With AOTC/TPM Lucas pulls the rug out from under our expectations

Discussion in 'Attack of the Clones' started by Jabbadabbado, Sep 18, 2002.

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  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    First, this is not a basher thread. This is a thread about what I believe is the most interesting aspect of AOTC and the prequel trilogy - that Lucas has deliberately turned the morality of the original trilogy on its head and surprised most of us in ways we never would have expected.

    Following is a brief explanation.

    The OT gave us a straightforward confrontation between good and evil. The old republic was destroyed by the Emperor. The Jedi knights were defeated leaving Obi-wan, Yoda and Darth Vader as their only representatives in the Star Wars universe. There were no questions about whether the rebels were on the side of good, whether Yoda and Obi-wan were on the side of good, whether the restoration of the republic was something worth fighting for.

    Lucas changed all that with the PT.

    Every institution, every character of the PT is tinged with moral ambiguity.

    The Institutions

    The Senate is corrupt, inefficient, and easily manipulated. It is eager to hand power over to Palpatine.

    The Jedi order is arrogant and ineffective. It engages in questionable practices, such as teaching children to be warriors, or sending negotiators into a political discussion armed and ready to fight. Also, they seem to have badly screwed up raising Anakin. The Anakin of AOTC seems nothing like the Anakin of TPM, and the obvious explanation is bad parenting. AOTC Anakin is deeply immature, whiny, arrogant and hot-tempered. Young Anakin displays almost none of those traits.

    The characters

    Padme her political leanings are muddled, and her integrity is called into serious question when she excuses Anakin for mass murder. Her interest in Anakin, especially after his confession, defies explanation

    Obi-wan dedicated and skilled, Obi-wan nevertheless makes serious mistakes in AOTC, including his failure to really respect Anakin and his trite dismissal of Anakin's central dilemma in AOTC when he says "dreams pass in time." That casual casting aside of Anakin's problems is a direct contributing factor in Anakin's fall to the dark side.

    Qui-Gon a shady character who uses immoral means to achieve what he believes are good ends. Hard to really tell him apart from Watto in terms of his personal integrity.

    Yoda sends dozens of Jedi to their deaths on Geonosis without an adequate assessment of the risks. He teaches children to wield lightsabers (imagine if your local elementary school had handgun practice in PE). He also takes charge of the clone army - basically making is impossible for him ever to argue that the Jedi were not responsible for its creation.

    Anakin we already know what Anakin becomes, but more and more it seems that much of his fall has to do with the fact that he was not a very nice person to begin with. Jedi training somehow turned Anakin from a sweet kid into a powder keg of dangerous potential. He is so unlikeable that seeing him turn into Vader may actually come as a relief, since death is his only hope of salvation.


    So, in the end we have a corrupt republic understandably falling prey to an unscrupulous political genius, with the Jedi order also aiding and abetting its own destruction. We have flawed and unsympathetic characters maneuvering an equally unlikeable Anakin toward his inevitable end.

    The PT that Lucas gave us is truly a surprise. It defies everyone's expectations. But you know what? I'm not sure I hate what Lucas is doing. Ignoring the other weaknesses of the PT, Lucas's morally ambiguous presentation of the fall of the old republic and the fall of Anakin Skywalker is in some ways a bold artistic choice.

    If it is intentional, if Lucas has actually thought it all out and knows where he's taking his unlikeable protagonists, then I absolutely respect his efforts, the breadth and scope of his artistic intent. There is something novel in his thematic presentation of tragedy. And of course the PT inevitably is a tragedy. The six part arc is tragedy and redemption, of course, but episode 3 ends in t
  2. HL&S Magistrate Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2001
    star 6
    Wow....

    That was very well written and I agree.
  3. Pooja Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 6
    Good... speech. Definetly an interesting viewpoint and read. Take notes from Jabbadabbado... he knows how to start a thread.
  4. Emperor_Billy_Bob Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 7
    :D Excellent. I agree, however I doubt George Lucas actually wanted Anakin to be unlikeable.
  5. The_Abstract Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    Jabbadabbado


    I'd say, for an attempt at a meaningful thread, you provided it in spades.

