Attack of the Clones,  Prequel Trilogy

Video: “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones in Under Five Minutes”

From Star Wars Kids:

“Anakin’s all grown up, and he must protect Queen Amidala from assassins! Elsewhere, Count Dooku leads a growing Separatist movement, while Obi-Wan uncovers a mystery that will change the course of the galaxy. It’s all here and more in this lightspeed look at the feature film Star Wars: Attack of the Clones!

Star Wars In Under Five Minutes is a series of shorts introducing the characters and condensing the epic stories of a galaxy far, far away!”

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  • archdukeofnaboo

    @Cryogenic

    There’s a opinion now (and it’s been going a round with a few years, to be fair) that TPM isn’t actually the worst of the prequels, but AotC instead.

    It does make me wonder how its 20th anniversary will be marked.

    • Cryogenic

      @ Arch Duke (and Joe):

      “There’s a opinion now (and it’s been going a round with a few years, to be fair) that TPM isn’t actually the worst of the prequels, but AotC instead.”

      You’re quite correct. Such a trend was noticed or speculated upon as far back as 2005 — in August that year. 14 years ago! Boy, oh, boy…

      https://boards.theforce.net/threads/interesting-trend-fans-are-warming-up-to-tpm-and-distancing-themselves-from-aotc.21151421/

      You may find some early “Cryo” in that thread. To read early Cryo is to cringe (or, indeed, to cry — and not that “modern Cryo” is much better!). Many posts (longer ones) may also be cut off. Stupid board software change in 2012 caused that. I don’t even dare look back and see what I said!

      But as far as TPM vs. AOTC goes: It’s really too much to summarise why people may prefer one over the other. Many reasons, stated and unstated, abound. You know me, though. I’ll have a crack at it!

      I think some people, in short, find TPM the more charming and human of the two. TPM being shot on film, along with it having slightly more restrained use of CG technology (the ships are mostly still physical models in TPM), are often given as pluses. In TPM, we spend a lot of time on fairly basic (if visually beautiful) home worlds like Tatooine and Naboo (Coruscant is, by far, the shortest passage of the movie). AOTC, on the other hand, puts us on Coruscant for a longer stretch (like ROTS, the movie starts there — whereas it’s the mythical Camelot everyone is trying to reach in TPM); and then there’s Kamino and Geonosis: markedly “alien” worlds which bookmark AOTC’s relatively short stay on Naboo and Tatooine. And while AOTC has a bearded Ewan McGregor and Christopher Lee, TPM is graced with Liam Neeson and Pernilla August.

      Somehow, perhaps, TPM feels more grounded and realistic. At the same time, TPM also has an exceptionally vivid, quasi-three-dimensional, “storybook” quality to its visuals; and arguably the best score of the prequels. This exquisite fusion maybe helps the film insinuate a fantasy feel better than its brethren, allowing both its lofty and more innocent qualities to shine through. Perhaps it also helps that TPM came out at the end of the 1990s and the end of the millennium, while AOTC was the first Star Wars film to be released in a post-9/11, post-Y2K Bug world. Without even realising it, people quietly resonated to that unreachable, Elysium idealism of TPM more.

      Lucas also worked longer on TPM than any of the other movies, lavishing approximately five years on TPM, from conception to release. He spent roughly four years making ANH and then three on the other films. Of course, Star Wars, to paraphrase the slogan to “Jurassic Park”, also seems to have been thousands, if not millions, of years in the making. But the extra time Lucas spent on TPM, along with it being the most chronologically distant of the prequels (with respect to the fictive timeframe of the originals), maybe helps it feel the most fleshed-out and unique (but then: all the movies are pretty intricate and special).

      Then there’s the weird tonal architecture of AOTC itself. It’s a very up-down movie with a strange, polymorphous ambience to it. It combines several different storytelling modes and genres to create one epic pudding. It might be a little on the skewed and discursive side for some. The weird mashing of genres — while delightful to me (and something every SW film does, to one degree or another) — might also contribute to the sense that AOTC is too “slap-dash”, hastily assembled, and not sure of what it wants to be; or, conversely, is doing too much to please audiences left a little alienated by TPM. A feeling that some fans have never been able to shake with regard to Jar Jar’s diminished screen time, to cite one pertinent (or possibly impertinent) example.

