The Suffering of Naboo citizens.

Discussion in 'The Phantom Menace' started by Jedi_Learner, Jan 17, 2003.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Go-Mer:
    "it is part of the dramatic tension that was carefully set up by the lines:

    Obi-Wan: "But what if it is true and the people are really dying?"

    Qui-Gon: "Either way we are running out of time."


    You're right. Lucas chose to TELL rather than SHOW.

    Poor cinematic storytelling.
  2. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    No film can show all and tell nothing. Exposition is an important part of filmaking. Lucas has a way of making it as painless as possible when needed.

    If the audience was supposed to know for sure they were dying, then I could see your point. But the thing is, they aren't supposed to know for sure whether it is or is not a trick.

    It is brilliant cinematic storytelling.
  3. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    "How hard it is to understand that the Naboo Citizens are the people Amidala is Queen of?"

    That's obvious enough, but they're still complete strangers to the viewer. Bad things happen to strangers all the time; what is it about these ones, a filmmaker should ask himself, that motivates us to care about them?

    "They do show them being carted off to concentration camps."

    Briefly, from a distance. To better show what was at stake, George could have easily gone in closer, taking a minute or two to personalize them a la the people of Rohan.

    "You are acting as if not seeing them actively suffering cheapens their actual perdicament, but when it is spelled out the way it is, they don't really need to show it."

    "Tell, don't show" has become George's mantra of late, and there's a reason most storytellers do otherwise; it's far less compelling to read or hear about, say, a prison camp than it is to walk through it yourself, which film has a chance to let the viewer do.

    Now, you've mentioned that, because the truth was kept from the heroes, it should be kept from the viewer too. Whodunits follow this structure, for obvious reasons, but the issue of what the heroes are fighting for isn't that kind of mystery. By raising the question of whether the heroes even have anything substantial to fight for, the film leaves the audience wondering whether or not they have anything to care about.
  4. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    So what you are telling me is that unless you know the group of people that may or may not be starving first hand, you won't care about them at all? Doesn't that seem a little cold to you in any way?

    To me, the motivation is that they are life forms that are possibly being made to suffer. That's enough for me to care about them.

    Lucas is the first person to say he despises exposition, but that it is a necessity in some instances.

    Sure, walking through the concentration camps, and seeing people suffering is a more dramatic and compelling display of human suffering, but the point is, in this narrative structure, Lucas is purposely making it an unknown variable to add mystery, because Lucas obviously uses the lack of knowledge in the dialogue to increase the tension and mystery of the entire situation.

    Sure, the audience may be wondering: "well are they really dying", but at least for me, not knowing is as good as "they probably are" because Sio says they are, and he was established as a friend to Amidala.

    I don't see why confirmation is needed to care about the potential situation.

    If my buddy was supposed to show up at my house and never did, I would worry about what might be happening to him regardless of knowing what if anything did. Add to that someone I trust sending me a holographic message that flat out says he is on the side of the road dying from horrible injuries, and it's enough to make me really worry about it.

    It almost sounds as if you would only care about this guy if you actually saw him lying in the ditch first hand.
  5. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    Let me put it another way.

    Think of FOTR's Council of Rivendell. The members of the Council (Boromir excepted) know exactly how evil and powerful the Ring is, and argue over who should destroy it. Frodo has a vision of the bickering Council engulfed in flames, and with full knowledge of the enormous stakes, summons all his resolve and takes up the quest.

    Now, imagine if, for all anyone knew, the Ring might be evil, but no one's sure. Half the Council says, "We should probably destroy it, just to be safe;" the other half says, "Nah, it's not worth our time." Frodo shrugs and snatches up the Ring, saying, "You know... yeah, I guess we should probably do it. Better safe than sorry."

    You see the difference in the hero's resolve, and how it stems from the size and proximity of the stakes at hand. By keeping the Naboo faceless, distant and possibly unharmed, George lowers the stakes to a vague and potentially nonexistent level.

    Beowulf didn't stroll into Hrothgar's halls on the off chance that there might be a monster.
  6. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    It isn't non existant, it is merely unconfirmed.

    Let's say Frodo didn't have that vision, but someone just told him what might happen to those people. Would Frodo just blow it off because while that might happen, he isn't sure it would happen?
  7. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    [image=http://users.abac.com/images/bg/brick-wall.jpg]
  8. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
  9. Jedi_Learner Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 10, 2002
    star 5
    What does the brick wall mean? [face_mischief]
  10. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    There's a degree of tension in thinking that something vaguely bad might be happening to someone you've never met, but it's extremely mild compared to knowing that someone you've grown to care about is in definite, serious danger.
  11. SomeRandomNerd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 20, 1999
    star 4
    >>>So, now the people WERE DYING?!

