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  • lovelucas

    Now THIS is a Star Wars cover ……and then you read below: The story isn’t related to this variant cover. So…why pimp us? Especially since the use of this image indicates you know it will sell…and we all know what that means.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Love Lucas:

      It’s a nice cover, but they’re also ripping off a famous fan image — and, arguably, one with even greater impact:

      https://www.deviantart.com/scarletthorse/art/Vader-s-Remorse-169808169

      That earlier one seems to have taken on the title of “Vader’s Remorse” (or, alternatively, “Vader’s Regret”) as above. But not sure of its exact origin. If the rendering comes from an official source, someone please correct me.

      The cover image is a nice interpretation, though. The artist, in contradistinction to the “Remorse” rendering, has given Padme ears, as if she is still “listening”, and there are also visible tears streaming down her face. On the other hand, her head looks a bit oval-shaped. But that’s okay. ROTS has its share of egg imagery. 🙂

      Less okay, as you’ve just pointed out, is that the image is apparently just a lure/ruse, and the contents don’t relate. Reminding us of that old adage: “Never judge a book by its cover.” And try not to buy one by its cover, either.

      • lovelucas

        Vader’s Remorse/Vader’s Regret is from Star Wars artist Joe Corronney (2 n’s?) – I have it hanging in my living room. Bought many copies for friends.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        Oh, darn!!! Now, THAT, I did not know. Thanks for the name — but that you have it hanging! Or maybe I’ve already seen a pic and forgotten.

        You are very generous at spreading that Star Wars love around!!!!!! 😀 😀

        Joe Corroney. The name doesn’t ring a bell. But that’s definitely it. Here’s his site:

        http://www.joecorroney.com/

        • lovelucas

          Yes, Cryo…if you’ve seen my little art gallery you have indeed seen Joe Corroney’s work. This past year we had a bit of conversation going when the artwork I bought from him arrived damaged. He graciously sent another and I offered to return his wonderful Leia collage but for the postage cost, it didn’t make sense to spend more money on damaged merchandise. I promised him I wouldn’t sell it but that I also could not trash it because…..it was Carrie.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        Sad the volume of stuff that is damaged in the mailing process. Well, at least you have a Carrie item with “handling” texture. Like all those Artoo units getting kicked and beat up in the sand during the challenging shoot of the original movie, you have some artwork with personality. 🙂 And yes, I can well imagine you’d be reluctant to part with it. It has come into your possession in a way that perhaps seems fateful. “Clean them up, treat them well, have the mailing man’s mind wiped.”

        • lovelucas

          About the Carrie artwork by Joe Corronney – he did mail me a 2nd copy that was not damaged. The one that was damaged was not the fault of the post office. It was wrinkled inside the container but in the process of either putting it in that container or taking it out of it, the damage was done. It is such a beautiful piece and shows Leia in so many stages of her life and therefore Carrie’s.

  • archdukeofnaboo

    Arguably the most melancholic image from the entire Prequel Trilogy. You have the to go to the OT to match it, and that, fittingly, is the death of her husband in the arms of their son.

    For anyone who hasn’t it read it, ‘Cryogenic’ offers a brilliant analysis of her funeral scene in another thread on this site.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      Great imagery — both those moments — indeed. But when I think of melancholic, in terms of the prequels, I arguably think of Anakin leaving his mother with a tall Jedi stranger, to the promise of a better life, but torn between worlds, or the quiet moment between Amidala and Jar Jar in Palpatine’s apartment, or even the city imagery, with sky melting into night, that forms a beautiful interstice between their poignant exchange and Yoda sensing “much fear” in Anakin, whose “golden fleece” of Force brilliance and being a whizz with everything he touches can’t protect him from all taunts and travails.

      Or, for that matter, that same boy huddled in the corner of the queen’s ship, feeling the chill of space, the sadness of parting, and implacable anguish toward the unknown. And all the time, quietly watching… And then: He is comforted in his loneliness by a beautiful girl. An angel. The image of perfection in his eyes. She places a warming garment over the boy and offers consolation, much as her daughter will do with their son. The magic of simple connection and affection. And this boy, kind and creative as he is, offers a small gift of kindness in return — a crude but loving hand-carving; one which he hopes the girl will always remember him by…

      And thanks, AD. I do so love these prequels…

        • lovelucas

          Regarding visiting real-life Star Wars locations: I’ve been to Naboo/Lake Retreat/Lake Como 3 times – at the Villa Balbianello. Contacted a terrific SW fan/guide who took us everywhere they filmed. She had some great stories gleaned from being on the set almost the entire time. This last time, the picnic area had been sold from the farmer who George had asked to let the grass grow long. Has wire fencing around it so we crawled under 🙂 I’ve been to Muir Woods in the San Francisco area and was on a wait list for a trip to Tunisia/Lars Homestead but the trip was booked solid. Wish we could post pix here. hee hee…you know me so well Cryogenic.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        No — alas!

        I’ve been to Austria, though, including Salzburg — and that was like walking around on Naboo (or, indeed, “The Sound Of Music”).

        Now go and put your question to “lovelucas”. See what she says. 🙂

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        You are a true believer!!! Three visits! Gets better with age? 🙂

        Interestingly, the music video to Gwen Stefani’s “Cool” was also shot at Lake Como, and Sofia Coppola used this song for the ice-skating scene in her marvellous film “Somewhere”.

        The same Sofia Coppola whose first feature film, “The Virgin Suicides”, finds space for a little-known Canadian actor called Hayden Christensen. The same Sofia Coppola who starred as a handmaiden in a small independent film called “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace”.

        The same Sofia Coppola who has been close to Lucas since birth, via her father and Lucas’ mentor, Francis Ford, whom she has described as “like an uncle” to her, and whom she asked for help at promoting the aforementioned “Somewhere”, which Lucas provided by hosting a screening event — and interviewing her on stage — at his complex at the Presidio in San Francisco.

        Here are some nice pictures from that 2010 event:

        https://drewaltizer.com/event/12488-sofia-coppola-george-lucas-and-stephen-dorff-aa-an/

        And yes…

        I suppose I do know you enough to know how much of a committed fanatic you are! Love those stories from your tour guide. 🙂

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        I did Seville as part of a Spanish trip. It’s a wonderful city of culture and history, and the Plaza de España (Naboo palace courtyard) hasn’t changed a bit since it was featured in AotC. The famous opera ‘Carmen’ originates here too.

        Though I’ve spent a lot of time in Rome and central Italy, I’ve never had a chance to visit the parts in the PT: Como or Caserta. A close friend of mine (who I went to see Ep VII with, incidently) now teaches in a school not so faraway from the latter, so I may just have a good excuse this year.

        I have an Italian friend from Lake Garda, which is not dissimilar to Lake Como. I figure if I ever get to visit her, I’ll be cursing my own native country the whole time, channelling my inner Anakin. I have many metaphors for the endless rain we receive here on Ach-To.

        The Sound of Music is a terrific, uplifting film. And historically speaking you’re not a million miles away: Lake Como, as a part of Lombardy, was under the same Austrian rule for some time. And before that, as part of the Duchy of Milan it was under the Holy Roman Empire – an elective monarchy. Sound familiar?

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke

        (and Love Lucas)

        You people are incredibly cultured. I’ve said it plenty of times and I’ll say it again: I’m just a simple-minded Jar Jar lover.

        I just love how TPM, and AOTC, especially, take Star Wars in more of a continental direction. Architecturally: Great colonnades, lonely corridors of power, beautiful courtyards, etc. And historically: All those cinematic and real-world resonances.

        The “Plaza” part in AOTC is very well-integrated into the movie’s visual, tonal, and thematic framework. It does, of course, double for Cairo in David Lean’s magnificent epic “Lawrence Of Arabia”; and the titular character is being discussed as Claude Rains and associates tarry in that aristocratic way along the same stretch, with the line, “I’ve got orders to obey, thank God. Not like that poor devil. He’s riding the whirlwind”, ominously leading to the film’s intermission. Which could certainly apply to the “he’s” of Anakin and Artoo, in their own ways, in that matching scene in AOTC, given what lies ahead.

        As the Wikipedia entry notes, the Plaza de Espana was built in 1928, very close that 1930s to 1950s stretch of history, particularly cinematic history, that Star Wars draws very extensively from — especially Clones. Moreover, the entry notes the real-world structure mixes elements of at least two revival movements, which is not unlike the revivalist, synthesising spirit of the Lucas saga; which blends together disparate and shunned/forgotten aspects of storytelling, genre, acting style, costuming, prop design, and history, including the leitmotif scoring powerfully inherent in John Williams’ musical accompaniment, in order to present old ideas in a new way. And all with a great philosophical undercarriage. In a word: Syncretism.

        “The Sound Of Music” is a very great film, indeed — directed by the venerable Robert Wise. AOTC only draws from the best!!!

        Don’t you just love all of the films’ historical underpinnings; and just how lush and vibrant, in particular, Lucas made the middle prequel?

        Sounds like you might be making a few SW-themed trips quite soon. But watch out: Crabby weather is a fixture of Lake Como, too. 🙂

        There’s a featurette where Lucas remarks that the rain they endured on location was “God’s way of adding to the movie” — like with the clouds at the end.

        Anyway, if you go, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Never know, you might bump into “Love Lucas” while you’re there… 🙂

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Crogenic

        Sofia Coppola was a handmaiden? Okay, first I learn your own Kiera Knightley was one, who next? Brittany Spears?

        I haven’t heard from Sofia in a while though, what’s she been up to?

        *checks IMDB*

        Shooting Dior videos with Padmé. Ah, of course!

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Ha! It’s true. But even she can’t remember which one:

        “I’d for­got­ten about this! George Lu­cas is like an un­cle to me – he used to send me and my brother Ro­man Star Wars toys when we were lit­tle – so when I heard they were mak­ing The Phan­tom Men­ace I thought it’d be so fun to see how they make them. I was work­ing on the script for The Vir­gin Sui­cides at the time. I asked George if I could come and watch the shoot, and he asked if I wanted to be in the royal en­tourage. It seemed like a good van­tage point to watch with­out get­ting in the way (laughs). I’m at the back with a hood on and you can’t re­ally see me. I don’t even re­mem­ber what my char­ac­ter was called.”

        https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/sofia-coppola-sofia-coppola/

        The answer is: Saché 🙂

        Though, even after many watches, it can be hard to discern her.

        She’s done a few things since those bygone TPM days.

  • archdukeofnaboo

    @Cryogenic

    There’s a couple on Reddit who posed in the same spot of the Plaza as in the film, it’s really funny. When you’re there, it looks so much older than something from the 1920s – It’s really weird.

    I was watching that behind the scenes featurette on AotC too last year. I couldn’t believe how much Hayden and Natalie were enjoying it, having a laugh. Did that strike you too?

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      There are people who actually get married at the Lake Como retreat, in the same spot as Anakin and Padme, in emulation of their union. Let’s hope those marriages don’t end in tears and choking three years down the line.

      And yeah, the Plaza is meant to look older than when it was built. As mentioned, it was designed in a mixture of earlier styles — sort of the same way Las Vegas tries to evoke an Old World feel in some of its buildings and interiors — but maybe realised (in the case of the Plaza) in more of a recondite, tasteful way.

      I think Hayden and Natalie really enjoyed their time in Italy and Spain. The location shooting for AOTC (it wasn’t all green screen, folks) was Hayden’s first time travelling outside of North America. They probably had a bit of fun over there. Not that kind. Maybe that kind…

      But wouldn’t you? 🙂

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Did they actually go out? I recall one interview Natalie did for the film, and it seems like she’s definitely into him. Not so sure about vice versa though.

        Apparently Carrie and Harrison were together for a few months.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Carrie and Harrison had a fling. That’s known. Though I’m misty on the details.

        No idea if Hayden and Natalie went out; or quite what affection they held for one another. Unrequited on side or the other sounds about right. It’s my whole life.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        I wonder if George encouraged it? I’m just kidding with you!

        I’d be surprised if he didn’t date her at some stage. I mean, who wouldn’t? And then getting to star alongside Jessica Alba. Lucky guy. He sure lived it up for a while.

        I don’t think any of his films since ‘Jumper’ have appeared in cinemas over here, it’s quite a shame. I really hope he can make a comeback like Bryan Cranston or Andrew Garfield did. It’s certainly not impossible. His agent ought to push him towards some good TV roles.

        Then again, I don’t even know if Natalie’s new film “Vox Lux” is ever going to release over here, and she’s had a stellar career. Film distribution is so bizarre some times. Did you ever see the two independent, arthousey films she did with Terrence Malick?

        • lovelucas

          Cryo: here’s a possibility on why Hayden has not had the best success – while he wasn’t his agent, the guy that was doing the wheeling and dealing for him was his brother, Tove, inexperienced Tove. They formed a company together to “explore new material”…. but that is now defunct and the time to explore new material with your own company should come after you’ve had a few years of success. Hayden was excellent in Life as a House and had real chemistry with both Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance so…….there is talent there but in the film business lots of people with loads of talent never get anywhere because they don’t have connections etc. Good intention to help your bro out but not in this business…not unless he has a heap of experience and major connections.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Love Lucas:

        With the Hayden/Tove thing:

        1) Never go into business with friends or family? Seems to apply more often than not…

        2) People with talent or something to offer, but not selling themselves properly, or getting noticed: Reminds me of Facebook, dating, and my whole life!!! :p

        We do live in a pretty harsh, cutthroat world, where time is ticking, competition is everywhere, and windows of opportunity are wide, perhaps wider than we realise, but only open, it seems, for a short while.

        A mandate of exploring new material? That sounds like Hayden. At least his heart was in the right place. He has never wanted to be conventional.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      Well, don’t forget, Hayden was also in a relationship with the very striking Rachel Bilson for ten years (they separated in 2017). They were married and have a daughter. Supposedly, it was Bilson that ditched Hayden, because he may have had a short fling with a co-star, the also striking Emma Roberts (she allegedly discovered some phone texts between them). Some life he’s had…

      Personally speaking, I don’t know how a guy as good looking and as charming as Hayden would be able to avoid all temptation all the time. It doesn’t seem entirely realistic to me. I’m not even sure anyone can be fully monogamous. I know it sounds deflating and profoundly unromantic, but perhaps we’re only as faithful as our options.

      Hayden really had some indie appeal for a while. “The Virgin Suicides” and then lead roles in “Life As A House” and “Shattered Glass”. Even the Star Wars prequels can be classified as indie arthouse movies. Not seen his newer stuff. But his latest film, “The Last Man”, looks like it has some bite.

      I also need to see more of Natalie’s work. “Black Swan” and “Closer” are very good films. A lot of Hayden and Natalie’s work seems to have some bearing on their prequel roles. For instance, Hayden did a film called “Awake”, which has a few obvious resonances with Anakin’s entombed condition at the end of the PT. And in “Black Swan”, the “split personality” aspect of Natalie’s character, goes well with her double identity as queen and handmaiden. Her dark persona is even a strong visual match with the black-feathered queen in TPM (though that queen, the one whom Qui-Gon persuades to leave Naboo for Coruscant, is actually played by Keira Knightley).

      I’ve not seen her Malick features — ashamedly. I really should as every Malick film I’ve seen or read anything about seems to be utterly gorgeous and entirely my sort of thing. I’ve even seen it said, and said it myself, there’s something Malickian about, say, the “ruminations” scene in ROTS. Lucas seemed to be heading in a dreamier direction for Star Wars in the PT. Which makes me wonder what kind of a sequel trilogy, along with his “midi-chlorians” revelation (it was going to focus more on them), he would have brought into the world. Now we’re left to imagine…

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Crogenic

        Did they really break up? I assumed that was all hearsay and rumour. If so, then man that’s awful. I’m not going to be judgemental though, I don’t have all the facts. I’m pretty annoyed with Ewan McGregor though – that whole story really pissed me off.

        That’s one thing I’ve often wondered about professional actors: how do you pull off on-screen romance when you’re in a committed relationship in real life? I’ve done some short films, where I’ve played a few psychopaths, and that was weird enough. But having to make out with someone, and knowing your girlfriend might later be watching? There’s no fake blood here – it’s all hands-on. Award. Awkward. Awkward.

        I haven’t seen ‘Closer’, but ‘Black Swan’ was just outstanding. A close, hard inspection of the cut throat world of ballet, with sublime cinematography and a director and actress on peak form. As a long time admirer of Natalie and the music of Tchaikovsky, I would say that though, wouldn’t I?

        You’d adore those Malick films: whimsical, lots of voice-over and most certainly, dream-like. I wasn’t too thrilled with ‘Knight of Cups’ which is lead by Christian Bale, although I did appreciate the modern sets and art direction. Natalie’s role is also quite small here, but she gets a much larger part in Malick’s subsequent film, ‘Song to Song’. There was at least a coherent plot in that one. Both movies share the common theme of a man going through multiple lovers and affairs.