      AOTC is also the movie — in classic Lucas/prequel style — that takes a match to some sacred Star Wars verities. To quote a perceptive TFN fan (Darth Eddie) from a separate thread: “Anakin’s a creep, the romance is doomed, the politicians are duped, the Jedi forsake their ideals, and the war of disposable soldiers is utterly pointless, but guess what? That’s the point.” In some sense, TPM is just an overture: a preliminary accounting or stage-setting of the real storm/story ahead. You can watch it and still believe, without too much cognitive dissonance, that prequels two and three will be more “classical” in orientation. But along came Episode II to shatter those delusions. In AOTC, Lucas really takes his Star Wars universe to task, allowing a disquieting feel to seep into everything. This is what makes me love it — but not all people, of course, think and feel alike.

      Along with that, some years ago, I noticed another feature of AOTC that gives it a slightly jaded and abstract quality. In short: its attitude toward mentorship (one of those Star Wars evergreens). In the other movies (at least: in the non-Disney ones), there is always some smooth mentor figure saying and doing smooth mentor things. In TPM, it’s obviously Qui-Gon (who essentially mentors Obi-Wan, Jar Jar, Anakin, and Amidala, in just about that order). In AOTC, a slight wrench is thrown into the predictable (or semi-predictable) Star Wars machinery, because a recalcitrant and clearly somewhat arrogant Anakin (a very young version of Darth Vader — rolling around in the grass and falling in love!) is very imperfectly mentored by a young and in-over-his-head Obi-Wan and peripherally by none other than Palpatine: the devil in disguise.

      Even Amidala mentors Anakin in AOTC. Though her “advice” is no better than Obi-Wan’s and does little to calm Anakin’s mind: “To be angry is to be human”. People hate that line, but it all seems deliberate to me. The hero here is somewhat emasculated and the mentors all have their own flaws and schemes; with one of them actively leading him astray. About the best Obi-Wan can do, fore-echoing Padme, is to tell Anakin, concerned over his mother, that “dreams pass in time” — a very sad and poignant line with many layers to it. Anakin killing the Tuskens is therefore bookmarked by these ersatz nuggets of wisdom and reassurance. A curious and gloriously tragicomic elegy to death and destruction.

      Go over the remaining movies and the mentorship the other films present seems more solid, even if it’s insincere (e.g., Palpatine more extensively mentoring Anakin and Luke in ROTS and ROTJ). AOTC has this more stark, fragmented quality that’s just wonderful, but also different. And people, by and large, often don’t respond to difference too well. Another case in point: Yoda mentoring those wee younglings who will be massacred in the very next movie; and the baby soldiers being grown that will be involved in said massacring. Some very ominous notes are struck in AOTC with the brilliance of a jazz master. Deliberate homage there: Lucas once described TPM and AOTC as “jazz riffs” (which only enraged some people further).

      The romance is yet another element it’s hard to look away from. “People don’t talk like that.” Oh, yes, they do. Lucas went a deliberately more old-fashioned route in AOTC. He knew some people would have a tough time dealing with it. It needed to have a certain melodramatic intensity to it in order to come across, I think, as real (paradoxically). After all, Amidala (in her queen guise) and Darth Vader are something like the “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy” characters of Star Wars — strange, vast, inscrutable; and somehow making everything “go”. Why wouldn’t they have a poetically awkward and ritualistic tryst? AOTC is the Star Wars prequel that broke and re-made Star Wars. Kind of the cinematic equivalent of Vader removing Luke’s hand in TESB — and with it, Luke’s attachment (quite literally) to his father’s lightsaber, allowing him to forge his own and develop a new persona, to discover his deeper self and create new conditions of being, going forward.

      I think people came to the prequels broadly expecting more of the same. Even the digital cinematography of AOTC was a radical departure from the territory of the known in 2002. The artist was indulging himself and doing things nobody had ever done before. And everyone else was being pulled into his painting; even when they protested they had free will and would never give the soulless hack another penny. Lucas seduced many with his siren song. But it was a good song leading to a deserved smashing against the rock. He wanted people to develop a more expanded consciousness and to question everything. Adopt the mantle of Threepio in the droid factory. Take the plunge. Allow the “blue” of the prequels to nudge you into a discombobulated state — a vital chapter in the process of becoming; in the bold adventure of finding out who you really are.