    For all your disappointment in the presentation of the sequels, I can't honestly say you don't get what's going on story wise.

    We may have to wait until Episode III for all of this to pan out, but that's as spot on an analysis as I've seen.


    Good job.

    :D





  6. MexChewie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2002
    star 4
    Good job, Jabba. Do not entirely agree with you on individual characters but nevertheless it's a good critique.
  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The PT's representation of good and evil is, I think, extremely ambitious for a space opera.

    Thank Go-Mer-Tonic for this thread. There was an argument a while back about Yoda's character, how his aggressive fighting style was inconsistent with his teachings in ESB.

    Go-Mer suggested that maybe Yoda was inconsistent because he'd changed his mind and learned something in the intervening years. Maybe the events of AOTC and Episode 3 profoundly change Yoda -- help him find balance in the Force.

    I agree with Go-Mer. I think that is a terrific idea and a wonderful twist of the Star Wars narrative. 800 + year-old Yoda discovers the error of his ways and takes his share of responsibility for the fall of the republic.

    What if what Obi-wan and Yoda teach Luke has nothing to do with classic Jedi teachings and everything to do with what the last two Jedi learned about the Force while they were fugitives living in exile?
  8. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    Ignoring the other weaknesses of the PT, Lucas's morally ambiguous presentation of the fall of the old republic and the fall of Anakin Skywalker is in some ways a bold artistic choice.

    While I don't necessarily agree with your assessment of certain scenes or characters, I do agree with your overall conclussion.
  9. DarthBane93 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 11, 1999
    star 4
    I think one huge point of the PT was it was supposed to be more gray than pure black and white (good vs. evil). I mean, while the Jedi are good...they are faily weak in the sense that they are not overly powerful, not smart enough to see whats coming, are stagnant in their own ways...etc. On the other hand, while we know Palpy is the evil one, he manipulates everyone around him and is one smart dog. Then there is Anakin who is all over the map.
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Cool, Durwood. Let's discuss. :)

    DarthBane wrote: "while the Jedi are good...they are faily weak in the sense that they are not overly powerful, not smart enough to see whats coming, are stagnant in their own ways.."

    But isn't that just an assumption about Star Wars we've always had, that the Jedi were "good." What if, by the time of TPM, the institution is no longer "good" in any meaningful sense?

    Maybe the Jedi don't really find their way back to the "good" side of the Force until Obi-wan and Yoda have 2 decades in hiding to really think it through.
  11. Pooja Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 6
    Whoa, I never noticed the Yoda thing until I read this... very good stuff, Jabba.
  12. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    Cool, Durwood. Let's discuss.

    I would love to, but I'm on my way out the door and don't have the time at the moment. But I'll get back to you!
  13. The_Abstract Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    I agree with this too. Especially given the level of regret that Obi-Wan has in ANH. Instead of continuing to fight the Empire the 2 Jedi decided to hide and meditate for the next 20 years.

    There are some who feel that Lucas is preparing another huge revelation for Episode III, and if he does, I believe it will have to do with the very nature of the Force.

    There is a huge shadow that looms over both Yoda and Obi-Wan in the OT. They got spooked by something, and got spooked hard.
  14. DarthBane93 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 11, 1999
    star 4
    Yes, Obi and Yoda DO have time to reflect on things after EpIII. Thats why Yoda seems all that different in his teachings with Luke...at least I see a small difference between him now and then in ESB.

    And while many people will disagree with this...dont you think that the character of Qui-Gon was there to show that maybe he was a little more "well-rounded" than the rest of the Jedi who were more close minded and stagnant? I truley believe that this is a point GL is trying to portray.
  15. SWfan2002 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2002
    star 4
    First off, good thread Jabba!

    Padme her political leanings are muddled, and her integrity is called into serious question when she excuses Anakin for mass murder. Her interest in Anakin, especially after his confession, defies explanation

    Here's why I think Padme is interested in Anakin, even after the confession-- Anakin is brutally honest, as is demonstrated in the fireplace scene. Padme has spent the majority of her life surrounded by politicians and buearacrats, and we all know how untrustworthy and untrue they usually are.

