Saga Anakin, it's me, Padme, I've come home...

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Count Yubnub, Mar 7, 2013.

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  1. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2013
    star 1
    Replying to my own post to say I looked at some of your other replies where you do give a list of specific characters, and I'll grant you most of them, although several of them are minor, supporting characters -- and it's not at all clear from the text that Hermione ever truly died. But point taken. However, it gets back to my original point that these deaths all happen in stories that are extremely old, that were written for an audience who lived in a very different society, where superstitions were common and deaths from unknown causes were a regular part of life. Or to borrow a line from Lisa Miller (one of the great female characters): "In the olden days, people used to die of ptomaine poisoning and blamed it on ghosts."

    Again, myths have to evolve as the society evolves. Lucas' attempts to give us a 21st-century myth where the hero is fatherless (not even a god for a father) and the heroine just gives up and lets herself die when she has two babies who need her, fell completely flat with me. And judging from all the controversy surrounding Padme's death scene, I'm not the only one who found it lacking.
    Mata2010 likes this.
  2. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2013
    star 1
    When I first read this reply I had no desire to wade through the long list of articles you cited, since A) you couldn't be bothered to pull out the specific passages that might be germane to your argument, and B) I've already wasted too much time arguing about a second-rate scene that I don't even like, and C) the list was presented to me with a condescending "sigh."

    But in the interest of being a good sport, I decided to to take a look at some of them. Since medical science has progressed enormously in the last few decades, I am ignoring the older texts (citing medical studies from the seventies? really?) and focused on the more recent articles.

    Many of these articles are not available online unless I subscribe/pay. But from the ones that are available, and the abstracts of the others, I saw two common threads that ran through them. First, these articles talk about the role of stress/trauma on the heart. Second, the subjects they talked about were all significantly older than Padme. Mostly postmenopausal women in their sixties or older.

    Appels, C. W. Y., & Bolk, J. H. (2009). Sudden death after emotional stress: A case history and literature review. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 20(4), 359-361.

    The entire is not available without registering, but the abstract cites the case history of an 84-year-old woman who has just discovered she had cancer.

    Frank, C., & Smith, S. (1990). Stress and the heart: Biobehavioral aspects of sudden cardiac death. Psychosomatics, 31(3), 255-264.

    Again, the entire article is not available, but a key passage from the abstract (italics mine): "Stress has been implicated as a developmental factor in atherosclerotic heart disease, essential hypertension, and sudden cardiac death." Again, we're talking about stress causing heart problems.

    Samuels, M. A. (2007). The brain-heart connection. Circulation, 116(1), 77-84.

    Again, this talks about people with stress-induced strokes and heart problems -- the real physical things that killed these people. The only time a specific age of one of these patients is mentioned, the woman cited is 69 years old.

    Taggart, P., & Lambiase, P. (2011). Anger, emotion and mental stress: From brain to heart. Frontiers in Physiology, 2(67), 1-11.

    Once again, we're talking about heart problems. A few key passages:

    "Strong emotion and mental stress are now recognized as playing a significant role in severe and fatal ventricular arrhythmias."

    "However, the mechanisms by which emotion may destabilize cardiac electrophysiology and initiate ventricular arrhythmia are at present incompletely understood. It is generally considered that both the spatial and temporal patterns of autonomic input to the heart play a key role together with altered myocardial electrophysiological parameters as a result of disease."

    "Mental stress may induce ischemia as a result of epicardial and/or microvascular constriction together with an increased oxygen demand ...Also, mental stress may aggravate the effects of ischemia on vasoconstriction superimposed on already insufficient perfusion."

    "It should be emphasized that this is the behavior of patients with myocardial disease and not normal individuals."

    Terranova, C., Snenghi, R., Thiene, G., & Ferrara, S. D. (2011). Psychic trauma as cause of death. Medicine, Science and the Law, 51(suppl 1), S11-S15.

    The abstract looks interesting but the article itself is not available without a subscription, so it's impossible for me to comment on it.

    Wittstein, I. S. (2007). The broken heart syndrome. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 74(Suppl 1), S17.

    Once again, the effect of intense emotions and stress on the literal health of the heart. He talks about real cardiac problems such as myocardial infarction, etc, under the umbrella term "stress cardiomyopathy." It still comes down to a real physical problem that Padme never had.

    Wittstein, I. S., Thiemann, D. R., Lima, J. A. C., Baughman, K. L., Schulman, S. P., Gerstenblith, G., et al. (2005). Neurohumoral features of myocardial stunning due to sudden emotional stress. New England Journal of Medicine, 352(6), 539-548.

