‘Star Wars: The Secrets of the Jedi’ book announced
“Prepare, Padawan, to learn from a legend.
StarWars.com is excited to reveal Star Wars: The Secrets of the Jedi, a new book from author Marc Sumerak chronicling the history of the Jedi Order, with Luke Skywalker as your guide. Coming November 19 from Insight Editions, the tome is filled with lush paintings and special interactive features, including a pop-up holocron, a translator card, a Jedi equipment booklet, and more. You can get a first look below, exclusively on StarWars.com. […]
The Secrets of the Jedi promises to be expansive, incorporating lore from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Star Wars films, and beyond. To see Luke Skywalker address the Force Priestesses (from The Clone Wars) and other iconic Jedi like Qui-Gon Jinn is especially surprising, and sure to intrigue fans new and old.
“One of the greatest challenges with a book like this is to find a way to bring all of the vital information together in a way that feels fresh and new,” Sumerak says. “For this particular project, I think that unique perspective flows naturally from our beloved narrator, Luke Skywalker. Sure, we all know his epic story by heart, but the Luke who is writing this particular tome is a long way from the optimistic farmboy he was when his journey began. Because of that, he’s able to look past the glorified stories of the Jedi of old to find the truth about the Order, no matter how difficult it may be for those reading to hear. So with that in mind, we were able to examine the different aspects of the Jedi Order from an angle that cut through the ancient legends, allowing us to examine why the Jedi needed to exist, why they were destined to end, and whether or not they could — or should — rise again.””
In before people start complaining about no Anakin on the cover, without seeing him actually on the cover.
A little bit snarky, no? Anakin is very clearly on the cover, along with various other prequel-era Jedi. A circumstance in stark contrast to several other things rolled out by Disney, which seemed to want to diminish the prequels by way of reduction and exclusion. This new book, on the other hand, looks appropriately inclusive, as you would rightly expect a book focusing on the legacy of the Jedi to be.
Indeed. I don’t know if that troll post(er) will stick around, so I’ll repeat my thoughts here:
Nice to see so many prequel-era Jedi on the cover. A circumstance in stark contrast to several other things rolled out by Disney, which seemed to want to diminish the prequels by way of reduction and exclusion. This new book, on the other hand, looks appropriately inclusive, as you would rightly expect a book focusing on the legacy of the Jedi to be.
Too bad It follows the new canon of the Jedi Having a second purge who decided on that? jj? kk? shows their arrogance and prequel hate by undoing the end of ROTJ
True. I just don’t know how that can be undone at this stage. It’s now, as they say, a fait accompli.
Every official book is forced to acknowledge the new Disney canon. So if Disney say there’s an Empire 2.0 and a Rebel Alliance 2.0, as well as Sad Han, Sad Leia, and Sad Luke, another Jedi Purge, hamfisted lessons about commerce and war on a casino planet by a woke minority character lecturing another less woke minority character, purple haired vice admirals going about command duties in ballroom gowns, repeat Death Stars, nonsensical space battles, and Mary Sue awakenings, then there are going to be all of those merry trimmings and much, much more.
By the way…
I noticed a certain irony in that “Benny” person, above, mocking people for complaining about the lack of Anakin in other items debuted on the main site (such as this year’s earlier Celebration posters). Relax, he tells us. Anakin is on the cover. In case we somehow didn’t bother checking the cover ourselves. However, right below the front cover, on the sample page headed up “The Old Republic”, the lower left insert shows a visual rendering of the Jedi Council, which is perfectly fine ‘n’ all, except for the fact the image is clearly based on the establishing wide shot of Anakin in front of the Jedi Council in TPM — but with Anakin missing.
Tell me, have you seen Star Wars? Oh, tell me, have you seen her?
One month ago today
I was happy as a lark
But now I go for walks
To the movies, maybe to the park
I have a seat on the same old bench
To watch the children play, huh
You know tomorrow is their future
But for me just another day
They all gather ’round me, huh
They seem to know my name
We laugh, tell a few jokes
But it still doesn’t ease my pain
I know I can’t hide from a memory
Though day after day I’ve tried
I keep sayin’ she’ll be back
But today again I’ve lied
Oh, I see her face everywhere I go
On the street and even at the picture show
Have you seen her
Tell me have you seen her
@cryogenic You know, some people wouldn’t necessarily see that art of the Jedi Council without Anakin as an exclusion of his scene in Episode I, more like showing art of what the council was before the events of Episode I.
I guess I’m not some people. It hit me right away. I even compared it to the film image. It’s more or less a straight lift. Check the arrangement of the characters and the way they’re all sat, the camera angle, the twilight colour tone — everything. That’s not to say it’s bad. Just found it amusing you launched into a bitter attack on other people regarding their supposed sensitivity to Anakin’s presence (or his absence) on certain visual materials, only for there to be a salient example right underneath the cover image you made reference to in your bash.
However, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of a doubt on this one: it seems they were in a hurry to find a photo off the entire Jedi Council, and hastily grabbed a well known shot from TPM.
My takeaway from this book is that it’s now confirmed in the new cannon (re-confirmed?) that the Galactic Republic and Old Republic are two different entities. Cool! The transition between the two looks like extremely promising story material. Like the PT, the ending would be known, but it would be a positive, hopeful one. What’s more is that the tale of how the Jedi got rid of the Sith and a democratic system established in the Galaxy appears so much more interesting that what we’re currently being served in the ST.
@ Arch Duke:
Yeah. That was probably the motivation and their method. Just bodge something in there quick.
It’s also — subjectively speaking — one of the more striking and haunting shots of the movie, so a good choice on their part. But as you suggest, there probably weren’t a lot of other shots they could use.
Of course, they could have pulled from concept art, but maybe they found that that image suited their purposes just fine. If there’s something already satisfactory to hand, why not use it (and use it again)? Then again (no pun intended), that is Disney’s M.O. on overdrive.
Interestingly, the Jedi Council members are only assembled as a “really there” unit, briefly, in TPM, and briefly, once more, in AOTC (first half of the film). After that, they start to disappear or show up as holograms/ghosts: imagery perfectly in-keeping with the fading-out of the Jedi from the galaxy, through the Clone Wars and the sundering of their ideals. Just another reason to love the prequels and Lucas’ thematically-intense filmmaker sensibilities. Every image conveys an impressive array of moods, motifs, and ideas.
I like what you say about the book with regard to the wider Star Wars canon (one “n” — unless you’re planning to blow up Disney with the Starkiller laser cannon). It seems to be bringing together some slightly disparate and/or speculative notions under one roof. I may not care greatly about the new films, but that’s pretty neat.
Rey is not a Jedi as far as I am concerned.
She’s pretty much a non-entity to begin with. Duller than a sack of potatoes and reeks of Mary Sue.
Hi Cryo nice to see you. Where are you these days? Still going to TFN at all?
Rey is not a Jedi because she didn’t receive any Jedi training and she wasn’t knighted by a Jedi Master like Luke did. She’s an impostor.
And yes, a terribly written Mary Sue as well. Granted there’s not a single good character in sight in Disney Wars.
it should have been Leia but Carrie(God Rest Her Soul )and the Fans got Screwed
Good to see you, too, Natalie.
And thank you for your questions.
I was banned from TFN in 2017. Largely for saying some of the things you just said regarding Rey and the Disney characters.
The whole Disney takeover — as hostile, as seedy, as aggressive, and as agenda-driven as it was and is — is the Big Punishable Topic you can’t talk about on TFN anymore. The mods saw to that a few years ago and have continued seeing to it ever since. I can show you example after example of their corruption and bias. It wouldn’t matter, though. They’re in charge; and prequel fans most definitely are not.
I’ve kind of worn myself out explaining my perception of TFN and the sociopathic behaviour of the mods over the past year or so on Naboo News. In short, prequel fans and those loyal to Lucas have never been treated well on there, and after Disney took over, it gave prequel-bashing turncoat mods and fair-weather prequel fan mods — all fakers — the perfect excuse to build in extra protection for the Disney movies; such as instituting a forum-wide rule that banned certain terms like the aforementioned descriptor “Mary Sue”.
The main mod who applied this rule in the saga forum used to sneer at the very idea mods would ever suppress speech or dictate the opinions people can express — before she became a mod and did those very things herself. While initially a Lucas supporter when she first joined, she soon changed her tune and began complaining about his (in her eyes) arrogance and pretentious, and how she was done supporting a man who spat at loyal fans of the original films who had made him rich.
She also began maligning Anakin and Padme every chance she got for a good while; even in threads that had nothing to do with those characters or her perception of their importance/worth in ROTS (which was where she allegedly now had a serious problem with the both of them and the prequels as a whole). Anakin was frequently derided as a “moron” in the third prequel, while Padme was a “wuss” and “an outdated 19th Century stereotype”; and the film itself was apparently for people who prioritised “symbolism” over entertainment.
In response to the RedLetterMedia reviews, she also called Mike Stoklasa sexist based on his fictional character and the things he says in his critique of AOTC and the romance, and equally railed against the notion that there are no “Sue” characters in fiction or that the term can’t be used. But that was back before Lucas sold his creation to Disney. After that, she seemed to get increasingly emboldened in her crusade against the prequels — or against Anakin and Padme in ROTS, at least. And once a few people began complaining about Kathleen Kennedy and the character of Rey in similar terms to how she had begun speaking about Lucas and Anakin and Padme, her spiteful, despotic side truly emerged, where she evidently felt the most logical, progressive, enlightened, tolerant, mature, and engaging choice was to suspend people’s free speech on such matters; even in a focused Disney discussion thread.
This same mod also directly attacked other posters on the grounds of gender, accusing several male posters of “mansplaining” to her because they held a different opinion of Padme’s arc than she did. Therein breaking two supposedly sacrosanct TFN rules in one go: no personal attacks (“films, not fans”), and no gender-based “hate speech”. But that’s what being an ideologically-twisted, bigoted message board moderator allows you to do. You can rule over your inferiors with a crooked will and never acknowledge the contradictions. Power is corrupting; and people often embrace power for their own self-serving ends, yet easily fool themselves into believing they’re doing good, when it’s the opposite. Perhaps this is why so many dislike the PT. It illustrates that grim reality through Anakin’s journey in an extremely raw, operatic, and brutal way. One cannot help but see Vader — and hopefully, with sufficient honesty, themselves — in an entirely new and surprising light.
In answer to your actual question (!!!)…
I do still visit TFN, off and on. I don’t have access to my inbox or any posting functions, but the reason I joined TFN is the reason I still visit now: the conversation. Some years ago, shortly before my ban, I honestly thought the moderators were maybe getting better; at least in the PT forum. But I soon learned my hope was just another errant burst of misplaced naivete. I’ve never particularly liked or respected any of the mods, and just when I thought things might be different, BAM! They’re as bad as ever. If anything: worse. But I have a great respect and genuine admiration for various prequel fans who post there; or, in some cases, used to post there (like me, they were either banned, or left in disgust). I miss interacting with several of them (Ingram_I especially), but since my account was slapped with a “permaban”, and messages I sent using the “Contact Us” link asking why my account was banned were totally ignored (the “unban request” function was removed from my account), I am now in exile from the site, and mostly stick to posting to this comments section on Naboo News.
While not on the same level as the sorts of discussions that used to be possible on TFN, I enjoy the comments section of Naboo News. And, in no small way, I really appreciate the fact that the webmaster treats us as human beings and respects freedom of speech (as so few places do these days). Which is in marked contrast to the way Disney dissenters are treated on TFN: as “racist”, “sexist” heretics/blasphemers who must be censored, harassed, and ultimately, unpersoned from the Internet. Those in power get to call the shots and rule with an iron fist. It’s a basic truism of history. The priestly caste and bureaucratic classes have, in general, dominated human society for thousands of years. Again, Lucas was trying to show this in the PT, with the Trade Federation’s influence in the Republic, not to mention the Jedi Order’s inflexible, rule-obsessed, ivory-tower mentality, and the whole Jedi-Sith conflict (a war between religious fanatics), along with commercial interests, determining the political fabric of the galaxy.
TFN is the same way. You have fanatics and zealots (secular feminism (or certain strains of it) is the new religion of our age (or one of them)) using their bigotry and unquestioned sense of moral superiority to enact oppressive measures against people with a different point of view. In so doing, they are also protecting commercial interests. First and foremost, they are protecting the corporate interests of Disney, and de facto proclaiming those interests to be outside the scope of discussion, and hence, beyond questioning, and consequently, wholly for the public good. Historically, of course, the political left has placed itself in intellectual opposition to corporate power and the unchecked power of institutions in general, so this is quite a change. Secondly, some protection is obviously occurring with regard to undisclosed ties between TFN and either Disney or other companies licensed to sell Star Wars merchandise. TFN doesn’t use adverts. Its funding is obviously coming from elsewhere. In addition to their collective aesthetic and political biases, there is clearly some sort of franchise that the mods are protecting.
Anyway, there is another PT-focused place of discussion, and it’s another message board:
I hold an account there, but I haven’t posted anything, thus far. It’s a very quiet, out-of-the-way place. But at least we can’t be set upon by trolls on there, or harassed by corrupt moderators into silence. It’s a shame about the low level of activity, but to be free of those factors is certainly an improvement — in my mind, at least.
There are very few places for prequel fans to actually be prequel fans. Nice that Naberrie Fields, even if it’s small and relatively inert, is a place of sanctuary and retreat. But that also says something sad about the current state of things.
It’s sobering to think, when the Internet was in more of an adolescent or “Wild West” phase, most things were permitted; and this was also the era in which the prequels were released. But recently, there has been a disturbance in the Force, and what was acceptable when Lucas ran the show, as an independent filmmaker, businessman, and all-round maverick artisan, is no longer acceptable now that Star Wars is in the clutches of an impersonal, money-driven corporation. Different trilogies, different times. Different regimes, different rules.
“there’s not a single good character in sight in Disney Wars.”
Uh, the characters on Star Wars Rebels would disagree.
I’m referring to live action SW. I suppose R1 was decent but not great.
@Natalie Oh for sure. In fact, I’d say Rogue One is the best Disney SW film they’ve made.
@ Benny and Natalie:
“Rogue One” seems to have earned the strongest approval from the Star Wars fanbase. Gotta give it that. And I can certainly see why: strong visuals, tableaux and designs that convey the impression (like the prequels) of a dense and populated galaxy, reasonably focused plot, some decent-ish characters, and a sense that something big is at stake; all contained within a two-hour storyline.
