say, Sio Bibble, who pronounces, “It’s unthinkable. There hasn’t been a full scale war since the formation of the Republic.” “This” vs. “the”.

        Or it’s just Palpatine being sneaky — implying other versions of the Republic, such as the ones he might have in mind, being perfectly fine to have split in two. Anyway…

        Were you taking a little bash at Disney there? 🙂

        The final scene is certainly quite stunning. In many ways, I think I would call AOTC’s closing sequence the crown jewel of the trilogy. The operatic enfolding — and unfolding — of love and war, passion and deceit, the personal and the political. Both cinematography and music brilliantly come together at the end. It’s a formidable coda. And yes, what a gorgeous mirror of TESB’s ending. These are definitely my favourite endings of the saga.

        I don’t find the happy-go-lucky imagery, to use your terminology, out of place at the close of Sith. But I see what you mean. It might be considered a bit of a fudge to take the edge off the movie, arguably cheating the trilogy out of a starker departure note. But that ending is also pressed into service, I think, to round the trilogy off on more of a bittersweet, “life goes on”, and “everything is cyclical” sort of feel: a closing gesture that nicely bridges the trilogies together and goes right to the core of the saga’s deepest thematic concerns.

        Conversely, it could actually be considered a bit of a hack move to have otherwise ended ROTS on such a downer moment like Vader and the Emperor overseeing the Death Star, or Padme’s sombre funeral scene. Great scenes in their own right; but maybe not the most felicitous of conclusions. The idea, in Star Wars, is that the Force is a binding substrate or “prime mover” — the powerful, all-unifying thing that turns all gears and ultimately leaves the door open to light, charity, and hope.

        Of course, since ROTS is meant to be capping the entire saga, and is the last of the six films Lucas vigorously intended to make, the ending also serves as a wistful “signing off” moment for the entire journey. Obliquely, the ending acknowledges the crafting of the films in a more holistic way. It’s not simply a cliffhanger, but a kind of sealing and finalising gesture by the artist himself.

        Plus, seeing those suns again is very stirring, and offers a space for reflection of all that has just passed: the apocalyptic destruction of the Republic, the annihilation of the Jedi Order, the shattering of bonds forged through pain and struggle, and the tragic vanquishing of Luke and Leia’s parents, the promising lovers who embraced in shadow and died in the light of their own distrust and misunderstanding. It’s something of a relief for a viewer; and the gift of getting there.

        Furthermore, Lucas is bidding us to ask a primal question — one that has been asked down the ages and must be forever asked anew: Who are we? And more that follow: Where do we come from? Are we a dream of the cosmos; or are we the dreamers? Are there others like us? What are the stars? Can we imagine new horizons and journey there; or are we forever repeating ourselves? Is all that has been and gone, and all that is to come, just myth and fantasy? Is time an illusion? What is reality? Are our lives being consciously steered by forces and mechanisms greater than we can comprehend? What is truth, beauty, love, hope?

        In a way, the close of ROTS pays epic respect to the universe and our deep questioning of our sojourn within it. Indeed, the ending is anticipated from the first frame, from the moment the camera drops down from the starry firmament and the light of a blinding sun glares into the “eye” of the viewer. There is a remarkable concentration of sun imagery in ROTS alone. No other film series uses sun imagery as poignantly, as purposefully, as the Star Wars saga, in my opinion. It all begins with the series title and that golden text. Heck, even the old 20th Century Fox logo heralds the star riffing to come. It is baked into every aspect.

        But you do have a wonderful perspective of your own. I really love this:

        “It is in many respects the end of a self-contained story, of a Shakespearean tragedy, and the next film is set so many years in the future it might as well not matter. Who cares about Luke or Leia – Anakin and Padmé do not exist simply to bring them into the world, to service the OT, they are interesting characters in their own right”

        Great point. Anakin and Padme *are* interesting characters in their own right; and a sort of quasi-utilitarian perspective, that they are just “baby-making” machines, degrades them immensely as avatars and entities within this forbidding fictional space. But not ending directly on either of them, allowing them their final moments, and then arcing to the twins, orients us as to where we’re heading next. Moreover, it allows their wedding scene in AOTC to, in some senses, remain the most haunting and stunning moment in any of the films.

        There is also a sort of dimming-down, a diminution, between the films, that is interesting. In TPM, we end on a big parade in daylight, with an assortment of well-dressed characters assembled on a raised platform, and a few telling glances exchanged, presaging the tragedy to come. In AOTC, day is declining into night, as we witness blood-red skies and war machines, and then a private wedding with a mere five characters total, one of whom rapidly slips out of view, leaving us with just the droids, matching their “parents”, the lovers. All is well and all is crumbling in the same instant. Sith crunches things down further, carrying the series out at sunset, with the galaxy now in darkness, yet still lit by forgiving suns, as a humble farming couple take receipt of a precious package, returning to view the far-off horizon with an air of humility and quiet longing — a scene of ultimate simplicity and reassuring beauty.