    Yet again, stress-induced heart problems, studying case histories of 19 patients. Key passage:

    "The median age of patients with stress cardiomyopathy was 63 years (interquartile range, 52 to 71). Eighteen patients (95 percent) were women, of whom all but two were postmenopausal."

    Heaton, K. W. (2006). Faints, fits, and fatalities from emotion in Shakespeare's characters: Survey of the canon. British Medical Journal, 333, 1335-1338.

    This article is almost exclusively about Shakespeare characters. The is very little attempt to discuss the real medical issues at hand, and when it does the footnote cites the 2005 Wittman article above.

    For starters, there is an immense difference in the basic heart health of a woman in her twenties, as the character of Padme was supposed to be, versus the much-older women cited in these studies.

    If the medical droids had say anything about Padme's heart being compromised, I might be able to accept your argument. But they don't. On the contrary, we are told that "Medically, she is completely healthy" and they can't understand why they are losing her. So there is nothing wrong with her heart physically. Padme isn't experiencing any kind of stress-induced cardiomyopathy. The only reason for Padme to die is because she wants to. In a story intended for a 21st-century audience, this is unrealistic and extremely poor storytelling.
    Mata2010 likes this.
  3. StarWarsVerses Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 14, 2013
    star 1
    Right, because Star Wars has always been a beacon of scientific accuracy and medical realism ever since the gang walked into a vacuum with wearing nothing but vests and gas masks. You're complaining about the veracity of an allegory that's functioning below the liminal level. Put away your targeting computer for a minute, ace.
  4. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2013
    star 1
    I am not the one who introduced a mountain of medical studies to back up the idea that Padme's death was a good story. I am simply responding and you know very well that if I didn't respond, he would have complained.

    So Star Wars is not a realistic story? No kidding. Of course it has never been intended as a bastion of scientific accuracy -- right from the opening scene of the first film when we actually hear ships flying in space. But the story still has to resonate and make sense to a modern audience. There has to be some internal logic and "science."

    From the very beginning, the non-force-sensitive humans in Star Wars have been shown to be just that, human. No special powers, no supernatural abilities. Padme has always been shown to be a normal human woman in this story. So to have her just give up and die when she has no medical problems whatsoever -- including no stress-induced cardiac problems, or the med droids would have picked up on that -- is a dramatic cheat on multiple levels.

    It's a cheat because nothing in the story before that moment has suggested that Padme has the supernatural ability to simply will herself to death when there is nothing wrong with her body. It's a cheat because it makes Padme appear weak. It's a cheat because it makes Padme look like a bad mother who doesn't mind abandoning her babies when they need her. And it's a cheat because it makes Padme's death scene all about Anakin instead of acknowledging that Padme was actually an important character, too.
    anakin_skywalker_sct likes this.
  5. bstnsx704 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2013
    star 2
    While the direct quote in the film makes mention of her 'losing the will to live' I'm sure that the Force choke she received from Vader on Mustafar probably contributed to her death in some way or another, even if it didn't exactly show up on the medical droids' scans. And you mention a lack of stress...Given everything that she found out about her husband in such a short span of time (he became a Sith, killed Jedi younglings, helped the Emperor destroy democracy, physically hurt his wife and outright rejected her pleas to return to the man he once was) its safe to assume that there may have been a little bit of stress involved at the time of Padme's death.

    Also, you mention how her death scene much more about Anakin as a character than it is about her. The whole purpose of Revenge of the Sith (and its place within the saga) was Anakin's final transformation into Darth Vader. Everybody's actions in the film had a direct result on Anakin, and her death was ultimately a direct result of his actions (be they biological or philosophic in nature). Regardless of how Anakin and the audience viewed her has a character, Padme ultimately had to slip into the role of yet another pawn in Palpatine's game (just like Maul, Dooku, and the Separatists) if the dark lord was going to succeed in converting Anakin to the Dark Side.
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  6. Leias_Left_Bun Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2013
    star 1
    The script goes beyond just telling us Padme has "lost the will to live." The med droid tells us flat-out: "medically, she is completely healthy." Completely healthy! Not one solitary single thing is physically wrong with this woman!

    I would be perfectly happy to believe that Padme died from some residual effects of the force-choking and/or the childbirth. But Lucas deliberately goes out of his way to tell us otherwise. Of course Padme was under stress -- tremendous stress. But again, the med droid tells us that all this stress has left no serious trace on this woman physically. "For reasons we can’t explain, we are losing her."

    Now, fans can read anything they want into a scene. If you want to believe that Padme was physically compromised and the med droids simply didn't pick up on it, you are free to interpret the scene that way. But it ain't in the film. One of the first rules of screenwriting is: Show, don't tell. But in this case Lucas doesn't show us OR tell us that there's anything wrong with Padme and the med droids just can't find it.

