Symbolism in Attack of the Clones (currently discussing shrouding and obscuring)

Discussion in 'Attack of the Clones' started by Shelley, Jan 13, 2003.

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  1. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    why cant we give our opinions of the use of said influence? or can we?

    Of course you can, that's the whole point. What is the purpose of using a pieta image at that point in the movie, and what is the significance of the flipped positions?

    Where the problem comes is in coming in and stating that there is no symbolism (and we are therefore wasting our time analyzing it). I may disagree vociferously with any given interpretation, but as long as it's an interpretation of the symbol and not an opinion of the movie, of Lucas, of fellow-posters, whatever, it should be fine. The topic is analysis of the symbolism... it would be silly to prevent analysis.
  2. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    if we acknowlede that there is indeed symbolism in AOTC (and the Shmi death scene), why cant we give our opinions of the use of said influence? or can we?

    in truth virtually all movies have at least some smybolism.


    What JG said.

  3. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    not sure what the debate is about.

    About that symbolism you see in Star Wars. What types of symbolism do you see? Why do you think he used it in this scene or that scene and so on.

    Like JG said this is the problem

    Where the problem comes is in coming in and stating that there is no symbolism (and we are therefore wasting our time analyzing it).
  4. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    in truth virtually all movies have at least some sybolism.

    Yup. Fiction throws of symbolism like uranium throws of radioactive particles (to paraphrase Stephen King).

    and fewer directors make it easier for the audience to identify said symbols than GL. not sure what the debate is about.

    The debate is about what the resonances of the symbols are, how they work in the storyline, and what their visual context is. Because the pieta symbol is so prominent, it always means something... what does it mean in this case? How does it tie in with the theme of the saga? What is the ultimate meaning of Shmi's death in the larger scheme, and how does that choice of image illuminate it?

    A symbolism thread can go into many different debates (though I'd love to see a bunch of different symbolism threads pop up instead of segregating them all here). Basically, one we've already seen is, what is the symbolism of the clones? EmperorNemesis sees them as unnatural and Anakin as on a continuum with them. I see them as the diametric opposites of Anakin in a symbolic sense. It's a debate on the nature of Anakin, via the either contrasting or identical symbols of the Virgin Birth and the lab's unnatural birth.

    Another symbol that is blatantly in the movie but which could have multiple (and not mutually exclusive) interpretations would be the image of people watching one another. We see it in the exchange between Obi-Wan and Anakin, in which we get the reactions of the members of the Naboo delegation; we see it when Obi-Wan observes the clones; we see it when Anakin looks down on the Tusken village; we see it (spectacularly) when Anakin carries Shmi's body back. And then the entire arena sequence, of course, occurs before an audience. A few prominent reaction shots are one thing--using the motif repeatedly in the course of the movie suggests something, or several things. What do people think it suggests?
  5. LordIsurus Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 24, 1999
    star 3
    I am one to think that an image or scene or sequence of events is symbolic to whomever feels it is. George, like many writers and directors, has read a lot of books on History and studied film. He wrote that scene because thats how he felt the scene would best be served. Whether or not people read symbolism into it is purely personal and he, I'm sure, knows this. At most, maybe that scene does symbolise something to George but anyone will see it how they like to.

    Simiarly, Jesus dieing on the cross was, as most know, a form of torture and execution in those times. That event, too, was not neccessarily intended to be held as some symbol...but to mostly everyone, it turned out to be a highly important symbol. What I'm saying is it really doesnt matter if the scene was displayed like that in hopes to symbolize anything. The fact that it does symbolize something to a lot of people is, as I said, personal.

    At the least, however, there are many instances where George shows his appreciation for great art or shows conepts that repeat throughout history. The fact that this scene resembles Michelangelo's Pieta I see as George's way of putting in an Easter Egg for people to recognize when they see it.

    But what this scene symbolizes to me is that when people go through a loss, unable to change the course of events, a loss of control, they sometimes loose control and their feelings run rampant. Anakin can be seen to be very upset at losing control when he confesses to Padme. He says "I am better than this..." but after those events, maybe he doesn't believe his own words.