        I dunno… I guess I just love that structure.

        See, even though the PT is basically a mixture of “Oedipus Rex” and “Othello” in space, it’s still Star Wars, and so still has an air of colour, timeless grandeur, whimsy, innocence, and yes — to use this word one final time — hope. I think Lucas is a man incapable of going total grimdark; there must always be a measure of mirth and uplift lighting the way forward. He’s not a cruel guy. He loves his kids. His real-life ones and his movie ones. He created them (although his real kids are adopted), he raised them, and he would never leave any of them without a spark of promise, restoration, and grace.

        I love Yoda and Obi-Wan on Bail’s ship at the end. Great imagery. And exactly the right tone. I think they are both sorry for what happened — completely devastated and broken, in fact. But they each have their own way of coping and trying to pick up the pieces. And then they are a product of the Jedi machine that created them (“machines making machines”), and which caused the mess they now find themselves attempting to extract some measure of meaning and solace from. But given their natures, they aren’t too reflective, or let us say: self-flagellating. That isn’t their style. Their capacity for commiseration with one another is minimal; and if they blame themselves, which I think they do, it’s largely an internal matter; one they take with them to their respective hideaway locations.

        There was an IMDb reviewer who found a good deal of meaning and something to admire about the ending to ROTS and the way the Jedi comport themselves after tragedy has hit. And that is that the Jedi are still choosing to be heroes at the end, despite losing so much. The fates of Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan, and Yoda all beat and resonate against one another. Each is touched by the monstrous plotting of the Sith, and their own shadow side, in a markedly different yet complementary way. And they can be looked at as dual units (“always two there are”): While Anakin and Padme depart the narrative in pain and sorrow, Yoda and Obi-Wan know they must endure; that two innocent twins and an entire galaxy are still depending on them. Reflection can come later.

        But the fact they are prepared to trust the twins to others, given the hard-boiled dogma of the old Jedi Order toward attachments and admitting human candidates even as young as nine years-of-age, makes an elliptical statement regarding their own guilt and latent, locked-inside recognition that the old ways aren’t sufficient anymore and won’t help them remedy the new ills and complications that have overwhelmingly asserted themselves. Maybe it’s only a mote of recognition stemming from pragmatic concerns; but a mote of recognition nonetheless. As Lucas once said:

        “I believe in a certain amount of determinism, from an ecological point of view. It’s that things essentially reach their own equilibrium. If you don’t live a certain way, ecologically speaking, you will be forced into a position that will level it. What I would call an “unpoetic” state will eventually become a “poetic state”, because an unpoetic state will not last. It can’t. It’s like economics. It’s like life, it’s like animals, it’s like everything. You can set up an artificial reality, but eventually it will equalize itself, and become real.”

        (Source: J.W. Rinzler, “The Making Of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind The Original Film”, 2007)

        And then there’s a reward, of sorts, for the Jedi at the end: a hand-hold out of the darkness, a gift for their journey forward. And that is Yoda discovering how to commune with Qui-Gon; an ability that, rather than selfishly conceal, he promises to teach to Obi-Wan at the end. Which reinforces a basic prequel motif that there is always “much to learn” about the ways of the universe; and we should never be conceited that we know all we need to know (like Jocasta Nu), or that our personal Jedi Archives are ever complete. It also lends some poignant irony to the picture. Yoda is going to teach Obi-Wan how to speak to a dead guy, his former master, when Obi-Wan failed to reach out to his flesh-and-blood apprentice, who is now “more machine than man” and helped bring about the very circumstances of their exile. To quote Obi-Wan from the starting chapter: “You were banished because you were clumsy?” Eh, you mighten be sayin dat, Obi…

        I’ll give some thought to Reddit. Posting to the net in discussion spaces has certainly proven to be my cup of tea; yet I still have some aversion to the whole Reddit thing. Perhaps I’m just too antiquated. Why do I feel another (<see?!) Obi-Wan line rattling around in my head?

        And yes. My apologies on the other thread. I read your response but have been lagging in getting back to you. I do intend to issue a response shortly. But it may have to be tomorrow now. However, as Star Wars teaches, tomorrow is today, and today is unending… 😉 :p

      • Cryogenic

        P.S. I didn’t meant to seem so aggressive with “ATTACK ANAKIN”. There was meant to be an arrow symbol there, between the two words, but it strangely got deleted. Who could empty information from the archives? Dangerous and disturbing, this puzzle is.

