I can’t believe the second month of our year-long countdown to Star Wars Episode IX has come and gone my fellow SW fans and we’re already gearing up for round three! We’ve happily spent the past two months together exploring the fandom and breaking down the themes, characters, and meaning behind the first two films in the Skywalker saga: The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones – and I don’t know about you, but I feel like we covered some hella fun topics along the way!
Before we jump headlong into Revenge of the Sith and all its epic heartbreak and darkness, I figured it’s only fitting to tie up our experience with AOTC with a little end of the month review! So, if you’ve missed any of March’s posts or are new to Whispered Mutterings in general, now’s the perfect time to explore the site and get all caught up before Episode III begins! Thanks for coming on this Star Wars journey with me – thank you for every view, like, comment, and share. You guys are amazing, and you make SW and the fandom amazing too!
“I’m a Jedi… I know I’m better than this…” — Anakin Skywalker
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is beginning of the dark fall for the Force’s Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker. No longer the sweet, eager child that we first met on Tattooine, restrictive and emotionally suffocating dogma paired with constant suspicion and unrelenting correction have left our once-happy Ani with tattered nerves, shaken confidence, and the overwhelming will to prove himself. Often coming across as grandiose or whiney, Anakin’s dramatic shift in mood and temperament is a cry for help that remains unheard. The ground beneath his feet is crumbling, he knows something is wrong and everyone casts the blame in his direction. No one hears him save for Obi-Wan, who’s terrified and misunderstood help only exacerbates the problem, and Padme, the woman and influence he is not permitted to have. The Jedi don’t care if Anakin is floundering, they’ve built up an army to protect themselves against him, and Palpatine knows his best time to strike is when Anakin is at his lowest point.
“Young Skywalker is in pain. Terrible pain.” — Master Yoda
Empathic by nature, Anakin is struggling right from the beginning of the film, with nerves, anxiety, and even nightmares – reoccurring dreams centered around the one person who he loves most in the galaxy, the person whose guidance and wisdom he is struggling to hold onto… his mother. Are the dreams a message from his own consciousness, alert to the fact that his mother is in peril, or are they sent by the darkside, by Palpatine to terrorize a child with the one thing he fears the absolute most? I’m not sure myself, but both instances have merit and either way, no matter their source, Anakin is being slowly and methodically tortured, every night, every day with the possibility that the person who loves him most might be taken from him more than she already has been. And having lived ten years surrounded by people who don’t trust him and blatantly do not want him amongst them, Shmi is one of the only people in Anakin’s young life who he truly feels safe with, who he knows truly loves him. Either he abandons her to her fate and must live with the knowledge that he has done so or he must go to her and in doing so prove himself unworthy of being a Jedi. The fact that he chooses his mother over the Jedi goes to show just how loving and pure Ani is at his heart, and how twisted and dangerous the Jedi mentality is when love is turned into an enemy.
“I know I’m disobeying my mandate to protect you Senator, but I have to go. I have to help her!”
“I’m sorry, I don’t have a choice.” — Anakin Skywalker
In the end, Anakin spends the length of AOTC apologizing for his actions, to Obi-Wan, to Padme, his mother… everyone he holds dear and cares about. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s an endless stream of apologies and the desperate need for forgiveness. He is drowning in the unceasing waves of fate, reaching out for some sort of lifeline and the only person who reaches back is Padme, and she keeps him above water…for a time. Because no matter how romantic the notion, one person is not strong enough to bear the weight of another for a lifetime unaided. Had Yoda and the other Jedi put aside their fear and rallied around Anakin, determined to at least let him know that they were there for him, that they appreciated him, Anakin might have survived. They all might have survived. But they didn’t. And that’s why they had to fall, why the Force sent Anakin to live this unbelievably hard and unfairly painful life, because the Jedi were not as they should be. The balance was skewed.
And with the last episode of the Skywalker saga looming on the horizon, we find ourselves back on similar ground…with a boy, a girl, and a choice. Even before his birth Ben Solo was being hunted, his mind invaded by Snoke (a fact we learn from the Aftermath trilogy), and with our knowledge of Snoke’s maniacal cruelty, it is safe to assume that in one fashion or another, Ben was being tortured from the inside out… just like his grandfather. There has been little released regarding Ben as a child and no doubt that is purposeful, but we do know is that his parents sent him away to Luke because “there was too much Vader in him” and they kept the truth of his heritage a secret (Bloodline) which leads to the loneliness, isolation, and fear that Anakin endured at the same age.