    Isurus the White
  6. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    I am one to think that an image or scene or sequence of events is symbolic to whomever feels it is. George, like many writers and directors, has read a lot of books on History and studied film. He wrote that scene because thats how he felt the scene would best be served. Whether or not people read symbolism into it is purely personal and he, I'm sure, knows this. At most, maybe that scene does symbolise something to George but anyone will see it how they like to.

    Well, yeah, but it's awfully fun to try all the different interpretations out and argue them. That's the great fun of being a lit person. :) (Okay, it's a warped idea of fun, but this thread exists to indulge it.)

    But what this scene symbolizes to me is that when people go through a loss, unable to change the course of events, a loss of control, they sometimes loose control and their feelings run rampant. Anakin can be seen to be very upset at losing control when he confesses to Padme. He says "I am better than this..." but after those events, maybe he doesn't believe his own words.

    That's more theme than symbol, but an excellent observation--it's a wedge that Palps can work on relentlessly... "You're already evil, you know you're worthless, if they knew what you did, they would... " And so on.

    The theme is the meat of the story. The symbols are shiny toys to play with while we explore. Or, better yet, little flashlights we can shine on theme. So the point of that scene was to demonstrate Anakin's self-loathing, which goes into the theme of his corruption, which is the main theme of the prequels--corruption of innocence and goodness. (There was a terrific article in, of all places, National Review Online that talked about how in several of the year's blockbuster movies, including AotC, "The treatment of evil is quite subtle. Not surprisingly, the nuanced depiction of evil is accompanied by, indeed presupposes, a seriousness about complex, adult models of goodness.")

    But what are the symbols used in the scene? The broken swoop is a good one, if a searingly obvious one. Some people have talked about the broken mandala on Padme's smock. Others?
  7. Shelley Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 5
    OK, everyone, I think it's time to move onto a new symbolism topic.

    But for the life of me, I can't think of one. JediGaladriel? Any ideas?
  8. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    Hey, I've bounced a few. But here they are in order:

    1. Shrouding imagery... we see several instances where vision or communications images are distorted and unclear. Yoda refers to the "shroud of the darkside" and there are complaints about the Order being essentially blinded. How does motif of blocked vision work?

    2. Watching imagery... from the other side, we see a lot of people watching each other, really an inordinate amount of the time. How does that tie in?

    3. Working backward from theme to symbol, what are the symbols in the confession scene that illustrate the theme and set its tone?
  9. DarthBreezy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2002
    star 6
    I think the richest one out of the lot is the "Shrouded imagry" bit... There are numerous instances (perhaps more of a running theme of deception and mis-direction than actual symbolism but as you said, there are instances that we can shine the flashlight on...)

    1) The royal guards... they practicly blend in with the background of Palpy's office (I've seen many posters say "I didn't see them until my XX veiwing") become the Emporer's private security force, yet they (at this time) are tucked into the background...

    2) The back lighting of Padme' in the garage at the homestead... she becomes truely Angelic in that moment and much as the Christian Mythos comparisms get bantied about it has been mentioned that the coustume in that scene is remanicant of Mary Magdellen...

    3) Simple things, masks (Jango's and Zams... later Lando and the boys in the OT) to hide the identity...

    that's a start...
  10. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    The one I first noticed was the shortest one--when Dooku approaches Coruscant, the solar sail blocks out the planet almost completely.

    Others would be the steam from the vent on that improbably placed landing platform on Geonosis completely blocks the view from the cockpit of Padme's ship.

    The dust when the ship crashes in the battle blocks out both sides, and you can only see the laser blasts, creating mass chaos.

    Obi-Wan's constant problems in communicating--first because of the storm, so he has to shout to hear himself; then because of the distance, so he has to re-route (which has the added complication of not finding Anakin where he expected him to be); then when it gets to Tatooine, the intial view is quite broken. It only comes through clearly after he's been captured. He's totally cut off.

    The rain on the window at Jango's apartment.

    The crowds and crowded traffic lanes during the chase after Zam (who, as a shapeshifter, is hard to spot).

    The smoke and fire in the district where Dooku and Palpatine meet.