      • joey pieper

        @cyro
        unfortunately many fans think star wars should be dark all the time wasn’t that a complaint about the later stories of the old eu? that it got too dark? along with many saying they should do an r-rated star wars anyone who thinks star wars needs to go r-rated is a f**king moron

      • Cryogenic

        @ joey:

        Yes, Joe. And it’s not just the fans. Rick McCallum says on the ROTS commentary track that he would have preferred an all-dark Episode III. I think he makes this comment (haven’t listened in a while) during the Invisible Hand hijinks with Artoo. And also, if I recall, Lucas talks around that same point about fighting to keep Artoo’s early antics during the rescue mission in the movie, since there was apparently some push to keep that sequence lean and mean and/or leave comedy to a minimum.

        Also, Lucas and McCallum were both anticipating being able to start work on a live-action TV series set between ROTS and ANH, following criminal/black market elements, tentatively titled “Star Wars: Underworld”. They were both promising that this would be a slightly more adult take on the SW universe, skewing more toward teenagers and young adults than families/children. They were waiting for costs to fall and hoping to give it a similar production quality to the prequels, but on a fraction of their budget.

        But let’s remind ourselves of a couple of comments from Lucas around the start and the end of his prequel journey:

        “There is a group of fans for the films that doesn’t like comic sidekicks. They want the films to be tough like Terminator, and they get very upset and opinionated about anything that has anything to do with being childlike.”

        “The movies are for children but they don’t want to admit that. In the first film they absolutely hated R2 and C3-PO. In the second film they didn’t like Yoda and in the third one they hated the Ewoks… and now Jar Jar is getting accused of the same thing.”

        (Source: BBC interview, July 1999)

        “The fan base basically wanted the first film to be this film, ‘Revenge of the Sith,’ and have Darth Vader become Darth Vader in the first episode, then have the other ones with Darth Vader going around killing everybody. But that’s really not what the story is at all. And I knew it when I was going to go back and do it. I said, ‘I’m going to tell the story of how he became that person, not the story of him being that person.’”

        (Source: Associated Press interview, Jan 2005)

        • lovelucas

          I’m always going to see George’s side of things. I think the humor was needed in RotS in scene cited on the Invisible Hand. The humor between the “brothers” also helps us see how close they’ve become. I remember Ewan saying it was necessary to remember something special was being lost as they do indeed lose that closeness and that brotherhood. Plus an opportunity to see Anakin defend Artoo as another buddy. Over and over the people who complain about the prequels and wanting them to dark, and that we should have never had to see Anakin/Vader as a child are really totally missing everything George has been trying to say: that Vader did start out as that innocent child who only did good for others. So damn important that you see this was lost as well – this is a warning as well as storytelling. Be careful of who you let manipulate you. Even more important, be careful who you vote for.

      • joey pieper

        i was referring to your comment that lucas is incapable of going total grimdark i think there are some fans out who think it should be all dark all the time and think star wars should go r-rated which in my opinion is dumb

      • Cryogenic

        @ Joe:

        No problemo. A lot of fans still have difficulty in dealing with the fact that Star Wars is space-based mythic fantasy, not hard sci-fi or gritty war drama. It’s more like “The Wizard Of Oz” than it is “The Godfather” or “The Terminator”; or even “Batman”. Indeed: More Baum, less Coppola/Cameron/Kane/Miller/Nolan/Burton.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        Great points regarding the early humour on the Invisible Hand (great Adam Smith-inspired name), the bond — bonds — between Anakin and Artoo and Anakin and Obi-Wan, and how that mad-cap opening sequence, loosely homaging the sail barge sequence in ROTJ, gets the final prequel off to a kickass start: fuel-injecting the “brotherly” relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan and easing us into a dramatic inferno to come. This is our valiant Jedi “crack team” at their true height as heroes of the Republic. The dashing duo that Obi-Wan implied to Luke in his hovel. Finally, at the start of ROTS, we see their union briefly shining, in all its glory; before it all comes crashing down and is torn asunder. Just for that briefest of intervals, the on-screen reality comes close to matching the golden myth. But things are ever “on the move”; and you just can’t stop that change…

        And yes: The prequels are a warning. A truly epic warning writ large. Be mindful and pay attention to where you place your allegiances; and what you see, hear, and allow to start influencing you — and who you allow to do the influencing. Probably the most cogent disquisition on these topics of all time.

    • archdukeofnaboo

      @joey piper

      “R-rated movie” is not the argument I’m presenting. Removing one little scene doesn’t change a whole 2hr+ film. But I have differences with it that come from a very staunchly prequelist perspective.