        I’ve heard Natalie was superb in the film about JFK’s wife. That’s one on my list, although I can’t say the same about her Thor films, as I tend to avoid Comic book blockbusters at all costs. They’ve saturated modern cinema and are typically of little artistic merit. She’s made a great decision to avoid those hyper-capitalistic monstrosities in more recent years.

        I’ve heard a lot of high praise for Christensen’s work on ‘Shaddered Glass’ and ‘Life as a House’, I’ve really gotta see those. When you consider he had that going for him, Lucas was well within his right to cast him. As much as I’m a huge fan of Di Caprio’s acting, he had recently played a tragic character in Jack from Titanic, who was very well known, and having Anakin confused with him would have been terrible. The casting of Star Wars has never been closed to top talent, but it’s always strived to be open to newcomers and less well known faces. And that, for me, is an infinitely better principle than putting Benedict Cumberbatch in every film.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        I don’t follow celebrity goings-on too closely, but Hayden and Bilson have separated, yes. See here:

        https://www.marieclaire.com.au/rachel-bilson-hayden-christensen-co-parenting

        By the way, it looks like I was in error earlier, when I said that Hayden and Bilson married. Apparently, they got engaged, but didn’t actually tie the knot.

        See what I mean about not following the lives of celebrities too closely? That said, Hayden is a pretty private individual, and it seems there was some confusion on the matter. I think their reclusive nature led to some people assuming they got married. Equally, they kept their split low-key, leading to more speculation and confusion. But yes, they have parted — at least, for now.

        I just don’t know how relationships have much of a chance of lasting anymore. There are too many distractions. Sexually and otherwise. And isolationism is growing. Ever seen the Spike Jonze film, “Her”? Beautiful movie. And relevant! Spike and Sofia used to be a couple. Another split!

        I’ve long wondered the same thing about on-screen romances. Not sure there is a true wall between make-believe and reality. Maybe just a thin, gauzy curtain. We’re hormonal creatures; we easily get carried away. Or as Christopher Hitchens immortally put it: “Evolution has meant that our prefrontal lobes are too small, our adrenal glands are too big, and our reproductive organs apparently designed by committee; a recipe which, alone or in combination, is very certain to lead to some unhappiness and disorder.”

        My father was not impressed with “Jackie”, which you alluded to. It made me, in turn, more determined to watch it and come to my own view, but I still have not yet done so. Things have gone weird for me, in terms of film watching and much else, the last few years. I want to go through Malick’s catalogue soon. I want to go through a lot of catalogues!

        Couldn’t agree more with your general appraisal — or aversion — of modern comic book films. They’re not really my cup of tea. I also think Disney, being the owners of the Marvel franchise, have “Marvel”-ised Star Wars a degree; and this isn’t good, in my opinion.

        Hayden was an exceptional piece of casting. To echo casting director Robin Gurland, his eyes alone have worlds of emotion and enticing promise within them. Fanboys hate this moment, but I love it, for example, when he really gets up in Padme’s face, with a limpid, sulky, sullen, and challenging expression (many nouns/adjectives could apply), and the sound of his voice, when he turns the heat up momentarily after Padme tells him, please don’t look at her like that: “Why not?” Two little words. But, oh — what a moment! Seismic charges of emotion and insinuation. Great direction, cinematography, lighting, and editing, too. Love me some Clones.

        I share your well-phrased view on the openness of Star Wars to a range of acting talent. Yes! A few people have had quite a good chance because of Lucas casting a wide net and giving unknowns an opportunity to show their stuff. LOL @ your “Cumberbatch” quip. So it isn’t just me!!!

        • lovelucas

          Ugh – I have no idea what and who this is a reply to. You lose your train of though by the time you scan through a zillion posts. Wish someone on this site would address the part that is not functioning and that is trying to reply to the exact post/poster. Yeah – FB is not really where I want to reveal anything and because most of our replies are very lengthy compared to FB and Twitter, I’d prefer to keep on keeping on. Just have to realize we are missing a lot of posts. Now…where was I? Oh, yes…Hayden’s eyes especially on Naboo. I missed the Cumberbatch post – but I’m probably in disagreement because I think he is all kind of fabulous. He’s my 2nd favorite Sherlock – with Jeremy Brett being my ideal. Plus I saw him quasi “live” (piped in to US theaters from England) in a totally different take on Hamlet – thought he was excellent here, too. Plus he’s best photo bomber of all .

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Yeah, the fact that they kept that low-key helps explain why I wasn’t so sure. But really, that’s the way I would handle it were I in their position – I wouldn’t give the gossip-hungry tabloids or paparazzi an inch. I’m a big believer in privacy, even for the folks in Hollywood.

        Christensen made a smart move to avoid social media. Goodness knows how tough it would have been putting up with the odd unhappy fanboy in real life, I can only imagine what a constant barrage of anonymous online haters would have been like in peak basher season, propped up and encouraged by their sympathisers in Geek media (as we’ve so often discussed);

        Now I know you’re fond of ‘Clones’, but it’s my firm believe that his performance improved so much, and dramatically in ‘Sith’. Watching the trilogy back last summer, I found it almost difficult to believe the gap between the two films is 3 years. It can easily pass for 5, maybe even 6 years. It’s like he’s portraying a teenager in II and a young adult in III. Those college years, or 20-23 in his case, can be very influential indeed.

        I do wonder if the hatred ever affected him. It was a question that came to mind when Ahmed Best revealed what he went through. I did notice that in the RotS interviews he was a lot more subdued that he had been for promotion of AotC, before the lions had been released on him, so to speak. In any case, he’s very professional about it. He’s never resorted to petty fightbacks, and showed pure class a few month ago when asked about the online bullying Kelly Marie Tran was receiving.

        We often make the mistake that famous actors live in a bubble, a million miles away from our complaints, when it’s often not the case. The Internet is an integral part of many people’s lives nowadays and not even wealthy celebrities can avoid it.

        If you go back to the Natalie interview I posted on another thread (in relation to the Jar Jar question), she also had some interesting comments to make on social media. Spoke about being glad she didn’t have to go through college with it. Ironic, I know, given Facebook was later invented at Harvard. Nonetheless, important.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        They definitely kept things low-key — and yes, I think, both tasteful and wise to do so. I’ve checked in with Hayden from time-to-time (I mean, digitally, as a watcher/observer of videos, news items, etc.), and I believe he was basically living, for many years, a kind of semi-pastoral existence on a farm; with odd film projects here and there when he could get them. Also, let’s see, he used to be into jazz. It’s important to try and have a few interests; and not to go chasing fame and glory.

        Staying away from social media is probably something we all should do (edit: not that I’ll be applying this wisdom be any time soon). The guy I mentioned in another thread, Jaron Lanier, is an erudite Internet critic (with a background in computer programming/computer science) and he recommends deleting Facebook and other social media platforms, in order to take back control and become untethered from centralised and unaccountable digital services that mine our data, enlarge narcissism, cause addiction and isolation, and feed the evil triad of anxiety, depression, and nihilism.

        Now that I think about it, there’s something slightly perverse in Lucas revelling in how digital technology has afforded him all this freedom, to basically tell a story the way he wants it to be, and at affordable prices; when Facebook, message boards, and the Internet as a whole are another manifestation of digital technology. But ones that have seemingly brought just as much enslavement — perhaps, indeed, a great deal more enslavement — as they have liberation. And they are the means through which the prequels were collectively bemoaned and trashed; as both sets of technology essentially arrived and existed in parallel.

        The Dark Side of the Force? Dangerous and disturbing this puzzle is…

        You say it’s like Hayden is portraying a teenager in II and a young adult in III — well, he is! Anakin is either 19 or 20 in Clones and 22 or 23 in Sith. Across the two movies, Anakin is on the bulwark of adulthood, but he never really gets to the other side — not in any steady, natural fashion — because Sidious corrupts him and turns him into something tantamount to a gothic super villain. The human being is basically lost after Anakin becomes Vader. Once that mantle is assumed, his humanity is grafted to the machine of the Empire, the machine of society, the machinery of the movie canvas itself.

        I think Hayden gives a very measured and sensitive performance in Clones. It’s my favourite lead performance in the saga. I feel his presence coming off the screen. A slouchy, yearning, churning, Dionysiac force! He’s very much like James Dean with that “sullen edge” Lucas spoke of; or early Elvis. His performance in III is still great, but I don’t feel the same range of subtle emotions, the same je ne sais quoi, in that one. Arguably, Hayden is more competent and exudes a more adult menace in Sith, but I resonate to the brooding padawan learner/lover of Clones better.

        And yes, he certainly looks older and more mature in Sith, but that has a lot to do with the weight Hayden gained for the part, the longer “Vader helmet” hair, Hayden’s own ageing process, and the increased image quality of the lenses, cameras, and recorders used on Sith (these things were all in more of a “beta” stage during the production of Clones) — allowing us to see more detail in the actors’ faces. Moreover, Lucas uses more mediums and close-ups in Sith than in Clones. Clones is more experimental and is a very “spacious” movie. Keeping the frame wider more often (compare some scenes) contributes to that feeling.

        The way Hayden carries himself may also be a bit different in Sith. More grounded, cool, confident. Then there’s the writing. Or more accurately: The storytelling. Sith is the most grown-up and grown-into of all the Star Wars films. And to give Anakin a more seasoned quality, as if he has spent time hanging around the Coruscanti elite (or at least Palpatine), he sometimes speaks in more of an aristocratic way. Listen to the way he pronounces the name “General Grievous”, or puts a slightly halting expression into his cadence when he tells Bail Organa: “The fighting will continue until General Grievous is… spare parts.” They did a lot of subtle things, I think, to finesse his character in Sith, to imply a ripening process and better link the prequels up with the originals.

        Long response — again!!!

        I like Hayden’s conduct in general. He does seem to display a lot of class. Though don’t ask Rachel Bilson right now. 😉

        I have my doubts that privacy can be maintained over the longer term. For anyone anywhere. We’re rapidly approaching a 360-degree Panopticon reality with trillions of sensors — at sub-atomic scale — placed all over the planet, and, potentially, the universe. If we succeed at building AI advanced enough to then advance itself, it could grow to god-like levels of understanding and ability in perhaps a microsecond of real time. And we could be wiped out in an instant. Leaving AI to seed itself throughout the cosmos.

        I don’t think we’re remotely prepared for the future we’re careening towards. And neither does there appear to be any way of really stopping it. I think all we can do is maybe buffer it. Or to quote time-bending George Lucas, the natural “AI” of our age: “It’s stylistically designed to be that way, and you can’t undo that. But we can diminish the effects of it. We can slow it down a little bit so that… If it’s intense for us, a regular person’s going to go nuts.”

        Everything we think we understand will soon be cosmically ejected into an entirely new paradigm when humanity goes supernova. Or, in Star Wars terms, get ready for lightspeed.

  • Cryogenic

    @ Love Lucas:

    I keep missing/overlooking posts here. This system is clumsy and hard to navigate when replies start spilling in. Gonna get to other stuff in a mo, but just to acknowledge:

    Yes. If everyone has Facebook, that would make it easier. I just prefer this comments section for longer thoughts and making things public — even though there is a comments section for Naboo News on Facebook. The Zucker monstrosity is an oddity in many ways. I have a protracted love/hate relationship with it.

  • lovelucas

    Re Hayden and Natalie – this from a source who was there – initially after getting to know each other they may MAY have had some romance going on while at Lake Como but……and this is when it’s cool to know what scenes were filmed when – by the time they were filming in Seville (last scenes to be filmed) that warmth and closeness was no longer there. If you followed Pablo’s on set diary and webcam during the filming of RotS, -he didn’t say this – this came from someone who was there for the entire filming, perhaps crew – anyhoo he/she noticed their odd behavior towards each other. They would film their scenes together then like a Fosse jazz turn, whip around and face the opposite direction and walk away – no talking no joking nada. However with Ewan, both Natalie and Hayden were relaxed and really having fun in their respective scenes with him. Hayden was liked by everyone during the filming of both films. He’s the only actor who stayed late – George reshot the scene where Anakin is running (it’s on Mustufar) and makes a big jump chasing Obi Wan. He also stayed for the wrap/post shoot party and the only actor to do so. The crew loved him, too. Rick McC was certainly in his corner, big time. Pablo would sometimes post sly, hidden, incognito news to the on set writings. It was veiled and no one was named but the implication was Natalie was pretty much cold to everyone and kept to herself. I read later that she really felt badly about her behavior.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Love Lucas:

      Thanks for setting us straight, LL. This is the good stuff.

      People don’t behave perfectly. And nothing is done without a bit of grime and difficulty.

      Rinzler told in his blog series how both Ewan and Natalie were closed off during Episode III, while Hayden was much more amiable and open.

      So what you’re saying above certainly matches. Rinzler suspected they were both a bit hurt, Ewan and Natalie, by the negative reviews and general acrimony surrounding the first two prequels; and Ewan, in particular, had been going through some stuff (so Rick McCallum allegedly told Rinzler). But I think they’ve probably come out of the other side, now, and are a bit easier with themselves — and, hopefully, with others — today. Life’s an emotional experience for us all…

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @lovelucas

        What you’re describing rings familiar. You meet a girl, she’s hot, it looks like it could be very promising, but a month later and its all blown away. And not from any heated bust-up either, just a matter of incompatibility.

        I presume the Pablo you refer to is the Pablo Hidalgo of today’s story group?

        @Cryogenic

        That’s precisely the perception I got from the RotS behind the scenes and interviews, and I didn’t even know about Rinzler then.

        Look at it this way: you’ve worked hard on two Star Wars films, the press and fandom have been beyond unappreciative, and now you’re into a – contractually obliged – third, and terrorized it’s going to be worse than ever. It is difficult to imagine a young, aspiring actress like Natalie not being affected. If that kind of trepidation or anxiety manages to creep onto set, then it is very harsh to assert it as an ‘ego trip’.

        Ewan was a much more experienced actor, so I’d be a little less sympathetic, but still… It’s bound to have affected him.

        ‘Sith’ is the most character-focused of any Star Wars, and Hayden was playing that very character, so in some I’d say he relished that big opportunity. Natalie’s part, meanwhile, doesn’t undergo the same leap in significance, and has roughly the same weight as in ‘Clones’. She’s joint 1st with Hayden and Ewan in the billing for Episode II in my books, but she’s definitely 4th in III.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        “What you’re describing rings familiar. You meet a girl, she’s hot, it looks like it could be very promising, but a month later and its all blown away.”

        Ah!!! Tell me about it…

        “That’s precisely the perception I got from the RotS behind the scenes and interviews, and I didn’t even know about Rinzler then.”

        Right. Maybe you can kinda tell.

        There definitely seems to be some kind of change in Natalie in interview material. She was relatively bright and beaming in the Episode II material, but she seems more sullen and reserved in the Episode III stuff. Also, she was starting to look older; but not only that: She sounded older, too. Her voice got huskier and more craggy-sounding. I do wonder if some of the stress she seemingly experienced at that time contributed to her ageing process.

        “It is difficult to imagine a young, aspiring actress like Natalie not being affected. If that kind of trepidation or anxiety manages to creep onto set, then it is very harsh to assert it as an ‘ego trip’.”

        I agree here that she was probably affected because of her youth. She even said in 2002: “I’d rather be smart than a movie star.” This was in reference to her pursuing college at the time. But one wonders if there was some defensiveness in that statement; and that maybe it represents some kind of attempt at rationalising what she later admitted had been a tough time in her career. Natalie in 2014: “Everyone thought I was a horrible actress. I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade and no director wanted to work with me.”

        Seemed, to me, she looked at Star Wars as the albatross around her neck — at least, for a while. I think she has made peace with her involvement in more recent years. Like her “STOP WARS” t-shirt, and two appearances, each with references to her Queen Amidala persona, on “Saturday Night Live”. In the latter, she even raps a defence of Jar Jar. I guess she can at least see the humour in some of the disdain all these years later.

        Although Sith is character-focused, and very laser-focused in general, since it is telling the “meat and potatoes” of the downfall of Anakin and the Republic, Lucas did shoot of ton of material, and then promptly excised the great bulk of it. Sith, as much as any of the movies, and perhaps a great deal more, is a child of the editing process.

        Your “fourth billing” comment makes sense. While, I would contend, Natalie/Padme still has a strong presence in the final prequel, it’s more of an All-Boys mash-up between Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine. They’re all in the opening twenty minutes, the first act, and Padme only enters at the conclusion. And then the film devotes most of its next hour to scenes between Anakin and Palpatine, and Anakin and Obi-Wan, followed by Obi-Wan venturing off to slay the dragon on Utapau (or ride a dragon to slay a mantis), while Anakin stews on Coruscant.

        The male characters swallow up critical screen time which could have gone to Padme. Or not. I think the film works fine as it is; but it’s still a bit unfortunate Padme’s impact on the narrative is slightly reduced due to Anakin getting most of the spotlight. However, I think Natalie really threw herself into the role and came up with the goods. Look at the deleted material. There’s some meaty stuff, and in my opinion, she does a fine job there. And in the completed film, too. It’s the most dramatic of the three, and all the actors prove highly adept. So, again, the fault — if there is one — lies in the editing; not, in my opinion, in either the writing or the performances. Lucas was really hard-nosed here and took out virtually anything that didn’t immediately feed into Anakin’s story or rapidly move the plot along.