      I don’t mean any particularly deep or harsh judgements here. Arguably, I used to like TPM more. But today, I feel that AOTC is more my prequel of choice. At other times, I’ve found it very hard to pick and choose a favourite. I suppose the word “more” belies the notion I’ve yet grown comfortable with the idea it’s okay to like one prequel over the other. Because these films are really a three-volume (or, indeed, a six- or nine-volume) set. They intimately go together and they all have things to offer, both in part and as a beautiful whole. Yes, even the Disney films. The prequels are definitely where my intellectual admiration is piqued most, but at the same time, the whole panorama is kind of wonderful. Star Wars forever!

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        Excellent comparison of the two films, albeit not really explaining the psychology behind the zeitgeist. In any case, I think we’ve discussed it enough in the past vis-à-vis the romantic subplot. I’m convinced its a more hated element than Jar-Jar Binks right now – even one of my favourite SW podcasts, which is always so positive and unapologetic about the PT, ducked and dived around the courtship when it covered Episode II recently. It was a blatant omission and I shall be emailing them about it.

        So, where you now with regard to the SW blog or indeed your planned book on the PT? I think you’ve got some terrific essays that can be constructed from your comments on this site alone. You should certainly pen an article on how you would write Episode IX – not necessarily your predictions, rather what you think would bring some sanity to the new trilogy.

        Also:

        Care to join us on the Naberriefields forums? I joined a few weeks ago.

      • Cryogenic

        @ Arch Duke:

        “Excellent comparison of the two films, albeit not really explaining the psychology behind the zeitgeist.”

        Well, it’s hard to penetrate down to the psychology of complex phenomena, but I did feel I adumbrated some of the reasons people, at least, cite for liking one film more than the other, with a bit of subjective speculation thrown in.

        Elsewhere, I have written about the aesthetic/storytelling divide between TPM and AOTC, as well as conjecturing about why so many people had difficulty liking the prequels as a whole. But the thing is: it’s really much too big an issue to condense down into a few paragraphs.

        I am sure there are many other factors that go some way to explaining the matter. One might be what you could call the “TPM echo effect”; or “once bitten, twice shy”. I think a lot of fans went into AOTC a little weary after the shock to their senses that TPM delivered; and so, in a way, maybe they were less forgiving of AOTC’s design features and oddities, right from the start. Perhaps some unconsciously blamed AOTC more for “breaking” the prequels, but it was down to them taking their bad vibes toward TPM with them; seeing the movie through a jaded lens. It’s like AOTC is the real “Dagobah cave” of the prequels. Fans took their weapons inside, saw bad things, and reacted with predictable consequences. Or to strain for a different metaphor: TPM and AOTC became the exploded “seismic charges” of the Star Wars canon (until the Disney films, at least).

        Arguably, AOTC was also a victim of poor timing; being the first Star Wars film to face stiff blockbuster competition in the form of Sony’s “Spider-Man”. Its rival was a film with a megalithic marketing campaign (Lucas, by contrast, purposely dialled down the marketing for AOTC), a critical darling (critics were more mixed on AOTC), and one that rapidly became a box-office sensation (contra AOTC; which did the worst box-office of the prequels). “Spider-Man” was the first big runaway Marvel success; and something of a precursor, perhaps, to the Disney-owned Marvel franchise that has seen outrageous success today (ironic that Disney now owns both Marvel and Star Wars; in 2002, things arguably felt more innocent…). “Spider-Man” was a more simple, honest-to-goodness “crowd pleaser”; much like the original Star Wars film. AOTC certainly offered moviegoers a vigorous, colourful canvas, and plenty of thrills ‘n’ spills, but it was definitely cut from a different cloth.

        And “Spider-Man” wasn’t the only competition that AOTC faced on release. Arriving that winter was the second of Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies. The first film, of course, was showered with non-stop praise, and after AOTC came out, people couldn’t seem to stop raving about how tired, dull, clunky, and embarrassing the prequels were next to “fantasy cinema done right”. LOTR had the benefit of being backed by a respected work of literature (respected, anyway, in the fantasy genre), and, we are frequently made to believe, is a great deal more weighty and adult-oriented than Star Wars could ever be (well, from a certain POV). And when those movies scooped no less than 17 Academy Awards in total (to the prequels’ big fat zero), people who considered LOTR the superior work of cinema (or at least bleated about it and mocked any mote of criticism to the contrary) felt “objectively” validated. Now they could REALLY get uppity about the “obvious” superiority of LOTR, and how much of a failure the prequels were by comparison.