      And no I’m not a “f**king moron” – that is not how you conduct a civilised debate.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        “i wasn’t talking about you” (joey)

        Indeed, I think joey was picking up on something I said about Star Wars having a mix of whimsy and innocence to it; even in its darkest passages.

        Also, we could get into it, I suppose, but I think I disagree that removing a scene doesn’t change a whole film. And, presumably, you meant two little scenes (not one), since in your proposed version, both the Luke and Leia scenes, on Tatooine and Alderaan, respectively, would be culled.

        I’m suddenly reminded of those creatures the Geonosians ride on — with their tails removed! Taking out the Luke and Leia “safe delivery” scenes, in my opinion, would tilt the balance of the film to one of stark, tragic darkness. I mean, that is your incentive and rationale for removing them, or imagining an improvement in the film’s tone/mood without them being there, is it it not?

      • joey pieper

        @cryo
        yes i remember them saying the show would be deadwood in space and there was the cancelled 1313 game i’m sorry but i don’t want star wars to go as tv tropes says bloodier and gorier same with star trek (i think the idea of a quentin tarantino star trek would alienate hard core fans)

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic @lovelucas

        I cannot buy the hope argument, there has simply been too much devastation and too many important lives lost. Luke and Leia are of another trilogy, of a very different story – I don’t need to be directed toward that. I don’t need fudges.

        What good is it to hint at a brighter future in the OT? Sure the Empire gets defeated there, but the revived Republic hardly gets off the ground running. It sets its year 0 to an obscure, negligent battle (from a macro perspective) and ignores 1,000 years of political milestones and achievements. It’s a joke. A farce. Capital planet blown up, to boot.

        I completely respect Lucas’ idea behind the baby Luke and Leia scenes, but for me, their presence is no conciliation. My two heroes are dead, and nothing can change that. I’m not suggesting its a bad scene, I can cope with it, it’s just not how I like to end the film.

        If that makes me a disciple of stark, tragic narratives, then so be it. But I will not grant the people who argue Anakin and Padmé are conduits an inch.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Joe:

        Yeah, I don’t want “Wars” or “Trek” to go that way, either. They are basically the only bulwark we have against hipster nihilism and anodyne inanity. Both reflect their original makers in some pretty deep and startling ways. Gene and George are the twin “ge”-niuses of modern positivist pop culture.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        I wouldn’t call the end of the film a fudge. Even if there might arguably be a slight fudge factor at work. Look at it this way:

        When Anakin is reluctant to leave home, now that he suddenly has the freedom to do so, he protests that he doesn’t want things to change; which is basically his Achilles heel and the crux of Darth Vader. And Shmi, remaining calm and reassuring, and dignified in her own sorrow, tells her son: “But you can’t stop the change, anymore than you can stop the suns from setting.”

        In AOTC, we have the powerful image of Anakin racing across the barren plains of Tatooine, against a sunset, speeding right to left, the “wrong” direction in Star Wars (this, for example, is the direction Artoo heads in but gets turned back by the Jawas, putting him on the correct path to Luke and Obi-Wan; as well as the direction the Republic war machines attack from on Geonosis, beginning the civilization-defining Clone War conflict). It is as if Anakin, this child of the Force, is trying to stop the suns from setting; or in a race against fate (the speeding imagery evokes the “happy” podrace from TPM), attempting, in his anguish and hubris, to overthrow time itself.

        And ROTS poignantly reprises and caps this motif with Anakin pondering the blackened sky on Mustafar, watching an eclipse after his slaughter of the separatists, and then, finally, with Anakin finally gone, “consumed” by Darth Vader (for the rest of imagined time), we get this incredibly calm, archetypal image of the Tatooine suns setting, being watched by a new generation (with an in-law connection to the former), at the close of the trilogy: a bridge to a new era of hope; a “golden sky” and “the sweet silver sound of a lark”.

        Each of the aforementioned moments is like a marker point in Anakin’s Orphic journey to the Dark Side — as well as the decline of the Republic into the Empire. This particular visual property of Star Wars (milestones, waypoints, markers) is something the saga utterly excels at, in my opinion. And as I said in my earlier post, I think it has maybe the best sun imagery in more or less any work of cinema I can think of.

        So I really like seeing the twin suns at the end (twin suns marking twins being sent to their new homes — right as the suns themselves prepare to sink past the horizon for the night). To me, the imagery at the end of ROTS is very resonant and hyper-poetic. It rounds the trilogy off every bit as brilliantly as the movie title.

        And just to reiterate:

        Even though ROTS may be a dark film overall, Lucas never allows his films to end without light. And starlight perhaps best embodies the generous, stirring, life-giving breath of the Force itself. There’s actually something to be said, I think, for a film that offers a soaring sense of tragedy and dissolution, but still crawls its way back to the light. Perhaps a metaphor for Anakin himself, who pulls himself from the heat of the lava, before it entirely consumes him. And equally, the stars themselves seem to be watching. For, if nothing else, the prequel trilogy, and the wider saga, is all about bearing witness — and somehow being transformed in the process.