        Yet you can also understand how this excision of material, combined with Padme’s tragic death, led to the strongly-held perception, on the part of some, that Padme is greatly diminished compared to TPM and AOTC, and worse: Is just a “barefoot and pregnant” stock female character cliche. I don’t think that’s fully fair, but I can see how it comes about.

        What rescues the film, in my opinion, is that Lucas definitely takes care to strongly imply Padme is still pursuing politics and playing a role in the unfolding fate of the Republic. Like her ceremonial gowns: As seen when she greets Anakin and announces her pregnancy; and when they clash in the chapter “Seeds Of Distrust” and Anakin accuses her of sounding like a separatist. Further, in the scene after Anakin’s first nightmare, Padme makes direct mention of the queen letting her serve in the Senate, and how the birth of their baby(ies) will probably bring an end to that. Not to mention the tone and content of her conversation with Anakin (again: “Seeds Of Distrust” — a quite-important moment between the couple) concerning democracy within the Republic; or its lack thereof. As well as her attending the Senate when Palpatine announces the Empire (“So this is how liberty dies…”). A mindful viewer should easily conclude she is still performing her senatorial duties; just as much as Anakin is trying (at least in the first half of the picture) to be a good Jedi.

        It is slightly contrived, however, that Padme just appears to be waiting around for Anakin after he heads to Mustafar. It’s around this point that, for a while, at least, she seems to lose all of her agency. Although a loss of agency on Padme’s part is nothing new. While people with a bone to pick with ROTS focus on the “take charge” Padme in I and II and lament the absence of that Padme in III, it’s really only one of several personas she has in those earlier films. On Tatooine, for instance, she is rather mute and passive in both movies. On the other hand, Coruscant has become her home base, and you might expect her to still be rallying. Perhaps the sudden loss of handmaidens in ROTS is telling: Where are they? Padme only seems to have Threepio for company when Anakin wanders off. And none go with her to Mustafar. That said, she tells Typho that her flight is “personal”, despite his strenuous objection. So even if Padme’s arc in ROTS is disappointing to some, there are some well-motivated plot reasons for why she seems less active.

        I won’t even touch on people complaining about her “losing the will to live”. I am entirely prepared to defend that, too. But I fear this response is long enough as it is. At the end of the day, even if it may have been nice to see a little more of Padme in III, at the end of both her journey and Anakin’s, the film still holds up, and those deleted scenes *do* exist. It wasn’t like Lucas simply didn’t bother. And I’m sure, as in AOTC, he regretted having to let them go. It means the work of several other actors was also cast aside; including some very beautiful costumes and terrific hair and makeup. Even a few additional sets.

        Lucas didn’t just film that material for fun. It obviously cost a lot of time and money to get those scenes done. He just generated too much material — another line of proof, qualitatively speaking, that he the prequels are more intricate and involving. If those scenes were ever to make it in, Lucas would have had to be comfortable having longer running times; and that, it seems, might have been something he was flirting with, but ultimately wasn’t prepared to compromise much on.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Many terrific points. This conversation is getting super interesting.

        I cannot, unfortunately, add much to you’re analysis of Padmé’s role in ‘Sith’, you’ve laid it all out and addressed many of the voiced criticisms.

        One relevant item you didn’t raise, and one I’ve had some furious debates on Reddit about, is the discarded idea of Padmé appearing on Mustafar with a concealed knife. It was something revealed in more recent years, though I don’t think we still know the full extent of Lucas’ plans for it. For me, and to get straight to the point, it would be completely out of character. It might look nice in Kill Bill, but it would be a huge leap too soon for the very empathetic Senator. Those step backwards from the newly ordained Lord Vader, in telling shock and despair, were so much more powerful.

        Also, recently, I learned that a 3 hour version (or maybe even more) of ‘Sith’ exists. It was mentioned by ardent YouTube prequelist ‘Star Wars Theory’ during an interview with Rule of Two, and it really surprised me. 45+ mins of cut scenes, really?! It certainly fits in with your point about Ep III being a product of the editing table. I also know that, according to McDiarmid, Lucas filmed a full scene where the younglings are slain, and it was far more graphic.

        Coming back to the actress herself.

        I wasn’t aware of those “Stop Wars” t-shirts, thanks for telling me about that. I think I may already have mentioned that 2018 “Natalie rap” with you in a previous thread. That sure was a sight to behold, and she defended the prequels like many of its best fans tend do today: with humour. Her response to a Jar Jar question in a “Watch what happens next live” interview from December last was even more uncompromising. Like with you, observing the growth in support and affection for the PT over the last 3-4 years must have have been somewhat amusing, if not heartening to her.

        “Albatross around her neck” is a colourful description, yet it’s one that’s hard to disagree with. I wouldn’t really blame her when she was trying to put SW behind her in the later 2000s, what with all that over the top criticism, and it may have been what motivated her to take up the ambitious, not to mention physically demanding, project that was ‘Black Swan’. The Aronovsky drama was indeed the turning point in her career – when she got an Oscar for that it instantly catapulted her reputation far above any of her co-stars from the PT, and dare I add, all the actors in the OT too (except Ford maybe).

        It seems that ever since that film motherhood has occupied a large part of her life, and perhaps welcoming children into the world has given her a new perspective. Star Wars as we all know targets young people, and I’m sure she’s most aware of that these days. Moreover, it can’t be easy juggling young children and a busy filming schedule which often involves travelling to far-flung places. One has to commend her for that.

        Of course, Hayden is now also a parent. I do wonder why he and Rachel never tied the knot, but maybe it’s as well now. Yet I also wonder why his on-screen character and Padmé decided to have a child, given all the secrecy. Human beings, eh?

        I hope, one day, Natalie’s able to give a really in-depth interview about her experiences and thoughts on the films looking back. To be fair, though, we didn’t really get that from Hayden at Celebration 2017 either – as significant and memorable as that occasion undoubtedly was.

        As a person who leans more liberal, and with Donald Trump as the US President, I do wonder if she’s ever indulged in any of Padmé’s famous quips to describe the current state of her country. I would be very surprised if on election night 2016 somebody wasn’t reminding her of her “so this this is how liberty dies” speech. If the character didn’t mean much to her before then, I’m sure as hell must now.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Thank you, AD. I actually started to ramble quite terribly in that last post. And I still forgot one major point in my defence of “Padme The Politician” in ROTS. You brought it up at the end: That line!!! If her “thunderous applause” epitaph for the Republic isn’t a meme-worthy line, and one of the most cogent encapsulations of democratic suicide ever, I don’t know what possibly could be. Star Wars momentarily gets Shakespearean (not that it isn’t Shakespearean in a range of ways to begin with). And I think, in retrospect, people are beginning to see the value and wisdom of that line more and more…

        The knife thing would have been quite horrifying on Padme’s part. Though maybe it could have worked. She goes to stab Anakin, but discovers she cannot do it, if I remember correctly. Now I am suddenly getting topical shades of Liam Neeson. But hey, in Padme’s case, at least she would, first and foremost, have been defending herself. In the completed film, she leaves herself completely vulnerable and open. But then, that also makes sense; especially where love goes. “So love has blinded you?” — a key line (and how perfectly ironic coming from Padme) that tidily applies to a range of characters and situations in the movie and in the PT generally.

        I also love the steps backwards. And the way Portman creases her brow. Simple gestures, but very powerful — and a perfect demonstration of the monolithic approach to direction and drama displayed throughout the Star Wars movies; and, more specifically, George Lucas’ awesome facility with it.

        The opening sequence to ROTS alone was originally at least forty-five minutes long. It basically got cut in half. If that is emblematic of the wider film, then Sith went from a four-hour, LOTR-expanded-edition epic, to a much smaller and more self-contained action-oriented chamber drama. A focused drama, of course, primarily about Anakin and the fall of the Republic.

        Episode III started big with Lucas writing a script, in his own words, that had “stories for everybody”; which he subsequently winnowed down until he had a focal point: “Anakin”. Then the movie was further cut down, twice over, in a furious editing process, in order to produce a rough cut, between principal photography in 2003 and scheduled re-shoots (based on the way Lucas likes to work) in 2004. I had a lengthy post about it, all derived from Rinzler’s “Making Of” book, on TFN, back in 2015:

        https://boards.theforce.net/threads/unpopular-star-wars-opinions.50009889/page-65#post-52199788

        I wish there was a bit more clarity on the paring-down process that was occurring, seemingly, from late 2003 until at least the early summer of 2004. The film seems to have passed through at least two “rough assembly” stages in March and April 2004, with a rough cut appearing in May. It was during this intensive editing phase that Lucas sharpened up Anakin’s conflict; seemingly jettisoning much that didn’t tie directly to his story.

        In any case, my post above was a fresh attempt by me to clear up some confusion concerning Anakin’s turn and the post-production phase of the movie. Some fans got it into their heads that Lucas massively re-worked Anakin’s turn in the second wave of shooting in 2004; and that this irrevocably altered his fall, from one that was conscious, duplicitous, and power-obsessed (i.e., more like they imagined his turn to be going off the OT), to a reluctant embrace of the Dark Side that was fuelled primarily by his anguish over losing Padme (i.e., poor, soppy, love-drunk Anakin just loses his mind). That myth is based on a false dichotomy that it can’t be both; when, clearly, I think it can. And it doesn’t seem Lucas altered the foundation and focus of Anakin’s turn quite as much as the myth asserts.

        In fact, the myth itself seems to come from a misreading/misrecalling of Rinzler’s book; secondary to personal, anti-prequel bias. The author of “The Secret History Of Star Wars”, Michael Kaminski, who used to post at TFN under the name “zombie”, used that book as his primary source to bash the turn of Anakin with; apparently misremembering, among other things, an exchange of dialogue between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar (the famous “From my point of view…” floating-down-the-lava exchange), believing that to be dialogue from the 2003 shooting process, when Lucas was laying down track that Anakin was corrupted due to a simple power-lusting process. But that isn’t the case; and, of course, Lucas could just have edited it out, had he wanted to frame Anakin’s fall a different way. The dialogue was written by Lucas, according to Rinzler’s book, in 2004, that same day of pick-up shooting. Blows a whole right through the author’s entire thesis that Lucas madly revised everything at the last minute and created an incoherent turn based on two diametrically-opposed conceptions of how he it should happen.

        Which, in turn, is clearly based on a misapprehension, ultimately, of the entire prequel storyline. Deep down, I think a lot of fans, wedded strongly to the OT, didn’t want a young, brash, impetuous Anakin, or one compromised by a certain fatalism concerning maternal/Oedipal attachments; least of all one who was seemingly tricked by Palpatine into becoming his dark servant. So ROTS is attacked out of a kind of thematic ignorance: Anakin was clearly very affected by departing from his mother in Episode I, and shook to the core by her capture, torture, and death, and in his own inaction and apparent “failure” to “save” her, in Episode II; perfectly setting the stage for the Faustian pact that Palpatine offers to him in Episode III. If his double pledge didn’t make that clear in Episode II, in the Lars garage, to Padme, and at his mother’s grave, to himself, then maybe these people just weren’t watching with any degree of objectivity.

        You may have already seen it, since it comes up pretty fast, but if you search for Natalie in her “STOP WARS” t-shirt, there’s an amusing tweet, or fake-tweet (don’t know which), where someone castigates Natalie for being a hipster Star Wars fangirl — not realising, you know, that it’s (best Rune Haako voice) “Queen Amidala herself”. If she’s anything like her prequel character, then she should be the first to defend Jar Jar; unless she can’t get over how Jar Jar gave Palpatine emergency powers (although he only proposed the motion) and ruined the Republic 4evah. But hey, she put him there!

        I love Jar Jar, of course. It’s kind of fascinating that Jar Jar was scapegoated for everything “wrong” with the prequels and modern-era George Lucas, when these same people just lapped up what Disney were doing, and what Disney were signalling to them, early on. Because Jar Jar, and his gradual fading from view, makes some very devastating points about the power of diversity, and how heterogeneity is one of the first things to go under a fascist dictatorship — a spiritual attack on the breath of life itself. Jar Jar’s diminution in the prequel narrative, and in the saga generally, gives a powerful commentary on the evils of empire; be they political or commercial ones. And, in the end, there isn’t such a dividing line between those categories.

        Good point on “Black Swan”. I’m sure it was a point of great pride for her that she received great critical acclaim and finally scooped an Oscar for something post-prequel. I mean, like Padme, Portman takes herself quite seriously. Harvard-educated, wanting to be smart rather than a movie star, but chasing good projects, wanting to also be seen as a serious actress, etc…

        Another good point there on Natalie’s motherhood. Yes, it has probably given her a new-found respect for Lucas, and it was either her or McGregor that said the SW prequels are one of the few projects they’ve done as parents which are kid-suitable. So there’s also that.

        Even though people are both jealous of celebrities and in awe of their lives, it must be said that they do, on the whole, work hellaciously hard; even if they have some nice spoils to come home to. But in the case of career and motherhood, while it can’t be easy for any mother/parent, having access to tremendous amounts of money — in the case of people like Natalie Portman — certainly takes away some of the hardship; hardship which regular working-class people, even middle-class people, these days, must endure. In other words, there are far more impressive struggles occurring every day; so I don’t want to credit Portman too highly in this area. Still, yeah, she’s a busy gal.

        I suspect one of the reasons they didn’t tie the knot, Hayden and Bilson, is because getting married is incredibly expensive, and they were probably worried about it all going “bantha boobs up”. A lot of people have this reluctance today. Maybe their relationship also had some bumps and they weren’t keen on making it official, even with a child, until they were confident they could be straightened out. On the other hand, they were, for all intents and purposes, hitched and very much together; so not sure why they didn’t go all the way. But as you said: People!!!

        I have always had the impression that Anakin and Padme’s pregnancy was “accidental” based on their exchange in the reveal/reuniting scene. Anakin has, erm, the Force, and we’re really not shown how babies are made in the GFFA. This sort of goes back to Lucas’ first movie: “THX-1138”. The citizens of Lucas’ underground society seem to exist in a sexless stupor, with sexual congress illegal and reproduction assigned by the faceless political/technocratic apparatus. And in AOTC, we see clones being manufactured without parents (aside from Jango’s starting seed), in a setting evocative of THX, while Anakin himself — a “vergence” in the Force — appears to be a virgin birth. Not to mention the Jedi Order’s strangely celibate conduct. All in all: Very weird. Of course, poetically, we’re meant to assume that Luke and Leia were made the “organic” way (“Organa”, even), in contrast with the clones, but you’d think an advanced space society would have effective contraception. Or perhaps Anakin and Padme skirted contraception entirely, taking us back to your remark. Suddenly, I have Qui-Gon’s line in my head: “Nothing happens by accident.”

        Natalie actually has made a veiled bash or two at Donald Trump and the Trump regime. It is pretty obvious she isn’t in favour of the present administration. But then, almost everyone in Hollywood identifies as a loud-and-proud liberal, and seemingly faces excommunication if they don’t. She is, on the other hand, being Jewish herself, and born in Israel, perhaps more pro-Israel than some on the left might be. Yet her aforementioned “STOP WARS” t-shirt should tell us something. Actually, no, I correct myself. She is pro-Israel, but not in favour of military occupation. So her t-shirt evidently wasn’t for no reason.

      • Cryogenic

        @Arch Duke:

        Couldn’t feed this into my last post at the end. The comments section does not allow multiple links; your post gets blocked.

        Here’s an interesting article:

        https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/may/24/natalie-portman-interview-tale-of-love-and-darkness

        I’ll leave you with that. Incidentally: The author manages to almost not-bash the prequels, remarking that they provided “limited potential for acting”, yet then noting “[they] performed as a gateway to more grownup roles”. i guess I’ll take that.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        It’s interesting that you seem somewhat open to the knife idea – or at least not torn against it. Would you be the same if Lucas had decided to have Anakin in a situation where he’s lead to believe his master has assassinated his wife? That is, Palpatine has framed Obi-Wan for an act he – who else?! – committed. Anakin would confront him about it on Mustafar just as in the film. I’d be very surprised if this idea wasn’t toyed with at some stage of the screenwriting.

        Here now is my own analysis of Anakin’s fall. Those of you reading who buy into the very reasonable notion that mental heath is also a thing in fiction will likely agree with much of it. My verdict is certainly influenced by the events of The Clones Wars, and I make no apology – it is cannon, the final work of the Creator himself and a damn good series that develops everyone’s character.

        I’m with you on the narrative design of Anakin’s fall. It had to be based around that most complex and fabled expressions of humanity: love. And the reasoning behind it is older than myself and pretty simple, in the final chapter of the OT it is an act of love which allows Anakin to redeem himself. Mirroring themes, motives and shots from the original films was at the heart of Lucas’ direction of the PT, and there was no getting around it here, on the most important of turning points.