    Which one IS IT?!


    #sigh#

    They aren't dying. It looks like they are if you don't know what's going on. But they aren't dying.

    That's why we see Bibble getting told that he will die before his people, then the next scene is the message we've already seen and been told is a trap where he says that they are already dying.

    >>>"Tell, don't show" has become George's mantra of late,

    Rubbish. Where else are we "shown but not told" other than this suffering?
  12. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    "Where else are we 'shown but not told' other than this suffering?"

    I assume you mean "Where else are we 'told but not shown?'" Let's see...

    We're told that Otoh Gunga is deserted, rather than seeing Jar Jar find it that way.

    We're told about the Naboo's underground resistance.

    We're told that Palpatine's won the election.

    We're told that Obi and Ani became friends over the last ten years, rather than seeing them build any kind of friendship on camera. (Fun fact: their scene in the elevator was invented out of whole cloth at the last minute, when George realized that they didn't come across like friends at all. That's what happens when you film your first draft.)

    We're told that Palpatine's been expertly manipulating Anakin, when all we see is him telling the Jedi "you're the best," once, when he clearly isn't. (This scene was also slapped together in post.)

    Anakin's slaughter cuts away after two seconds, whereupon he tells us about it after the fact.

    The love story consists of the two would-be lovers explicitly stating their every thought.

    Shall I go on? :)
  13. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    If the tension of their time on Tatooine wasn't dependant on not knowing, then I would agree it could have been shown.

    The invasion of Untah Gunga and the resistance movement, would have been nice to see on the other hand, because that wasn't meant to be a mystery.

    On the other hand, I know why Lucas chose not to show those as well. It has to do with what is more important to show. A lot of that had to do with what the heros experienced first-hand.

    It's the same reason they didn't show Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru getting slaughtered in ANH.

    As for not showing the romance, I don't see what was missing there.
  14. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    "On the other hand, I know why Lucas chose not to show those as well. It has to do with what is more important to show."

    So do I: 30 minutes of podracing, poop-stepping, tongue sticking, Yippee-shouting, eye-candy.

    And no, no, not showing the death of Owen and Beru was crucial because we experienced Luke's discovery of it and know why he followed the "crazy old wizard and learn the ways of the Force like my father"

    He SHOWED Luke discovering this.

    The whole key scene of Palpy being elected Chancellor, supposedly so key to the plot, is missing too.

    Great post Geist. :)
  15. SomeRandomNerd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 20, 1999
    star 4
    >>>I assume you mean "Where else are we 'told but not shown?'"

    Err... yeah.
    [face_blush]

    >>>Let's see...

    We're told that Otoh Gunga is deserted, rather than seeing Jar Jar find it that way.


    OK- but do you think we needed to see it to believe it? We were shown that the Gungans had gone somewhere else anyway.

    (Is it any different to when we were told that the Rebel base on Dantooine was deserted, rather than seeing imperial troops find it that way?)

    >>>We're told about the Naboo's underground resistance.

    Which has as much to do with the story as the spice mines of Kessel, as far as I can make out...

    >>>We're told that Palpatine's won the election.

    How exactly would you show this? A Ree Yees with a swingometer? (Disclaimer: that joke may not be funny to anyone outside England. Or in England, come to that...)

    (And is it really any different to when we were told that Palpatine had dissolved the Senate?)

    >>>We're told that Obi and Ani became friends over the last ten years, rather than seeing them build any kind of friendship on camera. (Fun fact: their scene in the elevator was invented out of whole cloth at the last minute, when George realized that they didn't come across like friends at all. That's what happens when you film your first draft.)

    OK- I don't know what you mean by "shown" anymore, because I'd say we were shown that they had become friends in that scene.

    If Windu had said "Obi Wan and his apprentice Anakin, who he is very good friends with, have just returned from a trade dispute in the expanded universe", then we would have been told that they had become friends.

    (OT parallel- "And he was a good friend..."- TOLD! 8-})

    >>>We're told that Palpatine's been expertly manipulating Anakin, when all we see is him telling the Jedi "you're the best," once, when he clearly isn't. (This scene was also slapped together in post.)

    In other words, we're not told that at all! We're shown that they have a relationship, that Anakin respects and admires Palpatine.

    (Are you saying that anything added in post production is of inherently poor quality or something?)

    >>>Anakin's slaughter cuts away after two seconds, whereupon he tells us about it after the fact.