The first spinoff movie started things off on a high note, and it feels like the one film project to come from Disney that could have been made and released under the old Lucasfilm regime; the one thing Lucas might have approved and given a general thumbs-up to. I think it helps that Mustafar was brought back, bringing a sense of unity to the franchise, allowing fans of various persuasions to see validity in the film. If you’re a fan of the OT, there’s OT service a-plenty. If you love the PT, or at least saw potential in the movies, you get the joy of having the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted, seeing Anakin in his capsule on the one hand, and watching him go to work as the demonic, without-mercy Vader at the end of the film. Everyone gets to have their cake and eat it.
Alas, while the Gareth Edwards (and slightly committee-bashed) film is a solid piece of entertainment, it falls a little short of drawing me into its world and selling me on its characters and conceits. Action scenes are a touch frenetic, and the characters struggle to delineate themselves (with the possible exception of the sarcastic K-2SO, the lazily ambitious Krennic, and the bickering Asian guys — an obvious pander to Chinese audiences and a basic facsimile of the squabbling peasants from “The Hidden Fortress” that inspired Artoo and Threepio in the original film). In addition, there’s a certain tepidity to a lot of the dialogue and character interactions, and the momentum of the film seems a little strained. Last but not least, the music, while serviceable, is well short of the authority and brilliance of a John Williams score, in my opinion. Another thing people forget is what a brilliantly funny and outrageously offbeat experience the original film is. “Rogue One” is much more straight-arrow and serious; making its pretensions a little harder to digest. And did the weakness of the Death Star require the explanation of conscious sabotage?
“Rogue One” just never takes flight for me. I also took issue when it came out (I may have softened slightly) on the Vader slaughter sequence at the end. It is impressively executed (pun maybe intended?), but it left me feeling somewhat cold and detached — looking and functioning, to me, like a slick car advert, and in that Barnum and Bailey sense, giving people what they wanted; as opposed to Lucas, who refused to go all the way with Anakin’s slaughter fests; instead, twice cutting away from Anakin’s slaughter events (against the Tuskens and the Younglings), only permitting audiences to see tiny peeks of these events, and finally satisfying a viewer’s dark appetite for carnage in the third and final event (a microcosm for the prequels overall), when Anakin dispenses with the separatists — but even here, Anakin’s humanity (or, rather, his rapid loss of humanity) is accentuated as he cries out in pain, and later ponders his fate, isolated, anguished, and alone (a poignant deconstruction of masculine violence and power-chasing if ever there was one); the slaughter event gaining further meaning by being intercut with Palpatine’s Godfather-esque baptism of his “FIRST GALACTIC EMPIRE!” “Rogue One” feels relatively frictionless, in my opinion, by comparison.
I think TFA and TLJ are somewhat better, more coherent films than “Rogue One” — but barely. Which is a slightly strange thing for me to say. There are any number of questionable patch-overs, shortcuts, and phoned-in bits of ill-fitting plot furniture in Disney’s saga entries, but as cinematic experiences with some loose connection to Lucas’ phenomenal saga that precedes these newer installments, they seem to build to their conclusion/confrontation scenes — for my money — in a more satisfying and indelible way. Despite the strained storytelling, and the contrived “shock value” of Kylo offing Han and Luke tricking Kylo with a “cheap move”, I find those climaxes a lot more powerful and moving than anything in “Rogue One”. Furthermore, “Rogue One” casts about, trying to seem important and pretending to be original, when it’s also pretty derivative; especially in its third act (adapted, in large part, from the space and ground confrontations in ROTJ). Frankly, I also don’t care too much about a bunch of relatively anonymous, one-shot characters dying at the end. Whereas Han and Luke confronting Kylo, the wayward son/student, has a lot more psychological resonance, in my opinion. That intense, beguiling close-up on aged Luke’s face at the end, when Luke essentially dares Kylo to attack him and end his life, is practically worth the entire trilogy.
But for all my babbling, I’m still not particularly sold on the sequel trilogy (much less the spinoffs). Call me a pseudo-fan of the sequels, perhaps. I like aspects of them. They are not a complete wash to me. But close. Wasted potential is how OT fanatics used to sometimes, when trying to either be kinder or simply dress up their hatred of the prequels in more collegial language, describe the newer Lucas films. It’s often how I think of the sequels. They still have a few components I’m ineluctably drawn to; but I can’t pretend they blow me away, either. And it’s really no surprise I feel this way. I’m extremely passionate where the prequels and personal expression go. Yet, today, the name “Star Wars” means and evokes something quite different.
@Cryogenic I agree Rogue One was mediocre at best with some nice visuals but lacking truly memorable characters. Vader’s scene was an annoying fan fiction (guess they forgot he always had troopers with him unless dealing with a Jedi). But it didn’t crap over the legacy characters like the sequels did so there’s that.
Solo was ok too but very forgettable. I almost wish they let the original directors turn it into a comedy – at least it would’ve been entertaining. Neither Solo no R1 were necessary or added anything interesting to the saga.
@Natalie R u sure? Because than you would have audiences hating on Disney for “ruining” Han Solo and turning him into Star-Lord from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, if anything, having a trusted friend of George Lucas like Ron Howard to look after an origin of Han Solo was the right thing.
@cryogenic I can understand a lot of what you say, but, the reason I prefer Rogue One over TFA and TLJ is because of how interconnected of all of the Star Wars saga it is (including having Saw Gerrera from The Clone Wars be the first character to jump from SW animation into live-action to show animated stuff is canon and, like you said, having Mustafar and Coruscant in Rogue One). Solo got close, especially with bringing in the Pykes from “The Clone Wars” and having Darth Maul come back, but Rogue One did SW connectivity better. At least in my opinion.
Oh!!! Good catch there, Natalie. I never gave that aspect as much thought. I definitely tried to apply thinking and reasoning at the time, but it’s easy to miss things.
I wrote out a very extensive objection — sort of a heated philippic — about the whole slaughter scene in “Rogue One” on TFN in April 2017. I think it was actually one of the things that caused some wheels to start turning in some moderators’ heads, leading to my ban a couple of months later. Of course, you’ll never get a straight answer from them on anything; they are obviously corrupt and consider themselves above reproach. As I wrote to you above, I never received an explanation for my ban. Anyway, you can read those “Rogue One” slaughter ramblings here:
At the risk of rehashing myself, it is pretty unsporting of Vader to menace and mutilate those unfortunate rebels, trapping them in a confined space, giving them no chance of escape. I suppose you could argue that Vader saw some kind of deliverance or providence in the fact that the door mechanism jammed. In ROTS, by contrast, Anakin deliberately seals himself inside with the separatists, as if shutting himself off from the outside world (echoes in TLJ: Luke shutting himself off from the Force). In “Rogue One”, he takes advantage of a random happening, and his targets are technically of a military persuasion. Yet they are essentially outgunned — or out-Forced — and prisoners of Vader’s dark will. But they will be shown no quarter. No Geneva codes of conduct for any self-respecting Sith. Not that the Sith, existentially speaking, really do respect themselves deep down; least of all Anakin. Oh, the cosmic contradictions of the sparkly mechanism we call Star Wars; as if the Tao can truly be named…
Went off on a bit of a tangent there. Let’s keep this earth-bound. It was, ultimately, just too easy for Vader to slay those rebel officers. In ANH, as you elliptically touched on, he has a detachment of stormtroopers go in ahead of him to do all the dirty work. But perhaps, after the events at the close of “Rogue One”, where he’s unsuccessful at retrieving the plans (but did he really want to retrieve them — oooooohh????), he’s a bit spooked out, figuring that sending foot soldiers in first is a tribute he needs to pay to the “common man”; that he interfered too much, even with the door jam leaving him easy targets, and it’s best to hang back a bit, second time around. I mean, Anakin is kind of a superstitious fellow, isn’t he? All those dreams he used to have. His subliminal attachment to yellow vehicles. Seeing something fateful in his being “The Chosen One”. Bound to mess a person up.
So, in short, in 2019, I’m unable to adequately ruminate on the slaughter scene, anymore. Perhaps there is more genius in it than I was willing to consider in 2017. It also feels longer than two years ago. Maybe it’s just the timeless aspects of Star Wars asserting themselves. More thoughts: in a way, in slaughtering those poor officers, Vader is really just taking his frustration out on people who can’t fight back or overrule him. Earlier in the movie, we see his annoyance with Krennic at potentially compromising the near-unchallenged rule of the Empire, and perhaps more than a glimmer of recognition that Krennic is, in terms of vain ambition, how he once was. His last line is hilariously poignant in this regard: “Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director.” Anakin’s own “aspirations” certainly became artificial after he was locked in a life-support suit: a direct consequence of his other set of “aspirations”, to bring “peace” and “security” to the galaxy, going seriously awry following Padme’s rejection and his ensuing melee with Obi-Wan. Talk about a pressure-cooker person you don’t want to show any weakness around.
But yeah, there is something to that Maul-ish posturing of Vader, especially at the very beginning of the slaughter sequence, that feels oddly solitary, isn’t there? The violent Vader that we see at the end of “Rogue One”, going postal on a bunch of NPCs/redshirts, in a rather pornographic lashing of ultraviolence, seems very at-odds with the comparatively more laid-back, strategising version of Vader at the start of ANH, who is coolly convinced that there’ll be “no one to stop us this time”. Well, why don’t I just quote my 2017 self, here?
Even if we ignore the haunting odyssey of ROTS and the PT as a whole, I think some of Vader’s sayings and doings in the OT contradict this scene; or let me choose a bigger word: they contravene it. Notice that ANH opens with Vader in something of a sleuthing mode. He lets the stormtroopers board the rebel transport ahead of him; and while he does choke out the ship’s commander, Captain Antilles, he does this in a rather personal, up-front sort of way. RO winds down by winding up when it depicts Vader going on an impersonal killing spree. Moreover, as I just said: sleuthing. The dialogue between Vader and that Imperial officer after the shoot-up, with Vader saying he has traced the rebel spies to Leia, deeming her his “only link” to finding the rebels’ hidden base, strongly hints in the direction of a cunning tactician who has been on the case of the rebels for some time; and a person who somewhat respects serving men and would rather let them, as per the rebel officers at the beginning, go down in a “fair fight” against fellow blaster-wielding foot soldiers than as hapless, unwitting victims of a Force tornado.
That “tornado” remark at the end was somewhat deliberate phrasing, on my part. I was calling back to an earlier set of comments from Lucas, which I referenced in that same post:
This next part is a straight-quote from “The Final Chapter”, the last part of Rinzler’s “Making Of” account for ROTS (you used to be able to download this last part, which didn’t make it into the book due to a strict publishing deadline, for free). If you have it, it’s page 13, and the date (entry begins on page 12) is Tuesday October 12th 2004:
Next up is Darth Vader in the rehab center, where Anakin is being rebuilt following his duel with Obi-Wan on the volcano planet. Lucas adds small lights glowing through the gloom, and refers to the objects Vader destroys in his rage upon hearing of Padmé’s death: “I was going to have the guys upstairs do more specific animatics, because things need to be crushed, more than thrown around.”
“So . . . imploding?” Coleman asks.
“Yeah. Things can crumple and fall over, but not this tornado.” He also suggests that it might be a good idea to frame Vader among the pipes and have him appear as a silhouette. “I think we can be artistic in how we handle it.”
“How about the fire, George?” Guyett asks.
“I think that it’s a bit too much. I’d take it out. I think we’ve been too obvious. We need a subtler version of this.”
I used that quote to argue, along with an adjacent quote (it’s under the same dated entry) on Yoda pulling off some fancy moves on those clone troopers outside the Jedi Temple (when he and Obi-Wan return after Order 66), that Lucas always sought to balance spectacle with humanity, employing a measure of restraint, even on Episode III, when his command of digital technology was at its apex, and he was no doubt feeling tempted, even pressured, to make ROTS a violent and dark movie; but not to make it too dark or violent, beyond the parameters of his world and what the story actually called for. I was suggesting, with the slaughter sequence at the end of “Rogue One”, that the people involved in those decisions may have overstepped the mark, bringing to the screen a trumped-up depiction of casual mayhem that lacks aesthetic grounding and may even end up eating its own tail.
Or to quote from the end of my TFN post:
The scene of Vader committing mass homicide against doomed rebels is the filmmakers, or the string-pullers at Disney, giving the people what they want; but, to echo Padme, hack Disney cosmologies give people what they want, sure, but not necessarily what they need. Lucas explicitly denied showing Vader in such a way; and he was willing to suffer all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for that artistic stance. After the prequels, a case can finally be made that Vader was never meant to be cool, but a tragic, ruined being who sold his soul to the devil and lost his life on the shores of hell. It is only through an awesome act of striving and will on his part that he finds some way to function in the suit. By rights, he should have perished. And through the slaughter scene in RO, one might argue that he finally does. Vader hacking away at those rebels could be classified as the “jump the shark” moment in terms of Lucas’ clearly-expressed preferences and ideals; and could, therefore, be looked upon as the delimiting point between “Lucasian” Star Wars and a Post-Lucas fan-service mythology.
I don’t know if that’s too harsh, two years on. Perhaps it is. Or perhaps it perfectly encapsulates the way I feel. I did sort of float it out, at the time, as something of a simulation: a game, a ritual, a think-piece. I’m not sure I was being deadly-serious, all the way through, at least. I mean, isn’t that, as the term suggests, another form of death? Star Wars (Lucas Star Wars) has quite the tragicomic sensibility. We should laugh at ourselves; and not so easily identify ourselves with our thoughts. There just seems to be a lot more to ponder and mull over in the prequels; such that we may refine and even develop entirely new “selves” in time. Whereas, something like the Vader sequence, first and foremost, seems designed to cater to base desires; as well as patch over deficiencies elsewhere in the film (give ’em something memorable, using cinema’s most iconic villain, at the end, and they’ll forgive everything), and to initiate people into the salivating, enraptured frame of a faithful and ever-hungry Disney consumer.
P.S. Never seen “Solo”; and never found much desire to care.
for me Star Wars Jumped The Shark with the Sithy treatment of the OT Heroes and undoing everything at the end of ROTJ
Yes, Joe. I can well understand that. If there was a moment it jumped the shark, then it was the moment Lucas sold, truth be told. For this fan, anyway.
But if there was a more specific moment, thereafter (one can say I was cautiously optimistic for a year or two after the sale…)
Well, two things:
1) The announcement that J.J. Abrams would be director of Episode VII (and now, in a further burst of shark-jumping irony, Disney don’t want you calling it that and seemed to be trying to dispense with the episode numerals entirely). J.J. Abrams??? Of ALL people??? The king of rehash, the purveyor of repurposed goods. Cinema’s ultimate used car salesman. With his grubby mitts on the most transcendent pop art of our age! My heart sank.