        Having Anakin fall entirely out of lust for power would introduce major questions to his redemption in RotJ. It might make sense for a character who is later stabbed in the back, but not in this case. The premise from the get-go of the PT was to make the central character as sympathisable and well-meaning as possible. It’s why Anakin is depicted as an innocent 10 year old child in TPM – the message is that nobody is born wicked and evil at birth. The fact that he lives a life of servitude to Wato is suppose to engender sympathy in the audience, as is his sudden departure from his mother.

        In Episode II, the death and torture of his mother – the only family member he ever had as a boy – acts as a device with the same purpose. We, the viewers, are asked to ponder “wow, this is awful. How cruel is it that someone could be put through this level of trauma.” That final word, trauma, is key. It is this long history of both childhood and teenage trauma that forms the backbone of Anakin’s psyche. No adequate analysis of the character can be done without reference to it. It is trauma in the formative years of a human being that is all too often the basis of mental illnesses or disorders. Don’t believe me? Look no further than what became of the real actor who played Anakin in TPM.

        It was only reasonable then – actually, logical – that Anakin’s fall in Episode III would pivot, in some shape or form, from what was set up in the previous instalment: his secret marriage to a Galactic Senator. This was a character scarred prelusively by the loss of his mother, and in order to raise his game, to elevate his tragedy to Shakespearean grandeur, in the only way fitting for the final chapter of the Star Wars saga, Lucas knew that he had to reach for what Anakin cared most about. His path to the dark side would have to be filled with good intentions, motives a viewer could empathise with. And the fear of loosing Padmé, via Sith manipulation (unbeknownst to him, of course), coupled with a High Jedi Council that are revealed to be a group of dogmatic, callous, pitiless, unseeing idiots achieves exactly that. It is a tragic fall – and one in a slightly better world could have been avoided.

        Of course there is also a thirst for power that reveals itself later in Revenge of Sith, but that is something that has long brewed inside Anakin, perhaps as far back as the occasion Qui-Gon Jinn first pronounced him “The Chosen One”. I would argue on that count that the Jedi Order are, at the very least, partly responsible for instilling an obsession with power within the young boy. When one is constantly reminded about their unprecedented potential Force power, it is only natural that they would become curious. To think otherwise is to be naive.

        To briefly examine the alternative fall some fans wanted: a list of justifiable grievances incurred over the course of the Clone War that see Anakin willingly – and not reluctantly as we got – join the Sith as his revenge. No part whatsoever for Padmé to play in this. Firstly and most profoundly, it would be a massive contradiction to the vulnerable and mentally unstable character set up in Attack of the Clones. You just can’t have him fully consciously embracing evil with maddening eager. With a character like Palpatine built up over two films, who had orchestrated almost every wrongdoing seen on screen, and manipulated all around him, he had to have his hand in also determining Anakin’s faith. It was already implied in Episode II that Palpatine had been child grooming Anakin, so Lucas had no choice but to follow up.

        The chance to save his wife from death – love – is essentially the straw that breaks the camels back. It is where he is at his weakest, at his most vulnerable, and his future master understands this better than any. It isn’t what gets him into the position of having to make a choice between the dark and light side, but it is in fact what that choice is all about; and a most unenviable one at that. What actually gets him into this awful scenario, and this tends to be poorly understood by PT bashers, is a complicated series of events and unfortunate circumstances (detailed earlier) that go way beyond a moronic, asinine buzzword like “too greedy”.

        Vader thinks platonic love will steer Luke to the dark side in V – it ends up backfiring on him. Similar happens in III, but this time it is a Sith Lord taking care of the backfiring. It all rhymes.

        I think I’ve only scratched the surface. Anakin is without doubt the most complex character in the saga, and there are so many different ways of interpreting his journey.

        Several other interesting points in your previous response that I will soon address.

  • Cryogenic

    @ Arch Duke:

    I try to remain open to certain ideas. I faintly recall perhaps bashing the knife idea before. It definitely doesn’t ring true to the Padme we see in the movies, in my opinion. Much too violent; at least as far as her attachment to Anakin goes. But that doesn’t mean her character couldn’t have been adjusted in the last prequel, perhaps reflecting the toxic effects of war and an overtly protective attitude toward her unborn child(ren), for it to seem appropriate. Or at least not outrageous. Even in the movie, the skiff that Padme takes to Mustafar has gun emplacements crudely embedded within its outer hull; a corruption of the sleek effervescence — the diplomatic “silver bird” of the Republic — that we see in I and II.

    On the other hand: I straight-up don’t like the Obi-Wan concept. Framed for assassinating Padme? That one gives me the willies. It’s more abstract and much better in the finished film. Due to Obi-Wan sneaking on the ship, Anakin believes that Padme has sided with Obi-Wan, and that Obi-Wan has turned Padme against him. This is much more tragic. It reflects Anakin’s inner turmoil and shows how 11th-hour happenings play a tremendous role in these characters’ fates.

    Moreover: Anakin clearly blames Obi-Wan for holding him back (this was, of course, something he privately accused him of doing, to Padme, in Episode II). And worse: Anakin holds Obi-Wan and the Jedi Order collectively responsible for letting death and destruction reign (and therefore being indirectly responsible for Padme’s inevitable death — inevitable to Anakin); all for the sake of keeping the precious social fabric intact.

    Imagine Anakin’s thought process: Cowards! They can’t do what I can do. They don’t know what it’s like to have the most midi-chlorians of any known Jedi. They didn’t grow up on a harsh, lawless frontier world. None of them ever won a podrace! I was the only human that ever did. I left my mother behind in bondage! All to serve the Republic. Palpatine told me the Jedi fear my potential. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve been holding me in check for years. Even now, after many years of loyal service, and three years of relentless, exhausting fighting in a galaxy-wide war and saving the Supreme Chancellor’s life, they still don’t trust me. They don’t even trust the Chancellor! They wanted me to spy on him. Were they just trying to ruin my friendship with him? They see wickedness in the most intelligent and benevolent of people! Why would they ever care about Padme — or me? They frown on attachments! And I know they’re still not telling me all there is to know about the Force.

    Recall: “Death is a natural part of life from Yoda. And the Palpatine rejoinder: “The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” Not to mention Palpatine telling Anakin that “good is a point of view”. And Anakin’s subsequent fuming at Obi-Wan: “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.” Honestly (not you personally), I think a lot of people missed these important markers; and all the gears being turned underneath.

    So Obi-Wan receives the brunt of Anakin’s fury. He embodies the conservative, safe, smug, and deceitful nature of the Jedi Order. He practically *is* the Jedi Order to Anakin. He has undue influence within the Jedi Order. He’s a long-serving member of the Jedi Council and a Master. But Anakin, of course, was snubbed for the latter; and then given his war assignment by Obi-Wan himself. “Off the record”, of course. And then there is all that unresolved entanglement between Obi-Wan and Anakin’s wife. What DID they discuss, precisely, that morning that Obi-Wan came by, which Anakin detected through a striking vision; and which his wife quickly brushed aside?

    It’s no secret that ROTS is basically a re-telling of “Othello”. Anakin is the titular character, a former slave, who has a noble bearing, but eventually loses his mind. Palpatine is Iago: The shrewd and apparently conscience-less corrupter of Othello. Obi-Wan is Cassius: The loyal lieutenant whom Anakin/Othello begins to doubt. And Padme is Desdemona: A prize wife who becomes suspected of infidelity/disloyalty and whom Anakin/Othello is convinced to choke in a tragic act of psychotic rage. Elements of Hamlet and crippling indecision in Anakin, too.

    Lucas has said that the title of Episode III is something of a ruse. That there really is no revenge; not for Anakin. That he is really a pawn in the power struggle between Palpatine and The Jedi. He also noted that some of his employees, when they were shown a rough cut, wanted a real betrayal of some kind: “You killed my best friend, so now I’ll kill you.” But he was never aiming for anything like that. Star Wars isn’t some 1980s Sly Stallone action movie.

    Also, in some perverse sense, Anakin is still trying to “prove” himself to Padme in ROTS. In TPM, he was the “white knight” — lowercase; lowly; still just a slave/outsider with no power. But by the end of ROTS, he has become the Dark Knight (ROTS is the real “The Dark Knight”), attempting to make good on his “protector” image, once and for all. Only, of course, when Padme sees him up-close and personal, power-crazed and unrepentant, she rejects him; because the Dark Side has clouded his vision and corrupted his faculties — and she sees that now as the scales fall from her eyes. It’s quite a theme in the movie: “Seeing is believing”. Consider what happens to Grievous. He shoots flames through his eyes in his final moments. The anguish of really seeing. A metaphor for Padme; for everyone. But, really, really, seeing… there’s the REAL treasure. And Padme recovers that treasure at the very end; even though she cannot save herself.

    A final thing about Anakin’s arc in ROTS: It’s kind of ridiculous, but an apt expression of simian violence and human civilization as a whole, that the tragedy of the Republic basically condenses down to two men fighting over a woman on a lava planet. It’s primal, it’s knowing, it’s cutting, it’s comical — and very sad and intense. For all the windy plotting in the previous movies, everything shaves down to this one archetypal conflict. Notice how neither man cares greatly for Padme’s well-being here. Anakin looks momentarily distraught when he releases Padme from his choke-hold, and Obi-Wan briefly kneels and checks her pulse, perhaps performing some reiki-ish healing, as he does on Luke in the next episode, but they otherwise leave her lying comatose and pregnant, while they clash laser swords for the next half-hour. It falls to the droids, Artoo and Threepio, proxies of Anakin and Padme, to bundle her safely into the ship, onto a med-bed.

    Even Obi-Wan, keeper of the light, never argues they should first get her to safety. And it doesn’t seem like he really had time to tell Threepio this beforehand. When he snuck onto Padme’s ship — uninvited. Padme is quite literally shown to be caught in the middle of the pair’s simmering conflagration. She herself did nothing to encourage fighting. She even (ironically) told her security chief: “The fighting’s over and this is personal”. But the fighting wasn’t over. She might as well have pressed a big red button marked “BEGIN FIGHT”. All because of Obi-Wan’s decision to become a stowaway. Recalling a rebuke of his to Anakin in the last movie: “You’re using her as bait? It’s too risky.”

    Yet when all the heat and the fury of their engagement has died down, years later, Anakin, now trapped in the sarcophagus of Vader, is at least able to reflect a little to Luke: “Obi-Wan once thought (fought) as you do.” He has clearly been able to make some peace with what happened; despite the strain of regret in his voice and his ongoing obsession with Obi-Wan. This little aside to Luke suggests he is able to look back and perceive that Obi-Wan was using Padme as a bargaining chip — not that she had necessarily betrayed Anakin or that Obi-Wan had turned her against him. Padme was the one person who still had a chance at reaching Anakin. So Obi-Wan didn’t necessarily show up to kill him. Perhaps Luke rejecting Anakin, like Padme did, on Cloud City, has allowed Anakin to look back with a new perspective. Now he sees that Obi-Wan perhaps vainly tried to win Anakin back to the light by giving him that last, fragile window of opportunity.

    If, on the other hand, Padme emerged from the ship secretly sporting a knife, or if she had been killed already by Palpatine and Obi-Wan was framed for her murder, or, for that matter, if she’d perished through the ill effects of some mysterious disease, and vengeance was the primary motivation on Anakin’s part, none of the above would make a lick of sense. The prequel storyline is shaped by the theme of greed; which, in turn, is founded on fear of change and letting go. The prequels tell a story that is a salient and moving allegory for our chaotic times. Far beyond the simple blood-lust premise many fans seemingly craved and kept hoping for.

    And yes, it was highly appropriate that Lucas began Anakin’s story when he is just a child — and a slave, at that. An entire essay could be written on just this one aspect. Anakin clearly perceives that he has limited utility as a slave; and that he “wouldn’t have lasted this long if [he] wasn’t so good at building things”. Then there is the perpetual threat of being killed for escaping: “Any attempt to escape and they blow you up — BOOM!” Not to mention the threat of being broken up and sold off and separated from your parents/siblings forever (as many slaves in history really were). Hence Anakin’s casual line to Threepio when saying goodbye: “I’ll make sure mom doesn’t sell you or anything.” Given that he is going away, he can only really express a desire to his mother that she doesn’t sell Threepio; there are no practical steps he can take to ensure they remain together indefinitely. So the line is also a subliminal expression of his deep-seated fear that it’s his mother who could be sold. Which we discover to be the case in Episode II. Yet Threepio is there at the homestead, which puts a smile on the faces of both Anakin and Padme. A clever detail.

    Moreover, the fact that slaves could be blown up via a transmitter, “placed inside their body somewhere”, gives us another angle from which to regard Anakin’s “agreed-to” slavery under the Jedi (and later Sidious). Anakin is slapped down hard by Obi-Wan at the beginning of Clones, when he tells him that he will “learn [his] place” — in front of Padme, no less. And that evening, Obi-Wan guilt-trips Anakin for lusting over Padme: “You have made a commitment to the Jedi Order. A commitment not easily broken.” We’re never quite shown what the exact consequences to breaking from the Jedi Order actually are; nor quite what is meant by a “commitment” in the first place. It is left deliberately nebulous; and the point is made. Anakin had better think twice about repeatedly defying Obi-Wan; much less leaving or being excommunicated. So, while serving under the Jedi, Anakin might as well still have that transmitter inside his body. It is notable that he never really “leaves” the Jedi in Episode III. He just steps over the red line and takes up the Sith cause; awkwardly in parallel to his Jedi beliefs and abilities. Hence the blue saber and Jedi robes. He doesn’t see himself as switching sides. Indeed, on Mustafar, he tells Padme: “The Jedi turned against me.” He rationalises that they abandoned him; not the other way around.

    The production notes for Episode II suggest that the middle prequel is where we find Anakin in the most complex phase of his life; and I think the completed film bears this out. Nowhere else is Anakin more a heaping mass of contradictions and neuroses than in Clones. He evokes that great exclamation of Pascal’s: “What a Chimera is man! What a novelty, a monster, a chaos, a contradiction, a prodigy! Judge of all things, an imbecile worm; depository of truth, and sewer of error and doubt; the glory and refuse of the universe.” See? Trash compactors and junk collectors were always meant to be in Star Wars — the epic chronicle of Anakin Skywalker!

    Who yes, to me, too, is absolutely the most complex and layered character in the entire saga; and by some margin. And obviously, one’s teens are a time of difficult growth, morbid solipsism, and character-defining struggle. So Clones is the film you return to when you want to try and wrestle with the enigma of Anakin Skywalker: the “human being” at the centre of it all. It is like the floor getting up and beginning to walk. “Would someone get this walking carpet out of my way?” Well, no. That walking carpet is the central character of the entire cosmic dance; the dynamo of dream and nightmare; the floor itself!

    If I don’t stop myself here, I can see what’s going to happen: a) This response will never end, and b) It’ll be because I can’t stop talking about AOTC and its mercurial tonality, its uber-kinkiness, its aesthetic perfection, and its astonishing centrality to everything…

    But these remarks of yours, in particular, are well-put:

    “And the fear of loosing Padmé, via Sith manipulation (unbeknownst to him, of course), coupled with a High Jedi Council that are revealed to be a group of dogmatic, callous, pitiless, unseeing idiots achieves exactly that. It is a tragic fall – and one in a slightly better world could have been avoided.”

    I won’t quibble Sith manipulation (I think it’s left ambiguous), but your last sentence nails it. This is exactly the power and beauty of ROTS. You see all the little ways it may have gone differently; had someone shown some compassion, trusted more, and really shown some genuine smarts; or even just been honest about their own ignorance.

    “Firstly and most profoundly, it would be a massive contradiction to the vulnerable and mentally unstable character set up in Attack of the Clones. You just can’t have him fully consciously embracing evil with maddening eager.”

    Exactly right. In particular, Anakin was a powder-keg of emotions waiting to blow when he discovered his mother in Clones. And he barely showed any less restraint in apprehending Dooku. Again, a whole essay could be written on these scenes and why Anakin is the way he is. The epic character study of the PT is incredibly dense with insight and implication. You need a whole Jedi Order to begin to encapsulate everything going on. And even then: “If an item does not appear in our records…” A full exegesis is impossible.

    “What actually gets him into this awful scenario, and this tends to be poorly understood by PT bashers, is a complicated series of events and unfortunate circumstances (detailed earlier) that go way beyond a moronic, asinine buzzword like “too greedy”.”

    That’s a hat trick for you, Mister Duke! And don’t buzz droids just impishly rip up Galactic Republic space vehicles? There has to be an in-joke in there somewhere. Understanding Anakin’s fall requires a more holistic or wide-angled view. When in doubt, zoom out. To quote Lucas himself from Rinzler’s “Making Of” book for ROTS (p. 205): “The audience knows Anakin is going to turn to the dark side, but the things that he’s struggling with are so subtle that it may be hard for people to understand why his obsession to hold on to Padme is so strong.”