It’s little wonder that Ben became Kylo, that after enduring the same things his grandfather did, that they shared the same fate. If anything that teaches us that how you treat someone has a direct correlation to how they treat themselves and the world around them. Ben and Anakin were made to feel dangerous, they were treated with suspicion by those who should have loved them most and that isolation and fear of am I am bad person? drove them to disaster. And much like Padme before her, we now have Rey, a beacon of love and hope standing in Kylo’s path, the only one who hears the cries of help in the darkness. And valiantly, she does try to save him, but this time our heroine has some darkness of her own that she has to face, this time the journey is not completely one-sided. Rey and Kylo both need to be saved to some extent, they have reached out to each other, across time, the galaxy, and a war, but like Anakin and Padme they are not enough to save the other alone.
This is where I hope the story of Star Wars has been leading us, to the lesson that still hasn’t been learned yet… that it isn’t enough to call yourself a hero. You have to actually be one. Poe, Finn, Rose, the Resistance itself needs to do what the Jedi failed to do which is show compassion, forgiveness, and the determination to let go of their own fears and prejudices in the effort to help someone they perceive to be an enemy. They need to be real heroes, not battle victors, and act with the qualities they so loudly proclaim to defend. This time if the lightside is going to win the day they need to deserve it, they need to have earned it, and do what the Council of Jedi Masters failed to do: act with decency and love. This time, they need to be worthy.
“Clear your mind must be, if you are to discover the real villains behind this plot.” – Yoda
Earlier this month we discussed the political nature of the Jedi and the origins of the Grand Army of the Republic – those genetically modified soldiers better known as the Clone Army, who were created to “protect” the republic until Order 66 had them turning their weapons on their Jedi Generals, effectively setting the stage for a Sith-ruled galactic empire. We delved into great detail discussing the creation of the army and the motivation behind it, both for the Jedi and the Sith, but that was only half the story for these expendable clone warriors and our “beloved” Jedi knights.
Despite the metaphorical elephant in the room, the Star Wars films never openly discuss the questionable morality of our heroes using living beings as disposable fodder for war while the supposed bad-guys make use of engineered mechanical droids. Tabling the question of whether droids do in fact have life, because that’s a whole other post in it’s own, the fact of the matter is that our kind and compassionate, peacekeeping Jedi heroes – who won’t even send a force beyond two men to stave off the annihilation of the peoples of Naboo – suddenly have no words of wisdom against or qualms about being given millions of lives to fight a war that in all honestly they have no right to even be in.
Although trained in combat since their youth, the Jedi Order are renowned peacekeepers, only fighting when absolutely necessary. But yet, by the end of AOTC they are not only fighting in, but leading, an army of genetically engineered, living and breathing men, in a political war. But why? Their allegiance is to the people of the galaxy…not the government. Right? And you can say they’re fighting to keep the Empire and all it’s evil from rising but if that’s the case then they failed utterly, and moreover, there is no conceivable way that Yoda sat two feet from Palpatine and didn’t realize the level of darkness emanating from the master of the Sith himself.
In the end, whether or not the government is a Republic, an Empire, or something else entirely, the Jedi are not supposed to takes sides – because if that’s not the case then why is there still mass corruption and slavery on planets like Tattooine? If the Jedi have enough stake in the political arena to go to war over planets leaving the Republic and are willing to risk millions of clone lives to enforce that decision, then why do they not have enough stake or motivation to confront star systems that allow people like Shmi and Anakin to endure slavery, degradation, and the constant threat of death?
The Jedi Masters are more than willing to allow the Senate to decide when and how to deal – or not deal – with these injustices in the galaxy, but why allow such darkness to flourish if their purpose is to preserve and fight for the light? Why not fight for the enslaved mothers and fathers and children of Tattooine? Why not fight to liberate the people of the Naboo when its peaceful citizens were being tortured and mutilated? Amidala begged and fought and risked her own life to ask for help and unmoved, the Jedi still refused to send more than two men to help.
“Now that they’re extinct, the Jedi are romanticized, deified. But if you strip away the myth and look at their deeds, the legacy of the Jedi is failure. Hypocrisy, hubris.” – Luke Skywalker
By their inaction, their refusal to risk their lives to help those truly in need, the Jedi Order failed Padme Amidala, they failed Shmi Skywalker, and they failed even their own proclaimed Chosen One: Anakin Skywalker. Their lives were more important than others and they did not feel compelled to risk so much, but given an army of non-Force users, they are surprisingly quick to lead an army into a war that they have no place in. Ultimately, surrounded by replaceable troops of clone men, Jedi lives are in very little danger and they are suddenly comfortable with sending men to die for a cause that they wouldn’t send more than two of their own to defend before. And we proclaim them as our heroes. They are who we strive to be.
It’s little wonder the Force itself sent Anakin to redress the issue.