    True, Anakin is the main character. But it's bad writing to give us a story that spans over three full films -- what, seven, eight hours in total? -- where only ONE character is ever allowed to have any strength or depth whatsoever (not that I think PT-Anakin had all that much strength or depth, but that's another argument). A good story, even an action/adventure story, must have at least one interesting relationship to give the audience something to connect to emotionally. You can't have an interesting relationship when one-half of your grand romance is a cipher with all the emotional strength of a wet kleenex.

    Yes, ultimately Padme has to end up as a victim. But that doesn't mean she has to be a pathetic victim who doesn't even make a feeble attempt to survive when a) she is "completely healthy," b) she has two new babies who need her, and c) she believes her husband "still has good in him."
    Mata2010 likes this.
  7. Mata2010 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2013
    I halfway wish that somehow Padme's lacking death scene will be explained in the sequal trilogy. Something like: "It was found in a later autopsy that she died of strangulation coupled with major depression.." OR something (not necessarily that...but something!). It just bothers me to no end! I totally agree with everything that Leia's_Left_Bun said up there!
    Jarren_Lee-Saber likes this.
  8. DARTH-FURBABY Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2004
    star 1
    I, for one, have never believed that she just died "from a broken heart". The conversation about Darth Plaguis at the theater between Anakin and Palpatine plus the juxtaposition of Padme's giving birth and then dying with Anakin's coming back to life leads me to think there's an entirely different reason for Padme's death.
    minnishe and Jarren_Lee-Saber like this.
  9. anakin_skywalker_sct Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2001
    star 5
    If Padme died of strangulation and the medical droids didn't pick up on it, they were absurdly incompetent. Also I'm pretty sure if she died from the strangulation she wouldn't have been able to talk and moan and whimper while giving birth by vaginal c-section or whatever was going on down there. Though I get your point, I hope for some kind of explanation too, but I imagine she won't be remotely involved in the plot of the ST and so anything mentioning her death will probably just come across as hand-waving excuses to try to dig Lucas out of the hole he deliberately put himself in. That line "she's completely healthy" was pretty much a slap in the face to the character. At times in RotS I wondered if Lucas was somehow angry with Natalie Portman and crippling her character out of spite. That's wild speculation, I know, but he completely erased everything that gave the character meaning and agency and wrote her the most pathetic death imaginable. Without malice, we're left with incompetence, and thus the realisation that Lucas had no idea what he was doing. I'm probably reading way too much into it, but it's just very odd how this strong lead character suddenly fell apart and seemingly was made to look pathetic.

    As for depression, that doesn't cause people to just drop dead, she would have to have either killed herself or wasted away over weeks. I get that you're just spitballing, though, and I share your frustration that Padme's death seems like it was the result of nothing more than a great big plot anvil dropping on her head. Would have made things so much easier to let Anakin effectively kill her and the droid rescue the babies.
    Jarren_Lee-Saber likes this.
  10. Mata2010 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Yeah, I really just pulled something out of a hat. And yes, I feel Lucas took a really strong character and basically "anvil"ed it at the end. I share the same feelings as you.
  11. Jarren_Lee-Saber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 16, 2008
    star 4
    This! Yes, this!

    Even further, I would preferred Anakin to more than just kill her, but to actually destroy her - though that would have not been very PG-13
    Last edited by Jarren_Lee-Saber, Mar 26, 2013
  12. anakin_skywalker_sct Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2001
    star 5
    I always felt that was a huge missed opportunity. Anakin's redemption in RotJ is so powerful because he really seemed to have given himself completely to the dark side and destroyed all he held dear, but when he had the opportunity to save family, he finally did the right thing. If he had killed his own wife, or watched Padme die at the Emperor's hands, it would have made that turning back all the more powerful because Anakin failed the first time he had that choice. If he turned on his own family, the last thing he cared about (and the thing that had always driven his fear: he was afraid to leave his mother, afraid to lose his mother, afraid to lose Padme), his journey toward the dark side would be complete. Padme would have remained a tool for driving Anakin's character, but at least she would have had a purpose beyond looking pretty and carrying babies. As it stands, Anakin doesn't so much join Palpatine as is duped into assuming there's nothing left for him. RotS twists the story that I think many of us were expecting: this was supposed to be about Anakin's fall, but he really was pushed. Palpatine's manipulation of him was masterful, but I feel it was a bit too much, and Anakin never really made that final step on his own. Yoda and Mace Windu pretty much drove him into Palpatine's arms. He was never the captain of his own destiny, so his fall seems somewhat hollow, taking away some of the power of his eventual redemption.
    Jarren_Lee-Saber likes this.
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