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RotS thoughts - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
RotS thoughts
Phew. I knew my fannish soul would wake up on time. It cut it close, mind you, but around five minutes to nine last night, I blinked at the computer screen and said, "Wait a minute--I'm not in the last SW opening night line ever. What's up with that?" So I scurried out of work at closing and found a ticket to a 12:45, did my time in line, and saw the flick on opening night. Of course, I seem to have developed a raging headache from the time (and a sneaking suspicion that I need new contacts), but oh well.

Good stuff.
This was a stunning movie. Visually incredible, lots of breakneck action sequences, and neat critters. I can't fault Lucas's craftsmanship (well, his design department's) on anything. This is a very completely designed galaxy, and I never had the feeling that turning a corner would take me onto a sound stage. Also, I want Padmé's apartment.

Most of the things that annoyed me in the novel are cut, leaving canon in really good shape. These included any and all Othello riffs, a character making any statement about "what it all meant" (Yoda's little speech in the book, while perfectly true to the themes, was jarring because it seemed out of place to hear a character say, "And the moral of the story is..." since the SW morals are not generally difficult to pick up.) I'm even glad they cut the snarky Vader line--"Garbled communication. He meant you'd be left in pieces"--not because it wasn't a halfway decent bit of snark, but because the tone would have been wrong, and besides, Vader's snark ability is very limited. The only time we see it at all is after someone he kills is dead (Captain Needa), and then it's only brief ("Apology accepted"), not a planned insult. Vader is not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, working on puns to use before a kill.

Hayden Christensen gives a terrific performance, managing to get most of the character's complex psychology across.

Yoda rocks, even if he did give the galaxy's worst counsel about the prophetic dreams.

Mace's mistake in leaving Anakin alone rather than taking him along for the arrest of Palpatine was infuriating, but perfectly in line with the character and the general practices we've seen, so it came across as perfectly organic, even while I was saying, "YOU IDIOT!"

The "Order 66" sequence couldn't have been done better by anyone. It was brilliant. And I liked the plotting that got them there, as the Jedi increasingly had come to rely on their clone backup even though they knew better.

Obi-Wan told Anakin that he'd loved him. Good on you, Obi-Wan. :chucks Obi-Wan's chin: Better late than never, and it probably stayed in Anakin's mind over the years and helped him retain his sense of himself and of good.

The scarring of Palpatine was excellent. I think I like it better than the book's take, where he revealed that he'd really looked like that all along (though that interpretation is still possible--Mace could have knocked his glamors away).

Tatooine shot. Yay.

Much room is left for fanfic. I was quite nervous that Lucas would tie things up too neatly, but he didn't. Since there's never going to be any more actual canon (just books and apparently a TV show), we now know everything we need to know, and there's plenty of wiggle-room for just about anything. (See below.)

The first thing that struck me in the opening battle sequence was Anakin wanting to go back and help the clones, while Obi-Wan said that they needed to go in and rescue the Chancellor ("They do their job so we can do ours"). Both of them are right, but what interested me about it was that Vader does more or less the same thing in ANH, when he opts out of the command structure and goes out to fight with the troops.

Padmé bringing Obi-Wan to Mustafar unwittingly when she went to save Anakin. That makes the most sense. Oh, and most of their conversation on Mustafar is lovely, very much in tune with the plain old political difference we've heard between them, even though Anakin is quite drunk on power at that particular moment. And of course, for my own reasons, the fact that his goal is apparently to set Padmé up as Empress in place of Palpatine delights me to no end.

Didn't quite work.
For all the talk about "not a dry eye in the house," there were quite a few, including mine, at the end of the movie. Padmé's death was stupid in theory, stupid in the book, and stupid on screen. I was too busy rolling my eyes to worry about them being tear-moistened. Luckily, canon removed all references to her actually being dead, so this can be worked around easily.

The Force-choke--came out of nowhere. It would have made more sense if he had thrown her, as the original rumors were. That would account for the momentary flash of rage better and make more sense of his reaction afterward where he simply can't believe it, because a spontaneous if stupid action would produce that kind of denial, while an action that takes some concentration really wouldn't.

An eensty bit too much cut about the Rebellion. No, I don't care about the war story all that much, but Bail's actions seem odd without some inkling that he was involved in resistance and the organized medical center for non-Imperials just kind of appears, despite having no foreknowledge that there's an organized group forming.