        LOTR didn’t just steal some of the prequels’ thunder; it savaged the nucleus of Lucas’ entire prequel project. That same genie of the lamp: timing. AOTC was the prequel that arrived right in the thicket of LOTR mania: FOTR came out the year before AOTC’s release, and the trilogy was wrapped with the release of ROTK, the year after. Lucas, at the time, was still beavering away heavily on ROTS, which wouldn’t come out for a further 18 months after the close of Jackson’s trilogy. Meanwhile, LOTR fanatics eagerly awaited the release of the “Extended Edition” of ROTK, keeping them distracted with the prospect of a “Lawrence Of Arabia”-style capstone as Star Wars appeared to be sinking rapidly into the mire. I think, in this vein, AOTC, especially, and the prequels more generally, were never really given much of a chance.

        In fact, any number of blockbuster entertainments seemed to dent the success of AOTC and take the wind out of the PT’s sails — even though AOTC and the PT still did very well, overall. I think the fact that people were now free to choose from a wider variety of movies, in a genre that had suddenly exploded to life (Star Wars was no longer the only gleaming, untouchable fantasy object in town — watch AOTC’s opening scene with this in mind!), meant that they were more likely to recoil at the idiosyncrasies of the prequels. It was like those other movies were other potential lovers saying to them, “Leave the world of Star Wars behind. You don’t have to stay with him/her forever.” It gave some people the confidence to tear into AOTC and imagine the fantasy of a relatively unsullied PT if Lucas had gone in a “better” direction after TPM. TPM, for some reason, people were somewhat willing to forgive. Maybe it was the hype. Maybe it was Liam Neeson. Maybe it was the lack of a jarring romance that hadn’t yet instantiated. But whatever it was, they seemed less inclined to kindness after perhaps tolerating AOTC for a time.

        You’re still correct that I haven’t really gotten below the surface, really. Alas, all these reasons are probably orthogonal to the real ones. At the same time, I don’t think you can ignore cultural and commercial factors. Everything exerts some kind of pressure on people’s minds. Films don’t exist in a vacuum any more than people do. Rather, films, especially high-concept, blockbuster movies, exist in a complex ecosystem; and a rather crowded and entangled one, too; especially when a bunch of popular releases appear in close succession and even overlap with one another. Geek-media response, and all the chatter on the Internet, provides a whole other layer of complexity when assaying the psychology of vast numbers of people.

        I think you’re probably right that the romance was the biggest turn-off of AOTC, and maybe the prequels in their entirety. For various reasons, some people had a problem with seeing Anakin depicted the way he was in the PT. And if he is, arguably, the central character of the prequels, then the movies stand or fall relative to the perceived brilliance, strength, believability, or worth of the Anakin character and how he was ultimately realised. After all, in AOTC, the character is more than a little — shall we say? — pouty, whiny, and bracing. Almost, at times, with shaky leg and quivering lip and epicene complexion, a touch Elvis-esque and androgynous. Far removed from the forbidding, leering enforcer figure of Vader in the OT. But that’s also the genius of his portrayal. I think some people were simply unable to embrace the contradictory nature of the Anakin character. As Paul McDonald cogently writes in his chapter on Anakin called “The Learner”, in his wonderful prequel book, “The Star Wars Heresies: Interpreting The Themes, Symbols And Philosophies of Episodes I, II and III”:

        “As a young man, Anakin Skywalker is very much a center of conflict, both internally and externally. Charged with bringing balance to the Force, he himself is an uneasily balanced whirlwind of contradiction. The narrative of Attack Of The Clones bears this out, with George Lucas not only having to establish him as someone in the mold of the traditional hero, but also having to chip away at and undercut that mold throughout the film. For as we all know, this is not a protagonist who will follow the archetypal hero’s journey to emerge victorious in the prequels, but rather will fall and become one of its darkest villains. Not only is this one of the boldest moves in the history of myth, it requires countless tensions in the performance and execution, not to mention any number of intentional inconsistencies in the character.”