    And one more to bring this to a close:

    “I think I’ve only scratched the surface. Anakin is without doubt the most complex character in the saga, and there are so many different ways of interpreting his journey.”

    Indeed. Lucas delivered a complex treatise on the human animal when he went back and made the prequels. And when you put them with the original films, you have his twelve-hour masterpiece to dive into, any time you choose. Remarkable how so much of the story was completely veiled until the completion of the PT. Only now can it be said to be fully coherent and three-dimensional. Only went Lucas went backwards to go forwards did the story come to life. Only when he asked the most basic and arresting question and set himself the task of answering: Why Vader?

    “The Initial Mystery that attends any journey is: how did the traveler reach his starting point in the first place?” — Louise Bogan

    • archdukeofnaboo

      @Cryogenic

      Mostly responding to your 2nd last post (14 Feb):

      Now that I think of it, top tennis player Rafael Nadal only got engaged to his long-time girlfriend only last month – and they’ve been 10 years together. So even in the celebrity world, you do get people who are in absolutely no hurry. As a rule of thumb though, famous couples tend to be much quicker to jump to marriage. And that’s sometimes an unwise idea.

      “So love has blinded you” is indeed deeply ironic. It speaks strongly to the unmeticulous and less organised aspect of Padmé, her sometimes overlooked side: her personal life. It is one of the great contradictions within any Star Wars character: an individual so disciplined and regimented in her professional life, yet too often succumbs to, and is driven by, her emotions within her private life. But it’s precisely what makes her so human, and perhaps relatable to some female viewers. People just aren’t droids.

      I’ve discussed the Skywalker pregnancy with quite a few prequel fans, including the director of the Vader fan film (9 million views on YouTube now – check it out if you haven’t!) and most seem to be under the impression that it was simply unplanned – that it just pops up as the big surprise we witness in Episode III.

      The idea that a married couple are having a child shouldn’t be any topic of discussion. It’s like day following night. Yet here, in RotS, it is, and I think it speaks more faithfully to ‘tragedy’ than any other note in the storyline.

      I’m a firm believer that none of these things happen by accident. For the sake of the film, it makes perfect sense, dramatically, to have it happen the way it does. Looking at it from a more in-Galaxy perspective, applying a tad bit of realism, and it must be a decision reached by the two characters at some point. In should, ideally, be something explored or mentioned in dialogue between Anakin and Padmé, and I’m hoping the return of the Clone Wars will grand us a scene along those lines.

      There are good grounds for it too. In the revelation scene, when Padmé poses the dilemma “what are we going to do”, her husband appears unsure, uncertain at first, but quickly thereafter exerts a sense of self-assuredness and confidence. I would argue he was pondering the outline of a plan to keep their new born child secret at that point. With his brash, suborn, ’my way or the highway’ mentality in mind, it wouldn’t contradict, but in fact compliment his character if he was toying with the idea of having children. ‘Risk taker’ might as well be have been his middle name. Could as easily forget about in several months later, many battles later.

      Natalie seems more like her character than any other PT star. Strong political beliefs; superb sense of fashion; enjoys learning; highly cultured. There’s also the small matter that as a twenty-something, she was, to use her own words, “close” to a person many Americans would now consider a real-world version of a Sith apprentice: Jarred Kushner. A senior advisor to none other than President Donald Trump. Stephen Colbert probed her about this in his typical politically-savvy style in an interview last spring, it was quite juicy to say the least.

      For all we know Jarred may well have expressed some silly political opinions as a college student. But haven’t we all had a friend like this? You brush it over, you don’t take it too seriously because you know people can say stupid things they don’t mean. And besides – they’re a friend! I guess in some cases it comes back to bite. But who has a crystal ball to predict that?

      Now to pick your brain on a very different topic that intrigue me. How would you compare PT discussion in the two periods before and after the Red Letter Media/hate bandwagon of 2010-11? Was debate any way different in 2005 than it was in 2015? No need to recite the story of your TFN banning, by the way 🙂

      What’s your relationship like with The Clone Wars? That last piece of the saga done under the creator’s blessing.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke:

      If famous people are quicker to jump the gun on marriage, it may be because they lead hectic, dizzying lives — and maybe, at times, they lack a bit of sense, too.

      Then again, I don’t understand impulsivity too well. I just know that, when it comes to love/attraction/infatuation, people can change on a dime, and what they previously said, asserted, or stood for, often goes out the window.

      It is also a key component of the love story between Anakin and Padme. They both become diminished and changed when they marry. In theory, they could be stronger together; but Padme correctly perceives they’d be “living a lie” and Anakin agrees that it would destroy them. One of the more intriguing/disturbing aspects of the prequel storyline is how they see this problem, the both of them, and yet they decide to commit to that path anyway. AOTC, on some levels, is about the failure of pragmatism and stoicism in the face of passion and anarchy. The movie aptly uses a lot of storm imagery; plus shadows, blinds, shapeshifters, etc. All of these sorts of visuals help express the “shadow side” of humanity; and just how febrile and chaotic we can be.

      This was very well said:

      “It is one of the great contradictions within any Star Wars character: an individual so disciplined and regimented in her professional life, yet too often succumbs to, and is driven by, her emotions within her private life. But it’s precisely what makes her so human, and perhaps relatable to some female viewers. People just aren’t droids.”

      Padme is, indeed, a contradictory character; or one, if there is any real difference, with a great many contradictions within her. A suppressed multitude. Look, for instance, to how she goes from freezing up and lamenting her return to Coruscant when Corde is killed — “I shouldn’t have come back” — to imperiously, almost childishly, averring to Anakin, “I haven’t worked for a year to defeat the Military Creation Act to not be here when its fate is decided”, the very next day.

      Similarly, she rebuffs Anakin’s advances at the fireplace, in a handful of words, but her body language tells a different tale. Equally, she is very big on negotiation, and not showing the separatists violence, until it comes to rescuing Obi-Wan on Geonosis, where she basically goes full-throttle in the arena, giving Anakin a moment to chide her: “You call this a diplomatic solution?” And Padme’s response, which integrates/rebounds Anakin’s repartee during the “pear-cutting” scene: “No, I call it aggressive negotiations.”

      People can be extremely vain and rash. Padme impetuously deposed Valorum after some relatively succinct urging from Palpatine; and then she, one of the greatest voices of peace and moderation in the Republic, plays a role in actually bringing the Clone Wars to pass. David Begor, author of one of the first articulate defence pieces on AOTC, called “Defense Of The Clones”, wrote of the much-decried Threepio head-swap in the final reel: “If this last sequence is used primarily for comic relief, it also shows Lucas at his most adept, using C-3PO’s physical transformation as commentary on the more abstract metamorphoses of the other characters, whose purpose also shifts from diplomacy to war.” Worth a read (or re-read as the case may be):

      https://brightlightsfilm.com/wp-content/cache/all/defense-clones-lucass-latest-cheap-thrills-sophisticated-filmmaking/

      You have a good reading of the pregnancy development. It just “happens”; but there must be something, as you just said, that they both agreed to in order to make it happen. One plot element that shades the pregnancy as a “deliberate accident” is that we never really see Anakin fretting that the baby(ies) aren’t his, and say, alternatively, Oi-Wan’s. This never appears to be a real point of concern for Anakin. It’s much more, in his own greed-obsessed ego, that Obi-Wan is interfering in his private life and usurping his authority with Padme — controlling every element of his life.

      “I didn’t want to put you in this situation”, Obi-Wan reassures Anakin, when telling him of his assignment to spy on Palpatine. But can Anakin really believe that; if he also knows Obi-Wan has been sniffing around and exerting some influence on his wife? That seems to be the true flavour of his resentment toward Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan is the interfering “father figure” who can’t leave alone; and Anakin, now trying to stand as his own person, and jaded in his feelings toward the Jedi Order, grows increasingly agitated and weary of Obi-Wan’s intrusions; like he’s never going to leave Anakin alone.

      “In the revelation scene, when Padmé poses the dilemma “what are we going to do”, her husband appears unsure, uncertain at first, but quickly thereafter exerts a sense of self-assuredness and confidence.”

      Good reading of Anakin here. You see exactly that mix of emotions/anxiety play across his features. And suppression of this kind — “putting on a good face” — kind of circumscribes the entire tragedy. Characters pretend to be doing better and feeling better than they are. There is a lot of shutting off/shutting down. Padme, for instance, implores Anakin not to shut her out in “Seeds Of Distrust” (I’ll keep saying it: This is honestly one of the most important chapters), while Anakin literally shuts himself inside the Mustafar control room, ready to do murder against the separatists (shutting himself inside a facility in a faraway planet: i.e., going deeper within his own hellscape).

      But the best of it is probably the “farewell” scene between Anakin and Obi-Wan: The last time they’ll ever speak to each other as friends; or brothers. It’s incredibly tragic. Because it’s not about what they say to each other. It’s more about what they don’t; or are unable or unwilling to say. As Martin Scorsese once said: “Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” Fans have a tendency to focus on the benevolent, reassuring words of Obi-Wan, which are full of praise for Anakin, echoing Qui-Gon’s sagely reassurance of a younger, brasher, more Anakin-esque Obi-Wan on Naboo in Episode I. But Scorsese’s maxim needs to be kept in mind.

      Anakin’s reactions suggest he feels there is a degree of contrivance and artifice in Obi-Wan’s calming platitudes, and Anakin’s final words to Obi-Wan, the warm-yet-mechanistic, “May the Force be with you”, preceded by a direct reference to Obi-Wan’s name, instead of his title (the way Anakin usually refers to him), indicates Anakin is cloaking his true feelings, and is seeing Obi-Wan off with the standard Jedi well-wish in a bid to convince himself things are fine. And he is speaking, at last, to Obi-Wan as an equal; when there is now a tremendous degree of unresolved conflict and distrust between the two (or at least from Anakin to Obi-Wan).

      Lucas wraps the whole scene in a bow when Anakin’s head drops at the end, and his eyes seem to flash daggers as the dagger-shaped cruiser takes off, heading for the skies: the very place “Skywalker” imagines he should be. Instead, Anakin is literally grounded; left behind to simmer, to fret, to stew. A venerable Jedi Master leaving Anakin behind, as he takes off into the heavens, preparing to slay a dragon, is a motif that occurs a second time when Mace tells Anakin to wait in the Jedi Council chambers, as he and the Jedi Posse fly off to confront Palpatine — on Anakin’s tip-off. The prequels repeatedly portray Anakin at critical points as a lonely, isolated figure (much like Padme)

      What Anakin and Obi-Wan’s farewell scene illustrates is that neither brother can quite go the distance. Words have become hollow; shallow; meaningless. They might as well be Battle Droids talking to one another. Lucas himself has even glibly said that dialogue, to him, is just a “sound effect”, while the visuals and music are where the story is really being told. And that’s all that Anakin and Obi-Wan are creating between themselves here: sound effects. The visuals (along with the ominous music) tell the real story. Like so many scenes in Sith, it’s an ingenious depiction of how two people can be so close; yet so distant and estranged in each other’s company. And this is why I love the prequels; and all those existential pulsations.

      I also agree that Anakin chancing things, even when it comes to pregnancy/procreation, fits in with his risk-taking persona. That’s exactly what he would do: Leave it up to chance. If the Force permits, then the Force permits. “What will be, will be.”

      I don’t know too much about Natalie’s background; or some of the friends she used to keep. I agree, however, she seems a lot like her character; as most of the actors do. The issue here is that I honestly don’t follow a lot of celebrity lives that closely. I’m not that interested in them. A great scientist, author, or musician, maybe. But most celebrity things bore me.

      Do take that with a pinch of salt. It is hard to avoid celebrity shenanigans; or completely tame the tendency to want to delve into gossip and try and learn more. It can easily become addictive. We live in a very dense, materialistic culture; where everything is constantly on-tap and there is a need for perpetual distraction. So quick-snack information on what a celebrity is doing, or who they’re seeing, is always a great temptation: A circuit it is easy to become locked into.

      And I can’t say I am immune to a bit of “celebrity gazing”. However, I think I’m interested in them, on a whole, in more of a general way. Who are they? Where are they going? What do they stand for? But who is dating who and that sort of malarkey — I must often plead ignorant.

      That probably sounds a bit ironic, however, after I lavished on you several paragraphs regarding Hayden Christensen and his not-quite-marriage to Rachel Bilson. I get fitfully into the lives of certain people. But I can’t sustain an interest. Or very rarely. But Portman not choosing her friends too wisely? This is the gal that had Palpatine as her adviser while she was queen! And she — gosh — married Anakin!

      My recollection of TFN in the 2002-2005 period is of a generally golden era. Many threads were waylaid with bashing, but it was also an exciting, formative time, because fans were commenting on the movies and seeing all sorts of things inside them for the very first time. Nothing can quite compare to those early years.

      One of the greatest creations in that quaint little era was a whole series of “Chapter By Chapter” threads by Moleman1138. All the films were discussed a DVD chapter at a time. I participated in the ROTS ones when that film came to DVD in October 2005. I loved those threads. And it was a joy to discover the other ones; most of them before I joined.

      There were some really ardent prequel fans back then (despite all the bashing). Several female posters, in particular, waxed wonderfully lyrical on the romance, and on the characters of Anakin and Padme generally. They basically got what Lucas was doing from the start. Strong discussions on the symbolism of the movies, especially AOTC, too. I don’t know what sort of prequel fan I’d be without TFN. But for the posters that made it what it is.

      But hey, it was a long time ago (on a message board far, far away), and I’m probably looking back with nostalgia goggles. I do genuinely read back through old threads, from time-to-time, however. And I’m never disappointed. I always find some excellent insights; even if it’s just one or two nuggets of gold here and there. My hat truly goes off to the earliest prequel fans who cut through all the crap and were out and proud with their love of the films. They are models and paragons for the rest of us.

      I’m yet to make my way through “The Clone Wars”. I was fairly indifferent about it for years. Then I started to warm up to the whole thing; especially when TFA was about to hit and generally looked dull as dishwater. The films are still my main focus, but there’s now a great appeal buried in “The Clone Wars” — they are the last complete (or reasonably complete) set of stories approved by George Lucas. In retrospect, that is something to treasure, and perhaps all fans should try and do so. And the prequel era is, by far, my favourite stretch of the Star Wars mythos. For me: There is no comparison.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        What I was doing in my last post was not bringing up idle gossip for the sake of it – I detest that – but instead offering a subtle defence of the naive political remarks made by Anakin in the meadow scene in Episode II. A lot of detractors go to town on those “made to work together” comments, as if they’re a huge warning sign. For sure, it’s not something to ignore, but it certainly is blown way out of proportion. I offered the real world example of Natalie and Jared Kushner (and there are many others out there) only to show that what’s depicted in the film isn’t as unrealistic as it’s critics are convinced.

        I did not actively go researching this story either. I didn’t know anything until the YouTube algorithm kept bugging me to watch the Colbert interview. As an ardent prequelist and someone who keeps an eye on US politics, I couldn’t help chuckling at the irony.

        “We live in a very dense, materialistic culture; where everything is constantly on-tap and there is a need for perpetual distraction. So quick-snack information on what a celebrity is doing, or who they’re seeing, is always a great temptation: A circuit it is easy to become locked into. ”
        -The modern obsession with the British royal family, in a nutshell.

        Acting is a skill that takes a lot of craftsmanship, hard work and persistence and I don’t think it would be unreasonable to add that profession to a list including scientists, musicians, philosophers etc. I do, however, take your point about a lot of modern day actors being as boring as can be.

        I suppose, in some ways, seeking out what the actors from our beloved PT are up to today is a symptom of withdrawal. I know that for me – someone who tends to visit the cinema at least once a month – I’ve yet to see any film starring Hayden or Natalie on the big screen in this soon to be over decade. Maybe not Ewan either, surprisingly. There’s like an unconscious desire to see the prequel lore continued, actualised, manifested, but I never get it. I think this is what lead me to watch McGregor’s travel series back in 2007 ish.

        The prequel, or Galactic Republic, era is easily my favourite too. The Clone Wars series brilliantly succeeds in utilising the world-building of the PT, and explores all the important events of its fabled title. I will admit though to being a latecomer, having only completed the full 6 seasons in the past 12 months. I purchased the box-set back in 2014 and I was highly put off by the first episode, which featured Yoda in a battle with no context whatsoever. I returned though, suspended my critique of the animation and unfamiliar voices, and gradually began to adore it.

        Ahsoka, the padowan of Anakin, is a tremendous addition to the story, and you can’t look at her master the same with her in mind. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this series has a similar effect on ‘Sith’ as the PT does on ‘Jedi’. Also, much of the tough words I shared with you about the High Jedi Council derive from their behaviour in the latter seasons of TCW.