    About the Tusken slaughter-- I don't think you can compare Anakin's actions here to a gang-banger who murders a bunch of people in a city. Instead, I look at it as an early American killing a bunch of Indians. If a cavalryman was able to go into a village of Indians and kill them all, would the United States Government have arrested and charged him with a crime? I don't think so (correct me if I'm wrong though). So what I'm saying is that Padme didn't really marry a felon, but a person who has some problems for various reasons. But above all, Anakin is honest and that is what Padme seems to be attracted to here.
  16. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    Excellent thread, Jabbadabba.

    I agree with your view of the PT as "Grey" compared to the "black and white" of the OT, but I think your own portrayals of the characters tends to be more "black" than "grey", if that makes any sense.

    I think you're being a bit too harsh on Yoda and the Council - "training kids to fight as warriors". I understand your point, but there's a reason why they are trained from such an early age - the Force is incredibly hard to master, and maybe in some ways, a child's mind is more open to it (see: "Master Obi-Wan has lost a planet" scene in AOTC).

    I also think the criticism of Yoda's fighting style is a load of guff - he already proved the self-defense by turning away each of Dooku's Force attacks.

    Bah - I can;t get into a point-by-point critique right now, but I'm definitely going to keep an eye on this thread.:)

    Basically, I agree with Durwood - your overall conclusions are perspicacious, but I have problems with some of the individual analysis.

    -dust
  17. Only_2 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 3
    I am so glad to see someone finally recognize and put this in writing, Thanks Jabba. I know you have been disappointed in certain aspects of the PT, but to be able to step back and look at the whole thing objectively, as I have from when TPM came out, I commend your synopsis.

    It was as if after TPM I was asking myself, where is he going with this? And after AOTC, Alright, I think I see where he is going with this. This is why I have a problem with so many who write off the PT as all plot and no story. It's actually a much more interesting and creative story than the Flash Gordon remake that became the OT. I LOVE the OT, don't get me wrong. But he's had much more time to think about where to take the PT and I think he's going not only where he wants to, but where he wanted the whole thing to be in the first place.

    He's matured. Part of that is recognizing and nodding to the kid factor, which so many people hated with TPM. I actually applaud him for that. He shows that it can be deep and political and still have kiddy appeal. This is what so many people loved about ANH. That is what is lacking from ESB. ESB is all dark and intrigue and no kiddy. I like that, but it kind of doesn't fit with the rest of the saga. The Dagobah scenes are magnificent, but the cloud city stuff is much like the political subplot in AOTC without the fun. That is what was done in ROTJ, albeit not as well as has been done in the PT.
  18. DarthTerrious Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2001
    star 5
    Jabbadabbado,

    What can I say but great stuff.
    Wonderful analysis and spot on conclusion.
    You bring up some good points although the character analysis I disagree with.

    Its nice to see you were paying attention to movie ;)
    And its nice to see you have a good comment of Lucas on his work on the PT.
  19. Green_Destiny_Sword Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2001
    star 4
    I can't say that I agree with this premise.
    Yoda's morality is in question because he teaches children how to wield lightsabers? I don't think so. And comparing the Jedi Temple to elementary school makes no sense. The Jedi are trained to enter fighting, violent situations, should they arise. The amount of power they wield and the discipline requried to use it demand that you are trained from childhood. In the context of the SW galaxy, it's not a bad idea at all. they are the only "guardians of the peace" in all of the Republic. Someone has to be the police. It's just that Jedi trainign is so intense that kids can be trained.

    And again, why is a kid using a weapon bad in the SW universe? There's not much argument for that in the movies.

    As for Yoda sending the Jedi to their death, I can't argue here. It's more of a plot hole than chracter flaw. But anyway, even if Yoda made a faulty risk assessment, that does not mean he is evil. It was a genuine mistake (I don't know how he could have made it since he knew droid founderies were there, but whatever), not a morally questionable move. MAce Windu obviously fully supported the move (he seemed to very confident facing Dooku and the Geonosians) and had his life on the line.