I am not usually one to dwell on deleted scenes in films, for better or worse, if the director chose to leave specific things out to better convey the story that they’re trying to tell then it’s usually for a good reason. But every now and then deleted scenes will stick out in a way that even their absence changes the entire film. Star Wars is no exception. There are two deleted scenes that stand out this way to me, and funny enough, if they had never been included on the DVD we would have no knowledge of them, so it’s almost as if the director was like, look…this can’t be in the movie for whatever reason, but this scene or it’s removal is saying something…
One of those deleted scenes is from The Last Jedi and centers around Finn and Phasma, so I’ll save that one for later, but the second deleted scene that strikes me as incredibly important is from Attack of the Clones itself. And oddly enough, I’ve seen this movie countless times, but I only just recently (like earlier this week) stumbled across this scene, and it just really moved me and made me wonder…why was it removed from the film? What secrets did it give away or truths did it reinforce? This isn’t a ten second clip where someone walked right when they should have walked left, this is a scene of power.
We all saw the incredible lengths Padme Amidala went through to save her home-world in The Phantom Menace, we know she is no shirker of responsibility or the will to act. Padme saved Naboo, she saved her people, and she rearranged the entire Senate to do so. So, when we meet her again in AOTC and watch as she is nearly killed time and again for her voice in the Senate, we can safely assume that she is just as determined and unstoppable as a Senator as she was as a Queen. But oddly enough, we never really see Padme take the floor like she did in the previous film, we never see her exercise her influential range on the Senate for ourselves. We know she is a strong voice because we know her character, but we never see just how much she can truly impact the galaxy with just her presence and words on the senatorial floor. And after watching the scene in question I have to wonder why that is? Why take Padme out of the game before we see what she can do as a Senator?
“Wake up Senators! You must wake up! If you offer the Separatist’s violence, they can only show violence in return. Many will lose their lives, all will lose their freedom. I pray you do not let fear push you into disaster. Vote down this security measure — which is nothing less than a declaration of war. Does anyone here want that? I cannot believe they do.” — Senator Padme Amidala
And in this instance, I truly think it’s because it gave too much of the end-game away. Padme’s voiced boomed across the Senate, reaching her fellow senators with her clarity and wisdom until it was quickly sidelined by a very noticeably shaken Palpatine. The future Emperor of the galaxy saw firsthand that there was someone in the room who had the ability to derail his plans, because had they voted that day on the creation of the Grand army of the Republic with Padme’s cries of “Wake up!” ringing fresh in their ears the vote would have failed to yield the army – and the control – that Palpatine desired. Yes, Anakin Skywalker was the biggest threat to the Darth Sidious and the Jedi, but Padme Amidala just proved herself to be the biggest threat to Sheev Palpatine. He already had multiple ideas of how to handle Ani, with and without the help of the Jedi, but Padme could destroy everything on her own. Her voice reached across the stars, she could take the Senate from him just as easily as she took it from Valorum.
Funny then, that she died so tragically – and let’s be honest – so oddly in the next film. It’s long been a popular theory that Palpatine used Padme’s life-force to keep Anakin alive after his devastating battle on Mustafar, thus draining and killing her in the process. A fellow SW fan and I have even been discussing it in the comments on some of my posts (hi Amy!). There’s a lot of evidence for this theory being correct and it does make a helluva lot of sense, but until Lucasfilm or Disney confirms or denies it one way or another, we’ll never know for sure. But with so many prequel books being released this year leading up to Episode IX and so many prequel characters rejoining the SW family this year at SW Celebration, I think it’s safe to say that in one form or another, the story is leading us back to the beginning, back to Padme and Anakin.
And as it stands, the consensus is that Palpatine took Padme’s life to save Anakin, to save his apprentice, and to gain a firmer hold on him because with Padme alive, Sidious would always have come in second place in Anakin’s priorities. With her dead, Anakin is wholly Palpatine’s creature. And that’s all true. But I also think that if Palpatine did kill Padme Amidala, it was because she was capable of not only taking Anakin from him, but the entire Senate…and with that Senate, the galaxy itself. The Jedi and the Sith chose Anakin as their enemy, but Sheev Palpatine, ever the politician on the rise, chose a woman whose voice rang with truth that could be heard in every corner of the galaxy. He chose the woman whose cries of Wake up, would have stolen an army from him. He chose Padme Amidala, and this scene shows us exactly why.
“My noble colleagues, less than an hour ago, an assassination attempt was made on my life. One of my bodyguards, and six others, were ruthlessly and senselessly murdered. I was the target. But more importantly, the security measure before you was the target. I have led the opposition to building this army, and someone will stop at nothing to assure its passage!” — Senator Padme Amidala
Star Wars has always had fascinating planets with beautiful – if not deadly – scenery and ambiance, but nothing in the Original Trilogy prepared me for seeing the beauty of Naboo for the first time back in 1999. The land was lush, with bright green grass and architecture that spoke of grandeur and elegance, even to a nine-year-old. It seemed fitting to me and my youthful sensibilities, that that’s where Padme Amidala came from, a beautiful, elegant planet for a beautiful, elegant woman. And when we were lucky enough to return to that shimmering world in Attack of the Clones, I was not only thrilled, but immediately entranced and mesmerized by the sheer tranquility of the Lake Country where Padme and Anakin took refuge after her deadly assassination attempts.