    True... (I'm kind of hoping that's because Lucas is saving a slaughter of a particular bunch of children for Episode III.) But I personally think Anakin's reaction to his actions in this instance are more important than seeing the actions themselves, so this doesn't bother me. But yes- although we are shown the build up and start of the slaughter, we aren't shown the "mothers and children" part.

    >>>The love story consists of the two would-be lovers explicitly stating their every thought.

    I'd be interested to hear how you would show someone's feelings without dialogue, other than having them rolling around laughing in sunny green meadows...

    And I think the most important point of the love story is exactly what wasn't told, personally...

    >>>Shall I go on?

    If you like.

    If you could explain what benchmarks you're holding your "show dont tell" standards up to, I'd be very interested to hear it though, because I'm pretty sure it isn't the classic Star Wars trilogy...
  16. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    Where were we...

    "We're told that Otoh Gunga is deserted, rather than seeing Jar Jar find it that way."

    OK- but do you think we needed to see it to believe it? We were shown that the Gungans had gone somewhere else anyway.


    To believe it? No. To experience, it, to see Jar Jar's reaction to the gravity of the situation, and give him a chance to show some depth and find his courage? Most certainly. Call it a missed opportunity.

    (Is it any different to when we were told that the Rebel base on Dantooine was deserted, rather than seeing imperial troops find it that way?)

    Again, seeing Jar Jar's reaction to finding his home deserted and damaged would have given him a powerful, introspective moment on-screen, and could even have paved the way for an actual arc to his character (as opposed to the one-dimensional klutz he remains throughout the film). Cutting away to Dantooine would have entailed cutting away to a completely new, unrelated setting, inhabited only by faceless extras, then immediately forgetting about it. Surely you see the difference.

    "We're told about the Naboo's underground resistance."

    Which has as much to do with the story as the spice mines of Kessel, as far as I can make out...

    Again, it demotes the Naboo, who we're supposed to care about, to anonymous off-screen statistics, when we could have seen them bravely rising up to fight for their homeland, and even given them a face--something George neglects to do. Giving the Naboo a little screen time would also have given Amidala a chance to rally them, and grow in the process. Another missed opportunity.

    "We're told that Palpatine's won the election."

    How exactly would you show this? A Ree Yees with a swingometer? (Disclaimer: that joke may not be funny to anyone outside England. Or in England, come to that...)


    Personally, I'd have ended the film with a speech from the newly elected Palpatine, intercut with the various characters watching and reacting to it from their respective places around the galaxy. That would have wrapped things up in a thorough and cinematic way.

    (And is it really any different to when we were told that Palpatine had dissolved the Senate?)

    Like Dantooine, the Senate hadn't been introduced previously in ANH, and never figures into the plot beyond its brief reference. Thus, cutting away to show it, cutting back to the story, and then forgetting about it completely would have been awkward at best.

    "We're told that Obi and Ani became friends over the last ten years, rather than seeing them build any kind of friendship on camera. (Fun fact: their scene in the elevator was invented out of whole cloth at the last minute, when George realized that they didn't come across like friends at all. That's what happens when you film your first draft.)"

    OK- I don't know what you mean by "shown" anymore, because I'd say we were shown that they had become friends in that scene.


    They tell us that they've built a friendship off-camera, spend ten seconds attempting to show it to us (in a scene consisting mainly of Anakin arrogantly trying to one-up his supposed friend), then leaves the two of them to bicker for the rest of their time together. We never saw them build any kind friendship; TPM, in one of its biggest missteps, left the two of them nothing but a handshake and a single one-line exchange.

    (OT parallel- "And he was a good friend..."- TOLD! )

    Having one character tell another about what happened in the distant past is acceptable, as there's little, short of a flashback or an extended series of visual cues, that can show it. But telling when it's entirely possible to show, as TPM should have done with their friendship, is much more lazy.

    "We're told that Palpatine's been expertly manipulating Anakin, when all we see is him telling the Jedi "you're the best," once, when he clearly isn't. (This scene was also slapped together in post.)"

    In other words, we're not told that at all! We're shown that they have a relationship
  17. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    It makes more sense from a narrative standpoint that we don't see the actual situation of the Naboo citizenry.

    Lucas uses it as a device to raise tension on Tattoine, and without that lack of confirmation, that would be lost.

    You don't have to see their suffering to know what it would be like if they were being starved to death.
  18. LucasCop Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2002
    star 2
    George Lucas sure missed a dramatic opportunity to show Leia's torture by Darth Vader on the Death Star. Instead, we're subjected to statements from Vader about "her considerable resistance to the mind probe". The Empire must really be incompetent if the Dark Lord of the Sith can't even do the job.