    Obi-wan dedicated and skilled, Obi-wan nevertheless makes serious mistakes in AOTC, including his failure to really respect Anakin and his trite dismissal of Anakin's central dilemma in AOTC when he says "dreams pass in time." That casual casting aside of Anakin's problems is a direct contributing factor in Anakin's fall to the dark side.


    Again, while Obi Wan does diss Anakin at points, it's not because Obi Wan is amoral. He just can't be that bothered with such a punk whiner like Anakin. And Obi Wan was quick to dismiss Ani's nightmares, but again, I don't see this as an evil act. Obi Wan was in over his head with a brat like Anakin. He tried to teach him well, but Anakin becomes too courrpted by hiw own emotional weaknesses.

    The Jedi order is arrogant and ineffective. It engages in questionable practices, such as teaching children to be warriors, or sending negotiators into a political discussion armed and ready to fight.

    I have already addressed children in the Jedi temple. As for the "negotiations", tht was Vallorum's decision, not the Jedi's. Furthermore, Vallorum believed Padme that there was an armed, hostile takeover of her planet. That was the whole point of sending armed Jedi and not informing the Senate about it. It was a very logical move. Why would a Jedi travel without their lightsaber? AOTC makes it pretty clear that they don't leave home without it.

    Qui-Gon a shady character who uses immoral means to achieve what he believes are good ends. Hard to really tell him apart from Watto in terms of his personal integrity

    I think this idea about QG lacking morality is overblown. He was a maverick and had his own way of doing things, but fixing that dice game with Watto was essential! They were standed on some outer rim planet. He needed to make sure they got out and Padme returned to safety. They could not just sit around at Shmi's house. What were they going to do if Ani lost the race? Chill out until they thought of another scheme or wager? Anakin still had to win the race and the Jedi did not interfere with that.

    I do think there are characters of questionable morality in the PT, like Anakin and Padme. I think that the flaws in their morality wil lead to their downfalls. But I don't think all of the characters are and I also don't think the story gains from having every character being partly evil.

  20. Boba_Phat Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2000
    star 4
    Here's a 1994 quote from Lucas that I think is relevant to this topic:

    "The new movies will feature all of the action of the first three. Much of the drama, however, will revolve around betrayal-between friends and within the Empire. In this part of the story, things are not always as they seem and you never quite know who the good guys and bad guys are."
  21. Darth_Sprocket Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2002
    star 4
    wow....that was too-long winded and contrived reasoning.....Jabba, learn to state your case briefly.....
  22. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    Yes it's gary in the OT you knew who was good and who was bad. In the PT you don't know. The way I look at it to is in the OT Yoda and Ben seem to take the Jinn way. In other words very thing is part of the force not just some things. also you have the lost 20 they must have left the Jedi for some reason. I think that in some ways 1000s and 1000s of years before the were all good the let people marry have kids and so on. but at one point it chagned. They became blind to the force all most and it took Obi, Yoda and yes Anakin tell the end of there lives to understand what it's about. Love. Thats what keeps people form the dark side. Just like in the next Palpatine is going to do somehting to bait Anakin in to hateing very thing he has loved. I mean noitced in Ep 1 and 2 Palpatine is was not playing the bad guy around the Jedi.

    I look at it like this near the end of Ep 2 this is what I think is going through Palpaitne mind.

    Pal: They have no idea what I'm going to do the are all blind and dumb HAHAHAHAHA. He never sound very worried about any thing and why should he at the moment.
  23. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Green_Destiny_Sword makes a good argument that Lucas did not intend the moral ambiguity that I saw, and that indeed that moral ambiguity is not present in the film at all.

    Padme is especially hard to interpret. There is no question that she comforts Anakin and confesses her love to him AFTER she knows he has killed an entire tribe of Sand People. But did she really understand the scope of what Anakin did? Or was she blinded by love into denying the truth? Obviously, it's complicated, but at the very least it has to call into question her character.