        I’ll add that Lucas’s first feature, “THX-1138”, which functions something like a skeleton key for his entire film catalogue, ends with a sunset — after the main protagonist, much like Anakin, narrowly evades being captured and consumed (broken down, potentially, like his deviant partner, into chemical sludge), with a last-minute climb to an ambiguous taste of freedom. Of course, Anakin is merely re-enslaved, landing inside a “city shell”, just as THX escapes his; but this is how they both echo and invert one another. Like a double helix.

        I don’t think Anakin and Padme are conduits, but a key thematic thread running through both trilogies, which Lucas has touched on a number of times, is that the children must clean up the mess of their parents. Where their parents failed, they must succeed. It’s an allegory that applies to our own world: Think of war, deforestation, global warming, and other forms of ecological devastation, as well as racism, sexism, the prison system, and the political and financial systems that dominate everyone’s lives on Earth. We are tasked with doing better than our predecessors. This is key to the dance of sentient life and civilizational processes in the cosmos (I take the view that advanced alien life probably exists, has existed, or will exist in the future).

        ANH is a much smaller-scale film. I hear you on that. Mark Hamill once made an analogy that the OT is more like a “garage band”, next to the PT’s “full symphony orchestra”. And ANH is clearly the most stripped-down, hemmed-in, and naive of the original movies. It’s the only one, for example, where neither the Emperor nor Yoda appear, the only one where Darth Vader doesn’t have his musical theme, the only one where the main characters are garbed in almost monochromatic clothing. It’s a world that seems to offer endless possibility, while teetering on the brink of annihilation — the characters here (paraphrasing Philip Larkin) are living at the edge of their own lives.

        And as for “ignores 1,000 years of political milestones and achievements”:

        Remind you of any regimes in history; and any that might be in power at the moment?

        The loss of the Galactic Republic should feel monumental. And I think it does. Look how crazy and colourful TPM and AOTC — the “outer” installments of the saga — are to ANH. We see a bit of a tamping-down in ROTS; and an immense crashing-out in ANH. All as it should be. I can’t believe I’m quoting a Disney character, but if you were to somehow hitch a ride on the Millennium Falcon and travel “back” to the PT from the OT, you would probably exclaim, “I never knew there was this much prequel in the whole galaxy.”

      • Cryogenic

        @ Joe:

        R—-heee—eeeeey.

        I struggled to get that out.

        Ma-Reeeeeey Sue!

        “I didn’t know there was this much green in the whole galaxy.”

        I think I need a shower.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Oh, believe me, the loss of the Galactic Republic does weight heavily when one compares and contrasts the PT with the OT. As it should be.

        What I was actually pointing to – and this by the way, is a proper complaint of mine – is how haphazardly JJ Abrams set up the ‘New Republic’ in Episode VII. It pays little respect to its predecessor, and bizarrely coexists with Rebellion 2.0. The destruction of the capital planet meanwhile is like an apt illustration of the director’s feelings towards in-Galaxy politics and diplomacy in Star Wars.

        I didn’t expect VII to be as politically focused as the PT had been, but boy did it let itself down by resetting the clock back to IV. There were so many better alternatives to ‘Empire vs Rebels: 2010s edition’ like a divided Galaxy or a new empire taken out from the inside (an inversion of the PT plot, no less). The first half-ish of TFA was promising, but it sure lost imagination quickly. The Death Star-Starkiller Base (ie Death Star 2.0) comparison in the war room scene was so cringey.

        Still, a film I came out of with a smile on my face, but unfortunately the nostalgia of that time doesn’t stay around for subsequent viewings. And then TLJ came along, and I had no smile at all.

        Backwards is where we need to go on the Star Wars timeline for future instalments. The sequel era is, regrettably, a dead end.

        • lovelucas

          Aye… I agree with some of what you say regarding the sequels. For me, the best of the new films is Rogue One. That ending…..wowser. And what happened before. TFA – I was predisposed to hate it because of JJ and Kathleen’s behavior towards George and the prequels. My personal boycott. So..I didn’t see it until we were officially in the next year and the price came down. I didn’t want to make the film any money if I could. I do think they have some terrific new actors who have done their jobs well, especially Daisy and Adam. Actually – the person I didn’t believe in TFA was Harrison Ford. But I digress. With the exception of TLJ, I’ve seen all the other films many, many times, but I do become bored in TFA – I DVR’ed it off cable and watched it once but found myself fast forwarding through a lot of it so haven’t returned to watch it since. TLJ – I want to to give it a 2nd chance. I really, really like the other films of Rian Johnson plus he does love Star Wars so much. I’m wondering, though, if they will give him that 2nd chance. I know it was planned but…..???