2) The PR campaign for TFA, which was built on pandering to OT manchildren: the very same malcontents who ripped the PT to shreds (not that they could really destroy it — it’s like Xerxes lashing the sea), trashed the actors, trashed Lucas, and were effectively the final push in convincing him to sell his creation. For a family-friendly corporation, this was absolutely risible, and proof positive they were playing an empty shell game with Lucas’ magisterial mythology; all for filthy lucre.
TFA itself was about what I expected it to be. Maybe even a little better. It didn’t cause me to abandon any more hope than I already had. Paradoxically, when “Rogue One” came out, while I cared less, I was probably more annoyed. It didn’t really deliver much of anything; not for me, anyway. And the callbacks to ANH and the other movies in that film were somehow, to me, even more obvious and grating. If nothing else, watching a second film reaching back to the glories of the past made it “official” that Disney were hell-bent on strip-mining the OT for easy money, until, seemingly, l there was nothing left to gut and the money started drying up. Perhaps TLJ and “Solo” are a little different; yet also more of the same.
I never really expected TFA or “Rogue One”, once I saw what was coming over the horizon, to be any great shakes. So, in that regard, I couldn’t be disappointed. But it was with the one-two punch of these movies, released one after the other, that Disney cemented what they were all about: low-risk filmmaking that tries to please everyone and offend no-one. Witness the recent re-release of “The Lion King”, arguably their most iconic film of the 1990s, and many people’s childhoods, completely re-done in CG, but as an almost beat-for-beat auto-tuned copy of the original. Lame and disgusting. They don’t even bother to disguise their contempt for the consumer; so why should I disguise my contempt for Disney? Star Wars is dead. Long live Star Wars.
Hey Cryogenic! Haven’t talked to you in eons.
Rumbled! But yeah, it’s been a month or two. Went into a wee “shutdown” mode again. Probably venturing back onto Facebook/Fascistbook in a few more days. I can be passionate as a hurricane, furtive as a leaf. And I experience both extremes on Facebook. Not always a great place to be. Naboo News provides a bit of escape. Hope you’re holding up. 🙂
And Cryo, please tell me you don’t really give Trump any respect, grudging or otherwise. You said “it isn’t easy to be President.” Well, that’s not a problem for Trump, because all he does is golf and Tweet. He has never actually been President. I know you’re angry at liberals and I even agree with you on many points regarding their intolerance and their misguided protectiveness of sharia law…but don’t get all Camille Paglia on me and automatically support anything liberals oppose (and vice versa), just to spite them, the way Paglia does with regards to feminists (although she also claims to be one), and criticizing left-wingers more than you do right-wingers. Yes, left-wingers have their own intolerance and bigotry, but then, so do the right-wingers and Trump. In fact, theirs is on a much greater, and more violent, scale, as many recent events have shown. And as for the idea that the media is hostile to Trump, that’s just not the case. The media loves him. The media gives him all kinds of uncritical coverage, and treat him with respect and deference he doesn’t even begin to deserve. Journalists don’t dare upset the tantrum-throwing, petulant baby, lest they loose access.
You’re right, @maychild. Trump is a baby and I hope he loses in 2020.
I’m not a fan of the ignorant, self-obsessed cretin known as Donald Trump, despite the fact my first name is his middle name, and I used to get called “Don Don” growing up. A phrase that’s useful here, I think, that generally sums up my feelings regarding Trump versus liberals: even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.
Liberals have sadly lost their way when it comes to foundational Enlightenment values like freedom of speech (we see a good example of this with TFN), especially on the topic of sharia law and Islam as a whole, but it didn’t happen overnight. As I shared with you a few months ago, I think one of my Internet friends, and a fellow prequel fan, really hit the nail on the head when he said: “[Trump is] the ultimate spokesperson for America’s shadow, and likewise thus the ultimate scapegoat.”
Similarly, if it’s not too impertinent, I’d also like to remind you of something you said to me, during the same exchange: “Getting rid of him is necessary, as he has very dangerous powers at the moment, but that’s just the beginning. Corruption runs very deep in both sides of the political system.”
We don’t have a good system — and Trump’s election, and all the posturing and absurd distraction tactics he’s been able to get away with since assuming office, all point directly, and very deeply, to the gross failures and limitations of that system. The battle ahead will be long and hard, but as Star Wars teaches, some battles are necessary, and they require a certain degree of tenacity and mettle, and faith that the future can be better than the past.
Or as Martin Luther King said (paraphrasing Theodore Parker):
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
@ maychild, @ Benny, @ Joe:
Hooray! We all agree on Trump.
Shake and move on?
I’m doing fine, thanks Cryo. I figured you had an episode where you needed time to yourself.
Facebook isn’t my favorite thing either but it has what Naboo News doesn’t: a personal message function. I enjoy our convos. And before we shake and move on from Trump, I just want to say a couple more things, by way of clarification. No, it was not impertinent that you quoted me back to me. I remember saying that quite well, and I don’t think it contradicts anything I said here. Trump is not the main problem, he’s a symptom — of a deep corruption that runs in the political system, something that liberals are as responsible for as conservatives. Maybe even more so, we’ll probably never know.
OK, ready to shake and move on now!
I too was getting a bit concerned for Cryogenic when he made the “begrudging respect” comment, which appeared to come out of nowhere. I think it was in a thread with myself.
It seems he was experimenting with a little Devil’s Advocate. Just a bit of his personality I suppose, and I wouldn’t worry too much.
LOL! Nice to know everyone is suddenly so concerned with my political opinions.
But yes… Arch Duke, dammit… Stop nailing my personality!!!
You’re right. I do play Devil’s Advocate, from time to time. A bit of stress relief; and, I feel, it keeps things honest. Everyone should occasionally test their assumptions and also simulate/role-play what it’s like on the other side. There are various role-reversal rituals in human society, which at least suggests that people are comfortable with this idea and that it’s nothing new. Among other things, you could call it “playing the fool”. But you really have to play the fool, and watch that the fool doesn’t play you.
Anyone who makes it all the way to President of the United States, on the other hand, I feel you ought to have a crumb of respect for — even Trump. In some ways, especially Trump, actually. There were many that believed a Trump presidency could never happen, on all parts of the political spectrum (yes, yes, yes — you can argue it’s still not a “real” presidency, and he only got as far as he did because of serious social divisions and incredible political corruption in America, but he still defied expectations in actually getting there). Heck, even Noam Chomsky recently gave Trump credit for his approach to North Korea, vis-a-vis his immediate predecessors. Chomsky!!!
This is the problem with picking a tribe and rigidly sticking with all the mores and values of that tribe — it can blind you to wider realities. And it’s a HUGE problem on the Internet, at this moment in time. It’s helping to retard dialogue; and, in fact, threatens to ruin everything. But then, it’s also “business as usual”, as far as human nature goes, so maybe I’m making too much of it.
Here’s where I get really bummed out: I’m just an atom. I’m tired of all the other atoms demanding that I be exactly like them. Even though I practically already am. I’m happy to quote Voltaire and use the exact same quote again. Well, two quotes, actually, which I’ve married together, from the same page:
“What is toleration? It is the appurtenance of humanity. We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies — it is the first law of nature. . . . A reed prostrated by the wind in the mire — ought it to say to a neighboring reed placed in a contrary direction: Creep after my fashion, wretch, or I will present a request for you to be seized and burned?”
It’s always good to end with Voltaire. I should do it more often.
Insightful reply as always, Cryogenic, and yes, playing the Devil’s Advocate is something we should engage in from time to time. I did it myself a few days ago, with regards to Trump, no less. I said, on Facebook, in reply to another person’s post, that while Republicans are closing rank around Trump, the Democrats are a circular firing squad. Trump sneered about how the Democrats spent more time attacking Obama than him during the second round of debates, and as much as I loathe him, he has a point. Democrats engage in counterproductive behavior in a misguided (there’s that word again) effort to prove how fair they are. Republicans don’t care, they do what it takes to win. I’m speaking at the leader level, whereas the rank and file Democrats/liberals, especially on the Internet and most especially on social media, have much more of a hive mentality.
I remember telling you about the fake feminists I’ve encountered in X-Files fandom, which is comparable to the attitude espoused by you-know-who on TF.N. That is, you DARE not imply that whatever female character or real life female has been deemed sacred, is anything less than pure sublimity. Else, you’re a subhuman sexist pig who thinks women should be seen and not heard while perpetually barefoot and pregnant. Of course, any woman or female character who has been deemed a weak, wimpy, Victorian stereotype created by a sexist pig who thinks women should peel grapes and then feed them to him by hand while clad in the Slave Leia bikini, is not fit to be even slightlly defended, nor are other explanations permitted by any dirty rotten mansplainer.
But anyway… I am a feminist, but I am well acquainted with the deep flaws within its ranks, from the top on down. Likewise for liberals. I’ve even been known to read articles by staunch conservatives who strike me as perceptive, even if we agree on almost nothing.
I’ll demonstrate my wry philosophy on human nature by quoting the late Carl Sagan: “Humans have a well-documented capacity for self deception.” One could also switch “deception” for “destruction,” as you and I have observed, and we’re hardly the only ones to do so, that so many people vote against their own best interests. Another quote from Dr. Sagan: “The doors to heaven and hell are adjacent and unmarked.” He, having been an atheist, was speaking metaphorically.
Love ya tons, and glad you’re back.
Democrats are a bunch of greedy, squabbling idiots (to paraphrase Palpatine). The DNC schemed and deliberately muscled Bernie Sanders out in 2016, so that Hillary would go on to be the main presidential candidate, no matter what. This is now public knowledge, and I’m shocked (but also not surprised) that there hasn’t been more pushback and uproar about it. Republicans can rightly point to to Trump and say, “See? We actually give people who aren’t career politicians a chance.” There’s certainly a lot of swamp to drain.
And recently, the centrist establishment (which is what the bulk of the Democratic Party actually is) has been at it again. Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential candidate who advocates for a universal basic income, had his microphone cut by NBC, in June, when he appeared on a Democratic debate panel (although NBC denied that this was the case). But it’s encouraging that people like Yang, and especially Democratic Socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are gaining ground. We’ve had Neoliberal hawks dominating politics for the last half-century, and it’s obviously time for change.
Then again — “What did I say?” (Threepio)
This isn’t meant to be a political blog, is it?
Sorry, but I often steer clear of bringing politics up, these days, as it is usually futile, often resulting in wholesale deletion/censorship.
I’m beyond sick of hive-mind mentalities. But you’re correct. This is why engaging with people — when I can be bothered — is an exercise in frustration.
People are also liable to misread what you say (worse, of course, when it’s deliberate), and ascribe to you views and sentiments you don’t hold.
Also, because people rarely look into things for themselves, they just jump at the first words they read, kind of like a cat reacting to a cucumber.
Oh, and see… because I haven’t bashed the right-wing of America in this post, I might be accused of being a crypto-fascist enabler, or something. Because people also love to throw labels around. As if sticking a label on something says everything about you.
Yes, you’re a feminist, but a fairly level-headed one. Not all feminists are alike. The bad ones give the wider movement a bad reputation. Same deal with atheism. Some atheists are extremely conceited and arrogant. I think people tend to think, if they’re X as opposed to Y, that automatically makes them a better person, and there’s little they really need to question, puzzle over, or think things through.
Not only do humans have a “well-documented” (LOL — very wry, indeed) knack for self-deception, but we tend to cling onto beliefs well past their sell-by date; partly by confirmation bias, and partly by desperately trying to fit every available piece of evidence (or the ones we cherry-pick) to fit our preconceived notions and ideological suppositions. There’s a lot in human nature to be doleful about. Here is an extraordinary (if not exhaustive) list of reckoned/posited biases in human cognition:
It’s a wonder, in a way, any kind of civilization is possible, at all, given the staggering number of defects and blindspots in human reasoning.
Gotta think Lucas was onto something with the midi-chlorians. The universe is a pretty strange place. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were intelligences and minds greater than our own in the cosmos. But that’s a whole other topic…
Also, when it comes to the “perfectibility” of human nature, there are some philosophers and scholars who doubt human nature can be much improved, as there may be a deep-seated (and somewhat taboo-to-talk-about) tendency embedded in humans that AOTC explores through Anakin: an inclination toward self-destruction. Maybe they’re right. But then again, we’re beginning to alter our brain chemistry through drugs, including nootropics, implants, gene therapy, the Internet, Augmented and Virtual Reality; as well as developing quantum computers and advanced Artificial Intelligence. So there’s no telling where consciousness may end up; or how far it may reach. Contact and potential information exchange with advanced intelligences in the universe (if they exist) could also give us quite the leg-up — as Carl Sagan seemed to imagine (or perhaps wish) might be possible in a near future (if we get our act together).
The “heaven and hell” quote comes from the fourth chapter of “Contact”, bearing the same name. It begins with those evocative words you gave as a quote. Sagan is there quoting Nikos Kazantzakis, from his work, “The Last Temptation Of Christ”. I know because I just checked and looked it up! I recognised that quote as instantly coming from “Contact” or “Cosmos”, and I was pretty sure it was the former. Sagan’s books are made immeasurably richer for featuring such a sublime mix of extracts and epigrams. He was clearly a well-read individual. Though I think his wives and colleagues may have helped pass along quotes and written material that he requested of them, or that they figured he’d find useful. In any case, the inclusion of such quoted material in his own writings (and I do love book chapters that begin with quotes: technically, the word is “epigraph”; the tomb variant being “epitaph”), along with his poetic style and wide-eyed musings on the grandeur and intricacy of the universe, do somewhat suggest Sagan had vaguely mystical leanings; perhaps more in the direction of Spinoza and Einstein.
I’ll present a neat link below (one link per post or the post is temporarily blocked pending moderator approval), and actually — I don’t have the book!!! I should. But in the book (a collection of essays based on a series of lectures), Sagan issues an impassioned defence of scientific curiosity, and openly asks the following: “If a Creator God exists, would He or She or It or whatever the appropriate pronoun is, prefer a kind of sodden blockhead who worships while understanding nothing? Or would He prefer His votaries to admire the real universe in all its intricacy? I would suggest that science is, at least in part, informed worship.” Sagan knew that he didn’t know. But he felt that the universe was wondrous enough that perhaps — just perhaps — staying in touch with that sense of awe, and trying to understand the universe through science, was an expression of reverence, and a step toward knowing “God”. The end of “Contact” (the book version) also suggests some secret “Creator”-obsession, in my view.
