Prequels

LUKE: No, my father didn’t fight in the wars. He was a navigator on a
spice freighter.

BEN: That’s what your uncle told you. He didn’t hold with your
father’s ideals. Thought he should have stayed here and not gotten
involved.

LUKE: You fought in the Clone Wars?

BEN: Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight the same as your father.

LUKE: I wish I’d known him.

BEN: He was the best star-pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior.
I understand you’ve become quite a good pilot yourself. And he was a
good friend. Which reminds me…

Ben gets up and goes to a chest where he rummages around.
As Luke finishes repairing Threepio and starts to fit the
restraining bolt back on, Threepio looks at him nervously.
Luke thinks about the bolt for a moment then puts it on the
table. Ben shuffles up and presents Luke with a short handle
with several electronic gadgets attached to it.

BEN: I have something here for you. Your father wanted you to have
this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn’t allow it. He
feared you might follow old Obi-Wan on some damned-fool idealistic
crusade like your father did.

THREEPIO: Sir, if you’ll not be needing me, I’ll close down for
awhile.

LUKE: Sure, go ahead.

Ben hands Luke the saber.

LUKE: What is it?

BEN: Your fathers lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not
as clumsy or as random as a blaster.

Luke pushes a button on the handle. A long beam shoots out
about four feet and flickers there. The light plays across the
ceiling.

BEN: An elegant weapon for a more civilized time. For over a thousand
generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice
in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.

Luke hasn’t really been listening.

LUKE: How did my father die?

BEN: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he
turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi
Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all
but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force.

LUKE: The Force?

BEN: Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy
field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us.
It binds the galaxy together.

Artoo makes beeping sounds.

BEN: Now, let’s see if we can’t figure out what you are, my little
friend. And where you come from.

LUKE: I saw part of the message he was…

Luke is cut short as the recorded image of the beautiful
young Rebel princess is projected from Artoo’s face.

BEN: I seem to have found it.

Luke stops his work as the lovely girl’s image flickers
before his eyes.

LEIA: General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone
Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire.
I regret that I am unable to present my father’s request to you in
person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I’m afraid my mission
to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital
to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2
unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid
safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour.
Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.

There is a little static and the transmission is cut short.
Old Ben leans back and scratches his head. He silently puffs
on a tarnished chrome water pipe. Luke has stars in his eyes.

BEN: You must learn the ways of the Force if you’re to come with me to
Alderaan.

… maybe Lucas should just have left it at that.

Having now seen all three of the prequels, I find that between them, they only have enough material for 2 films at the most. The story is stretched thin, reaching and exposing foregone conclusions of the original Star Wars trilogy, positively ruining all the plot twists and surprises of those films, as well.

By adding the three prequels, the total six films now put focus on Anakin Skywalker, a hero turned villain. The prequels were to describe his rise to power and fall to the dark side. Potentially good stuff – high drama and space opera of the best caliber.

But no.

The first film is pissed away with Jar-Jar Binks antics, pod-racing and similar irrelevancies, introducing Anakin, but hardly making him very interesting (annoying, rather).

The second film introduces romance, saber-fights, lots of action and digital effects, but no nerve, lots of building up, but no climax. All of it suffering from bad dialogue, lack of humor and a distinctive cartoonish feel. Now a teenager, Anakin is an even more annoying sulk whose inner conflicts of unallowed love, ambition for wondrous abilities to change what he cannot bring himself to accept and lack of belief in the jedi code completely fail to capture the audience.

The third film (and this is the meat of the matter) is meant to be the climax of the series. The Peripeteia of Anakin’s fate. Amidst all the colourful digital effects,
the love story, the story of hopeful ambition to change the for the better, the story of a failing democracy are concluded to some degree. Anakin is now grimly determined young man, but he appears even more one-dimensional than farmboy Luke ever did, and his expected destruction lacks the epic drama hoped for. His teenage sulk skips mature anger in order to go straight to homocidal insanity.

All the way through these prequels, it feels like Lucas is just going through the motions rather than wanting to tell the story that could be. It all feels very forced, very uneven and very, very dumb. Sure, the characters of the original Star Wars weren’t brilliant, but they were believable in a way that the characters of the prequels simply are not. It often feels like Lucas prefers doing the action sequences as he won’t have to actually write any dialogue. And the dialogue he does produce is really, really bad:

Man: “You’re so beautiful.”
Woman: “It’s only because I’m so in love.”
Man: “No, it’s because I’m so in love with you.”

Argh.

All the way through, the actors aren’t allowed to act, as much as they have to say precisely what they feel at any given moment: I love you, I hate you, I loved you, You betrayed me.

It’s comically thin, and it’s an awful shame. All the epic, shakespearian potential for drama and criticism of American war-mongering is easily drowned in special effects and headless directing.

And though it probably would make a good computer game, I’d rather have been without it. The grandeur of just hinting at great battles and bold heroism is ever greater than spelling it out so unconvincingly as here. And perhaps that is the biggest trouble with these three films. They’re telling stories already hinted at, already imagined by thousands of fans – and in this case, film is indeed a weak aid for the imagination.

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>