Just... huh.
Not sure about the cut of the fact Palps was the thousand-year-old apprentice in the legend. There's still enough acting reference to it by McDiarmid for it to hold up, but cutting it leaves it non-canonical... is it better to assume thousand-year-old Palps, or better to imagine a line of Sith running for a thousand years? I'm not married to either version, and I think it was a good choice for a cut, because it really doesn't matter all that much, though it was an interesting bit of trivia.

Individual reaction.
Well, this one's my own fault. One of the reviews I'd read mentioned that Yoda looked like a throw pillow when he fought, and I just couldn't get it out of my head, which isn't a good thing.

Fan fiction observations.
Just before Anakin killed the younglings, the boy who speaks to him addresses him by name and approaches him with trust and fondess. This implies pretty strongly that pre-Vader, Anakin had a good relationship with the Temple younglings, which can now be ironically played. It can also haunt him very nicely in Vader stories.

Padmé's "death" is now insanely easy to work around. I planned to to work around it because most of my ficverse involves her being alive, but I expected to have to work harder at it. I mean, even aside from the OOC-ness VictorianFaintingCouch!Padmé, who just can't live without her man. Anakin has a precog dream involving Obi-Wan telling her to hold on, a line which doesn't appear in the actual death scene (unless my pounding head missed it), so that implies there's stuff we didn't see. All references to preparing her body and making it look like she's still pregnant have been removed, so all there is is the obviously fake pregnant body being carried in a casket. We see no funeral pyre, and no one other than Palpatine--in the process of a lie--actually states that she's dead. Literally, all it takes is a paragraph: The casket entered the antechamber where the body would be prepared for the pyre. A small figure stepped out of the shadows, touched the cold hands, and took the tiny japor snippet that rested on them. No one else, after all, would miss it. She looked sideways at her father. "Thank you," she said. "Tell Palo the effigy is beautiful." Then a shot of her going to Alderaan, where she is with Leia, who will then get the canonical memories she has. There is absolutely nothing in canon that would contradict that. I wouldn't start with that premise now, but I also find no reason whatsoever to re-do fics that have her alive. Between the OOC-ness and the weirdness of Leia's memories, it's perfectly sensible. This is no "Misery Chastain slipped into catatonic shot from a bee sting and has been buried alive for a week and must be rescued"; this is just... simple. I'm almost disappointed at how simple it is, though also much relieved at not having to do anything too baroque.

Much, much room for Obi-Wan on Tatooine stories. Yoda even sends him there with a lesson to learn, and Qui-Gon can be worked into the stories... and canonically should be. And, btw, Qui-Gon can be worked into a lot.

Interesting that it's never stated canonically that Obi-Wan and Yoda are the only Jedi survivors, only that no one else had made contact. That leaves room.

Since Yoda knew Chewie directly, it's certainly plausible that Obi-Wan would also know him by ANH and deliberately sought him out. Not necessary, but plausible.

Interesting just how early Vader's desire to commit treason against the Emperor started. Lots of playing room there.

The Padmé-Luke parallels are striking and need exploration.

That's about it.
96 comments or Leave a comment
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: May 19th, 2005 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
My less detailed review goes something like this: the script was dire but the battles were fancy, Yoda is a small green ball of awesome, and now I'm really really excited to see the original trilogy. And then probably read your fic. I was at a 12:01 showing because I think first showings are exciting, and I was with a friend who has been a huge SW fan for years, and she loved it too.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: May 19th, 2005 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to say, Obi-Wan seems to have had the worst possible timing for his dramatic appearance in the doorway. And I kept waiting for him to point out that Anakin's turn to the Dark Side had led him to attack the woman he claimed to be doing it all for, which definitely struck me as the point of the Force-choke scene.

I can see why he didn't. I can see why it wouldn't occur to him to say this, given the way he's been trained, and continuity required that he not actually get through to Anakin. Giving it to the Emperor meant that it sealed the coffin (for a while). But I still kept waiting.
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: May 19th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, I haven't seen it yet. I'll probably see it tomorrow after I get my thyrogen shot, but I read all the spoilers anyway because that's how I am. But what I want to know is, you have Leia saying she barely remembers her mother in movie six and that her mother was always beautiful and very sad. And in this movie Padme dies. How do they reconcile these two points?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2005 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
They don't, which is why I think that having Padmé's death be nothing but an elaborate sham is a perfectly reasonable supposition.
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sreya From: sreya Date: May 19th, 2005 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! I'm so glad you went to see it! One of the few stray thoughts that managed to penetrate during the movie was "I can't believe Fern is missing this, she'd love it so much!"