Lucas and Sagan are very alike here. Open-minded, visionary secular men, seemingly convinced there is more “out there”; but that we are impoverished by our limited knowledge, and guilty of shackling and deceiving ourselves when we defiantly proclaim to know who or what “God” is, or what he/she wills, hiding behind religious ideology for protection, in the face of vast unknowns. Here’s Lucas: “I think there is a God. No question. What that God is or what we know about that God, I’m not sure. The one thing I know about life and about the human race is that we’ve always tried to construct some kind of context for the unknown. Even the cavemen thought they had it figured out. I would say that cavemen understood on a scale of about 1. Now we’ve made it up to about 5. The only thing that most people don’t realize is the scale goes to 1 million.”
See how Lucas, like Sagan, is beckoning us not to stay in the cave; to quite literally move beyond a “caveman” mentality?
I know that might have seemed like a random segue, earlier: the midi-chlorian thing. But I was trying to imply there might be more propping consciousness up than we realise. And Lucas actually took inspiration for the midi-chlorians from the Endosymbiotic theory of life, which was first articulated by Konstantin Mereschkowski (a Russian botanist) at the turn of the last century, and developed with microbiological evidence by Lynn Margulis in 1967 — Lynn Margulis was Sagan’s first wife and a fellow scientist (biologist) and science populariser. It somehow all fits.
Anyway, that little digression aside…
From Trump, Facebook, and feminism… to God.
Yep, sounds about right.
Much love in return!
We’re crazy. 🙂
Post Script #1:
Here’s a wonderful Brain Pickings link with more on the religious/seeking side of Sagan, based on quotes from the book I mentioned a moment ago:
Maria Popova, the webmaster of Brain Pickings, clearly has quite the love of Sagan. She speaks glowingly of him and has multiple articles about him.
Post Script #2:
Here’s my source for the Lucas quote. From a 1999 interview with Bill Moyers to help promote Lucas’ Episode I, then on the cusp of release:
I find quote that to be one of the most fascinating and revealing things Lucas has ever said. You could always argue, given the format of the interview and the agenda of the host, that Lucas was just telling Moyers what he wanted to hear, but I think he was outlining a serious worldview in that moment. The entire interview is recommended watching/reading.
Do you know Maychild and Natalie from your time on TheForceNet then?
Unfortunately I have nada to add on the Carl Sagan off-topic. My lack of an American-upbringing hinders me! I’m surprised that as a Brit, you’re so familiar with him, particularly as I gather you don’t work in physics/space?
You seem quite Americanised. Not that it’s a bad thing, though I suspect it’s more prevalent amongst long-time interweb dwellers. Then again, Boris Johnson’s (aka the Pound Shop Trump) election suggests the Americanisation of an entire UK party.
After trundling your post, this point sure made it all worthwhile:
“when it comes to the “perfectibility” of human nature, there are some philosophers and scholars who doubt human nature can be much improved, as there may be a deep-seated (and somewhat taboo-to-talk-about) tendency embedded in humans that AOTC explores through Anakin: an inclination toward self-destruction”
Have we discussed this aspect of the Anakin before? An aspect that may be more a case of rule than exception than at first glance? I think most of us will recognise – admit – that when we were 20 years of age we shared a lot of his traits.
There’s a closely related thread on the forum to this topic that might be worth adding to
@ Arch Duke:
I know quite a few people from TFN, yeah. I don’t think maychild will mind me saying, but I’ve known her since the days of IMDb. Took me a while to realise she’d also been posting to TFN before I joined!
Carl Sagan is like science itself — he defies borders.
I’ve been aware of Sagan and very fond of him for years. My first awareness of him came around the turn of the century (appropriately enough). It was when I first saw “Contact” on television. There was a dedication at the end: “For Carl”. I wondered who this “Carl” person was and why he would get a dedication. I sure had a lot to learn!
Then I bought “Contact” (the book), and later “Cosmos” (the book), along with watching the entirety of the latter (“Contact” and “Cosmos” are almost a joint project: both books, and a film and a television series, respectively). I’ve read other Sagan stuff online, watched other videos of his (lectures, interviews), and downloaded PDFs, etc. Still actually haven’t read all his books, though, shamefully. Trying to get to it!
The Internet is another thing that defies borders, which further helped bring Carl into my world. When YouTube and social media first got going, Sagan was much more of a niche thing. It seemed that only a handful of people were aware of him; but even then, I could sense there was a tingling tide of awareness growing. But perhaps he still is something of a niche subject. And if that’s the case, how depressing for the public understanding of science as a whole!
In any case, I’ve never looked upon Sagan as being especially “American”; though he undoubtedly is. He’s always seemed much bigger than any one country or set of national identities to me. Perhaps because of his visionary qualities. To quote Keay Davidson’s 1999 biography of Sagan: “A visionary dreams of a better world than this one. He refuses to think that modern society and its trappings — money, marriage, children, a nine-to-five career, and obeisance to a waving flag and an inscrutable God — are all there is.”
Certainly, Carl Sagan was an admirable American citizen — but more importantly than that, he was an admirable human being. One of the greatest people to have ever lived. He never quite came up with a grand synthesis or produced some radical leap in understanding like Newton or Einstein, and he wasn’t a creative genius like Mozart or Picasso, but his life definitely meant something.
Sagan sang the praises of the universe and communicated the importance of scientific literacy better than anyone, getting many people into the sciences, and reminding us all that there’s a vast cosmos to explore. He also warned against scientific ignorance and the destructive tendencies of mankind — that a much more glorious future awaits, that we can do better, and that it is our cosmic duty to not destroy ourselves out of fear, greed, or ignorance (which we are presently on the brink of doing).
By way of an introduction, I recommend Carl’s stirring speech from one of his final books, “Pale Blue Dot”. Carl sadly perished in December 1996, but it was a pleasure to share the first thirteen years of my life with him, right here, on this pale blue dot.
(There are several versions of that very same speech/recording on YouTube. As the title of the video suggests, I have deliberately chosen the cut-down, no-music version. While the other versions are nice and well-intentioned, I think the music and video imagery detracts from the intimacy and purity of the original audio recording).
I don’t work in physics. And I certainly don’t work in space. Well, of course, we all work *according* to physics, and we all work in four-dimensional spacetime! But, no… physics isn’t my profession, nor do I operate in outer space! In prosaic terms: I don’t have a career in STEM. On the other hand, I am very interested in space and astronomy and the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence. Biology, too. And the history of science. I read a lot of material and watch a lot of videos on all these topics. I’m very grateful the Internet is now awash in such material. Even just five or six years ago, it was a different story.
And I guess, even prior to Carl Sagan, I was interested in those things. I’ve always been fascinated by science — though almost always “from the outside, looking in”. But seeing the rise of new strains of nationalism, religious fanaticism, conspiracy-theory mongering, including climate change denialism, and a general, low-level hostility toward experts, I have tried to further my self-education in basic scientific matters; hoping, where and when I can, to shift the conversation in a more positive direction. I may just be a raindrop in a vast ocean, but let me be an informed raindrop, if nothing else!
I probably am quite Americanised — or “-ized”. See? I can’t even decide which of those to use! You are inevitably correct in suspecting that the Internet has something to do with it. And I know your remarks extend beyond the narrow topic of language, but let me just say: American English is very clean and fluid. I love it. My own prose style is probably an odd mix. In fact, you are reminding me that there are several books on language I’ve been meaning to purchase. Another growing interest of mine.
I had a friend quip, years ago, when he was browsing some items in a shop window (I think it was a music shop), “You’re more American than British!” Quite true in a lot of ways. He was big on the Beatles, while I am an Elvis fanatic. See? And Liverpool isn’t exactly far from my home city! I’ve always been a rebel. But then again, we are drawn to different things in different amounts, relative to our personal conditions.
Your surprise here echoes a few other people who have manifested similar (warm-hearted) confusion. Just in the prequel community. Had it a couple of times in the Elvis world, too. I remember one fan, who dwelled in the South (the American South), expressing astonishment that so many non-Americans are fans of Elvis. I guess she is amazed that one person, a lowly “hillbilly” from the backwoods of America, can have such a formidable impact around the world. But it’s true.
For all intents and purposes, Britain and America are almost the same thing (of course, they still have some significant differences, too). Elvis has always had a very big fan following in the UK. The UK even influenced his destiny in a few areas. As did a certain person from the Netherlands (his famous manager, Colonel Parker, was a Dutch immigrant). It’s similar for Star Wars. North America is the franchise’s biggest market, but I think I’m right in saying the UK is its second biggest — and, of course, a good deal of the saga was actually filmed and musically scored in the UK; and various members of the cast are British by birth.
Britain also has an impressive scientific and engineering legacy of its own. I hail from the West Midlands, and there you can trace the so-called Midlands Enlightenment and much of the Industrial Revolution — including none other than Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin (a formidable intellect of his own who influenced his grandson a great deal — we’re almost back to Star Wars and fathers and sons and generational stories here…). When you look into things, you start to realise how much history there is, all around you…
Boris Johnson is definitely a Pound Shop Trump — if a great deal more articulate. His election does also suggest an Americanisation of British politics; though I think it primarily signifies the cult of personality at work, which, yes, is so powerfully dominant in American politics, much to the world’s detriment.
Johnson, while charismatic and funny, however, is as much a product of the British aristocracy and what you might call “chumocracy”, as much as he’s another Trump. “BoJo” is, if you will, the insider-outsider of the “modern” Tory party. There’s very little that’s moderate or modern about him because he comes from that same “old boy” system, and yet: people are taken in.
Ultimately, Johnson is a right-wing, neoliberal fanatic, employing something of a clown persona (yes, the “Pound Shop Trump” thing again), in order to distract and misdirect people in their millions. Currently trying to push through the most reckless political strategy, arguably since the same political establishment, with similar arrogance and self-serving indifference, sent millions of young men to their brutal deaths in the First World War. The UK is teetering on the precipice right now.
As for the Anakin aspect:
I don’t know, have we? We might well have. In AOTC, Anakin endlessly displays what Freud loosely identified as the “love drive” and the “death drive”. And I suppose that’s most of us, all the time, especially in our turbulent teens.
Nice plug, by the way! That’s meant to be my job. You’re making me feel pretty guilty, now. I haven’t added to that community; and yet, my input is being sought for, and we need to build that thing up. Will see what I can hammer out later. 🙂
@ Cryo @Archduke
I’ve been familiar with Carl Sagan since the age of eight. My mother severely restricted my and my sister’s TV intake, except when it came to PBS. Sagan first came to national prominence on Johnny Carson’s late night talk show; Carson invited him to talk about science. (and promptly started parodying him the week after he first appeared, turtleneck, corduroy jacket, slightly dramatic drawl and all; he was actually the one who coined “billions and billions,” drawled out as “biiiiiiiiiiillions and biiiiiiiiiiiiillions,” that became Sagan’s so-called catch phrase, though Sagan himself never uttered it). Sagan, being not only highly intelligent but a charismatic figure, subsequently got a 13-part series on PBS, “Cosmos,” in which he talked about all aspects of science, from biology to chemistry to astronomy. It aired in 1980, and at my house, we’d have “Cosmos” nights. I was only eight, and not scientifically inclined, but the series stayed with me. I bought it on VHS when it became available (a ridiculously long time later), and then on DVD. More recently I got it for my nephew. I believe the entire thing is available on Youtube.com, and I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.
It didn’t occur to me to be surprised that Cryo, a Brit, was familiar with Carl Sagan when we started communicating (and yes, we know each other from the cursed TF.N as well as the even-more-cursed IMDB.com message boards, which have since gone the way of the dodo). I figured Sagan was, like science itself, international. Also, I was simply glad to find someone else who Sagan’s teachings had an impact on. Most people have never heard of him, or they view him as a rather comical figure (that old “biiiiiiiiiiillions and biiiiiiiiiiillions” business). I’ve tried to “convert” several people, proffering a few “Cosmos” episodes, and been dismissed, or told, “That’s boring.” In fact, it ISN’T boring. That was a big part of Sagan’s appeal: he made potentially boring topics interesting, even entertaining. It’s something we desperately need now, given that we appear to be headed down the road that Sagan references several times during “Cosmos”: the road to ignorance, bigotry, superstition, poisonous versions of religion (because although I don’t care for religion personally, any religion, I recognize that it has the potential to sow kindness and caring, although that’s not how it’s being used at present), and quite possibly self-destruction, either through nuclear war or environmental collapse and extinction.
Did you ever see the new version of Cosmos?
Yes, I saw the new “Cosmos.” I wasn’t crazy about it, truth be told, but I appreciated the effort.
Not seen the new series, yet, myself. I tried watching some clips on YouTube, but full episodes weren’t then available on that platform. And it appears to still be the case.
I have to say: The new series looks very cheaply made in comparison to the original. Shockwave Flash graphics are no substitute for the gorgeous “live action” historical reconstructions used in the earlier “Cosmos” series. The Vangelis soundtrack that accompanies the original is also a seriously beautiful and ethereal work of art in its own right, and is the perfect musical companion to Sagan’s lofty narration and the stunning visual design (stunning for its time, anyway). And then there’s the Carl Sagan factor.
But I still respect Carl’s widow, Ann Druyan, and the nearest equivalent we have to Carl today: Neil deGrasse Tyson. They, along with writer Steven Soter, who also co-wrote the original “Cosmos” with Carl and Ann, are the ones who put the new series together, and Neil, like Carl, also hosted the new series.
In 1975, Neil actually wrote a letter to Carl when he was deciding which college to attend as a physics undergraduate, and Carl responded and offered to meet with him when he came to Ithaca, where Cornell University is based. Neil did, indeed, meet his hero, but he also wrote back to say that, sadly, he had chosen to go to Harvard.
(My heart did sink a little for Carl in reading Neil’s reply. Not only did he warmly reach out to Neil and even offered Neil boarding for the night if he couldn’t get a bus home after his visit, but Harvard — in its bigoted, short-sighted aversion to “popularising” — considered Sagan an egotist and denied him tenure, which was a factor in him settling at Cornell.)
But at least all of that means there’s some nice continuity between the original and newer “Comos” series. At the same time, the new series also covers some different material to the original. So they are more “binary companions” than straight-up clones of one another.
I think Neil is at his best when interviewing others. He’s an extremely gregarious personality who laughs easily, while also being exceptionally smart. Great combination for a host who is also an astrophysicist, and hence knows what he’s actually talking about and can interview people and summarise for the viewer in an appropriate and welcome manner.
There will never be another person like Carl Sagan, however. Just as there could only be one Einstein, one Elvis, one Lucas…
It’s really sad and quite amazing that some people don’t understand the uniqueness of human personality. Some members of the human family shine very bright, indeed…
Anyway, while Carl is no longer with us, there’s some good archival material to pile through. So it still feels like he’s around. And because he was so far ahead of his time, almost everything he says is still 100% relevant today.