    Anyway, how does the obscuration of vision tie in to the theme of corruption?
  11. The_Abstract Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    One humorous use of shrouding is Padmé covering the cameras to prevent Anakin from watching her sleep. He can still sense her, but he can't indulge in any wild fantasies.

  12. Darth_Tim Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2002
    star 4
    Well, about obscurity and corruption, it's interesting that Coruscant is covered in fog when Padme returns to the Senate at the beginning of the film. IIRC we don't see this in any other Coruscant scene.

    -Tim
  13. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    "Of course you can, that's the whole point. What is the purpose of using a pieta image at that point in the movie, and what is the significance of the flipped positions?"

    the problem is that there is no proof that the image was intentional, or that it is even meant to emulate the pieta, therefore i think all opinions on the symbolism, including those which express the view that there is no symbolism at all, are equally valid.

    if you disagree, fine. but to paraphrase a posters thoughts on the subject and somehow try to render them invalid is absolutley ridiculous, and makes it clear that you do not want to hear any opposing viewpoints.

    and that is just sad, and shines a negative light on the boards as a whole.

    i answered the question posed at the top of the thread: "Anyone have any thoughts on the symbolism? Do you think it has symbolism other than Judeo-Christian?"

    how is that trolling? just because i dont agree with the point being made? i certainly hope this doesnt become a trend. once open-minded discussion is killed here, the enitre forum will follow suit.

  14. JediHPDrummer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 23, 2002
    star 3
    Dr. Evazen. Never go into a english class then. Don't read. There's symbolism in every movie yes. But Star Wars are visual films, the visual exlain the story. You have to ask why did he shoot that, why did he include that there. I mean, everything is not done by accident. People think lucas just poops out his shots. I mean, there are obivious symbols in the star wars films. I mean,Fire, the color red. I explained symbolism in the page back. GO read it, i mean, i took a film class, and tehy explained us why people take a long shot of this, why people include this in the shot. Why is anakin passing a fruit to padme. Why do the kid clones wear blue, then it cuts to the color red where they grow up. I mean, some of it is pretty obvious why he put it there. Symbolism is yes your interpretation, but you have to ask yourself why did GL put that in the shot, why did he want to cut it from here to there. Sometimes its just obvious though, Why is there a sunset when anakin leaves to find his mother? it could of been morning or anything else. Why is it cloudy in the beggining of the film, it could of been shiny. Why does he tilt the camera when anakin and padme are going to tattoine, he didnt have to tilt the camera(shows confusion when you tilt the camera). The Music is very important too. Why does he shoot palpatine always, showing only half his face. He didnt have to did he, Why does he do a extreme long shot of anakin and padme in the fields. To show the open space instead of the vertical coruscant. He could of used a close up. I mean Why did he cut when anakin and padme are on top of each other, and then theres a cut to kamino. It looks like the water is coming down on them though symbolizing the cleansing. He didnt have to did he. You have to ask yourself these questions.

    Answer those questions Dr.Evazen and what do u get? I mean, some of it is pretty obvious some you need to look into.
  15. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    i was a film/english major in college. UCLA in fact. its not like i dont know about symbolism. the fact is however that not everything is a symbol. there are shots that are done because they have been done that way for about a hundred years.

    how many times have we seen the "loved one dying in the arms of another"? are they all symbolic reflections of the pieta? do they all have deeper meaning? some yes, some no. i merely put forward the opinion that in this case, the answer is no, and to say that Lucas grabbed the image of the pieta for this film, and to further treat this like it is a matter of fact that he did so intentinally is ridiculous.

    symbolism is something i know very well. pointing out symbolisms that may or may not have been there in some films garnered me many "A" grades in film school. it still does not mean they were intended, nor that the interperetation of said symbols being intetntional is valid.

    the thread asks for thoughts on symbolism in the scene. i gave mine, just as others have given theirs. why their thoughts are more valid than mine, to the extent that mine were deleted, brings up many questions about the sincerity and integrity of this thread.
  16. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    It's trolling because the subject is not "Is the symbolism there?" it's "What does it mean?" The game is to find and interpret symbols... saying "There aren't any" isn't an opinion on the topic at hand, it's an opinion on the movies and it has been stated several times in this thread that this is not what the thread is for, and I find it highly unlikely that you don't recognize the distinction. We're basically having an English class discussion here. Coming in and shouting about how the teacher's pick is bad and all of this is nonsense is trolling.