While I like your take on Padme, I'm having trouble feeling like the movie actually left things wide open for this interpretation. To me, it looked like Lucas meant to say "She's dead", not that she merely fainted. I was taken by the quite Oedipal bit about how Anakin made his own premonitions come true by trying to prevent them. But I do have serious problems trying to fit with the fact that Leia has memories of her in RotJ -- that is my one serious gripe with the film that I'll probably be grappling with for a while.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I know what Lucas was after with it, but since he actually removed the references in canon, that leaves fanfic wide open for a logic invasion. And it leaves it open for him to do it as well.
stardust9121 From: stardust9121 Date: May 19th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi - I've been reading your HP fics for awhile, but I'm not sure if I ever actually commented, and for that I'm sorry. To sum up, I've always enjoyed your writing.

...And because of that, you have also sucked me in to reading SW fic, which I swore I would never do. Well, only yours, at least. ;) And I've very much enjoyed those too.

Interesting that it's never stated canonically that Obi-Wan and Yoda are the only Jedi survivors, only that no one else had made contact. That leaves room.

Now, to me, assuming Obi-Wan and Yoda are the only survivors is the most interesting outcome, for one reason. For all the talk about prophecies and Anakin "bringing balance to the force"...did no one ever stop to consider that the Jedi far, far outnumbered the Sith? What, exactly, was their line of reasoning when they decided that he'd bring balance to the force? Because, if you look at it purely from a dark side/light side numbers standpoint...he kinda did.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, but I don't think that's ever been about numbers... or about dark/light, for that matter. The Dark Side is imbalance. It's more, I think, about the Living Force/Unifying Force dichotomy we hear about in TPM.
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purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: May 19th, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I went to the 12:01 show with my brother, even though I had to be at school this morning at the ungodly hour of 7:45. But it was totally worth it. Very awesome movie, I loved every minute of it. One thing I noticed was the use of Padme to suggest movement of time. First she's still not showing, then showing a little, then very pregnant. I wonder how many fans caught that... I like your theory on Padme's death. I think that Lucas meant for her to be dead, but you're right, it's very easy to write otherwise and honestly, still be in canon. If I ever expand outside of HP fanfic, yours will be the first I try. :-)
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: May 19th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, another thing I really liked. (Sorry for the large number of posts). Yoda's message to Obi-wan about achieving immortality and talking to Qui-gon. So that's what happens when Obi-wan talks to Luke! "Use the Force, Luke" or something like that. Very very cool.
silverhill From: silverhill Date: May 19th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like your thoughts on Padme not really being dead ... however, I don't think it would happen. Bail goes to Alderaan and gives baby Leia to his wife (who, incidentally, looks beautiful and sad) and she seems to be so happy that they've adopted this baby. I don't think that scene would happen if Padme's going to come and reclaim Leia.

I was annoyed at Padme's death because it conflicts so thoroughly with RotJ where they're talking about Leia's real mother.

I like to think there are other Jedi survivors, at least at this point, because Order 66 doesn't quite seem accurate to the description of Vader helping to "hunt down and destroy" the Jedi. The Jedi were mostly destroyed by the troopers. Vader killed the younglings. And there was very little "hunting." Yeah, I can be picky like that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I don't think it would ever happen (of course, since there's no more canon, nothing else is ever going to happen), just that it's a perfectly reasonable position for a fic to take. There's nothing blocking it. And if Lucas did decide, on a whim, to make another trilogy, there would be nothing blocking him from doing it, either. On the mother, though, it would make no sense if she were talking about her adoptive mother, since Luke absolutely specified that he was talking about her "real mother" and in context, that definitely means birth mother... he is, after all, asking her about her birth, not her adoption. I think Lucas has said something about "memories through the Force" (:rolleyes:), so that's what the conversation was supposed to be about... it just makes little or no sense with the dead!Padmé version. Of course, it's a slight shade less complicated than a fake funeral, but actually... a really slight shade, since we've never seen evidence of the Force giving infant memories, and we have seen evidence of people assumed to be dead not being dead.

And, yeah, that's what I'm thinking with possible other survivors.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2005 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Re: The coffin. Does it occur to you that this is a character known for using decoys??