        I’d urge you to give it a try. You can easily watch an episode in the time it takes to compose a message here 😉

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        “But the best of it is probably the “farewell” scene between Anakin and Obi-Wan: The last time they’ll ever speak to each other as friends; or brothers. It’s incredibly tragic. Because it’s not about what they say to each other. It’s more about what they don’t; or are unable or unwilling to say.”

        – I’ve never thought about that scene like that before. And I like to claim I’ve analysed ‘Revenge of the Sith’ to death. Wonderful insight, Cryo.

        “Anakin’s reactions suggest he feels there is a degree of contrivance and artifice in Obi-Wan’s calming platitudes, and Anakin’s final words to Obi-Wan, the warm-yet-mechanistic, “May the Force be with you”, preceded by a direct reference to Obi-Wan’s name, instead of his title (the way Anakin usually refers to him), indicates Anakin is cloaking his true feelings”

        – I’ve always found Anakin addressing his master by his first name here to be rather striking. It shows that he now considers himself an equal – and prematurely so, as we later, tragically, discover. It’s a sign that he’s slowly winding up respect for Obi-Wan.

        “What Anakin and Obi-Wan’s farewell scene illustrates is that neither brother can quite go the distance. Words have become hollow; shallow; meaningless. They might as well be Battle Droids talking to one another”

        – If only the two had had a proper man-to-man sit down to resolve their issues. If only. We know that in real-life these kind of conversations can save lives when it comes to those with serious mental health issues, and I’m sure it would have saved at least one “life” here too. The unbending, cold and pitiless culture of the Jedi Council, as I’ve suggested before, is largely to blame.

        “Like so many scenes in Sith, it’s an ingenious depiction of how two people can be so close; yet so distant and estranged in each other’s company. And this is why I love the prequels; and all those existential pulsations.”

        – And that completes a Tour de Force of a scene analysis. Bravo.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Sorry. It wasn’t my intention to accuse you of indulging in idle gossip. I was just making a more general comment on celebrity worship and mass culture. It stands to reason, being a prequel fan, that you would have a passing interest in the lives of the trilogy’s principal cast members; and you adducing a real-life example of naivete/giving someone “the benefit of the doubt”, from Natalie Portman’s life, makes perfect sense. And if YouTube fed you that interview, then you didn’t even have to go looking.

        Don’t you love, on another note, how our lives are now almost entirely controlled by ads and algorithms? The Empire is here. And, like in Star Wars, it didn’t arrive down the barrel of a gun, but through the machinations of technology and its entwining with greed and the profit motive. Our gaze is being constantly directed by subtle, pervasive, quasi-intelligent computer code; minds being rendered inert by pseudo-minds; leading to mindlessness; and to a sort of waking death.

        Anakin running through that opera house is now more eerie than ever. Pay attention to those weird sounds, the holograms, the punters that feel pasted-in. And how the whole environment seems realms removed from the world outside. If Palpatine is the equivalent of the Platonic Demiurge, the “maker” of the strange canvas the characters find themselves implanted within, and his appeals to Anakin laced with the promise of escaping the canvas (“If one is to understand the Great Mystery” — a Gnostic reference), then we, too, may be trapped in some kind of canvas or matrix. To echo the words of Morpheus: What is “real”?

        Anyway, if that’s a bit too existential, then we can at least agree, it seems, that “reality”, as it is filtered down to us through the prism of consumer culture, seems utterly farcical, laughable, trivial, and disconnected from anything of real substance or meaning. You hit upon it when you identified “the modern obsession with the British royal family.” Exactly. There is definitely an ongoing obsession with those scant few territory-dividing, wealth-hogging, distraction-generating mammals.

        That whole institution is still treated with a sort of mythic reverence as if we never left medieval times or kissed goodbye to the divine right of kings; while “the royals” as consumable icons, in constant circulation on the front covers of tabloids, magazines, and constantly “in the news” or appearing on some TV show somewhere, makes them no more elevated than modern celebrities, with all the kitsch appeal of the Kardashians or Peter Andre. Even a figure like Donald Trump has enough guile to exploit the celebrity podium of the presidency for his own ends — no doubt hijacking some of those same mental circuits.

        I don’t really seek out the prequel actors in other projects very much. It’s more about what appeals to me in the first place. That said, there is a tinge of familiarity that seeing those individuals, or hearing about them, in a film project brings; and, again, sometimes curiosity overtakes me, and I want to look up what they’re presently up to or have coming out. Perhaps, as you eloquently say, there is “an unconscious desire to see prequel lore continued, actualised, manifested”; and since that desire can never be sated, we are ineluctably drawn, as you implied, to proxies and substitutes (each according to our own innate subjective condition).

        Acting certainly takes lot of skill and craftmanship, but I was attempting to “keep it real” (recall my former paragraphs and how I’m saying this with some irony!). I think actors are perfectly smart and impressive people, or they certainly can be, but they don’t necessarily inspire the same awe in me, as people, as scientists, philosophers, authors, poets, painters, and musicians. Of course, as on-screen avatars, they can be immensely beguiling; but when I see an interview by them, I’m reminded they’re just people; and often pretty ordinary ones, often times, at that. I think I am much more interested in the structural intelligence of a film; and with what is happening visually, editorially, cinematographically, etc. After all, film is a visual medium, with thousands of interconnected pieces and a storytelling logic and tonal brilliance all its own.

        Moreover: Actors, in the younger Lucas’ words, are essentially just tools or cyphers that help the filmmaker accomplish what they want. Of course, this is doing them down a tad. Actors are a fascinating resource that also function like nodes or monads that infuse a movie with deeper meaning; not merely by the sheer “force” of their persona or presence, or their craft, but for the myriad of other resonances they bring to the picture; via their personal histories and varied roles in other motion picture assemblies. So they are by no means an insignificant part of the filmmaking process. It just becomes a bit wearying — personally speaking — to stay invested in their lives; especially in a “post-script”/”post-project” fashion.

        What actors bring to a film in the years leading up to a project speaks to imperatives for their being cast and variables that feed directly into the film’s elusive architecture; what they do after a film is released is more a measure of how the film has impacted their lives and changed their orbit. Perhaps even the latter can “reverse-inflect” a film with a new and bewildering set of meanings; but I tend to think the “cachet of cast members” has more relevance when it is flowing into a film and being consciously tapped by the filmmaker(s). In other words, the filmmaker(s) can exploit a raw material coming into their movie, but they have no control over that material once the film has been released. Again, in the case of the latter, it is more the film itself having an influence: e.g., Ewan McGregor looks over at clones in AOTC (2002), then befriends a clone in ROTS (2005) and even plays one in “The Island” (also 2005). There certainly is an expansive “meta narrative” if one look’s beyond one’s immediate films of interest…

        For many years, I just didn’t really want to bother with “The Clone Wars”. Then a few prequel fans started suggesting I should. And the few clips I’ve seen have been engaging. It’s now just a case of getting round to purchasing the box set. I almost ordered it last year, but money was tight. I respect the quality of the animation and the storytelling that appears to be on offer. The series seems to have made an impact on many fans; even some prequel bashers. I suppose the series, while not having the same “canon” as the movies, still comments on them, fills out themes, and punctuates and expands upon the lore. That said, the prequel films are already so rich in scene detail, character dynamics, and thematic heft of their own, it hardly feels like I need a supplementary or complementary show to read them better; but then, in the spirit of “much to learn you still have”, I can’t just dismiss the series, either. Even if the films are my main area of interest, the prequel era should be treasured in all its facets.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        I’m humbled that you enjoyed my analysis of the farewell scene between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Coruscant. But “I have to admit” (Obi-Wan) that what I wrote was, in many regards, a sloppy steal from a wonderfully erudite analysis of the scene posted to a blog a few years ago. I had already had some similar thoughts toward the scene, but when I read that particular analysis, it really blew my mind.

        I was struggling, the other day, to recall and pin down the original page with aforesaid analysis; but, happily, last night, I finally located it:

        https://smittysgelato.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/prequel-posts-1-brothers-farewell/

        That link originally came courtesy of a post on SWPAS (The Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society); so my thanks to Lazy Padawan for bringing the post to wider attention. She posted it a mere two days after it was published, and I probably saw it, originally, not more than a week or two later.

        Therefore, I have been wrestling with the implications of the scene, or the blogger’s interpretation of it, for almost three years (the entry was published on May 21st 2016). But that isn’t to say I hadn’t already made a vaguely-similar reading of it myself. I once did exactly that, on IMDb, in October 2012 (just a few weeks before the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney was announced).

        My intention is to reproduce that post, or the bulk of it, on the blogger’s page, shortly after I have completed this reply to you — in tribute to their estimable analysis; and also so that there’s still a public copy of my own thoughts; such as they were at the time. By reminding myself of it, I really feel some acknowledgement on my part, on the page itself, is overdue.

        In a way, I think the scene of Anakin and Obi-Wan saying goodbye is a microcosm for the entire prequel trilogy. The scene’s dazzling storytelling economy, its tragic undercarriage, the clipped exchange between the brothers, the way it echoes a former scene in the trilogy between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan (rhyme and legacy; not to mention a rhyming legacy), how profoundly unflashy yet baroque and subversive it is, the steady and clean sense of composition and editing, and even the obvious-yet-painterly visual effects layering, all fuse together in less than ninety-seconds of screen-time to convey a powerful sense of psychological discord, emotional disconnect, sensuous foreboding, and gathering doom.

        What you said about Anakin addressing Obi-Wan by his first name — that it’s “a sign that he’s slowly winding up respect for Obi-Wan” — is interesting. Anakin is, at the very least, trying to comport himself as an equal at the conclusion of their exchange; but whether he truly feels equal, much less at ease, with Obi-Wan, is a different matter. Indeed, only moments before, he refers to Obi-Wan the standard way as “Master”; suggesting a degree of painful reaching on Anakin’s part when he tries a different tack at the end. That page clearly argues that Anakin is throwing up a facade; for his own benefit as much as Obi-Wan’s. He is trying to convince himself of something that isn’t real. Indeed, he is trying to shut out reality and deny the various divisions and imbalances between himself and Obi-Wan, which Palpatine’s scheming has once again brought into relief. Unlike in Clones, the two Jedi basically choose to deny there’s a problem, foregoing the acknowledgement of any tension by sidestepping it entirely with empty, placatory remarks: Anakin via forced apology, Obi-Wan via consoling bromides.

        But, as the author of the blog piece notes, it doesn’t work; at least, not for Anakin (and it will, of course, have tragic consequences for the both of them). Anakin casts a suspicious eye over Obi-Wan when he issues his response, then his head sinks down as Obi-Wan butters him up, and despite Anakin attempting to regain composure and exude a warm, easy confidence befitting a venerable Jedi Knight as Obi-Wan walks off, Obi-Wan is nonetheless departing (and into the light, at that), leaving Anakin behind. Leaving Anakin with, well… Anakin. Anakin is literally left with his own thoughts, to dwell within his own fractured and fractionating self; his attempt at trying to drive the disquiet from his mind dissolving in an instant; and now firmly convinced, too, that Obi-Wan is concealing things from him (“It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you”; “I have taught you everything I know”), leading straight into the next scene of Anakin, where he receives a vision of Obi-Wan with Padme, and admits to her, “Obi-Wan and the Council don’t trust me.”

        Here’s the elephant in the room: Anakin knows he isn’t the equal of Obi-Wan; which being rebuffed by the entire Jedi Council, in favour of Obi-Wan getting the mission to capture/confront Grievous, has only made all the clearer. Therefore, as much as he might transiently savour receiving praise from the mentor he has so often been at loggerheads with, the words quickly ring false and do nothing to assuage Anakin’s growing turmoil. Indeed, they only really have the capacity to enhance it, in Anakin’s desperate, ego-dominated state, given his fears over losing his wife, his frustrations toward the Jedi Council, and the gnawing sense that Obi-Wan and the Council (whom Anakin conflates in the next scene to Padme) are actively conspiring together to restrain his power and hold him back. And this was, of course, his primary bugbear toward Obi-Wan in AOTC; so now Anakin’s adversaries have multiplied and the entire Jedi Council, including Obi-Wan, are equally guilty and equally untrustworthy.

        Another powerful resonance is with a scene in the past; and with one lying just ahead. In the superficially similar scene between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in TPM, Qui-Gon actually reaches out and pats Obi-Wan’s shoulder, at the edge of frame, as he tells him he foresees he will become a great Jedi Knight. And in his next and critical scene with Palpatine, Palpatine will blatantly reach out and put a hand on Anakin’s shoulder as he leads him into the “turn people to the Dark Side” room with that funny mural in it. But this scene between Anakin and Obi-Wan rests awkwardly between those. For here there is no tactile contact that occurs. Obi-Wan does not extend a reassuring hand; and Anakin, even if he beseeches Obi-Wan in words, does not attempt any such gesture himself. There is a gulf that neither man acknowledges and which is never bridged. The real tragedy of the prequel storyline, and the tragedy of the “conscious condition”, is on full display here — aching, gleaming, every bit as stark and as transcendent as the paroxysms of pain and longing that are tearing its central character apart.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Nice find. Thanks for that link! Glad I held fire on posting my thoughts to the other blog page for now. Still mulling the scene over and what I’m going to say. I have, as mentioned, this old IMDb post, sitting ready and waiting, but it feels like I ought to modify it and post an even fuller response.

        Your link gives me another perspective to consider. And I’m certainly considering it. That said:

        I think their analysis is a tad superficial; even if their optimism and enthusiasm are admirable.

        In my estimation, they capably describe Obi-Wan’s frame, but they give short shrift to Anakin’s. What they say rings true for Obi-Wan, but they fail to see how it’s that very divide between the two — Obi-Wan full of charitable praise and encouragement, Anakin full of dissatisfaction and doubt — that gives the scene psychological depth and thematic tension that is at once delicate and devastating.

        I don’t know why, but I’m finding it difficult to articulate what it is I want to say about this scene. I think it’s because there’s a lot to unpack in a very short space. As I said earlier, it is a microcosm for the entire trilogy. And there are a number of subtle things about it and the whole dynamic between Anakin and Obi-Wan.

        But returning to your blog find, I like this part of their analysis:

        “I imagine Obi-Wan experienced a feeling similar to what a parent or guardian might feel when they witness their child growing in way that they’re able to recognize their faults, apologize and thank them for their guidance throughout that process. It truly made Obi-Wan proud and joyful to see how far Anakin had come.”

        However, I think this part misses the turmoil occurring within Anakin:

        “Obi-Wan’s expression after Anakin shared with him what’s been on his mind is one of surprise and immense joy. He continues to smile and responds with words of affirmation and encouragement. Before he turns to leave he tells Anakin to be patient, that he is a greater Jedi than he could ever hope to be, and that the Council would make him a Jedi Master in due time. Did that make Anakin’s day or what?”

        No, I don’t think it made Anakin’s day; even if Anakin was desperate to have his day made. What they don’t seem to notice is how Anakin is quietly creasing up inside the whole time. It is what is happening in the grooves of his mind that is of critical importance in their “farewell” scene. It is a fault-line moment in the film that determines whether you are really tracking with the movie or not.

        A bold statement, perhaps, so let me qualify: Some fans watch that scene with a kind of naive sentimentalism with respect to the Anakin/Obi-Wan relationship; no doubt coloured by their familiarity with the OT and their desire to believe in those formative words from Obi-Wan to Luke in his hovel. They are, in other words, unconsciously impelled to see Anakin through Obi-Wan’s eyes. Obi-Wan is, in many regards, the wise “uncle” of the saga, and people assume his authority is reliable; after all, he mentors both the father (Anakin) and the son (Luke); making him roughly equivalent to the Alfred Pennyworth of the the SW saga.

        Alas, Obi-Wan isn’t Anakin. Nor is he Yoda. Or even Qui-Gon. The tragic nature of the scene, in my opinion, is not borne out merely because it’s Anakin and Obi-Wan’s last “joyful” scene together, before they meet back in the saga equivalent of the underworld, but because they have fallen out of sync and the disunity between them goes unacknowledged. Moreover, Obi-Wan departs believing that everything is right between them, walking off into the waiting warship with an airy nonchalance; while Anakin is left alone in the dark, rebuffed, marooned, alone, and (ultimately) afraid.

        The visuals really do tell the story. I saw in a Facebook post for that blog entry, for example, that the blog author admitted to not noticing that Anakin is shown in shadow; in contrast to Obi-Wan who departs in sunlight. Compared to that earlier analysis that I posted, the newer one is a lot more basic and lacks probity. It is, you’ll grant, much shorter than the earlier one, and barely delves into the visual features of the scene at all. This is really a mistake where Lucas’ films go. As he says in the “Making Of” book for ROTS: “In my films, the dialogue is not where the movie is. My films are basically in the graphics.”

        And even then, of what dialogue there is, some resonances with the preceding “opera” scene between Anakin and Palpatine are salient. Of particular note is how Palpatine leads into the parable of “Darth Plagueis The Wise”. He pointedly remarks to Anakin: “It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you.” And then, for good measure, he carefully plants a follow-on seed within the story itself: “Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep.”