Neil, fortunately, is with us, and may he endure for many decades to come. In addition to writing popular science books like Sagan, he has a great talk show, and a channel on YouTube with the same name, called “StarTalk”. I’ve just been dipping into the YouTube channel the last few weeks — finally! Saw one or two things from it in the past, and now I’m really getting into it. Janna Levin is a real hottie. That is all.
link please? i like to read it
I think it’s so cool that you knew of Sagan from such an early age, and while you and he shared and walked about the same planet. I got a bit more into Sagan about ten or twelve years ago (the Internet was still in its infancy then), thanks, in large part, to a smart person I befriended in the online Elvis world. I hope he won’t mind me saying (I’m not in contact with him anymore), but Sagan was very big to him, and he once met him at a talk/book-signing event. I feel like I came to the party quite late, next to you guys!
Anyway, yeah… Sagan struck up quite the useful friendship with Johnny Carson, but you’ve probably seen more appearances than I have. Sagan seemed to be at the peak of his looks and confidence back then, and he definitely radiated charisma like few others.
Thank you for saying a bit more about the original “Cosmos”. It still needs some selling. Arch Duke, if you’re reading this, please go and watch it — you will not regret it.
On the “billions and billions” thing:
There’s a very good lecture up on YouTube that has a funny moment in it when Sagan catches himself saying “billions” and the audience begins to laugh. He then indicates he had to re-watch every episode of “Cosmos” for its “updated” version (not to be confused with the newer series — these updates, as I’m sure you know, were little inserts mostly confined to a brief clip of an older-looking Sagan giving some updated summary at the end of each original episode). He says he was on edge, waiting for him to hear himself utter the phrase, but as he protests in the talk, to much laughter, “I never said it”.
There is, however, this very amusing compilation of actual utterances from the same series:
SAGAN SPOILER ALERT!
I’m preaching to the converted here, of course.
People balking at “Cosmos”? At Carl??? I actually got the same reaction — distressingly — when I once played a clip of “Cosmos” to (who was then) a close friend. It was the part where Sagan is outside in that orchard, talking about the horror of nuclear weapons. My friend seemed pretty uninterested, and then declared, “His voice is a bit dull.” I wondered if he wasn’t joking. But maybe he wasn’t. How opinions differ…
Couldn’t agree more that we need Carl Sagan, today, more than ever. Humanity is rapidly circling the drain. And if people are that indifferent about understanding science, electing appropriate leaders, and saving the planet, then yeah… we’re sure to have a VERY harsh 21st Century. And it would be utterly needless. Just as Sagan said. It doesn’t HAVE to be this way. But people are letting it. Imagine if someone like Sagan had become President, instead of Trump…
Symbolises where we’re at right now. I guess we really don’t care too much about building a sustainable world for our own children. The hourglass is running down…
Sagan never became a household name here in Ireland. And I grew up watching a hell of a lot of science and documentary programmes (the real stuff, not that “Ancient Aliens” junk TV). Astrophysicists like the late, great Stephen Hawking, however, made a substantial impact, and my father was also a fan.
I’ve heard many things about Sagan the great American public educator via the internet, but it seems as a 90s kid I simply missed the boat. There are a lot of other scientists I do follow, and perhaps I’ll look him into him one day.
It’s great to see that many of you here who are curious about the workings of Space and the universe beyond Star Wars. I would definitely credit George Lucas for stoking my interest. Who knows what extraterrestrial life existed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.The scale of the universe is simply off the charts, when one takes a little time to look into it. Don’t get me started on multiverses…
I hope you get around to posting on the Naberrie forum! I sense a lot of procrastination in you: dodged watching the Clone Wars, dodged commenting on the interesting Palpatine Problem blog article, so will it be third time lucky? If you can pen 2,000+ words on defending the design of that forum, surely you can actually post a 500 worder there for once? I may sound harsh, but it’s the only solution sometimes.
I completed my rewatch of Episode II earlier today. I’ll be doing III tomorrow (no, I’ve never done a prequel marathon in case you’re wondering – have you?). I look forward to a lot of detailed conversations on it !
@ Arch Duke:
I can see why you may have missed out on Carl Sagan growing up. It was the same in England, too. I don’t remember even seeing a trace of him on TV here, despite my interest in science documentaries, not to mention other stuff like “Tomorrow’s World” and “Star Trek” (do I even need to put that one in quotation marks?). My fanaticism over Star Wars only really bloomed later — with the release of the PT. I remember, too, our own home-grown science popularisers like Sir David Attenborough and Sir Patrick Moore. And with the Internet, I became aware of Richard Dawkins, and the newer “kids” on the block, Brian Cox and Jim Al-Khalili. A shout-out to Jacob Bronowski, too, for the incredible predecessor to “Cosmos”, his self-penned thirteen-part series “The Ascent Of Man” (which Attenborough played a key role in getting made). But Carl? He may as well have departed to the Orion nebula!
Seems that British television programming has done us a huge disservice. Honestly, for all the popularisers you may follow, I think Carl Sagan is top of the tree. As a writer, I’d put Dawkins second. Richard Feynman deserves a mention, too. I’m also quite fond of Lawrence Krauss and Brian Greene. Nobody has the high-wattage charisma, boyish wonder, poetic grace, cosmic vision, and cool intellect of Sagan, however. Well, okay. Of those named, Feynman probably had a greater intellect than Sagan, and he also had quite a charismatic presence of his own. But everything came together in Sagan like it never really has in anyone else. In “The Demon-Haunted World”, he also wrote one of the most important pleas for skeptical thinking in the modern world that has probably ever been written. Sagan is worth your time.
I suppose I do have Lucas to thank for sending that flame of passion for outer space a little higher. There may be a heck of a lot of humans tottering around in the SW universe speaking regular English, which could be considered an outrage to the imagination, and not only science, but there are some pretty esoteric concepts nicely embedded in the films — not the least of which are the midi-chlorians. That concept isn’t taken anywhere near seriously enough (a lot of fans still apparently think the entire concept is, at best, awkward, and at worst, a pathetic joke). This is where an enormous crack opened up in the previously-solid ground between Lucas and the SW fanbase. I definitely think it’s one of the more inspired and mind-bending ideas in the saga, marking the PT out as a worthy expansion of a well-liked fictional universe and a tool for deeper thinking about our own.
You’re right that I procrastinate a hell of a lot. The way you put it, too — hilarious. It is wacky, isn’t it? How on Earth can I possibly devote 2,000 words to defending the forum name, but not post as much as a single word on the actual forum? I wonder, deep down, if I’ve just gone off message boards? I only post here and on Facebook (when my account is active) at present. Something deters me. Bear in mind, I also got into a lengthy private group conversation with those guys on the forum, text and voice, for eighteen months, via Skype. It may be that I feel I’ve said most of what I feel like saying. But then, how can that be, when I manage to craft one essay after another, sometimes over pretty trivial topics, in this comments section? I think I like the extra visibility of this place more. You know, it would be bloody awesome if the forum could somehow become part of Naboo News — directly sanctioned as the official adjunct to this comments section.
All that further wheel-spinning blather aside, I’ll genuinely try and make some posts there. It’s just hard for me to catch a momentum sometimes.
I’ve never done a prequel marathon. I’ve just watched the films individually a lot. In fact, I’ve even watched them simultaneously, part-way through, a few times, courtesy of some pre-existing mash-up marathon videos on YouTube. Takes a while to adjust to the banality of single-movie watching again! I suppose it’s a bit like taking LSD. Not that I dabble in heavy substances. The PT kind of suffices…
Good luck completing your marathon. One of the most interesting ways of digesting the films, for me, is in small chunks; and often going from one to the other. But I tired of doing that recently. A few days ago, I kept watching the same bit of ROTS, once or twice per day, trying to find more inside of it. That can be an enjoyable activity. But I’m a little on the OCD side; might not work for everyone.
Always happy to talk AOTC, though! I’m now almost in the mood for a complete, start-to-finish re-watch myself, now that you’ve mentioned it.
I’m surprised to hear you’ve never done a SW marathon. What about you, @Joey ? Surely!
I haven’t because I find one feature length film enough to chew on at a time. If it’s 2hr – 2hr 30, I’m going to have to give myself a break to recoup for the next one. Since I purchased the Blu-ray set in 2011, I’ve tended to rewatch the entire saga about once a year; maybe spaced over a week or even 2 sometimes.
“Only once a year?!”, I hear you say. Well, let me say that there are 6 films to go through and there’s other films to return to too. Moreover, I don’t like to be the kind of person who is so obsessed with the movies that he’s got the entire dialogue memorised. I love to return each year with that resplendent combination of familiarity and freshness. Each repeat viewing therefore is interesting because I keep ageing, yet the characters do not: they’re almost timeless. And when I started this little tradition of mine I was younger than Anakin in II; low and behold I’m now older than the character in III. And though I didn’t replicate his self-destruction, I did find that I changed significantly between the ages of 20 and 23 – or so I’m told at least.
Turning attention back to the forum: I have a few topics in mind and I’ll get them rolling as threads on the forum in the coming days. You’ll have a choice of what to nibble at! I’m also glad to hear @Tony is on board. Maybe we’ll get a few more takers.
It would indeed be fantastic if Naboo News and Naberrie Fields were to form a partnership. It all comes down to Anthony though, and I’ve no idea if he’d be up for it (if you’re reading this, let us know your thoughts). It would also have to be okay with the administrator on the forum (whomever he/she is) and that might just require some rebranding. Of course, I would still be up for the idea of setting up a brand new forum to parter with this blog, should NF decline.
I take it from previous discussions, you don’t get to travel abroad much, but surely you’ll have to recreate this pose one day?
No offense but I’d rather not have any partnership for now. I could post the link to the forum on social medias though 😉
No problem. I got a little ahead of myself, anyway. As Arch Duke alluded to, I’m not the owner of Naberrie Fields, so I would have to seek his permission; even on the promo side. But that’s a cool offer.
@ Arch Duke:
Just following up on the forum thing, first…
Yep. I was thinking the same thing. If NF ever *were* to become attached to NN, it might need a name change. But as you just suggested, a brand new forum could always be created, which might be a better option.
However, Anthony has just indicated he would rather not pursue a partnership — which I assume also means no new board, either? Well, that’s okay. But any forum attached to this blog could end up being quite popular. So I think it’s worth considering.
Looking forward to NF improving and seeing a bit more activity! If you’re going to set up new topics, I am now soulfully bound to join the fray. Funnily enough, despite the low member count, we already have a Tony (as I’m sure you have noticed), but that’s fine: “Always two there are. No more, no less.”
My reasons for not doing a marathon are probably much the same as yours. Each film, in its entirety, is a little overwhelming. Watching a movie all the way through gives you a lot to process; watching in chunks is sometimes a good deal more manageable. Especially in the case of the prequels.
What you say about returning to each film “with that resplendent combination of familiarity and freshness” makes perfect sense. I also tried to keep things that way in earlier years, but then it became pointless — I simply watched them too many times. But since I have this ridiculously obsessive analytical streak, it’s fine. I can keep noticing and cogitating over new patterns and interlinkings instead. Either way, when you dip into Star Wars, you’re winning.
I don’t travel too much. I’ve been to Austria, which certainly reminded me of Naboo, but not to Italy or Lake Como. Would love to go in the future. Money is always tight. Full marks on the pose recreation of that guy. He even has the head tilt exactly right. It’s a beautiful location. Lucas couldn’t have picked a better place. Some people even get married under the Anakin-Padme tree.
i watched all six in the run up to the 30th Anniversary not in one setting but probably a few days i think on the 30th Anniversary i watched the original theatrical release of A New Hope(yes the one which didn’t have A New Hope In the Opening Crawl) then the original versions of TESB and ROTJ on the weekend i even had the living room decorated with Star Wars Stuff(yes i watched both The Special Editions and The Originals The One Fans Want and Whine About because it wasn’t given the same picture and Sound Quality of the Special Editions i don’t think those ingrates deserve the original cuts restored after how they treated Lucas like crap for the Last 22 years Especially The Sh*tty Treatment of Jake Ahmed and Hayden)
That would have been 2007 then, for the 30th anniversary? Very nice!
I know the mistreatment of PT actors is a topic we cover a lot here, and we should never forget the way Ahmed Best was treated – ever – but we’re now at a point where both he and Hayden Christensen can be embraced by fans at a Star Wars convention. It’s fair to say that most us 10 years ago thought this day would never happen.
It’s because of all this that I haven’t the slightest urge to go around mocking any of the actors in the current trilogy. Episode IX can be an absolute trainwreck, but I will never succumb to the ways of the Sith. Rememberer what Obi-Wan told Anakin in his final minutes as a able-bodied man: “You’ve become the very thing you swore to destroy!”. It’s a piece of wisdom we would all do well to heed.
Not to worry. The most important thing is to get a PT-based forum – a spiritual successor to TFN for you and others, I’m sure – up and running. I’m not a great fan of the design of NF, but, like the Jedi during the Clone War, I will have to make do with the circumstances, and try my best. In the run up to Episode IX, and particularly if Palpatine and who knows what other Prequel character shows up, interest in Episodes I-III will be high, and I feel like there’s great opportunities to be had if we can get some strong discussions going. We might even end up at the top of the search engine results!
I think you should put some effort in visiting the locations of the PT in the coming years. It all boils down to 3 Ryanair European flights: Seville, Naples and Milan. And, if you’re lucky, you might not even have to travel to London to get to them! Think of it like a Lucasian pilgrimage, for that is what it truly is, is it not? Just seeing that image again I shared with you from the villa on Lake Coma, and how little – if any at all – its changed, really has sparked my own interest in getting there. Thing is my Italian friend is still abroad – I’ll wait till she returns, and then I shall go 😉
Does the proposed Lucas museum in Los Angeles spark your interest, any little bit? If I ever visit that faraway city, it’ll certainly be high on my list.
Sidenote: The abundance of a science educator combined with unnecessary new comment threads (ie not being posted under reply) has turned this page into some mess. Yes, your truly is getting a touch of OCD now…
No worries. You’re already doing us a favour by hosting these very enjoyable discussions. I would say there’s no need to promote the NF forum as it stands – it’s fairly dormant, and there’s a lot of work to be done. But thanks for offering, it might just come in handy later.
Can I ask: have you written any article on your own experience with Star Wars growing up? If my hunch is right, you made some comments on the SW prequel appreciation society blog in the past, did you not? I doubt I’d be able to find those right now though.
@ Arch Duke:
I share your distaste of the look of the NF forum. It’s very plain and not really befitting of a gorgeous visual work like the Star Wars saga. Also, I can’t remember if you can change this aspect or not (I need to retrieve my log-in details), but I don’t like white backgrounds all that much. Not on message boards, anyway. The whole look of NF is a bit “blah” to me.