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        You’ll find no disagreement from me on how JJA/TFA turns its death lasers on the New Republic and basically reveals the director’s attitude toward politics and parlour room negotiation, musings on the intermingling of the personal and the political, Byzantine story detail and discursive plot complication, and weighty, meaningful allegory. In other words, “EFF YOU, prequels!”

        Of course, the First Order laser-nuking the New Republic is also JJA/TFA’s way of conveniently hand-waving away a tricky problem (like leaving Luke to the end of the movie): How to deal with a forbidding, Gary Stu-like mega-construct/monad without burdening the movie with all sorts of intellectual responsibility to do it right? By just blowing the thing up, it’s “problem solved” — in a very “American”/John Wayne-ish sort of way.

        Incidentally, the First Order unleashes five red laser strikes on the New Republic, not unlike the way Obi-Wan sends five red laser bolts into Grievous’ chest cavity, when he himself is dangling in a precarious moment. QED: TFA has a very “uncivilised” attitude toward the inherited canon; using a big “cannon” to vamoose the seemingly smaller, but actually large and very important, actual canon, displaced half-way across the galaxy; and so shoved out the way, unfairly, like a proverbial sitting duck, awaiting the discharge of the rifle.

        And compounding on the above, or conspiring with it, is just how dumb, unaware, and apathetic JJA/TFA makes all the other characters into — seen and unseen. Somehow, the First Order managed to construct this at-once diabolical and preposterous mega-gun in space, without anyone running to the New Republic to tell them about it (or the New Republic, via the Resistance or other means, getting any reconnaissance on it); let alone showing much horror after the fact. There’s little sense of scale of urgency in the film. It’s more like an amusement park trailer.

        Of course, since the New Republic is more mythical in the movie than a unicorn pooping emeralds, you can argue that a million things could have happened regarding Starkiller Base, like the New Republic knowing but sitting on its collective butt, or scoffing and considering the weapon no threat, or on the cusp of completing some uber-terrific laser-blast-repelling shield system (a Reagan-esque SDI/Trumpian “Wall” that actually works — although that would have been a terrible message). The film’s greatest weapon is veiling and not dealing with anything that might bring a moment’s pause: “A good question for another time”.

        But that trashing of GL’s saga — very deliberate. Don’t forget how Abrams just oh-so-casually announced at the TFA Comic-Con panel in July 2015, answering an obviously pre-vetted audience question, and this is what he said:

        “We tried to sit down and ask ourselves: ‘What feels right?’ And the only real mandate we had was: ‘What delights us?’ It doesn’t mean it has to be fun all the time or ever silly. It means it has to be compelling and… obviously, we treated the films, four, five, and six, especially, as those were things that, for me, were the films I grew up with… we treated those as canon.”

        Just as audaciously, he then added:

        “And by the way, that Larry wrote. It’s insane. To [be] asked… To be writing a Star Wars script with Larry Kasdan. You know, it’s like, ‘What would Han say?’ [Proceeds to do a comically distracting Lawrence Kasdan impersonation] ‘I’ll tell you what Han would say. I wrote Han. I know what Han sounds like.’ That’s a perfect impersonation of Larry Kasdan.”

        I can scarcely begin to parse out all the flagrant idiocy, baked-in hostility to the prequels and prequel fans, the arrogance and disrespect shown toward Lucas, tendentious distortion of the historical record; and clown-ish, two-bit, high-school-level distraction tactics at the end — revealing both a total lack of substance and utter contempt for the intelligence of the gathered audience (who are obviously treated all the way through as little more than mindless consumers and sheep-like automatons).

        So yes, in many regards, based on various comments made during the marketing campaign (at fan gatherings, in magazine interviews, press junkets, etc.), and based on what is plainly manifest within the film itself, there is little respect or regard shown toward the prequels, their costume drama authenticity, their world-building, characters, themes, etc. And more than that: It is obvious that these mini Disney fascists/priests/bureaucrats, sub-artistic money-chasers, and mass-media manipulators, never set out to demonstrate any.

        Back in 2005, when George Lucas spoke to Lesley Stahl and firmly declared, “There is no Episode Seven”, he could have been passing judgement on the post-transition, Disney-controlled Star Wars. I suspect, in some senses, he actually was. Just as Lucas went backwards in time, but forwards in intellect and creativity, when returning to Star Wars and telling the story of the prequels, so he seems to have somehow projected forward and seen what was ahead, giving his earlier words new meaning as time passes. The man truly is a time traveller or an alien. I’m almost convinced of it.