        Go and watch that moment and pay close attention to Anakin’s face (visual storytelling). You’ll see it begin to tighten and show a more resolute/angered expression right as Palpatine says “he taught his apprentice everything he knew”; and it also appears to digitally morph. It looks like two or more takes were blended in the editing room. This is a really important detail because it shows that Palpatine’s words are triggering Anakin internally and even causing his outside form to “shift” (shades of Anakin chasing Zam). And then, in the farewell scene, Obi-Wan drops a seismic charge: “I have taught you everything I know.”

        Thus confirming the deeper idea implanted within Palpatine’s mendacious fable. Forget the metaphysical connotations. Look to the more blunt and revelatory (almost Nietzschean) psychological lesson: People withhold things as a means of perpetuating enslavement and as a function of fear. If everything were to be disclosed, then the individual, or individuals, in a subservient position would have little use for their master, and would, in a Manichean universe, inevitably rise up and dispose of them. This, at least, is the Sith view; which Anakin has a subconscious and exponentially growing purchase on Anakin’s mind. Palaptine expertly garrotes Anakin’s soul here. He creates the perfect conditions for Anakin’s distrust.

        And distrust is an enormous theme within the second act of ROTS. One of the chapters, previously mentioned, is even called “Seeds Of Distrust” — and this is the chapter between a husband and wife; two people who should, ideally, have the least distrust of any people in a social fabric. That scene also exemplifies the shifting layers of doubt and deceit between the various players of the narrative; a measure of where all their interrelated actions have taken them to. Just two scenes ago, Anakin was given his mission to spy on Palpatine, objecting on the basis that Obi-Wan was asking him to betray a friend and do something against the Jedi Code. And when Anakin obliquely comments on this to Padme, all she can do is ask: “Have you ever considered that we may be on the wrong side?”

        Which quickly causes Anakin to snap back, after she suggests the Republic has become everything they’re meant to be against, that she is sounding like a separatist. It feels like everyone is against Anakin and has something to hide. Padme even seems to let slip that there is something deeper afoot, from her and whomever else, when she implores Anakin to hold her, remarking (rather hazily and incorrectly), “So long ago when there was nothing but our love. No politics, no plotting, no war.” Anakin’s reaction to these final words, a sneaky triad, is fascinating: a real “blink and you’ll miss it” happening. He clenches his jaw, shifts his eyes down in thought, then rights his gaze and looks off into the distance as war drums ominously build and intensify on the soundtrack.

        For a brief moment, it looks like Anakin is contemplating quite what his wife meant by “plotting” — an incendiary word stealthily snuck between two other words (“politcs” and “war”) that are non-threatening in their overt obviousness. Their lives are manifestly dominated by politics and war. But “plotting”? Who mentioned plotting? They only skirted the concept; each unwilling to open up to the other; each with secrets they have been told or self-convinced to keep out of reach of the other. A little tell from Padme that evidently sinks into Anakin’s consciousness. Something is amiss. And he, Anakin Skywalker, Hero With No Fear, will get to the bottom of it…

        And BOOM! Just like that, the very next scene, at a relaxing opera (though Anakin is about as unrelaxed as possible), his good friend and mentor tells him that the Jedi want control of the Republic and are planning to betray its long-serving Supreme Chancellor! And he sniffs out Anakin’s spying mission in the same moment! And if that weren’t enough, out comes the little ditty of Darth Plagueis, and how superiors telling their inferiors everything they know doesn’t tend to work out too well for the superiors in the long run…

        A lot of gears are turned in a short space of time in ROTS; and in the prequels generally. “Podracing”. Speed is an all-encompassing aesthetic value. Lucas, a lover of speed, sustains a quasi-montage, drag-racing effect throughout. One scene wipes into the next. Points are conveyed with a minimum of explication. Dialogue is clipped, basic. Gestures are monolithic and tend to repeat. There is an elliptical characteristic to the progression of mood, theme, and plot. The story really moves.

        So we get to the farewell scene, and psychologically speaking, it’s like a small epoch has already passed. Anakin now holds Obi-Wan under mounting suspicion. But he’s torn. He can’t quite know if what he suspects of Obi-Wan is true — or quite, even, what it is he truly suspects of him. Just nebulous doubts, frustrations, agitations; ghosts, menaces, phantoms ( 😉 ) of old. They’ve all come back to haunt him, gnaw at him, leave him feeling wearied, morbid, uncertain. The Anakin we see in the farewell scene isn’t ready to prosecute Obi-Wan; much less stick a lightsaber through him. They’re still “friends”. But what is a friend, anyway? Even the title is a misnomer: “Brothers’ Farewell”. Once again, that is Obi-Wan’s perspective (“You were my brother, Anakin”), not Anakin’s. If Obi-Wan is anything to Anakin, then he’s a father figure; or, indeed, “like a father” — one who may offer approval and rebuke in equal measure; one who may even be hold you back and stick their beak in where it isn’t wanted…

        You can hear Anakin testing the waters at the start. He affects a casual tone and tries to petition Obi-Wan to allow him to come with him behind a veil of ephemeral banter: “You’re going to need me on this one, Master.” Obi-Wan, as if programmed by Anakin’s tone, simply returns it with an equally casual: “Oh, I agree. However, it may turn out just to be a wild bantha chase.” This certainly sounds like friendly repartee; only, you can tell, with Anakin’s mounting desperation, there’s a bit more behind it. He twice interrupts Obi-Wan and even breaks the flow of the panning camera on the first interruption by attempting to slow Obi-Wan down and stop him from leaving. A subliminal yearning on Anakin’s part. It’s as if he’s screaming: “Obi-Wan, please stay.” And if Obi-Wan won’t stay, can’t he at least break a rule and let Anakin go with him? The war, after all, in Anakin’s mind, requires a swift end; I mean, isn’t that how Padme might be saved? End the war and you end suffering. End the war and you end uncertainty. change, carnage, double-crossing, danger. “Obi-Wan should understand this and let me go with him.”

        But, of course, Anakin can’t quite bring himself to say it. Instead, he hides behind coded, calibrated, pleasing remarks. He apologises to Obi-Wan, hoping that that might elicit something. And it does; but not necessarily what Anakin was longing for. To coin a phrase, Obi-Wan tells Anakin what he wants to hear, not necessarily what he needs to hear. And so the charade continues. The thin facade, the window of separation, the membrane between truth and fiction, won’t be shattered here. But Anakin still tries by blurting out the classic Jedi well-wish; if only, perhaps, to clear his conscience. Or as the earlier blog author suggests, perhaps through some mixture of stubbornness or momentary elation. But it’s a band-aid solution at best. It doesn’t heal the deeper wounds and anxieties that afflict Anakin’s pride and ego.

        Which all leads with perfect economy into the next scene of Anakin with Padme. Not only does Anakin see Obi-Wan with Padme in what is now close to a waking vision, but his wife seems to brush the whole thing off. And Anakin now finally concedes that he feels “lost” (an insult Obi-Wan will harshly throw back at him on Mustafar toward the end of their violent engagement). But more than that, revealing the source of his angst, he point-blank asserts: “Obi-Wan and the Council don’t trust me.” That line, to me, is the real deal-breaker when it comes to trying to put a positive spin on Anakin’s side of the “farewell” scene. The twisted thing about the farewell scene is that, when kind words came, from both men, it wasn’t a happy moment for Anakin. He felt that Obi-Wan had not been completely honest and left him to rot in gloom and hopelessness. Just look at Anakin’s final eye gesture in the farewell scene. He shoots the departing ship an angry, accusing look.

        Also, when the ship takes off, the camera actually shakes — a wonderful visual touch. Not least because, in the opera scene, Anakin says to Palpatine: “I have to admit: My trust in them has been shaken.” This rupture in Anakin’s soul and the cosmic union of the two men, now a disunion, literally shakes the foundations of the world. Moreover, in the very next scene, right before Obi-Wan takes off in his starfighter, into the firmament of heaven, he has a small exchange with a clone trooper; a being wearing the face of his mortal enemy from the last movie. And their exchange, while good-humoured, is shot through with a sense of irony, since these beings will all turn on Obi-Wan and his fellow Jedi a little later. The exchange also underscores the incidental nature of their friendship. They are only friends because of the war: a Sith instrument to seize power. The clones would not otherwise even exist. So Obi-Wan leaving Anakin with the term “old friend” gets a darker inflection. They, too, are somewhat incidental comrades. And Palpatine deploys the word in a very dirty and diabolical manner toward Yoda: “My little green friend.”

        It depends how you watch it, of course, but Sith is a plenty dark picture — “from a certain point of view”. How dark you find it may depend on how dark you are. Star Wars can’t merely be a passive object. It actively reflects back what we bring to it. In that regard, and as I’ve said many a time before, it is much like the Dagobah cave. What will you find inside? Only what you take with you. Nevertheless, if you don’t have a touch of darkness within you, and you aren’t open to it, then you won’t see too much to begin with. The cave will be empty, bare, bleak, boring. In order for the entire psychodrama to instantiate, you must be willing to embrace the shadows and recognise their place in the wider reality of the cave; within your own hubristic, hulking being. Only then does the full beauty of “The Madness Of King George” begin to reveal itself to you.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Splendid analysis, once more. The last paragraph is your victory lap. And you raise a very many salient points.

        I was scratching my head, trying to recall which of the many scenes between the Skywalker couple “Seeds Distrust” was, so thanks for clearing that one up. It’s a great one.

        I think the author of the aforementioned blog would have been wiser to select the pregnancy revelation scene as the moment of joy in ‘Sith’. Admittedly, there is trepidation and much stress on the faces of our two characters, but there is also happiness. What is more human than to relish the opportunity of becoming a parent?

        That one carefully selected word from Anakin, “blessing”, is far from a throwaway – it is the key, it is Lucas at his best, peering deep into the heart of a distressed, flawed and ultimately, scarred individual. Indeed, in a film of great darkness, edging on fatalism, it is like a candle in the wind, a moment of utter sincerity, a moment of hopes and dreams; a moment of our protagonist at his very best. It is a beautiful flourish and amongst the most poignant pieces of dialogue ever spoken in Star Wars. And it’s my favourite scene between these two characters.

        If one cannot embrace the prospect of motherhood or fatherhood, that you are in some way forced to conceal or deny it, what does that say about the world you live in? Is it even worth living in? Beyond lofty notions of a newly declared empire and a high-flying rebellion, there is a terrible tragedy in the final prequel many viewers tend to miss: unfulfilled parenthood. If that isn’t cruel, frankly, I don’t know what is.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        Thank you, AD. As long as my response was by the time I got to end, I thought it needed a more general “closing statement”; thus the final paragraph. And you ended on a corker of a paragraph yourself!

        I wish the chapter titles were better known. I dig the titles. They somehow make the movie even better. I just love structure and organisation. Yet I’m always having to double check them myself. But yes, “Seeds Of Distrust” — could almost be a movie title in and of itself.

        I actually did the scene down a little when we were discussing the chapters, in linear sequence, on TFN, in 2005-2006 (although I gave it some praise, too). But now I feel I understand the subtleties of it better. Like every chapter in the prequels, Lucas does a lot with a little. And what gorgeous lighting! The same, incidentally, goes for “Brothers’ Farewell”. I didn’t quite get the scene back then. I didn’t understand the full scope of hurt and hope in Anakin. My interpretation was closer to the one you just presented. Again, Star Wars really reflects what we bring to it, in a variety of ways.

        Agree with you on pregnancy announcement being a better example of joy. Although even that — as you noted — is stained by Anakin having to fake his enthusiasm a degree. In general, however, it represents the calm before the storm: an oasis of joy in a world of fear, hurt, plotting, and death. Anakin touchingly declares the moment to be “the happiest” of his life; and I love how he forthrightly “anoints” the moment as such. Of course, Padme is a bit submissive here, hoping and longing for her husband’s approval, and he poignantly affirms her faith; offering both a warm, benevolent countenance, and sort of taking charge, assuming the dominant, patriarchal role for a serene, blissful moment. Can’t imagine this in Social Justice Wars, but here, in the Lucas saga, this whole scene is sad, beautiful, and compelling.

        Another scene that qualifies, in terms of the Anakin/Obi-Wan relationship, must be the airbus scene just before the pregnancy announcement, wherein Obi teases Anakin concerning his “glorious day with the politicians”, while amusing pleasantries are also exchanged about who the better fellow is, with Obi-Wan hilariously declaring that Anakin has, indeed, saved his skin maybe not ten times, but nine times, at least: “That business on Cato Neimoida doesn’t… doesn’t count.” I love how their mirthful bantering recalls the elevator exchange at the start of Clones. Only here, Obi-Wan is truly admiring of his former padawan, who has grown into a dashing Jedi Knight in his own right. And the visual supports it, too: Obi-Wan is literally looking down on Anakin. But not like later; no “higher ground” here. Obi-Wan is resting calmly against the frame of the airbus and looking down with admiration and pride at the self-sacrificing, vibrant person he believes his young charge has become; truly savouring the venerable figure before him. Wonderful moment.

        The “blessing” remark, from Anakin, occurs at the end of the chapter titled “Bad Dreams”, on Padme’s veranda at night (another gorgeous-looking scene), which is a couple of chapters on from the revelation of the pregnancy itself. But you make a nice observation. I, too, relish the word. It’s also another one of those religious synonyms that Lucas periodically and strategically places within the saga. Think of Obi-Wan using the word “crusade” in the original film, Han saying he’ll see those reluctant rebels “in hell” when he leaves Echo Base to search for Luke, the young Obi-Wan threatening Jar Jar with being blasted “into oblivion” on the verdant paradise of Naboo, or Anakin believing Padme to be “an angel” on first glimpsing her in the junk shop. All priceless. And here, in Sith, the “horror movie” of the saga, incredibly ominous. Sithstorms are very, very dangerous. Come on, I’ll take you to my place. My place equalling, well… a remote lava planet of choking darkness and violent fury.

        Again, love your final paragraph. The real tragedies of Star Wars are almost mundane in their biting irony and quiet sadness. For all the shock and awe of the story’s considerable spectacle, and the movie’s operatic themes of death and destruction, the saddest event is a fairly “micro” one: Two people are destroyed by impending parenthood and two kids are left orphaned and separated. An artistic, haunting take on parenthood and responsibility from then-single parent and adoptive father George Walton Lucas.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Whoops! It looks like you’re right, I’m conflating the revelation scene with another that occurs on what has to be one of the most beautiful sets in the whole saga: Padmé’s veranda.

        I have so much respect for the art direction, lighting, wardrobe and makeup work that went into the scenes in the famed senator’s apartment. Natalie looks a million dollars, while Hayden doesn’t look too shabby either (you’ll have to consult his legion of fangirls for a more elaborate take). The two actors do tremendous together, it’s a big step up from the more teenage affair of ‘Clones’. It’s important to keep in mind that every couple has its ups and downs, and Padmé and Anakin, despite the otherworldly space opera setting, are no different. The relationship feels grown-up, natural and organic.

        As both an an Italophile, and a great admirer of the metropolis presented in ‘Blade Runner’, it’s probably no surprise that the image of the veranda overlooking the Coruscant cityscape has stuck with me. It’s a majestic fusion and the lighting is always on point. It’s these kind of visuals that I long to see return, in some live-action format, in the future.

        Despite a title of ‘The Clone Wars’ for the animated series, which would seem to imply faraway battles and conflicts, not an insignificant share of the scenes take place on Coruscant. The High Jedi Council Chamber, the Galactic Senate and Padmé’s apartment all make numerous appearances. Like with the films, some viewers enjoy complaining to no end about these non-action orientated scenes, but I tend to devour them: the more the merrier. Season 5 & 6 have some really powerful scenes within the HJCC, while the early seasons feature some memorable moments of Anakin lurking around in his wife’s house. The ‘Coruscant high drama’ should be enough to lure you in.

        You know, if I could get a reasonable post & packaging price, I wouldn’t mind letting you borrow my Blu-ray set. I could send it to a PO box – all very simple.

        Much like with historical and political allusions, Lucas is not afraid to turn to religious metaphors either. “May the Force be with you” is no less than a Jedi equivalent of “God be with you”, better known by its modern contracted form as “Goodbye”. They are 12 members of the High Jedi Council. Anakin is conceived miraculously by the Force itself. Qui-Gon Jinn might as well be stand in for John the Baptist, heralding the arrival of the ‘Chosen One’. And of course, nothing screams the Gospels more than the theme of forgiveness and redemption – something at the heart of the Star Wars message (if there is one). Like all good films with religious symbolism, however, Lucas isn’t trying to indoctrinate his audience, or treat them like idiots, he weaves them in because they’ve been central to the human experience for two millennia, and as a Methodist himself, they personally mean a lot to him.

        The message in ‘The Last Jedi’, by contrast, feels incredibly forced and artificial – it essentially preaches an unmistakeably upper middle class, hashtagy, American mid-2010s political viewpoint. A superficial brand of politics that, let’s be honest, inadvertently helped elect a charlatan like Trump. The PT’s allegory to Weimar Germany, meanwhile, seems infinitely more important. But enough of the ST detour!