Oh, hell yeah. In all my stories, it's Sabé who gets torched in her place. All I was saying is that we don't even need to posit a decoy corpse. It's just... insanely simple to get around.
leeflower From: leeflower Date: May 19th, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw something a little off about the way Padme was behaving. Overall I really really liked this one, but that bit about Padme bothered me to no end... "she's lost the will to live." Bullshit-- even if we're buying into this 'she doesn't want to live if she's alone' deal, she's got two beautiful kids.

And frankly I've always just seen her as stronger than that. She has hope that there's still good in Anakin, she's going to stick around to try to save him. I agree about the choke as well, but that's no surprise, the way I've been on about it.

So thanks for pointing out the easy way around it... *gleefully grabs up new fannon and gives it a hug.*

I was so, so happy about what they did with Anakin and Obi-Wan's relationship. I'm so glad they showed them getting along, and included all of it about them being like brothers. Because I think that's really what we all expected to see, based on Obi-Wan's OT references to it. I thought their final fight scene was really strong, especially Obi-Wan's line "No, don't try it..." That just seemed very true to me.

Also, VERY glad to see that Anakin's first reaction to Sith!Palpy was "I'm turning your ass in." Again, it made what came later so much more the contrast.

And I have to say, I was braced for nastiness and gore about the attack on the temple, but the bit with the younglings... I seriously covered my eyes because I thought they were going to show it. Someone brought their laptop to the theater with them and played the redemption scene from RotJ right before the ads and previews started, and I'm really glad they did, because it reminded me to keep up hope on the character when I was about to lose it.

I really love Vader... I'm glad they gave his fall the weight and seriousness it deserved and didn't water it down for the kiddies.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, VERY glad to see that Anakin's first reaction to Sith!Palpy was "I'm turning your ass in." Again, it made what came later so much more the contrast.

Oh, how could I have forgotten to mention that? Yes, that was the best. He got there in time, too... if only Mace had let him come along instead of worrying about Palpatine's influence! (I mean, Anakin in action is Anakin not sitting in the Council chamber and brooding about things long enough to really think about it!)

I was actually sorry they put in the youngling murders, because just reading to my f-list, I've seen people going, "Yeah, and that's when I stopped feeling sorry for him"... which kind of blows the point, since Anakin is supposed to be sympathetic through his fall. At the same time, I get why it was done, because hey--people wouldn't buy that he was evil if he just fought people in real combat position, right?
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thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 19th, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Padmé-Luke parallels are striking and need exploration.

Sure, isn't that what you've been saying since TPM? Isn't it nice to be proved right.

Is the stuff about Bail and the early rebellion in the novelisation? I may find it worth buying, if so. I'm quite interested in the genesis of the Alliance. Would you recommend buying it in any case? Hopefully they'll put it in deleted scenes on the DVD. I heard the outfit Padmé's wearing on the poster isn't in it; shame, I was looking forward to seeing how it worked on screen.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2005 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
There are scenes in the novel with Bail and Mon Mothma, but honestly, the novel? Not very well written or emotionally engaging, which is deadly for this particular story. There's a single stylistic device that's very effective... once or twice. Not done every second chapter.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 19th, 2005 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read an interview with Natalie Portman a year or so ago when she said that they'd filmed two alternative endings. I'm willing to bet the unused one was close to your scenario. Shows GL found it pretty hard to kill her off, didn't it?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also that there wasn't any special point to doing so.
chickadilly From: chickadilly Date: May 20th, 2005 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Obi-Wan told Anakin that he'd loved him. Good on you, Obi-Wan. :chucks Obi-Wan's chin: Better late than never, and it probably stayed in Anakin's mind over the years and helped him retain his sense of himself and of good.

Oooh! I had that thought watching it last night. It sort of gives me a whole new take on the scene in A New Hope between them too!
rabidfangurl From: rabidfangurl Date: May 20th, 2005 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
See, I see the opposite. Anakin is the sort to take the idea of love *seriously*. So Obi-Wan saying 'I loved you!' and walking away? Totally and utterly betrays *everything* Anakin believes in. I think it just made him more pissed.
beaustylo From: beaustylo Date: May 20th, 2005 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I just saw it this evening. It was entertaining, the special effects were great, and the plotline is interesting, but to tell you the truth I left the movie thinking that George Lucas would have had a much better movie if he had hired you to write the dialogue.