        And yes, as far as the sequel era goes, it has been ruined. TFA took a shotgun to the mythology of the series and any promise of a decent continuation/conclusion, and then TLJ went outside and beat the corpse with a shovel, making sure it was dead. All for the ego-thrill and the easy money.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        I actually savaged the ending of “Rogue One”, if you’re referring to the Vader slaughterfest, in a few posts in a particular thread on TFN. Found it very tacked-on and pornographic. And basically the filmmakers/producers/story team (a hydra-headed monster) giving fans exactly what Lucas explicitly denied them. George knew people were hankering to see Vader “going postal” in the prequels, and he deliberately avoided sating their bloodlust, their appetite for carnage, by sticking to his principles and telling an actual story. But Disney get their hands on the franchise and a way is quickly found to start servicing dark and denatured desires.

        I think the ace in the hole with Star Wars has always been casting. And that, in my opinion, has continued into the sequels. But: I don’t care much for Daisy in TLJ. I won’t even get into the spinoffs in this regard. Daisy was lively and spirited in TFA and took an incredibly thin character and tried to make something of her. She just didn’t seem to be putting the same effort into TLJ and selling Rey’s darkness as well. Then again, she barely had anything to work with — even less than TFA in this area.

        Never had an issue with Harrison Ford. His laziest performance is probably ROTJ. But he essentially took TFA for the money. A cool $20 million plus handsome residuals if the film broke the $1 billion mark (and, of course, it made twice that amount). He wasn’t doing it for the love of Star Wars or because he needed another gig playing a cardboard smuggler. On the contrary: His opinion of Han in an interview from May 2014 is incontestably blunt: “Dumb as a stump”; and if he’s regarded as a cultural icon, it’s “At no credit to the culture for embracing him as a hero.” Put that in your cargo hold and smoke it.

        Rian Johnson attempted a “subversive” movie, but, for my money, he took a dump on the legacy of the series in various ways and failed. TLJ is, for me, a contrived, dull, plodding, preachy, tedious movie. That said, I think it has a few bright spots, like Adam Driver and a much-more-snivelling Domhnall Gleeson (compared to TFA), Mark Hamill mostly bringing his A-game (despite the writing), and a dignified version of Leia from Carrie Fisher. The movie’s best scenes, in my opinion, are its final ones. But big-time letdowns including plotting, visual design, music, sound design, and side characters; and the off-hand, garbage-y, “screw you” way the film handles some of the bigger and more important moments in its (stretched/cliched/recycled/insipid) story.

        I know these movies have their fans, a few of whom have tried to twist my arm into liking them as much as they do, but the visionary quality of Lucas and the prequels is long gone. The absence of Lucas’ genius — for this fan, at least — is acutely felt.

        • lovelucas

          Regarding the end of Rogue: no – I wasn’t praising Vader going postal. I meant aligning and smoothly transitioning one story, one era, to another: Rogue to ANH as Leia is given the data to do the damage…and she even says it offers hope. True tale: I took some of my kids and grandkids (yes, I’m a geezer but one who flew for United Airlines 🙂 ) to see Rogue One totally spoiler free so….I was stunned with cg Tarkin and Leia. It was the very best of surprises even though some people (not my people) did not like the concept nor the result. I thought it brilliant despite not wanting this action to result in that can of worms being opened. And to add to the story – we were in the morning showing seeing it in December…and while we were watching the film, Carrie died. We learned the sad news while driving home – each in our separate cars which made it hurt so much more.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        “Rogue One” does align, in some regards, pretty smoothly with ANH. Although, I’ll be honest with you:

        I basically share Ahmed Best’s view that the characters get lost and never really come into focus in R1.

        And there’s also such a thing as too much backstory, too much dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s, too much attempt to have everything snap together into one airtight package. Film and storytelling must breathe.

        The enormous battle at the end also feels out of place coming right before the much smaller battle at the end of AHH, in my opinion. That and the fact it is largely lifted from the big reckoning at the end of Jedi — which takes some of the steam out of the original trilogy, in my view.

        That said, R1 is visually spectacular in places, and it was great seeing a cameo between the prequel actors for Mon Mothma and Basil Oregano. You certainly can’t go wrong with a bit of Jimmy Smits in your movie!!! He’s just the “basil” and “oregano” everything movie needs plenty more of. 😀

        But there was too much that was “off” about R1 for me. I’m sure kids enjoyed it, though. I know some did. At my cinema showing, there was one kid in particular who was very impressed with K-2SO, and he found it the height of hilarity and coolness when K-2 bashes those unfortunate stormtroopers together in the data vault. The film has its moments.