To me, Naboo symbolizes the very best the galaxy has to offer. I’s an Eden amongst the almost hellish desert and frostbitten worlds we more-often find our heroes in — and no disrespect to the Ewoks, but it’s a little more upscale as forest worlds tend to go. From what we see of its landscapes, cities, and hideaways, Naboo has a near perfect blend of nature and man, with man-made structures that enhance natural beauty, not attempt to overpower or overshadow them. And after reading Queen’s Shadow and even Leia: Princess of Alderaan, I feel like I understand its people and cultures better, their desire to be of service and to create art, celebrate life, and sustain peace.
With its rounded edges, shimmering waterfalls, quiet strength, and above all tranquil peace, Naboo is what is missing from the sequel trilogy. We began TFA with our core cast on the desert planet of Jakku, a callback to Luke and Tattooine from the originals, but Luke was always the middle of the story – the real beginning was on Naboo itself in Episode I. Over the course of the first two trilogies, we’ve gone from Naboo to Tattooine, in essence from Eden to Hell/ Paradise to the Underworld, and now in the last trilogy we’re back again in the desert, and there’s only one place I can think of that the saga can truly end, coming full circle, and that’s back where the story began: Naboo – paradise.
The story of Star Wars is timeless and cyclical, it mirrors and repeats itself in a thousand intricate ways, and what it’s ultimately shown us is the fall of the hero. Both Anakin and Luke start off strong in their heroic journeys, but overtime they stumble and fall, each going into their own isolated versions of the Hell/the Underworld: a volcanic, firepit of a world, and a lonely isolated island with no one to admire and love either of them for their heroic deeds. And neither truly escape those self-imposed Hells, Anakin dies in space, and Luke dies still on his spit of land in the middle of a raging sea. Both achieve redemption and glimpse the bright peace of the Force, either in the love shining in his son’s eyes, or the majestic double sunset that cries of home, but the audience and the redeemed characters are never taken back to the ultimate peaceful calm of Naboo. I think that is purposeful.
What better way to end the saga of the Skywalkers than where it all began – and with another Skywalker male in dire need of redemption, forgiveness, and love. To most, Kylo Ren’s redemption is the one that is most uncertain, but that’s why it is the most needed. Anakin committed many heinous deeds and actions, but because we met him as a child and saw the conditions he lived in and the suffering he faced, we are much quicker to forgive him. And Luke is so universally revered as an untouchable hero that most miss his failings all together, so his redemption is admittedly glossed over because the majority of the SW audience can’t see past the young hero we were given 40 years ago.
But Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo is another matter altogether. Kylo is someone we met when he was already an adult, we have no cute or endearing memories to put beside all the bad things he’s done. And he’s committed arguably the most heinous crime of all: he took Han Solo away from us. Let’s be honest, the majority of non-Kylo fans hate him, not because he killed his own father, but because he took something from the audience themselves, he took someone from us that we’ve had for almost a lifetime. He took our Han away. And that is unforgivable.
So, of our three troubled Skywalker men, no one needs more forgiveness from not only their own world, but from the audience and our world, than Kylo Ren. He needs something truly epic to shift the tide of favor but once it’s been done, he needs what no other redeemed hero has been given yet: the peace and healing that is found on Naboo. The story needs to complete itself, it needs to end with the fairytale quality that it’s always showcased so well, and loop back around to end at the beginning. Because that’s the beauty of Star Wars, whether you start at the beginning or dive in at the middle, you are always led back to the brightest hope for a happy ending, so that no matter how many times you tell the story, you are left with hope and a glimpse at what might be happily ever after.
“What if I told you that the Republic was now under the control of a dark lord of the Sith?” — Count Dooku
“No, that’s not possible. The Jedi would sense it.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
“The dark side has clouded their vision. Hundreds of senators are now under the influence of a Sith lord called Darth Sidious.” — Count Dooku
After re-watching The Attack of the Clones for this month, I noticed something strange that I’ve never fully paid attention to before and it stuck with me throughout the entire film and that’s just how often Yoda and Mace Windu are in the same room with or in close proximity to Chancellor Palpatine aka Darth Sidious and the future tyrannical Emperor of the galaxy himself. I’m not sure how I missed it before, though it probably had something to do with me being preoccupied with the Ani/Padme affair or the Ani/Obi-Wan drama, but this time, right from the beginning I noticed that our two best known and loved Jedi Masters were definitely in the room with arguably the greatest evil in the galaxy…and they didn’t seem to register or notice anything odd…which when you think about it, is odd in-and-of itself.