Getting a new board going in the near future would be pretty darn terrific. And yes: I would see it as the successor to TFN, which jumped the shark when it decided to censor people and forbid certain lines of conversation toward the new regime. If I say it’s because I was banned, it’ll sound peevish and conceited, but my banning does have something to do with it.
The PT forum there just isn’t the same anymore. But there were issues with it before the clamp down on speech. Other people already began abandoning it. They’d had their fill of the negative elements that would perennially swing by and bait prequel fans and railroad discussions and crush everything down to the same tired discussion points.
A new board would represent an entirely new start — and, sometimes, such start-overs are necessary in life. And yes, it could climb to the top of the charts. It really has a chance!!!
I do a lot of travelling in my own mind. Not only do I have limited material resources, but I’m often a bit reluctant to journey beyond my confines (you may just have noticed this tendency in me in other ways!). But that’s a good way of putting it. A Lucasian pilgrimage. Hmm.
The museum is interesting and looks pretty swish. I’d certainly like to visit, now you mention it, if I’m ever in Los Angeles.
Sagan’s a bit of a touchy subject for me. He was a “science educator” and much more. I understand, though, if you’re not too familiar with him, the digressive posts may be annoying. Some blame must be put on the comments section itself. It just isn’t a good design for lengthy replies — least of all when you branch off into other topics or other people don’t reply under an existing sub-discussion.
Are you still in any contact with the folks you used to Skype from NF? If you could kindly reach out to them and propose some changes to the design of the forum (with some of my recommendations, haha) that would be helpful. We have to attempt this before starting a new platform from scratch. And only you can do this one! Just a quick message announcing our attention to help out the forum would be enough to start.
In the case of a new forum there may be some upfront costs. I don’t think it would be much, but it’s still a financial matter, and anything of this nature would need to be discussed in private. Is there a way I can contact you here? Maybe you can log-on to your NF account, which offers PMs? As another commenter mentioned recently, its a shame we don’t have this feature on WordPress.
I shared with you the “Palpatine problem” article in June. Well, now I’ve got another blog piece to share with you. It’s from a writer I like, and who is usually so positive about the PT, but completely misunderstands Padmé on this occasion (after a rewatch of AotC), sadly.
I’m hoping to respond to it in detail soon, but I think your two cents should be added also.
@archduke let me Guess she’s a weak character becuase she died of a broken heart she did a terrible job handling anakin’s confession of the Tusken Massacre The same old BS
exactly look at the backlash toward kelly marie tran who plays rose
@ Arch Duke:
We’ll sort the whole NF thing out privately. This comments section is already stuffed full!
As for the Padme blog “article”:
Surprisingly, Joe, the article doesn’t even mention those aspects. It’s much too ill-considered and lazy to bring up any actual *points*. All it really is is the author having a whine that Padme is such a terrible disappointment of a character in AOTC next to Leia and Rey in *their* middle installments. They lament the fact that Padme doesn’t seem strong enough to resist Anakin’s callow advances, while — of course — Leia and Rey radiate nothing but immaculate self-control and principled conviction in the face of Han and Kylo’s overtures in TESB and TLJ, and they are never weak, shallow, immature, indecisive, rash, violent, slow-witted, stuck-up, or submissive for a single moment.
The most amusing part of the whole piece is probably a sentence I’ll quote in just a moment. The author has a bit to say (but not much) concerning the action/blaster skills of Padme and Leia, and you wonder what they’re going to say about Rey, who is obviously adept in the physical stakes, and unlike her forebears, wields a lightsaber. So will there be some edifying character analysis based on Rey’s fighting skills? An astute observation or two concerning the way she handles herself; especially against those evil, stupid, entitled men who chauvinistically hold her hand, take her prisoner, or tell her to get off their lawn? An impassioned defence, maybe, about a character some have found to be more of a plot ornament; an ideological container for a progressive re-painting of Star Wars in the face of ran rage toward the PT? Let me count the ways I love Rey? No, just the following: “Rey’s action scenes are amazing, obviously.” Well, I guess that settles it then.
Another incredibly silly remark from that same part — the “action” analysis — comes from the author commenting on Padme in the Geonosian arena. She first acknowledges that “[Padme] does a pretty good job taking care of herself as she fends off the cat creature”, but then, according to the author, “her awesomeness is immediately discredited” after she is rescued by Anakin — a boy/man (yuck!) — and get this: she *kisses* him. How gross! How degrading! How vile! Or as the author puts it on a fresh line: “That’s the worst.” I guess, now, Padme has Jedi cooties, and she is no longer a person anyone who longs for “strength” in their female characters can rightfully respect. How awful, that Padme would give Anakin, her paramour, a friendly peck of reassurance, when she had just announced her feelings for him moments earlier, and it looked like, in Padme’s own words, their lives were about to be destroyed. Let’s forget all about the similar peck on the cheek that Leia gives Han in the Falcon when they’re hiding from the Empire and about to go to Bespin. That one’s okay, I guess, because Harrison Ford, or something. For that matter, let’s also ignore Rey kissing Finn on the forehead at the end of TFA, because virginal white girl kissing dark-skinned boy (merely as friends) = PROGRESS!!!
The author also asserts in that same section that Padme doesn’t hold her blaster “with enough authority” — whatever that means. Yet, in the screenshot they supply, Padme looks pretty determined to me, blasting away with some focus/intensity at Dooku’s fleeing starship. They also suggest that Natalie Portman manifests “annoyance” with the sequence, but it all looks like solid, in-character acting, to me. I suppose they mean Padme looks apathetic in the sequence, but that’s not the impression I get, whether it’s the aforementioned moment of her firing on Dooku’s ship, or the quip she returns with Anakin in the arena, to Anakin’s wry amusement: “No, I call it aggressive negotiations.” What makes it even stranger is that the author feels that Padme was “awesome” in TPM, so to even cite Portman’s alleged “annoyance” (their term, not mine) is bizarre. What about Portman’s performance is so radically dissimilar between the two films in the action scenes? I’m not seeing it.
Their comments on the romance, which they mostly compare to Han and Leia’s jousting in TESB (the author seems to think otherwise, but there’s no real romance of any kind in TLJ, to me), suggests they don’t grasp the different motifs employed in the two films; let alone the tragic arc of the prequels and the emphasis on ruination and failure. TESB, broadly speaking, presents screwball comedy; AOTC, on the other hand, offers courtly romance and forbidden love. It’s like oil and water. Of course, despite the sub-heading, they’re not really commenting on the romance in either case, but rather, the disposition of Padme and Leia. Leia, of course, is ballsy, and is capable of showing coldness and even mocking Han’s affections for her (by kissing Luke is the example they use), while Padme was apparently “toast” after Anakin kisses her at the lakeside (even though she’s obviously not comfortable with what she just did and needs to see more from Anakin first).
First off: whoever said mother and daughter had to be exactly alike? There’s this thing in our world called genetic variation. Second: Leia herself becomes very close to “toast” after she kisses Han in the maintenance area on the Falcon. Both times, the male makes his move. Both times, the woman is predictably smitten. Both females resist a little, but ultimately, their union as lovers is now a fait accompli. However, AOTC’s storyline is a tad more complex (Lucas himself has described the Han-Leia encounter as more of a fling). After Padme pulls away from Anakin at the lake, there’s a good deal more territory (geographical and psychological) still to cover, including a playful and multi-layered picnic scene, an elegant dinner, a fireside confession (wherein Padme goes back to resisting), and, of course, Anakin’s Orphic journey back to Tatooine. Padme doesn’t make it easy for Anakin, and it’s not like she stops being a senator and fighting for democracy because she eventually gives in and decides to be with him. After all, I thought it was sexist to think in binary, or to imply a woman can’t have a relationship and a career at the same time?
It’s clear this author has a problem with Padme’s gradually evaporating strength between the films. After all, they bluntly state: “Fast forward three years later to Attack of the Clones and it’s as if every aspect that made her such a likable character was erased, replaced by this storyline that made her seem weak in comparison to her role in The Phantom Menace.” This is a common complaint: Padme starts strong, ends weak. I actually think it’s a tad more complicated than that. They are overlooking the complexities and contradictions of the human animal. It is possible, for example, to be arrogant and brash, yet, at other times, to be crippled by anxiety and self-doubt. Equally, one may be charming and urbane in a public setting, but moody and tempestuous in private. Genius, too, has its own violent meanderings. One can be insanely productive one decade, but go into total withdrawal the next. Often, it seems, to me, there is this desire to ignore vulnerabilities and dark traits — as if it’s simply a matter of culling the bad and preserving the good; as if the good is some independent island chain that can survive with half its ecology suddenly deleted or discarded.
People tend to revere Padme’s all-round performance in TPM, but they overlook all the moments of sadness and indecision she displays. She is not full of confidence when the Trade Federation invades Naboo. She hangs her head low and doesn’t seem to know what course of action to take. A big, older man (uh oh) has to step in and convince her to accompany him to Coruscant. On Tatooine, she doesn’t seem to have much of a plan, besides scolding the same big man for being “reckless”. On Coruscant, she again places herself in the intellectual vice of an older male, this time being persuaded by him to begin the process that will remove another older male from his seat of power. After that, she seems to go back to skulking, until an excitable amphibian has a brief heart-to-heart with her. Only then does she finally appear more assertive and determined to run the show on her own terms, finally shedding her handmaiden disguise in a symbolic gesture of self-actualisation and rebirth. But this victory, like the misleading celebration at the end of the film, is fleeing and soon undone.
At the start of AOTC, after Corde’s violent death, Padme immediately goes back to questioning herself. Once more, an older male has to assure her to continue, reminding her that she is doing her duty by standing up to tyranny and oppression. Padme, in this regard, is not an easy character to get a handle on. She can actually be strong and weak in the same scene; never mind competing movies. Look how assertive she suddenly is in the next scene, up against Palpatine and the Jedi. But look how easy it is for Palpatine to get her to follow his wishes at the close of that same scene. But hey, next scene, she’s back to being defiant again, demanding to know who’s trying to kill her, and working with Anakin (against Obi-Wan’s dicta) to draw the assassin out, placing her own life in danger. If Padme has a fatal flaw, it’s that she cares greatly for other people, and often takes the blame — internally — for suffering that occurs within her locus of action (or inaction). This key aspect of the Padme character reaches its apogee in the final act of ROTS, and I think it’s something a lot of fans still have trouble dealing with. Padme has this fragile duality about her, and in the end, the sad side wins out. But then: her personal strengths and weaknesses continue through her children, and the story picks up a new momentum, with a new paradigm and new possibilities.
Here is what Donald Trull has to say about Padme in his six-part analysis of AOTC; which, to me, is still one of the best prequel essays ever written:
In many respects, Padmé is Anakin’s opposite number. Padmé has an underdeveloped sense of self and is almost exclusively concerned with the welfare of others. Since childhood she has spent her life in public service, going straight from queen to senator, always putting the interests of the people of Naboo before her own. Even though she’s now an adult, she’s never had a chance to go through a proper adolescence and discover for herself who she is. Padmé keeps her emotions and her personal desires in check, putting duty first. She may have shed the kabuki makeup and aloof demeanor of the Naboo throne, but Padmé retains an internalized defensive wall that shields her inner self from the outside world. Anakin, on the other hand, is possessed by a demanding and impatient sense of self. He wants to do his own thing and follow his impulses, despite being matriculated into an order that frowns on emotion and individuality. Anakin and Padmé each possess qualities that the other lacks, and they gain a sense that together they form a complete personality.
You could interpret the two trilogies of the Lucas or ur-Saga the same way. Incomplete, but complementary. And only when they are brought together do they form a complete personality, a complete worldview. That’s the way I like my Star Wars, thank you very much. And Padme and all her contradictions therein — for me — are a key part of its epic appeal.
Wow, that’s quite a defiant defence. You write a lot of interesting pieces, but that was seriously good. Chapeau.
I wrote my own response on the writer’s blog. It’s pretty weak compared to your effort, but I gave it a shot (just 1200 words). Let me know what you think.
a link please i like to read it
@ Arch Duke:
I read your response a short while ago — and then I was sitting it out, assuming you’d respond under this comments section, as per usual. Did you independently tell her to look into the writings of Donald Trull, just as I cited Trull in my own response here? Once again, we appear to be on the same wavelength.
Personally, I feel you gave a splendid response! Much better, in many ways, than my own here. But thank you greatly. Word count isn’t everything. Your response is broken down exceptionally well, and, in fact, as far as word count goes, the lengths of our responses aren’t far apart, if you delete my Trull quote at the end.
The one thing I am particularly proud of, in my own response, is that two-paragraph knock-out punch at the end (if I do say so myself), where I get into the sadness and self-doubt that permeates Padme’s psyche. I think this is a critical piece of the “Padme puzzle”, and it is not possible to make a fair reading of her character arc without it.
I feel this is the only aspect of your own response that is lacking. It’s the “missing pillar” of your otherwise estimable response. It makes a good rebuttal to that blog author who thinks Padme was a much superior, take-charge character in TPM. It equally serves as a rebuttal to those people who feel Padme was a totally changed character, for the worse, in ROTS. Which is the same way this author seems to feel. She just feels it one film earlier than a lot of people do.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the author feels a similar way toward Padme in ROTS. I mean — why wouldn’t she? Just as some people explicitly make the claim that Lucas did a “disservice” to women with the manner of Padme’s death and her “needy” nature around Anakin in the final prequel, so I imagine this author holds ROTS Padme in low regard, given that she evidently feels Padme plays second-fiddle to Anakin in AOTC and deems her the “worst heroine” in Star Wars.
What is it about the prequels, I wonder, that provokes these constant disavowals, blanket dismissals, and superlative declarations? “Worst movies ever made”, “worst director of all time”, “most annoying comic relief ever”, “worst heroine of Star Wars” (is that a minute improvement over the others?), etc. People aren’t content to call them disappointing; even some younger people, like this blog author appears to be, who otherwise go around touting their love of Star Wars like a badge of pride. It’s really quite strange. But, of course, we can all point to some obvious factors.
I forgot to address her droid factory remarks, but you pretty much caught that and said everything else I can think of. I love, in particular, how you wrote about Padme having nerves of steel, due to her strong opposition to Palpatine in the Senate (or the militarism that Palpatine pretends to be reluctant to embrace), and that Rey faces nothing of the same magnitude. It’s true. And it has to shade into Anakin’s attraction to her. Padme isn’t just a pretty face who showed Anakin some kindness and left a big impact — though that is undeniably a part of it. She also stands for things and loyally serves the same impersonal institution he does. He even tells her he thinks the Republic needs her when they arrive and head to the palace on Naboo, which seems to put her worried mind a little more at ease. Another dimension to Anakin and the romance that is usually ignored.