    As to whether or not they're intended, it doesn't matter. Great symbols can happen quite unintentionally from the author's point of view.

    We have moved on in the discussion. If you have theories on what shrouding symbolism means in the context of corruption, you're welcome to participate.
  17. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    i never said the film was bad. i made no judgements about the film itself. i gave my thoughts on the symbolism: that its just not there in that instance.

    i guess thats all ill say on the subject since i am not allowed to offer my answer to the question posed by the originator of the thread: "Anyone have any thoughts on the symbolism? Do you think it has symbolism other than Judeo-Christian?"

    sorry for any confusion on my part.
  18. The_Abstract Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    JediGaladriel

    I agree with you on this. And I'm glad you keep making this point clearer and clearer. Coming into this thread and saying "I don't see anything." "There is no symbolism in the PT." "George Lucas would never think of that." does nothing but derail any discussion on what symbols people do see. Symbols don't have to be intentional or revealed by the original author. They can be something the audience connects with. George Lucas himself has stated that he doesn't mind people re-interpreting the movies, as long as they don't take it too seriously. (such as making the Force their religion)

    And as stated by someone such as Campbell or Jung, a lot of art is influenced by unconscious processes of the brain, so omniscience isn't required by the artist. Not everything has to be intentional.

    It is fun to speculate on this and a nice little intellectual diversion. But I don't see why anyone needs to come in here if their only purpose is to be purposefully contrary.

  19. ami-padme Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 1999
    star 4
  20. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    The royal guards... they practicly blend in with the background of Palpy's office

    That's odd because I saw them on my 1st veiwing. But if your not looking youcould miss them.
  21. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    Amen to anidanami here--it's also not the topic of the thread to debate what the topic of the thread is! Bad mod. I'll give myself a usernote. :)

    You know, I never thought about royal guards. They're visible and invisible at the same time... you see them, but they seem like part of the furniture.
  22. DarthBreezy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2002
    star 6
    On the side note... with shadow and light...
    the "Vader Shadow", (which acording to ILM was a lucky coincidence.) can be unintentional symbolism...

    I hope that's the end of the **** swinging ("I have a degree in this and that")...
  23. Bobafemme FF Jedi Council Member, Chicago IL RSA Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2000
    star 5
    This is one of the most stimulating threads I've read on the boards.

    I tried to read all the posts, so I might have missed it. Sometimes someone reproduces things and has no idea the original context. Sometimes the meaning is still transfered, but other times the image takes a new meaning which is just as important to the new audience.
  24. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    You know, I never thought about royal guards. They're visible and invisible at the same time... you see them, but they seem like part of the furniture.

    I read a comic book called Star Wars Craomisn(spellinf) Empire. The Royal Guard have to be all most invisible. They have to be n the back round so that know one knows really what they can do. But at the sametime they also have to be visible to those that need to see them.

    It's kind of like real guards some you can see others you an not. Because at times you have to be invisible. At other times you have to be visible.
  25. JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 1999
    star 5
    Okay, now that we have these symbols listed (and the list is pretty long!), how does the loss of vision tie into the theme of corruption?

    And how does it relate to Anakin's second-to-last request, to see Luke "with [his] own eyes?" (His last request, of course, being for Luke to tell Leia that he was right.)

    One effect of the obscuration is a kind of claustrophobia, in which the characters are trapped and can't see beyond whatever the immediate is (though that doesn't work with the obscuration of Coruscant). Because Anakin is unable to see beyond the immediate problems, he's unable to extrapolate the danger of his political ideas, and Palpatine latches onto this like a parasite. Part of the theme indicated by this is that being unable to take the long view leaves society open for corruption. Juxtapose it with the vista seen from the second Death Star, in which the inability to take the "small" view--to account for Anakin's love for his son--leads to defeat for Palpatine.

    Balance, folks. :)
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