As a politician, Palpatine is presumably used to keeping himself tightly under-wraps at all times, and as a Sith even doubly so, but Yoda and Windu are the best the Jedi Order have to offer and they’re sitting two feet from the metaphorical-font of all darkness and villainy and death, and they don’t notice anything? Not even a flicker of the Force saying that something is not right?! And this pairing doesn’t happen just once, but multiple times throughout the film – to the point we even see the Masters in the Senate itself during the vote that allows Palpatine to have emergency executive powers which he then uses to “create” the of the Republic army (i.e the clonetroopers)! They are in the epicenter of Palpatine’s powerbase itself, present for the moment he is given almost unlimited political power and still it comes as a surprise to them in the ROTS that he is the Sith lord they’ve been “searching” for? I’m sorry but I don’t buy it.
The Jedi are tapped into the essence of the Force itself, feeling it’s pull and sway and searching out it’s truth and defending the good in the galaxy and yet we’re to believe that it’s two best representatives and most learned, experienced, and wise Masters are blind to what’s right in front of them, because Sidious is that powerful? That may have been more likely had they not so often been in close proximity but again, we see them in the same room at the same time, several times throughout the film. The Force is something that is felt in and around all things but most especially it’s active users, we see this time and again in the movies. Luke even teaches Rey how to access and interprets it in The Last Jedi where within just moments she understands and feels enough to know that Luke has shut himself off from the Force and that there is a lack of something around him and it’s noticeable. So even if Palpatine was shutting the Force off when in the presence of the Jedi Masters, it should still have registered for them that this lack of connection was highly unusual considering the Force is in all things.
“And this is the lesson: That Force does not belong to the Jedi. To say that if the Jedi dies, the light dies is vanity. Can you feel that?!” — Luke Skywalker
“But I didn’t see you… Nothing from you. You’ve closed yourself off from the Force.” — Rey
Yoda notices Anakin’s pain from across the Galaxy when Shmi died, he feels the loss of each Jedi when Order 66 occurs, and yet he doesn’t notice what’s sitting across from him staring him in the face? Unlikely. And why were Yoda and Windu in the Senate that day anyway, do the Jedi have representation on the Senatorial floor, and if so, are they the Jedi Senators? Because considering how much overall disgust, distrust, and you-can’t-trust-politicians-because-they’re-power-hungry-monsters speeches are thrown around and repeatedly hinted at during AOTC and ROTS then that’s saying something about the Jedi Masters. Even if they are not elected officials, they are the only Jedi we see on the senatorial floor – if not the only non-political people we see in the Senate that I can remember – and that makes them the Jedi senatorial representatives to the audience if nothing else.
“And don’t forget: she a politician, and they’re not to be trusted.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
So again, if they supposedly harbor no real suspicion of Palpatine, why are the Jedi Masters present in the Senate…on the very day the creation of the Republic Army becomes legal. An army that was created by a Jedi Master (Sifo-Dyas) and recruited for by a Sith (Tyranus aka Dooku) ten years previous…just about the time that Anakin Skywalker was brought before the Jedi Council and acknowledged as the Chosen One… from the prophecy that foretold the destruction of both the Jedi and the Sith.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and nothing brings together warring fractions like the idea that they will both be destroyed by a third power now on the rise. For all the talk of good vs. evil, light vs. dark, we are shown our “heroes” and our “villains” together again and again and again and now an army that they both had a hand in making comes into play, just as Anakin becomes old enough to become disillusioned and noticeably dissatisfaction and angry. I mean talk about a coincidence of galactic proportions… but then “all is as the Force wills it” – there are no coincidences in Star Wars.
The greatest Masters of the Jedi Order knew their time was running out, their reckoning had come in the form of a child who had endured slavery and poverty and still faced the world with love and acceptance, and short of killing him outright and proving themselves to be the villains of the galaxy, they had no way of stopping him. So, they united with the only other people who had a stake in the game and were equally threatened: the dark lords of the Sith themselves. Together these two factions created an army that consisted of a cloned Mandalorian Bounty Hunter, i.e. one of the most dangerous sorts of fighters in the galaxy, all to keep themselves safe from a child created by the Force itself with one purpose: to restore balance to the force. In the end, the Jedi Masters made a deal with the devil to stay alive but didn’t pay attention to the fine print – Palpatine would help them, but he had a contingency plan of his own…
“Why do I get the feeling you’re going to be the death of me?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
“Don’t say that, master. You’re the closest thing I have to a father.” — Anakin Skywalker
Hearing this exchange for the first time as a soon-to-be thirteen-year-old, I was dramatically shook. I mean the irony nearly bowled me over – I remember thinking, “No Obi, you don’t understand, HE IS GOING TO KILL YOU!” It’s one of those great little moments in the films where Star Wars itself goes a bit meta and speaks directly to the fans.
The relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker is something that drives the entire saga. In A New Hope we first hear Obi-Wan’s admittedly skewed version of events before we see them meet as enemies, duel, and watch in horror as we lose our first big SW hero when Darth Vader strikes down a willing Obi-Wan. This is in effect one of our true first moments of seeing how far Vader will go as a villain, Tarkin was the one that ordered the destruction of Alderaan, but Vader killed our beloved mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi.
And even after this point their lives were entwined as Obi-Wan returned as a Force Ghost to help Yoda train Luke as a Jedi, preparing him to face and kill Darth Vader, Luke’s own father. It’s only after Luke calls him on his falsehoods, that Obi-Wan admits the full truth, but defends his previous story in true Jedi manipulative fashion, saying he told the truth, “from a certain point of view.”
So, after all the events and drama of the original trilogy and the very limited time they shared in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones was the first time we truly got to see this epic pair together before Anakin became Vader and Obi-Wan’s story gets a bit fuzzy. And it’s truly so Shakespearian. We ALL KNOW Anakin is going to kill Obi-Wan someday, we’ve already seen it happen, but here they are onscreen with a relationship that although complicated, is full to the brim with love and affection. It makes it so much more difficult to see them as friends knowing how their story ends, but that’s really what makes the saga itself so effective. If they had hated each other from the get-go then we wouldn’t really care that Vader killed Obi-Wan, but that’s not the case at all, and so when the inevitable happens, we suffer along with the characters.
At the end of TPM Obi-Wan fulfills Qui-Gon’s dying wish to train Anakin, even going so far as to threaten the Council with disobedience, but we’re left with the knowledge that Anakin was not Obi’s choice. Would he resent his new responsibility to train a boy he didn’t know and had no real connection to, is that what would drive them apart and lead them to the deathly events of A New Hope? But then we see them together at last in the elevator in Attack of the Clones and immediately, the sense of warmth and familiarity sweeps over us. Obi-Wan may not have chosen Anakin and may never have on his own, but he truly loves Ani, and Ani loves him in return.
In this movie especially we see their relationship as Master and Padawan, or rather Father and Son. From the get-go we see Obi-Wan trying to instill wisdom and the Jedi mentality and Anakin bristling under the constant scrutiny. They bicker and push at each other constantly, but beneath it all is the truth that Anakin so easily admitted.
“You’re the closest thing I have to a father.” — Anakin Skywalker
Watching AOTC again as an adult, I see not only the aggravation that Anakin feels at being judged, commented on, and critiqued constantly, but the absolute fear that Obi-Wan feels about Anakin. Obi-Wan knows the members of the Council rejected Anakin, he knows they don’t want him in their ranks and yet they’re forced to accept his presence. He understands that unlike any-other Jedi before him, Anakin has no true allies amongst the Jedi other than himself, and that without him Ani would truly be alone and at the mercy of the Jedi Masters. He respects the Council of Masters as his peers and comrades in the Force, but he truly loves Anakin, and in that love, resides great fear of what will happen to Anakin when he’s no longer protected with Padawan-status.
I think that fear leads him to push Anakin, to constantly keep at him and press his own mentality and character onto his student because that’s the only way he knows to keep Anakin safe. If he could make Ani enough like himself then the Council wouldn’t feel so threatened, they like Obi-Wan, so therefore they would like an Obi-Wan-esque Anakin. But that’s not possible. Anakin’s personality is too set to be changed, and his destiny wouldn’t allow for it anyway. He is who he is and although he respects and love Obi-Wan he doesn’t like the constant strain of always being wrong or being labeled as second-best. He wants to shine, but Obi-Wan is terrified of what will happen if he does. Again, it’s so Shakespearian, Obi-Wan tries to protect Anakin but it only leads to resentment and in effect, drives a wedge between Master and Padawan.
In the end, I think we see a great foundation formed in Attack of the Clones. Anakin and Obi-Wan are almost nothing like we’d expect them to be after seeing the Original Trilogy, they aren’t enemies but rather a small family unit with tangible real-world problems. There’s such an abundance of love between them and it makes the story so much more relatable and heartbreaking knowing that their fates are already set in stone. Obi-Wan will die. Vader will kill him. But for now, they are family, they protect each other and face the same issues all families do – just on a galactic level. But more than anything, there is Obi-Wan’s fear for his Padawan, fear for his son, that one day he will not be there to protect Anakin when he needs to be. And Anakin interprets this fear as any teenager would: as judgement and understandably bristles as being so undervalued. And even here, right at the beginning we see the cracks that are forming around them, setting the Force’s plan into motion. One day Anakin will fall, and not even Obi-Wan’s love will be enough to save him.