        I didn’t like the CG recreations of Tarkin and Leia. They already had plausible/semi-convincing actors playing them on set — why not use their talents and visual essences to the full? Again, having them CG-ed, in my opinion, plays straight into the stifling idea that everything must connect and join up as perfectly as possible. I’m actually glad Lucas didn’t have this sort of CG technology in a mature-enough state on the prequels. Can you imagine??? Well, maybe you can…

        Vader doing dog tricks at the end was kind of the final straw for me. Really well shot and scored; but also slick and soulless. Everything, to reiterate, Lucas didn’t want to put into the PT. It’s cool on its own terms, but, to me, something of a hollow circus contraption. Look how manly and powerful Vader is. He’s the Ferrari of Sith Lords and Star Wars baddies now! Watch! No Jar Jar and weird romances in this version of Star Wars, thank you very much…

        But opinions do get around and have a habit of diversifying on these ‘ere Star Wars movies.

        • lovelucas

          Vader doing dog tricks….ooooh certainly puts that into focus. This is imo…..but I love love love connecting new to what came before. And we know George loves those connections. I saw Rogue with 3 of my grandsons. The youngest one (age 13) was groving on the ending in the same places I was…those connections. My first time seeing AotC was in IMAX and with my oldest son and his “little” brother – part of the Big Brother organization where a child w/o a father figure is paired with a guy who wants to mentor. We all saw RotS together for the first time, too. Twice in the same night and my lightsaber was borrowed by the local tv reporters. Alas Ben (yes, his name is Ben) unfortunately left the area so we lost track of this little brother who loved Star Wars too – When we saw RotS he was in high school.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        I’m afraid its 2 vs 1 on Rogue One. I also enjoyed it, it’s the only film from the Disney era I admire. Lot of nice nods to the PT and the final Vader scene was awesome – end of story, no lengthy paragraphs required.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Two against one? “Do not assume you have the advantage.” :p

        Nah, it’s okay — really. I have observed (lots of prequel lines here) that many prequel fans seem to have affection for “Rogue One”. And I think I can see why.

        It was filmed digitally, the world-building seems a lot more prequel-esque than the actual sequel trilogy installments, and the story is relatively self-contained and doesn’t tread on hallowed ground. Therefore, prequel fans feel less aggrieved and territorial about it, and more able to relax into the film and enjoy it for what it is: A side helping in the Disney production line (okay: mixed metaphors); one more thing that “you might like”. It doesn’t feel obligatory or oppressive in the way the sequels do.

        And, superficially, at least, it seems more respectful of the prequels than the sequel installments. It has a grain of political complexity about it; the stakes feel real; it deepens the world of the first film; gives some moderately compelling follow-through on Anakin’s life as the mighty Imperial Enforcer Darth Vader; puts in cameos for prequel-actor Mon Mothma and Bail Organa; and hey, there’s even a funny new sidekick character with an heroic arc! Not bad.

        Plus, it’s not pretending to be something different; it’s not a painted brick posing as a gold bar. It’s the real thing: Empire vs. Rebels; the Death Star; Tarkin and Vader; OT-era X-Wings and TIE Fighters, stormtroopers, cool Imperial control panels, X-Wing cockpit display screens, etc. And even then, there are new designs to savour, expanded costumes and ships to feast on. Even most of the characters are new. Or newly dressed. It’s a looker. It’s expansive. It’s plausible. It’s clever.

        I just think it remains constrained and merely pseudo-visionary overall. It’s not quite bold or inventive enough; and it doesn’t quite come together. But plenty would disagree. Among prequel fans, at least, the film seems to have made a splash.

      • joey pieper

        @cyro
        make it 3 i enjoyed rogue one as well i haven’t seen the other disney star wars films i probably will eventually but i don’t consider episodes 7 and 8(and the upcoming 9)canon due to the sh*tty way they treat han luke and leia

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        “Vader doing dog tricks….ooooh certainly puts that into focus.”

        “Die, [rebel] dogs!!!”???
        “Your focus determines your [Rotten Tomatoes user score]?”

        Cute stories, LL! Don’t know what else I can say. Star Wars brings people together (at least on release of a new film), and kids normally get the most out of the initial viewing experience. You’ve clearly created some poignant memories for yourself.

        Okay. I’ll add one additional “Rogue One” anecdote. Forgot to say before. I saw the movie with my mom and brother, and practically needed to pee the whole movie. We got there at the last minute and they said they were about to start the film and there were no ads or trailers. Like: Damn!!! So I waited. We all did. Anyway, afterwards, my mom emerged from the ladies, and she told me she overheard a little kid who was bugging his mom and asking her when R1 was coming out on DVD/Blu-ray. So: Mission accomplished. The film found its rightful audience.

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