        What I think we’re also seeing, socially and politically, is a move away from integration and toward fragmentation — especially in the lives of young men. There is a growing sense of restlessness and rage out there. One form of this restlessness and rage is the so-called “red pill” movement, which has become quite popular the last half-decade or so. And there are some powerful factors swirling around it: people are getting married later (if at all), incomes are in free-fall making independent living increasingly difficult, social media and dating apps have increased people’s anxiety and sense of disconnection, and young men, in particular, I think, feel anxious and agitated, and are struggling to fulfil their basic biological programming; much less thousands of years of social conditioning. One might argue that discomfit elicited by the Anakin-Padme romance is, in part, a form of repressed anger — anger that men can’t get the success with women they expect, and anger that they don’t have the lives they imagined being theirs for the taking when younger. Equally, on the part of women, we seem to see increasing emphasis placed on behaviours and attitudes deemed misogynistic, and maybe unrealistic standards paired with a protective mentality toward partnering and romantic pursuits in the modern world. People seem to be retreating from one another and labelling each other as threats, undesirable, not good enough…

        I might be a part-time sociologist (especially where the prequels go), but I think it’s all a bit too broad and hefty for this comments section, really…

        Thank you for your sustained interest in my writings! I feel I’ve let you down and delivered a very sludgy response here, desperately in need of some fibre! Sometimes, the Force just won’t flow…

        At the present moment, I’m focusing more on the book route. I returned to my book project about a week ago; but I didn’t add a tremendous amount. I mostly just embellished some passages I’d already written with a few additional musings and paragraphs. But there can be a certain satisfaction in that. It’s generally easier to work on something when a good deal of the heavy-lifting has already been done. Other times, I get a flash of inspiration, and suddenly, I’ve written out a whole new chapter. I sense that’s coming again soon. You mention my comments here; and I shall certainly be returning to and re-using some of them. Remember that dense exchange we had on Anakin and Obi-Wan departing in ROTS? Brothers’ Farewell? That is definitely becoming a chapter soon.

        I think it would be too hubristic of me to rewrite Episode IX in advance. Plus: I have a terribly impoverished imagination! Okay, you didn’t necessarily use the word “rewrite”, but that’s kind of how my brain took it. It is hard for me to say in advance, though; because I’m trying to keep an open mind about the choices they’ve made. For instance, I could declare that Jar Jar or Naboo should appear again in Episode IX, for reasons X, Y, or Z. But before seeing the finished product, I don’t think it would be fair to say anything. While unlikely, the final installment could be quite satisfactory, all by itself — no input from me required.

        Also, I’m not sure a wish-list makes much sense in the context of a trilogy I have barely taken to my bosom to begin with. It’s like asking me to write out a parking ticket for a swarm of bees. Nonsensical. But in a word? Midi-chlorians. Beyond that, I hope they have knuckled down on the sequel trilogy’s strongest asset: the various tendrils of intrigue that exist between Rey and Kylo. There’s little else in the sequels, aside from window-dressing elements, that make me go, “Hang on a minute…” (in a good way). I’m as curious as anyone to see how they resolve those characters and their emergent arc with one another.

        I have noted your presence on Naberrie Fields! Very good. I am slightly more inspired to post there now. It’s just finding a way to activate that little circuit in my brain. Well done, anyway, for taking the plunge. I’m too much of a flaneur! I’ll get to it. Been meaning to post in one or two existing threads. Although, I should be getting back to my book, too! But I can surely do more than one thing. Who knows? Maybe it’ll get a bit livelier in time — if a few people, myself included, make more of an effort to post there. Message boards are only as good as the people posting there, after all.

      • archdukeofnaboo

        @Cryogenic

        It’s not a rewrite if you haven’t already seen it. I’m going to pen an article at some stage about my own hopes for the film, and I suggest you do the same. It does require some investment in the new trilogy though and, I guess, therein lies the problem: plain old indifference.

        Thanks for reminding me about The Star Wars Heresies! I just checked in with Paul’s blog again and this new post caught my eye:

        https://thestarwarsheresies.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-last-heresy.html

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