Hello my fellow Star Wars fans, I know I usually have the third post of the week up by Saturday afternoon but I’m going to be honest with you… I got the new Star Wars book: Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston and I am HOOKED! Seriously, first page in, I cried. Third page in, I cried again. There’s just so many feels!!!
The story follows Padme and her handmaidens after the events of The Phantom Menace as she leaves behind the mantle and responsibility of Queenship of Naboo and begins her new life as a galactic Senator in the bright media-laden spotlight of faraway Coruscant. Now I’m only halfway through so far, so I don’t know where exactly it ends but judging by the cover I’d say somewhere near Attack of the Clones so that’s pretty darn perfect for my monthly movie timeline!
I’ll definitely have more to say regarding the events and revelations of this book and how it impacts the story we know and the story we only think we know once I finish reading, but I’ll also definitely have my regularly scheduled third post up tomorrow! Between the book and the annual Celtic festival I go to every year, it’s been an wonderfully eventful few days and I am straight up exhausted 😂 Love you guys and thank you for your patience and I’ll see you again tomorrow!
P.S. Have you read Queen’s Shadow yet? WITHOUT SPOILERS…how are you liking it? Let me know in the comments!!!
No man has ever outrun his fate, and no protagonist either. Anakin Skywalker is young, charming, hopelessly in love, dedicated to his commitment to protect the galaxy and its inhabitants, and is an earnest, loving son. He’s gifted with a lightsaber, vivacious and sweet, with a kind heart not often found in such a harsh galaxy. But he is also Chosen.
No matter who he may want to be, what life he may choose for himself, Anakin’s fate is inescapable. It’s wound around his neck like a noose, choking the light, the love, and the happiness out of him as each second passes. With blood and betrayal and death, he will one day bring balance to the Force and thereby bring to an end the warring, unbending factions of the Sith and the Jedi, with their holier-than-thou dogma and uncompromising restrictions. The Force is neither light nor dark, good nor evil — it is the balance of all things and it demands balance in return, and the cost will be nothing less than Anakin Skywalker’s heart and soul.
It all sounds dramatic as hell, but this is a soap opera in space – if the stakes weren’t truly monumental then why would we even care. And we do care, because despite what he becomes later on, we all can relate to Anakin as he is now – young and in love, full of naïve hope that life can truly be all that he wants it to. It’s heartbreaking watching someone strive to do the right thing and make a difference in their environment knowing that no matter what they choose to do, one choice will never be theirs to alter.
AOTC opens with an attack on Senator Padme Amidala’s life, an act that brings a nervous and frantically excited Anakin Skywalker, now a Jedi Padawan-learner, back into her life. He’s older, more mature and handsome, and she’s as beautiful and defiant as ever. Immediately we all know where the story is going, but there’s a catch: one day, however far in the future, Anakin will become Vader… He will fall to the dark side and although we don’t yet know how or why or what the scope of that actually looks like yet (back in 2002), we know eventually he ends up alone, deep in space, scarred and mutilated, and encased in machinery. So, we’re left wondering… what happens to Padme? What happens to this love we see blooming? How can it all go so wrong?
“I’ve thought about her every day since we’ve parted…” — Anakin Skywalker
It’s hypnotic and disturbing to fall in love with a couple knowing that their future cannot possibly be bright. Their days in the sun are numbered and they don’t even know it yet. Every look, every thought, every gentle touch is one less that they had a moment ago – but we can’t help but to fall for them, just as they fell for each other. In the cool and isolated lake country of Naboo, Padme and Ani are given a handful of beautiful moments and memories before the twisting of the knife begins anew and Anakin is drawn further down the path of fate, this time unleashing his hate and destruction upon a limited populace in retribution for his mother’s stolen life. It’s only a taste of what’s to come but it’s a stark contrast to the waterfall picnics and candlelit dinners of just moments ago. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and it’s there to remind us – and Anakin – that his life is not his own. No matter what we may want for him, Anakin is not ours to save, and he is not his own to govern.
“You’re not all powerful, Ani.” — Padme Amidala
“Well I should be. Someday I will be. I will be the most powerful Jedi ever — I promise you. I will even learn to stop people from dying!” — Anakin Skywalker
The truth is Anakin was born a slave, and although he escaped physical bondage on Tattooine after the events of The Phantom Menace, he remained a slave to the will and desire of the Force until the day he died. And no Star Wars film better encapsulates the inevitability and inescapable nature of Anakin’s destructive fate than Attack of the Clones because in the end, the entire film is a love-letter to a life that could have been, to a love that could have lasted. It’s a collection of beautiful, haunting memories of a life that never truly got the chance to choose and a love that was doomed before it even began.