    Obi-wan is also a difficult case. I find it very hard to excuse his "dreams pass in time" comment. In ESB, Yoda makes a special point of telling Luke what his visions mean, that he should expect them and learn how to cope with them. Unless this is something Yoda learned in exile, it's something he would also have taught Obi-wan. If so, then ignoring Anakin's dream and brushing them off cannot easily be excused. It was a serious error in judgment.

    About training children to wield lightsabers. In our society, teaching kids how to use firearms is not all that uncommon, and yet many people would find that morally questionable. Viewed through the lense of our society, training children to use lightsabers would be the moral equivalent of sending them to a firing range to learn how to fire an uzi. Maybe Lucas intended no controversy in this presentation, in the same way he did not intend anyone to think that the neimoidians were an asian caricature.
  24. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    Sorry, Jabbadabba,
    I just can't agree with you on the presentation of the children with lightsabers. As Obi-Wan tells Anakin, "this is your life." The lightsaber is the weapon of the Jedi - it takes great control of the Force to use such a deadly weapon.

    Sure, Han used Luke's saber to slice open the Tauntaun, but can you actually picture Han trying to fight with it? He'd likely cut his arms off in the first ten seconds!

    Using the lightsaber is also a way of focusing one's concentration, which helps attentuate one's mind to the Force. "reach out with your feelings, Luke."

    With all due respect, this is not the same as taking a bunch of kids down to a firing range.

    Hmm...good debate in this thread.

    Uh...I agree that the Jedi must have known their friends were being held on the droid foundry planet of Geonosis. So, why send a bunch of Jedi to get whacked?

    I guess it's possible that they didn't realize that this droid army was years in the making. Maybe Mace thought he could do well enough until Yoda arrives with the clones.

    I had a thought a while back, which I think would make an interesting twist to the PT. What if Yoda (and possibly Mace) has some awareness of what must happen to the galaxy, and so he just kinda stands by and lets things unfold as they may, instead of trying to force the issue.

    You know, the whole "you can't make an omelette w/o breaking a few eggs" thing. Or that it would be better to let the structure of the Republic crumble and start again rather than continuing to build on top of the already-existing structure, Jenga-style.

    That quote of Lucas' is interesting - it makes me want to examine every relationship in the PT, and I know all of the MaceIsBaders will jump all over it.:)

    Palpy seems like a friend to the Jedi, but he is actually their greatest enemy.

    Ditto for Palpy and Padme.

    Obi-Wan seems like a huge obstacle to Anakin at times, but he is looking out for Anakin's best interests.

    The Jedi think of Dooku as an old friend who has lost his way, but he is now a Sith Lord (well, presumably).

    Et cetera, et cetera. What further betrayals we will see?

    -dust
  25. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    First off, excellent thread Jabba.

    Boba Phat:

    "The new movies will feature all of the action of the first three. Much of the drama, however, will revolve around betrayal-between friends and within the Empire. In this part of the story, things are not always as they seem and you never quite know who the good guys and bad guys are."

    I remember that from the first issue of the SW Insider back in mid-'94. Great quote. Didn't he also say somewhere about the prequels being more Machiavellian?

    Machiavelli wrote in The Prince about the means justified by the ends.

    Jabba mentioned Qui-Gon believing in this philosophy.

    It's interesting that Lucas started the prequels in the midst of the Republic's decline rather than the Golden Age. That was something I didn't expect.

    I think this is a great choice. It also parallels history. Lucas also handles Palpy's rise in a way I would not have expected as a kid. I thought he would have overtly seized power. But, history gives us great examples of just the opposite.

    The three big dictators of the last three hundred years, Hitler, Napolean, and Stalin, they all basically were handed power from the people.

    Even Caesar was welcomed into ancient Rome as a hero on his rise to Chief Consul of the First Triumvirate.

    The amibiguity of the prequels has been present from the opening crawl. "Turmoil has engulfed the Republic..."

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