I also love you citing some of the lore terminology, and then linking that to real-world history. Nothing major. I mean, it’s not like you’re pulling from obscure EU canon or anything, but by referring to Padme as “Leader of the Opposition”, and mentioning her time in the Youth Program (okay, you didn’t mention this, but you loosely implied it with your remarks about Padme debating politicians “in the not-so-great-indoors”), you have made Padme’s upbringing and duties a bit more concrete.
We got to next nothing like this for Leia; and less than nothing for Rey. Episode II is maybe the one Star Wars episode where our heroes actually seem like real people. They have backgrounds, lives, roles, responsibilities, concerns. They are Lucas’ word made flesh. Think of the droid factory sequence as a metaphor where they almost get stamped (Anakin) or melted (Padme) into the machinery of the movie; the artificiality of the story — the made-up world of the film being the “lie” that enables you to realise the truth. Okay, I like my ornery, unfathomable metaphors.
Good job, too, on describing how Padme actually *confronts* Anakin/Darth Vader. She does not go quietly into that gentle night. She tries to reason with her husband and pull him back from the brink. It is tragic that Obi-Wan appears when he does; though, as the surroundings of Mustafar operatically imply, the world has become a hellscape for our trio of heroes by then, and none of them can possibly leave their world unchanged.
That this trinity of characters, whose fates become invariably intertwined, make tragic errors in judgement is part and parcel of the prequel storyline: intended as an object lesson in how love is both binding and blinding, and how lies and deceptions of various kinds usually come undone in the end. If this doesn’t make the Star Wars saga a serious, credible work of fiction — even one with spiritual implications — then I don’t know what does.
I wrote my own response independently, but after skimming your one and seeing the link to D. Trull I thought it might be a nice idea to add a “further reading” at the end. Such an outstanding essay, and well worth each re-read!
He sheds great insight when he explores how the two characters actually compliment one another (symbiosis). And you, yourself, are really on the mark when you highlight that the doubts and missteps of Padmé are present in both Episodes I & II, just as I describe with her acts of decisiveness, bravery and leadership.
As for Padmé in Episode III? My own perspective is that she goes out, much like Mace Windu, though less spectacularly, as a martyr – in the true meaning of the word, ignoring that Islamic extremist appropriation of it. She’s fighting for what is right all the way to the very end, and pays the ultimate price. Romeo & Juliet is the main inspiration for Lucas, and we all know what that means for the Star Crossed lovers.
As you can probably deduce, I’m obsessed about political history (though not dogmatic about it, either). I’ve been interested in political killings and what fuels them from a young age. Not that I witnessed any, thankfully, but the highly revered leader of my own country’s independence movement was assassinated, and it’s something still talked about, a few years short of a century ago. Michael Collins was only in his early 30s, and the circumstances of his death are a little hazy. It mirrors a guy you’ll be more familiar with, John F Kennedy (or maybe Gandhi), but it also mirrors what happens in Star Wars. When you connect something in a fictional drama to something close to you, it brings a whole new meaning to it.
There’s a great 1996 film based on Collins’s life. Here’s the funeral scene, which comes at the very end, and boy is it haunting:
RotS is extremely Anakin-centric: everything we see revolves around him. If it’s not got something to do with him, Lucas simply takes out his scissors and chops liberally. Therefore what we see of her is heavily based on her interactions with Anakin. But does that mean she wasn’t still working hard in the Senate? Of course not. There’s the memorable scene where she scoffs at how Palpatine has undone the Republic, but if you care to read the novelisation (a work of art by Matthew Stover, I might add) there’s quite a lot more that happened.
There’s a significant difference between AotC and RotS, and that is that in the course of 3 years of brutal, disorientating, chaotic war the Republic has withered, crumbled and is on its last knees. The Clone Wars animation explores this in superb fashion. And as Padmé admits to her husband, their own system has become “the very evil” they were supposed to be fighting. Politically, the Republic is beyond repair, and so she has turned to cynicism, but isn’t too long before she’s secretly plotting a rebellion with close Senators. She is planting a seed that, tragically, she will never get to see blossom. More immediately, it’s left to the Jedi Council to remove the Chancellor.
You’re quite right to also describe the despair, and as the film reaches its conclusion, to utter trauma that Padmé experiences. A lot of viewers don’t tend to take that seriously, they’re not able to compute that this is a very human experience that does happen in real life; that isn’t so easy to brush off (we’re not droids). And the people aggrieved don’t necessarily immediately react with their guns/sword locked and loaded. There is nothing more human that the doubt, than to be in disbelieve when shocking, unbearable, uncomfortable, unspeakable revelations are brought to us. And even then, when we take in what the messenger has said, we’re still not fully sold: we want to believe otherwise, we cling on to some hope that it cannot be completely true. In short, we want to investigate for ourselves. We want to visit our drug-dealing sibling, we want to visit the concentration camps – we want to meet our husband, and look into his two very eyes. Shakespeare knew this better than most, and Lucas is but carrying the torch.
I think, however, that there’s a strong argument to be made that while Star Wars takes from many Shakespearean plays like Othello, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet and a bit of King Lear for good measure, the saga – the tragedy and redemption of Anakin Skywalker – is in some ways a retelling of something even older, Dante’s Divine Comedy. Episode I and III is Inferno, Purgatorio is Anakin under Palpatine’s leach for 23 years, and Paradiso is those final minutes of VI when he embraces his son and transcends the living world. Dante was Italian, and a good chunk of the PT was made in Italy (even Mustafar has the eruptions of Mt. Etna).
Feel free to post your response on her blog. Though I’d advice editing it a little bit: the satire on progress might lead someone whose never debated you to believe you’re some right-wing radical, when of course, you’re far from it. Bad first impressions can be tricky to undo.
I would definitely leave-in your terrific takedown of the blatant circular reasoning that is “Rey’s action scenes are amazing, obviously”. If someone feels they can rip in to one of our beloved characters from the PT, whilst giving total amnesty to a character in the ST, as if they’re some kind of living saint, then really have it coming. Hypocrisy is easy to smell.
As mentioned above, I’d have liked to have added to my response that AotC, and especially RotS, are framed around the journey (or rather, descent – think Dante) of Anakin Skywalker. And that did, unfortunately, mean we couldn’t get the full perspective of Padmé – you can’t fit everything into a 2 hour + film. Apparently a 5 hour version exists and I would love to see this one day; I’m sure more of her character is explored. In any case, I think a hypothetical novel or film or whatever, that would explore Padmé’s entire journey in more depth would be welcomed.
Our colleague from the the Naboo News comments, Marshall, posted a glowing review of Queen’s Shadow. I shall get back to reading that!
@ Arch Duke:
On the Trull thing, first of all: Ah, okay. I suspected you might have skimmed my post. Our responses came in pretty close to one another. He’s still about the best there is! And yes: Trull emphasised the theme of symbiosis rather heavily in his TPM analysis, so it was nice to see it carried through and applied to Anakin and Padme in his AOTC breakdown. At the time, that essay was quite the eye-opener. To this day, I think more prequel fans could do with reading his material.
Yep… I think Padme is something of a martyr figure in ROTS. She even seems to foresee her own death at a number of points. For instance, in Episode I, Jar Jar asks her: “Yousa tink yousa people gonna die?” Which could be read as an allusion to *her* dying. She becomes much-loved by the people of Naboo, so when she goes, it’s as if all the people of Naboo die with her. In Episode II, she watches the unfortunate Corde die before her eyes, and rues returning to the galactic capital. In the the next scene, Yoda offers his condolences: “Your tragedy on the landing platform… terrible.” And it is on the landing platform on Mustafar that her tragedy plays out, leading to her terrible loss. Finally, in Episode III, another allusion comes when Padme is in the Senate and delivers her now quite-famous remark: “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.” Liberty, of course, derives from the Latin word “libertas”, derived in turn from the Ancient Roman goddess Libertas, who became a politicised figure in the Late Republic — a little like the way Padme became such a well-known politician in the last days of the Old Republic. Interestingly, Libertas was also associated with slaves, and Padme marries Anakin, who enters the story as a slave (and continues being one, really, until his final moments in Episode VI).
Everyone should have some understanding and basic interest in history. Political developments, including violence and unrest, shape all our lives. My grandmother, on my father’s side, is Irish, while my grandfather was Welsh by birth. My dad has gone any number of times to both Ireland and Northern Ireland, and even fretted about entering a pub, one time, he told me, because it had graffiti outside which read “Remember 1916”. My mom, too, was out celebrating her birthday in Birmingham City Centre the evening that the infamous “Birmingham Six” bombed two pubs. She wasn’t far from the bombings. This was before I was born. So, in a way, I almost wasn’t born. It is sometimes eerie to think about the tortuous workings of fate. You occasionally (or, if you’re like me, more than occasionally) have to wonder if there isn’t someone or something else pulling all the strings. I really hope we don’t get a repeat of “The Troubles” given the way Brexit is currently going.
Couldn’t agree more with this line:
“When you connect something in a fictional drama to something close to you, it brings a whole new meaning to it.”
JFK is a famous example, yes. We actually have someone here, a fellow prequel fan who occasionally posts to Naboo News, who was at the Ambassador Hotel the day that Bobby Kennedy was shot dead. Quite stirring to think about, but we are all living witnesses to history of one form or another.
I agree that ROTS is very Anakin-centric. The whole movie is, in fact, very laser-beam-focused. That’s one of the commendable things about it. Anakin’s story in the last lap of the prequel drama is tack-sharp. Things accumulate and snowball, and the central character is either doing things, or having things happen to him, or both. As you’ve pointed out, Padme’s role is diminished in the film, but not forgotten about. As the shadow of Darth Vader grows, her energy wanes and recedes. Indeed, when Padme implores Anakin not to shut her out, she might as well be petitioning the film to include her more and change its focus and its whole raison d’etre; but this, we realise, is effectively impossible. Yet Lucas still manages to imply that Padme is busy beavering away behind-the-scenes. She remains a voice of reason, an embodiment of virtue, and a staunch opponent of what the Republic is turning into until the very end.
That said, it is interesting that Padme herself gets a bit defensive about the rapid decline of the Republic in the deleted scene “A Stirring In The Senate”, having to be shaken out of her denial by the other senators, whose vision is arguably less clouded than her own. Her calibrated attempt to open up a candid dialogue with Anakin, then, represents Padme pursuing a more open discussion space, where she can attempt to get things straight. The fact she was told not to bring up the rebellion (deliberately left unnamed) with anyone, “not even family”, gives the measure of how dark and distrustful various elements within the Republic have become of one another, and more importantly, shows that Padme is desperate to include Anakin — or to, at least, reason things through with her husband. But Anakin immediately blanches and resorts to accusative ad hominem. Padme is essentially trapped by strongly-opposed ideologues. There is a variation of this at the end, on Mustafar, when Padme is shown to literally be caught in the middle of Anakin and Obi-Wan, the moment before she is tragically choked and falls unconscious. Reminding one of the old African proverb: “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”
Where was I? Ah, yes, I was agreeing with you (mostly) on ROTS, and the way Padme is still shown to be an agent of good: an agitator for diplomacy, civility, and reason. Unfortunately, the world changes around Padme too fast — and around Anakin and the Jedi, too — and they do not adjust and glimpse the truth of the circumstances they’re caught up in in time. Each party allows certain delusions and egotisms to take hold, as if they have all gone into battle naked without realising it, while the evils they deny are arming themselves, gearing to shoot them in the back (Order 66 is obviously an enlarged metaphor for the death of the light: a confused light that becomes overwhelmed by the particles of doubt it has downplayed for too long).
The scene where Obi-Wan goes to Padme’s apartment to reveal the truth of Anakin’s turn — and, in a way, discloses and makes concrete the basic plot of the entire PT — is heartbreaking and beautifully anguishing. While it could be read as a little stagey and ham-fisted, I love the moment where he turns away from Padme as he delivers his deadly seismic charge: “I have seen a security hologram of him… killing younglings.” From the way he is unprepared to face her and is clenching his beard in that moment, we know that Obi-Wan is battling through the same revelation, while knowingly ripping Padme’s heart out — or blowing it apart a la General Grievous’ fiery end at his hand — in that very moment. This scene is every bit as powerful as Vader’s delivery of the revelation of his parentage to Luke in Episode V. As Lucas describes that moment in the “Making Of” book for ROTS, the dramatic impact is rooted less in blowing the audience’s mind, for anyone familiar with the Original Trilogy, but in a I-VI view-of-things, is more a case of: “Oh, my God. He’s finally told him.” Padme is being shaken from a daydream in this very moment (look at the pearlescent setting, the flapping curtains), and it really hits home that the story cannot move forward until she — the real catalysing agent of the Prequel Trilogy — blasts off, once more, in her quicksilver spaceship, to initiate the third and final firework-laden crescendo.
So Padme has great centrality and importance to the entire Prequel Trilogy. While she does loiter and lounge around and essentially go into suspended animation when Anakin begins his long night of death and destruction, as if skating around an ice rink in a daze, she does rally at the end, in order to uncover the truth — to see it for herself. Which, as you say, is a very human thing to do. As the saying goes: “Seeing is believing.” She was also, most certainly, in a daze or trance of some kind when she went with Anakin to Tatooine in Episode II. Notice that she is very subdued in that whole passage, hides within a cloak (“I do not like this idea of hiding”), barely has any dialogue, and only returns to her more active self after playing back Obi-Wan’s holographic message. As in ROTS, Anakin was about to do something dark, and then he went and did it, and Padme was left behind, to fear for Anakin as much as the people/creatures he was about to confront. And it takes Obi-Wan’s dire words of compressed revelation to shunt her back into “reality”; to spur her into action and push the movie into its final staging ground.
There’s definitely both a Shakespearean and a sort of Italian or Mediterranean feel to the prequels. TPM has many resonances with “The Tempest” (one of The Bard’s more abstract and arcane plays), while you have identified various Shakespearean resonances in Episode III just now (don’t forget “Macbeth”: the very start of the movie echoes a famous line in Act II: “Is this a dagger which I see before me?”). There’s also a sort of continental elegance and intelligence to Episodes I and II. These were the first films in the saga to welcome Spain and Italy into their complex visual topographies. Clever of you to note that the lava plate footage for the Mustafar sequence was captured at Mt. Etna. Yes! “The Divine Comedy” gets a striking reference in the visual design of Utapau, which is strongly reminiscent of Sandro Botticelli’s painting “Abyss Of Hell” (while other ghoulish facets in that same sequence are incorporated and inverted: e.g., the Nosferatu-esque Tion Medon who turns out to be an ally).