With one month down and The Phantom Menace now behind us, I settled in to re-watch Star Wars Attack of the Clones yesterday afternoon. It had been a little while since I had seen this one and in some ways it felt like I was watching it again for the first time.
When it first premiered in May of 2002 I was in the soaring upswing of my complete and utter adoration/fascination/obsession of all things wildly romantic – I was about to be 13 and dramatic flair was my middle name. All these years later I’ve never really come down off that high of loving impossible romances. Yes, they’re unrealistic ideallic fantasy-dreams that don’t exist in the real world, but there’s still something about them that sucks me in. And at 13 everything seems possible – and plausible – so the more dramatic and impossible the love story, the more I adored it. Needless to say, when episode II hit theaters, I was MESMORIZED.
Attack of the Clones was everything I needed Star Wars to be at that time of my life, it was lush and beautiful, with sweeping scenes of waterfall picnics and sunshine-drenched lake houses. Padme’s clothes were to-die-for and the addition of a purple lightsaber just was sheer perfection. Add to that, Anakin was suddenly attractive – something I didn’t even know to expect – and he was in love with Padme and it was a forbidden love, which just made it all the better! My young heart beat to the tune of the Anidala theme my friends, and I never looked back. I was a shipper before I knew knew what shipping was and for me this installment was a love story plain and simple, and love stories were my bread and butter.
But watching it now almost twenty years later, what really struck me this time first and foremost wasn’t the actual love story –although it is still epic – but rather Anakin’s attitude during the first half of the film. When I think of Ani now, having seen the entire saga, I often picture the Jedi Knight in episode III, the closed-off, near-drowning man who can’t find the light to save himself. Or maybe the happy little boy winning the big pod-race and believing that all his dreams will come true. But this Anakin, this teenaged AOTC Anakin, struck me this time around as such a forgotten gem of a person. He comes across as sullen and argumentative and is therefore automatically panned as being a classic teenage whiner but that’s only when he’s in the company of Jedi. He’s spent the last ten years being told to contain his nature, to submit to the Jedi’s way of life and for someone who is so emotionally mature and expressive, it’s no wonder he chafes at such restrictive and harmful instruction. But the moment Padme enters his life again, all that meaningless chatter and chastisement visibly melt away and he is again that boy from the desert who can’t help but speak the truth.
“Ani? My goodness, you’ve grown.” — Padme Amidala
“So have you, grown more beautiful…” — Anakin Skywalker
Anakin has always been portrayed as highly emotive, especially in the previous film, what he thinks and feels he says, and he has no qualms about expressing to someone that they’re important to him. His honesty and openness are originally commendable but now set against the restrictive nature of the Jedi code – with their aversion to attachment and expression of emotions – is suddenly portrayed as wrong as we see it that way as well. He is chided and ridiculed by Obi-Wan for his display of obvious feelings, but it’s not in Anakin to lie. Not yet. There is still too much of his mother in him, too much of her teachings and love and wisdom to be beaten down completely by dogmatic rhetoric.
That’s why very time Anakin is with Padme he finds himself speaking his most inner absolute truths – things that most people would blush at or feel too embarrassed to speak aloud. Because she is not Jedi, and because he knows that somehow she understand him and he needs her to know the truth while he can still say it. He explains his love for her, his admiration and respect for Obi-Wan as well as the crippling frustrations with his Jedi training. It’s like he cannot help himself. Every time he speaks to her, the truth overwhelms him. After ten years of being encouraged to lock his old self away, and not give in to emotion or his own instincts, the real Anakin is dying to be recognized, to be understood. Even at his darkest, he hides nothing. It’s incredibly beautiful to watch, but painful at the same time. Painful because honesty is actually frightening for most people and because it’s as if Anakin’s spirit is trying to purge itself of the last ten years of repressed emotion. He’s unconsciously attempting to shake off the shackles of Jedi mentality, but it’s too late, he’s completely surrounded, his fate is already sealed, and this is the last time we truly get to see Anakin as he was before. His time as Anakin Skywalker is fading fast, and it’s almost like some part of him knows it.
“From the moment I met you, all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought of you. And now that I’m with you again… I’m in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you — I can’t breathe.” –Anakin Skywalker
So after watching AOTC again for what is probably the hundredth time, what I see now is a boy who hasn’t yet been broken. What is often read as awkward and argumentative behavior, is in reality just Ani desperately pushing back against the Jedi’s restrictive nature and seeing Padme again immediately reverts him to his old self. He speaks the truth to her with no shame hampering him and for a short time becomes the person he wants most to be — someone capable of great deeds, and great emotions. Ultimately, he is still the Anakin we met on Tattooine, he is still Shmi’s son – but now time is running out, and the Anakin we know and love is coming nearer and nearer his final fatal destiny.