    Furthermore, I just don't feel any emotional conviction for Leia's plight when she's subjected to the witnessing of the destruction of Alderaan. Who are these people? Why should we care?

    Ultimately, Star Wars: A New Hope is just a bunch of fluff. It's cowboys and indians set in space. Hmmf.
  19. LucasCop Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2002
    star 2
    In fairness, though, I do agree that the inconclusiveness of the Naboo citizens' state leaves me with a glass is half empty impression at the conclusion.
  20. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    "In fairness, though, I do agree that the inconclusiveness of the Naboo citizens' state leaves me with a glass is half empty impression at the conclusion."

    Exactly; that's the difference. Leia and Alderaan were up against definite threats for clear reasons. The Naboo? What's happening to them, and why? Apparently, they're not important enough for George to spend any time on those answers.

    The other difference is that Alderaan and the mind probe were tangential to the plot, while the plight of Naboo is obstensibly the entire reason for the story to go anywhere. Leaving it as vague as it was didn't leave the rest of the plot with a very effective foundation.
  21. SomeRandomNerd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 20, 1999
    star 4
    >>>seeing Jar Jar's reaction to finding his home deserted and damaged would have given him a powerful, introspective moment on-screen, and could even have paved the way for an actual arc to his character (as opposed to the one-dimensional klutz he remains throughout the film). Cutting away to Dantooine would have entailed cutting away to a completely new, unrelated setting, inhabited only by faceless extras, then immediately forgetting about it. Surely you see the difference.

    Yeah, I see what you?re saying here. Necessary? No. A missed opportunity? Certainly. (But one which would be pretty straightforward to add in for the DVD box set!!!)

    >>>>Again, it demotes the Naboo, who we're supposed to care about, to anonymous off-screen statistics, when we could have seen them bravely rising up to fight for their homeland, and even given them a face--something George neglects to do. Giving the Naboo a little screen time would also have given Amidala a chance to rally them, and grow in the process. Another missed opportunity.

    I still don?t agree that we should have seen the Naboo people.

    The story of the blockade etc. in the film is really Amidala?s story, about how she deals with it. The audience is ?with? Padme for the Senate scene, they?re supposed to feel her frustrations with the Senate, that after coming across the galaxy, pursued by evil warriors, facing challenges, being forced to put the fate of her planet into the hand of a boy with a podracer etc., she is being told to wait for a committee to validate her claims that her planet has been invaded and her people are dying.

    Now, when you know what comes next in the saga and you look at Palpatine in the light of knowing that he is Darth Sidious, and goes on to become the Emperor, then it becomes clearer that he is manipulating Padme. She thinks her people are dying, which makes her act upon her fear for her people, and her anger at the Senate?s proceedings for slowing down help, both of which have been exacerbated by Palpatine, firstly by making her think that her people are dying, and secondly by telling her that the delay is because of the ?weak? leadership, caving into pressure from the bureaucrats. Knowing that her people aren?t dying leads you to realise quite quickly (I think) that Palpatine?s ?advice? is actually manipulation.

    Showing the people making a defiant stand, then hearing that they are dying, showing that they are on hunger strike, then hearing that their food supplies are cut off etc. would make Palpatine's manipulations too clear. As it is, when you know what you're looking for, it's clear. When you don't, it isn't.

    So throughout the film, there?s technically 2 stories going on at one- the story for the uninformed viewer, who would see Palpatine as a nice old man in a corrupt Senate, and the young Queen bravely fighting for her people, and everybody having a happy ending when the goodies win at the end, and at the same time, the story of the evil Palpatine manipulating the weak Queen to worm his way into the Supreme Chancellor?s office, and the bad guys getting exactly what they wanted at the end of the film.

    So although the audience isn?t shown her people dying, I don?t think that there?s any reason (without the sort of inspection of the film that I don?t think you would give it without more than one viewing, and probably not without having seen the subsequent episodes.) that they would think that they weren?t, so they would naturally see her point of view, and think that she?s doing the right thing.

    While showing the Naboo people would give the audience something to emotionally connect to, for me, the whole plot of what?s going on ?beneath the surface? in the film more than makes up for it. (Especially after we?re shown that the Naboo conflict snowballs and becomes the Clone Wars- all under the control of the Sith.)

    >>>>Personally, I'd have ended the film with a speech from the newly elected Palpatine, intercut with the various characters watching and reacting to it from their respective places
  22. Stridarious Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2002
    star 6
    I don't know, I question the citizenseven being in trouble. But then agian it is of little motivation of where the scenes take us, meaning they show none of it, so we must not need to see.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.