        I guess you can substitute for the “happiest moment of my life” dialogue then. I still stand by my point, and believe it’s a genuine remark – Christensen does terrific, even the PT sceptics have acknowledged it. If Anakin is faking here too, then it just makes a mockery of his character and everything he saids becomes pretence.

        I must really go back and watch RotS. It’s been about 7-8 months, and you’ve certainly wet my appetite. As you may have picked up, I’m not someone who likes to watch the films I adore countless time. Although I believe that ‘rewatchability’ is a key meter in rating movies, I’ve always been someone who likes to come into repeat viewings somewhat fresh. If I become too familiar, the film starts to become predictable and I focus too much on the actors lines instead of the director’s vision. A bit weird, I know.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        The veranda set is truly one of the most stunning and perfect sets in the saga. Perhaps the dazzling impact of it has worn off on me slightly over the years, but it still looks amazing and has exactly the right kind of opulent vibe. The wonderful digital matte paintings that flesh those scenes out are also terrific. And yes, all those elements you named — art direction, lighting, wardrobe, and makeup — are fantastic, too. Definitely Oscar-worthy stuff. But we know Sith was robbed.

        Anakin/Hayden and Padme/Natalie are definitely more mature in their roles and their energy around one another in the third prequel (or “Love And War: Part Two”). It helps, I think, that Lucas hired a dialogue (read: acting) coach for Sith. Recommended to him by Francis Ford Coppola: Chris Neil. Some of his other credits include several of Sofia Coppola’s features (“Lost In Translation” seems to be the sole exception) and her former husband’s surreal existential comedy “Being John Malkovich”. So not a bad resume. You might be interested in this archival interview from the official site:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20050106064923/http://www.starwars.com/episode-iii/bts/profile/f20050105/index.html

        Note that there are three pages to click through in total. And they should all be archived. Anyway, Neil is mentioned a few times in Rinzler’s “Making Of” book and even quoted on a couple of occasions. And I like this quote on the archived page above:

        “I wanted to help the actors find natural reactions to what they were saying,” Neil says. “During the rehearsal sessions with Natalie and Hayden I would help steer them into that place. They’re both very naturalistic actors, but it was helping them make the scenes more personal. I wanted them to grasp the history of the relationship between the two characters and reveal the intimacy of two young people in love with subtler details. Sometimes actors think about the films in a grander scheme, and it’s really more productive to look at it from a scene-to-scene approach so that you can just really focus on how the characters react to one another. For example, what if when Padmé walks into the room, she puts her hand on Anakin’s shoulder? That may not be written in the script, but it suggests a loving moment. It’s those little things that help create a history between the characters, which in turn them more believable.”

        The “shoulder” moment that Neil is referring to above might be that little moment in “A Hero Lost”, the chapter where Anakin has a vision of Obi-Wan at Padme’s side during childbirth, where Padme walks past Anakin and reassures him with a simple touch that transcends the spoken word. And that’s another chapter I love. Neil was perhaps instrumental in getting those little gestures into the Anakin/Padme scenes and helping them feel more rounded and naturalistic. Lucas even says in the “Making Of” book, during pick-up photography when filming the “ruminations” sequence (a late addition to the film after Anakin’s turn was modified/tuned up), that showing how much Anakin and Padme care for each other is one of his weaknesses. That said, he also casually remarks in the “Making Of” book for AOTC that he didn’t find writing their scenes to be too challenging, and that he was happy with the performances he got from Hayden and Natalie; so take it all with a grain of salt.

        You’re trying to lure me in, yourself, with mention of those environments, aren’t you? 🙂 I love the iconicity of those locations. Never been sure what’s so remarkable about the OT. I love the homestead, the cantina, Echo Base, Cloud City, Jabba’s Palace, and the Ewok village, but Clones has as many intriguing locations, and that’s just one movie. Between them, Clones and Sith just totally kill it; with TPM respectably bringing up the rear and laying an exceptionally solid foundation. Lucas never really showed the world what he could do until the prequels.

        Thank you mightily for the offer, but keep your Blu-ray discs! I don’t even have a Blu-ray player. I’m stuck in the land of DVD. I know — Ridiculous. But I’m a relatively poor guy. We don’t have a stand-alone Blu-ray player for our TV, and my PC, because I bought a cheap one, unfortunately didn’t come with a Blu-ray drive. Even in 2016. I certainly wanted one. These days, everything is switching over to streaming/downloading; Blu-ray will be obsolete in another five years and I’ll never have owned a single disc. And yet: I was the first person I know to start watching things in HD. I sought out early HD clips in 2003/2004 and loved them instantly…

        Star Wars is utterly saturated in religious allusions and cultural symbolism. No argument there. And yes, the foundation of it is rather Christian, despite the preponderance of Asian influences; especially, in terms of the spiritual subtext, Buddhism. In the 1980s, Lucas began calling himself a Buddhist Methodist, which I think is about right. It wasn’t until “The Matrix” trilogy arrived that another fantasy series convincingly fused these disparate belief systems together into some larger whole. That whole “East Meets West” thing in SW and TM isn’t to be underestimated. BTW: On the Qui-Gon thing. A reporter actually put that to Liam Neeson and he agreed, but said he hadn’t really looked at his character that way until then. Which is sort of funny: Liam’s middle name is John! That’s my first name, too. “Liam John”/”Qui-Gon”. It really fits, doesn’t it? “It’s like poetry…”

        I’m not sure what role the cloistered politics of the left played in the election of Trump; but it may not have been insignificant. Sanders was the real Jedi pushed aside (literally not allowed to win) for Sith Lord Hillary. And people smelled fake all over her. I hope some lessons have truly been learned. In any case, Disney’s purported “family values” don’t amount to much. They behave very aggressively, like any big corporation, using bullying tactics to get their way, paying their park workers minimum wage, driving profit margins up via cheap third-world labour that produces their inflated merchandise, and a welter of other heartwarming behaviours that makes you proud they own Lucasfilm and Star Wars. Then there’s that whole attempt at social engineering. But they arguably put too much of the poison in TLJ and people have begun spitting at the taste…

        No scene in the prequels is straightforward. When Anakin declares that it’s “the happiest moment of my life”, he leans in to kiss his wife and the expression on his face is a mixture of elation and intimidation. It might be simplistic to say that Anakin is faking anything, but thanks to Hayden’s subtle, multifarious acting in this scene, it’s clear that he’s doing his best to suppress his anxiety. And, arguably, this is why Anakin dreams of his wife in peril that same evening. He is unwilling to confront his fears head-on; so they bubble up in his sleep instead. The basic idea is that fatherhood scares Anakin to death — or, as it turns out, all the way to Mustafar. It’s also notable, having had his nightmare, his focus is entirely on losing Padme. Padme herself asks after the baby and he responds: “I don’t know”. Followed by his assertion, as you earlier spoke about, that their baby is “a blessing”. But it is clear he is obsessed with saving Padme above all else.

        Most of what Anakin says and does can be considered a pretence of some kind after Clones. It goes back to the fireplace scene; or scenes. Padme tells him they’d be living a lie; and Anakin agrees it would destroy them. An ominous bit of self-awareness. And then there’s the actual loss of his mother at the other fireside setting. Which alters his entire trajectory. Finally, on Geonosis, Anakin seeks to have those memories erased: “Aim right above the fuel cells.” Look up the term “fuel”. The modern-day English word is derived from the Latin word “focus”, meaning “hearth, fireplace”. Your fireplace determines your reality. But seriously. He wants the fireplace scenes destroyed! Why wouldn’t he? They are too painful, too raw, too honest. It’s like Anakin saw the hateboys mocking him. And in Sith, he dreams of Padme in a white garment, screaming and in need of his presence; which could almost be considered PTSD-like effects from a white-suited Padme falling out of the gunship. There are many interlocking layers in the prequels.

        I watch the films and fragments of them a good deal. A bit too much. I like the idea you can jump in and out like a video game player or an editor. Lucas himself even mentions the idea of interactive blocks in the “Making Of” book for ROTS (such a great book — I can’t stop referring to it!). It’s a fascinating idea. In the recent Rinzler interview on YouTube, he reveals that Lucas felt that way one day, but then reverted to his stance that Star Wars is a twelve-hour movie the next time they spoke. In other words, Lucas is weary of people paying that “interactive blocks” quote too much much mind; especially if they’re not first willing to see the films as a single artistic expression as he intended. Ultimately, however, I think you can have both. Lucasian Star Wars is much more abstract than most people seem willing to realise. And it continues to grip me so.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        I didn’t know a dialogue coach was hired. That’s really interesting to hear.

        I’m well aware the Blu-ray format is going out of fashion, but many of us still enjoy the hard collectable format (with superior image quality) also known as a “product” or a “good”. I don’t mind rental serves like iTunes or a subscription service like Netflix existing, but I have major philosophical qualms with the the “rent-only” model. And sadly, a lot of things in the digital domain are going that way, even in the creative field: think Adobe software.

        Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to spit out a 2,000 word essay, but I do find myself strongly disagreeing with your acceptance of pretence. Looking into the etymology of a banal word like “fuel” strikes me as as bizarre and offers no real explanation of Anakin’s character. Lucas is not a linguist – he’s a storyteller.

        “The basic idea is that fatherhood scares Anakin to death ”
        This is absolutely nonsense, and goes against everything I’ve already written on above.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        I’m a little confused. I thought we’d been having a civil discussion; a pleasant interchange of opinions. But it seems you desired to correct that aberrant notion of mine and have now clarified that the discourse you prefer is one laced with prickly condescension, ill-mannered dismissiveness, and haughty disdain. My apologies for assuming that you equally believed that respectful dialogue was the way to go in these encounters. I’ve been wrong before; and the universe seems determined to teach me I can always be wrong again.

        You appear to have perceived some insult in my directly acknowledging and thanking you for offering to loan your Blu-ray discs of “The Clone Wars” straight to me. I don’t know how I could unironically express gratitude more strongly than the way I began that particular paragraph, but here it is again: “Thank you mightily for the offer”. I then said you should keep your discs and went on to explain why. I wasn’t rebuffing you. I was just saying why I had to decline. I didn’t need to give an explanation, of course. But the fact I did, and then received a shrill, rancorous reply in return, says a lot about your character, methinks.

        And I wasn’t bashing the Blu-ray format, but simply lamenting the fact that the whole thing has essentially passed me by. In the process of doing that, I also wistfully acknowledged some light/silver lining, given the rapid pace of technological progress, and how widespread streaming and downloading have become. I don’t know whether this is good or bad. Perhaps a mixture. Technology, as Lucas said, is like the Force: It can be used for good or evil. Rather like your surly reply to me. In other words: The exact same concept applies to Naboo News, all comments sections, and the Internet as a whole.

        You may suddenly lack the time to produce — or to “spit out” — a 2000-word essay, but you were in the habit of entertaining my long replies before, and you made some pretty lengthy responses yourself; as this thread alone attests to. Sorry for my high crime of producing lengthy, considered replies. I won’t keep repeating my mistake after I’m done here.

        Re: “Pretence”. You introduced that term into the conversation concerning Anakin and my interpretation of his words in the pregnancy-announcement scene. Here’s what you said: “If Anakin is faking here too, then it just makes a mockery of his character and everything he saids becomes pretence.”

        Reading into that remark a little, I’m going to assume the blog post I formerly offered up, concerning the “farewell” scene between Anakin and Obi-Wan, made you a bit uncomfortable. You did, after all, counter it with a much more positive (and, from my point of view, far less cogent/probing) blog from another fan. In any case, your earlier remark there is an example of a false dilemma. There needn’t be absolutes. After all, according to Obi-Wan, only a Sith deals in them…

        I would argue that there is a subtle architecture at work concerning the dialogue in Star Wars. That is, the words used, the cadence, the timing and placement of lines, etc. I also think the expression on the actor’s face is meant to illustrate that Anakin *is* faking his emotions a degree in front of Padme. And the fact he declares the news to be “a happy moment” suggests, to me, he is trying to put a positive sheen on it; when his own feelings are much more messy and tangled underneath the calm and happy facade.

        I don’t hold it to be a coincidence that Anakin dreams of losing Padme, with the sounds of a baby wailing all around as Padme screams for Anakin in pain/anguish, that same night. One scene inflects another. My reading is that fatherhood frightens Anakin; primarily because of the unknown landscape it opens up. As Padme herself says: “This baby will change our lives.” And that is Anakin’s big fear. As he impetuously says to his mother in Episode I: “I don’t want things to change.”

        Of course, you suddenly think what I say can be bluntly cast off as “absolute nonsense”, so I guess I’m dealing with a brickwall mentality that no longer wants genuine dialogue…

        And back to that a second: The dialogue.

        You may think that looking into the etymology of words and trying to apply them to these films is “bizarre” and “offers no real explanation of Anakin’s character”, but all I see there is rote dismissal, not unlike the blanket hostility shown by bashers of the films on IMDb, where prequel fans got repeatedly chastised and told they were idiot gushers and apologists by a close-minded, self-satisfied rabble of relentless haters.

        Obviously, I don’t think it’s bizarre; but something that is fun and fruitful. Lucas himself has, at various times, hinted that there are more layers to Star Wars than people are conventionally prepared to deal with. And he has spoken on several occasions about agonising over the dialogue, struggling to write more than five pages a day, and having to chain himself to his desk to get them all done. One shouldn’t necessarily interpret that admission as a confession of impaired writing ability; but rather, a sign of how seriously he approaches the writing of every movie he has panned himself — even if it isn’t his favourite part of the creative process.

        Film texts have encrusted meanings. Because that’s how language itself works in human culture. There are entire branches of study devoted to the study of written texts and records and the origin and origin and evolution of words and syntax: e.g., philology, linguistics, morphology, etymology, semiotics, et al. I’m not certain why these can’t be part of an authentic, in-depth discussion of film art. Most films, after all, contain dialogue and originate — conceptually, at least — from screenplays. And while Star Wars is intensely visual and graphical, the saga films all begin with a mound of text; inviting study/consideration of the words employed; semantically and sensuously as part of a wider aesthetic experience.

        And, once again, the fact you used a word like “bizarre” to put down commentary on specific words used in the film text suggests you find this topic disquieting. But that shouldn’t stop it being a method/road of inquiry. I like to view the Star Wars films — the gleaming prequels, especially — as being uniquely performed works of cinematic art; which means I think studying the words and acknowledging buried meanings, or meanings hiding in plain sight (rather like the whole Jedi/Sith conflict), is completely valid.

        You also said that “Lucas is not a linguist”, but “a storyteller”. However, unless you’re talking about something very abstract, like painting, dance, architecture, or certain forms of music, for example, most people tell stories — at least, in part — using language. In other words, storytellers generally have some facility with language; they are, you might say, natural linguists. As all human beings actually are. So I don’t feel the words in Star Wars — an emotional story told in a staunch, operatic way — should necessarily be simply (or simplistically) glanced over.

        Now, how does a word like “fuel” relate to Anakin’s journey; or, more accurately, the line he utters? Well, I don’t know exactly; but that’s part of the rush of it. It is certainly notable, I think, that he has been around “fuel” his whole life, in the more common sense of the word: He began as a gearheaded podracing human on Tatooine (another sand planet from which Geonosis, according to Padme, is “less than a parsec away”). And I did offer a basic explication earlier: I hinted that Anakin seeks to extirpate himself from his pain by visiting his hurt, through hasty, coded gestures, on other people and creatures.

        Witness Anakin’s furious, hot-headed attempt to take Dooku down in an instant, contravening Obi-Wan’s instruction, because he’s still frantic over Padme lying comatose in the sand. He even tells Dooku that he’s going to pay for all the Jedi he killed; right before rushing at him. Projection by Anakin of his own Tusken massacre? Lucas hints that the origins of violence are extremely complex; and that score-settling and trying to chase away mental demons are two reasons people engage in it to begin with. And that itself is just one layer.

        These films deserve more careful, fine-grained readings. That’s not to say you have to agree with any particular reading. It’s just a little strange to me when prequel fans themselves sneer at complexity and appear to shrivel up any time a fan goes a more interesting direction. Of course, Star Wars doesn’t have to be seen as anything special or intellectualised. Many people think the prequels are cinematic trash; or, at best, entertaining failures. And there are plenty of people who believe the same (or even worse) of Star Wars as a whole. But why live in that frame or beat the same drum if you’re a committed fan? Why assume the manners of the mob?

        In any case, it was delightful to have my lengthy posts derogated and the content of my posts reduced to “absolute nonsense”. Thanks for that. And it wasn’t your only surly response to me in the last two weeks over a difference of opinion; and even a misreading of sincerely-rendered (positive) acknowledgements. I suppose I’m now going the next step and giving you your wish because it feels like there is something wrong here. Forgive me if I feel disinclined to engage with you in the future.

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