When Yoda and Obi-Wan are commiserating at the end and strategising their next move, Yoda informs Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon’s consciousness has survived death, referring to him with the term “Old Master”; which is also a well-known term in art history, broadly referring to painters and skilled artisans who worked in Europe before the year 1800. Padme’s funeral also deserves a mention. J.W. Rinzler captures some intriguing remarks from Lucas when his visual artists are fine-tuning the PT’s final, mournful shots of Naboo: “It’s supposed to be a beautiful shot of Venice at dawn—this is all about rebirth, the renaissance. It’s beautiful, but it’s sad—death in Venice. Mist rising off the water, with a little hint of yellow in the clouds. Beauty and death. We simply have to outdo every Italian Renaissance painting ever.” Lucas may or may not have also been referring there to the 1971 Italian-French film “Death In Venice”, directed by Luchino Visconti. Some SJWs would probably pitch a fit about this movie today!
To return to the subject that began this latest digression:
While I was quite tough on her blog post in this comments section, I think — if I post on her blog — I should go a little easier on her, “in-person”, so to speak. She’s clearly quite young, and to echo Darth Sidious, a little naive. She doesn’t deserve too much snark, much less a stern telling-off (to reiterate: your own response was very elegantly and patiently written). I’m not sure I would want to haze her for her double-standard concerning Rey and Padme and Leia (or I’d least re-write and tone down some of my remarks first). On the other hand, my remarks concerning Padme’s doubts and insecurities would make an excellent complement to your emphasis on Padme’s decisiveness, bravery, and leadership (to use your terminology), which you seem to have intimated. So I could post those thoughts without too much alteration.
I don’t have “The Queen’s Shadow”, but it looks like one to acquire. I’m with you on a future fleshing-out of Padme’s entire journey. There is tremendous potential to revisit this aspect of the saga with a suitably intelligent treatment of some sort. That said, Lucas is still the “Ultimate Grandee” of Star Wars, as far as I’m concerned, and I’d want him to be involved on such a significant project, or I would probably struggle to view it as legitimate. Let’s remember to take a step back and marvel at the political intelligence of the PT (and the saga overall), and recall that this is all from the mind of one man: George Lucas! A real “Renaissance” man of our modern era and the reason we’re all here. Padme and her entire trajectory is another expression of his genius at work.
And that is why you’ve got to start watching the Clone Wars! Actually, if there’s other people reading this, would you mind giving me a hand and trying to convince this guy? It gets off to wobbly start, admittedly, but by the end of Season 1, it’s really exciting. And its got senate scenes! And Anakin has a padawan of his own!
Have you read any fan fiction based around the PT? I’ve only dipped into a few [very] short stories, but once I finish Queen’s Shadow, I’m hoping to try some of the well written stuff. Would you know much about that?
One of the best lessons from the prequel trilogy is that despicable people might not just be facing you, but right beside you. The dissent republican terrorists responsible for the Birmingham bombing you cite are a prime example for my own side. And with you, it can be said for the British soldiers who opened fired on innocent civil rights protestors in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972 – known as Bloody Sunday. It was the same with the Jedi Order and Palpatine in the Republic.
Sometimes we cling so closely to our tribes that we overlook, downplay or outright deny what people associated with us have committed. In SW we have a fine example in almost all members of the Galactic Senate – and the general public by extension – who by virtue of granting Palpatine a “thunderous applause”, give him a free hand to unleash tyranny on an entire galaxy. Pull yourself out of the Anakin Skywalker-focus of the saga, and think about that for a minute. Done? When the ashes are cleared after the events of Episode VI, the guilty verdict isn’t just going to come down on the evil Emperor and his array of henchman (Vader being all but a gloried one). The general public – assuming Palpatine’s magic didn’t cover trillions of creatures living light years away – can’t exactly say they were squeaky clean. This is a topic that gets very little air time.
I see you completely understood what I was getting at with writing to someone unfamiliar. And yes, I tailored my long response precisely to match what I’d – unhappily – read. If you want to be taken seriously, you can’t just barge in with a bunch of ad-hominems – you need to fight your corner with dignity, and making the blows with your arguments. I will never copy that anti-Lucas crybaby mentality of old.
So, it’s time for a new article review! We’ve discussed SW in relation to Shakespearean influence before, so this one, which does a full on comparison between Lucas and the Bard, ought to be intriguing:
@ Arch Duke:
To be perfectly honest, I don’t traffic in fan fiction, at all. It’s not really my bag. Some of the books, like the one you’re currently reading, seem okay. But I’m mostly happy with just the movies. The films have a special alchemy you won’t find anywhere else. The novelisations are acceptable, and the behind-the-scenes stuff is compelling, as adjuncts to the films. But I’ve never felt much need to venture much further than that.
“The Clone Wars” is a special exception that I’m trying to get around to watching. It does, in theory, have Lucas’ stamp of approval. And it’s a pretty unique format in which to fill in or expand on prequel lore and tell some reasonably gripping stories. So I can suspend my aversion there. At least, in theory.
Sure. Despicable people exist everywhere. Although it’s often flawed people committing heinous acts. That potential — as the prequels also show — is basically within us all. It just requires certain conditions to unlock; and maybe, in some cases, a certain temperamental inclination. Of course, It’s Godwin’s law, but Nazi Germany is a shining (or horrifying) example of how villainy can overtake and overwhelm millions of people, with any kind of humanity struggling to break through. In this regard, I feel people’s capacity for evil is immense, and not something to take lightly.
Right. A lot of people are complicit in Palpatine’s rise to power. Ironically, Anakin is one of the last people to blame on this level. He can’t reasonably be accused of granting Palpatine much leverage or protection until the events of ROTS. But plenty of greedy and even well-intentioned elements, like Padme and Jar Jar, gave him a helping hand and a green light long before then. Palpatine’s rise to power is very much a shared evil.
We have to tailor our speech, yes. The vituperative nature of anti-Lucas rhetoric is definitely something to watch for in ourselves. You have unconsciously touched on a key difference. I think it’s okay to be fairly savage and raw in feeling toward the Disney films, but one should try and refrain from personal attacks against actual individuals; especially other fans. Of course, many members of the Lucas He-Man Haters Club utterly failed in the latter, gleefully dismissing any contrary views with rebarbative ad hominem.
The essay looks interesting. It sort of reminds me of the kind of material that used to get posted to The Star Wars Saga Journal — before it was pulled down — many years ago. That was a great loss to the prequel community. At least blogging is now firmly established as a thing and good essays still appear now and then.
Cryo…I thought you’d be interested in this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GLAvQdCcIM
It’s famed violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter playing the violin part of “Across the Stars,” backed up by an orchestra. John Williams reportedly wrote the theme especially for Ms. Mutter, who is a huge SW fan.
Very nice. A good deal of technical virtuosity on display there. Some commenters are actually saying that John Williams composed the piece especially for her to perform. It suggests the same in the description: ““Across the Stars” from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, arranged for violin and orchestra. World Premiere of the arrangement. Written for and dedicated to Anne-Sophie Mutter.” Pretty darn cool!
I just started my first thread on NF now, and it’s about Anakin’s Fall.
“We would be honoured if you would join us”.
Dr. Sagan referred to “Star Wars” (meaning the original movie) in “The Demon-Haunted World” (which he co-wrote with his wife and frequent collaborator Ann Druyan), in the context of saying that popular entertainment should be more diligent about presenting scientific accuracy: “parsec” is used as a unit of time, when in fact it’s a unit of distance. However, he says that the movie is “in many other ways exemplary.”
That’s right. You have very good recall. This is the full passage:
“In many TV programmes and films, even the casual science — the throwaway lines that are not essential to a plot already innocent of science — is done incompetently. It costs very little to hire a graduate student to read the script for scientific accuracy. But, so far as I can tell, this is almost never done. As a result we have such howlers as ‘parsec’ mentioned as a unit of speed instead of distance in the — in many other ways exemplary — film Star Wars. If such things were done with a modicum of care, they might even improve the plot; certainly, they might help convey a little science to a mass audience.”
I wonder if Lucas ever read that passage, or someone showed it to him? In Episode II, Dexter Jettster correctly uses the parsec term to refer to distance, and Padme also uses it when explaining the relative proximity of Geonosis to Tatooine. In both cases, however, it seems that Lucas is still underselling the enormous scale of the universe. From the Wikipedia entry:
A parsec is defined as the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one arcsecond, which corresponds to 648000/Pi astronomical units. One parsec is equal to about 3.26 light-years or 31 trillion kilometres (31×1012 km) or 19 trillion miles (19×1012 mi). The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is about 1.3 parsecs (4.2 light-years) from the Sun. Most of the stars visible to the unaided eye in the night sky are within 500 parsecs of the Sun.
It is rather improbable — indeed, practically meaningless — that a star system (as in the case of Kamino) could be “about 12 parsecs” outside of a much larger structure (the “Rishi Maze” is apparently a dwarf galaxy). This would correspond to a distance of roughly thirty light-years, which is ridiculously small, and is not unlike describing a refrigerator as being 3 inches from your present location.
Padme goes one better in describing Geonosis as being “less than a parsec away” from Tatooine. It is certainly possible for star systems to be close together, but Geonosis is otherwise treated like a far-flung system. If it were that close to Tatooine, why would Anakin be nervous about leaving, and why would Padme be lecturing him about it?
Still, this can all be rescued — of course — by using a special plead:
Perhaps the term “parsec” means something different in Star Wars to our own world.
DHW wasn’t the only time Sagan took a swipe at Star Wars. He seemed to enjoy skewering it on his March 2nd 1978 appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson:
“You can view these pictures entirely uncritically…” LOL!!!
He makes the “parsec” criticism last there. I think he was one of the first people to complain about the chauvinism of the original film — a sea of light-skinned, English-speaking humans, who appeared to be in charge of everything.
But going back to his remarks as quoted from DHW, I wonder what he would have made of the film version of “Contact”? Unfortunately, it has a few groan-worthy errors of its own, like when Jodie Foster’s character makes the following comment about the scale of the universe and the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence:
“Now there are four hundred billion stars out there, just in our galaxy alone. If only one out of a million of those had planets, and if just one out of a million of those had life, and if just one out of a million of those had intelligent life, there would be literally millions of civilisations out there.”
No, there wouldn’t.
One out of a million three times = a million, times a million, times a million, or 10^6 x 10^6 x 10^6, which equals (remembering the “one out of”) 1/10^18, or one in a million trillion.
Revising what she said slightly:
Here, for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to read her remark “one out of a million of those had planets” as referring to viable planets for life — as it now seems likely that most stars have planets around them. We’d only confirmed the existence of one or two exoplanets when the film was made; now we know about thousands. The film is actually very conservative on this front.
There are roughly one hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe (more recent observations suggest it might be around a trillion: one order of magnitude difference), each having roughly one hundred billion stars, with maybe one or two planets on average, which means, using those numbers, there would be 10,000 civilisations in the observable universe.
The billion billion component — stars and galaxies — cancels out by also coming to a million trillion, or 10^18, but that still leaves 10,000, because of the two “hundred” components (a hundred billion stars, a hundred billion galaxies). A hundred times a hundred is 10^2 x 10^2, which is 10^4, or a 10 with four zeroes after it. Hence 10,000.
That would make her correct about there being other civilisations out there, but her numbers are way off. There wouldn’t be millions, and they would be spread across the entire universe — though this is still an exciting prospect. On the other hand, if there are truly trillions of galaxies, averaging hundreds of billions of stars each, assuming planets around most of them, this does start to bump the numbers up.
Her enthusiasm in the scene still isn’t warranted, however, since she is clearly talking about just our galaxy. Apparently, nobody caught that error. And there are others like it in the movie. It’s still a very stirring film, however. Although — dare I say it? — the book is better.
But, of course, the main purpose of the book and the film is to get people excited about science and astronomy and the “big questions” of existence, and to really open people’s eyes to the extraordinary scale of the universe and what might be possible. So I’m almost pettifogging in complaining about a mathematical error. We don’t know of intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe, but I think it’s a good bet there’s something out there.
On a final note:
I think Carl was just being kind about Star Wars in DHW. Maybe he grew to like it a bit more. But I suspect he was cajoled into taking it easy on the film by his kids.
@ Cryo Ah. I did not see that Johnny Carson episode; the only exposure I had to Sagan’s personal opinion on SW was that DHW passage. It could very well be that his kids (I believe he had five of them: four sons and a daughter — I believe the daughter is named Alexandria, after the famed library, although she goes by Sasha) persuaded him to be less stuffy about it.
Just to add a tiny bit more here to what I was saying above:
Apparently, Sagan did a calculation in the 1960s that suggested there could be millions of intelligent, communicative civilisations in just our galaxy alone. The weird blip in “Contact” could, therefore, be interpreted as a reference (albeit with shaky math) to his earlier (and possibly unfounded) ETI-obsessed idealism.
A hundred times a hundred is 10^2 x 10^2, which is 10^4, or a 10 with four zeroes after it. Hence 10,000.
I slightly screwed up there. I meant to say:
A one with four zeroes after it is 10,000.
The exponent, of course, tells you how many zeroes should follow the one. So 10^2 is 100 and 10^4 (the result of adding up two instances of 10^2) is 10,000. The comma, of course, is standard notation to enhance readability.
2nd quick correction:
You know, I copy and paste, especially when I’m crafting a big response, and somehow, in the process of doing that, the little ^ notation I added to the Wikipedia extract disappeared.
The Wikipedia extract also has some very big numbers in it, requiring use of the ^ symbol. The more “correct” style of formatting (where the exponent is shown as a smaller, raised number) doesn’t carry over properly into this style of text. So I added the ^ symbol in (an alternative way of showing exponents) where necessary; but I must have somehow pasted back in an earlier version of my reply, where I hadn’t yet added them!
This is how the Wikipedia extract on the parsec unit should read:
A parsec is defined as the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one arcsecond, which corresponds to 648000/Pi astronomical units. One parsec is equal to about 3.26 light-years or 31 trillion kilometres (31×10^12 km) or 19 trillion miles (19×10^12 mi). The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is about 1.3 parsecs (4.2 light-years) from the Sun. Most of the stars visible to the unaided eye in the night sky are within 500 parsecs of the Sun.
Ooohh, I like it when you start your big brain cooking on something…
You’re so bad, maychild!
I wish I could get it to cook more often. 😉 🙂
By the way, he’s a lovely reminisce I found on Carl last night — about the Voyager Golden Record, and with his widow, Ann Druyan:
I have to say, too, the sound quality is outstanding!