I've never read Star Wars fanfic or the books, I've just seen the movies. So do you think your response to the movie has been affected by those things? For example, I personally have a problem with the Padme/Anakin relationship. I don't think it's developed or written well enough in the movies to establish either empathy or the feeling of a true everlasting romance. And I think both are necessary to make the cause of Anakin's turn to the Dark Side plausible. But having read the books and fanfic, I could perfectly understand if you may already have a better feeling for that relationship than what has been established in the movies. So I guess what I'm really asking is do you think you would like the movie just as much if you hadn't read fanfic and such?

Make no mistake, I am a Star Wars fan and I very much appreciate and respect the mythology that George Lucas created but I do think he made some mistakes with this movie, not the least of which was not respecting his own original stories enough to leave out the cliches and overly blatant homages to other films in an effort to be funny (unfortunately, at least one of these moments came in a scene which should have been very serious and dramatic). It seems to me that Star Wars is such a cult icon in America that other films should be paying homage to it and not vice versa.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 20th, 2005 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't read the novels (I loathe the SW novels, always have) and I read very little fanfic--I write fanfic, and when I write fanfic, I'm writing what I see in the movies, so no... I don't think that fanfic has had any particular input on how I see it, though the practice of being a fic writer may well contribute to a tendency to automatically make a whole string of assumptions based on the evidence on screen. I love the Padmé/Anakin relationship, and it's one I've written on extensively.

My theory on SW dialogue is that it's ritualized and stiff deliberately. Mark Hamill comments on the DVD that he's always remembered the dialogue from his audition, and I think the reason is that it is profoundly unnatural, and that's what makes it memorable and quotable.
czgoldedition From: czgoldedition Date: May 20th, 2005 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I like your plan to completely bypass the death of Padmé and make it canon. One of the biggest things I was bummed about, having read the novelization; and before that, heard spoiler-rumors of her dying in childbirth, was partially the fact that it would make that lovely scene where Leia recounts her memories to Luke in ROTJ make no sense, but mostly because then it wouldn't work with your fanfictions - particularly 'Father's Heart', because I am endlessly attached to that story. By the time I watched the film, I was resigned to it, and never even thought about the possibility of getting around that fact. Way to beat the system. :D
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: May 21st, 2005 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Those Padmé/Luke paralells. Would you mind pointing them out for me? Not that I don't think they were there, but I just wasn't focusing on that, having only seen the Classic trilogy once.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 21st, 2005 04:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, primarily it was in the insistence to Obi-Wan that there's still good in Anakin, despite appearances. Her rush off to deal with him as a person in the middle of a war, her generally quiet approach, the fact that disagreeing with him doesn't shake her belief in her love for him (or his for her). Those are all Luke's hallmarks. Leia and Anakin, of course, have the whole "I'm going to win this, no matter what it takes" approach, the quick tempers, and the snap judgments.
aerrin From: aerrin Date: May 22nd, 2005 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Now that I've seen RotS, I get to go through old friends posts and see what everyone's saying about it!

I noticed that you love Padme/Anakin (and have written about it?) - I'm curious about that, since Padme/Anakin is one of the things I /completely/ don't get about the movies - I absolutely see why he's devoted to her, but I have a hard time understanding why she's with him. I'd love to hear your thoughts on them, or have a link to older thoughts if you've written them, because they confound me a great deal.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 22nd, 2005 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I have many fics on the subject. :) (As to her digging Anakin... hey, she's a red-blooded gal. I don't get not digging Anakin, so I couldn't begin to address it.)
shezan From: shezan Date: May 23rd, 2005 03:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes! Yes! We need more Padmé fic! This works so well!

And I need more Padmé/Bail. He's scandalously underused in the film, and the glimpse we have of him and Padmé in the Senate, obviously on easy terms, one politician to another, screams for elaboration!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 23rd, 2005 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)
It'd have to be from someone else. I don't mess with married people. ;)
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 23rd, 2005 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
With Yoda's speech patterns, crazy went Lucas.
And I expected better things -- or at least some maternal instincts -- from Padme.

Otherwise, it was my favorite prequel.
jv_mints From: jv_mints Date: May 23rd, 2005 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
'The Force-choke--came out of nowhere. It would have made more sense if he had thrown her, as the original rumors were.'

I recall someone who had read the script (wonderfully accurate, I know) saying that Obi went to check on Padmé after the Force-choke, and then Anakin uses the Force to get her away from Obi, slamming her into a wall...But I could be mistaken.

'the OOC-ness VictorianFaintingCouch!Padmé, who just can't live without her man.'

I agree. I found that her character was pretty much gone, with her whole forming the Rebel Alliance subplot being cut out. Must wait for the director's cut on that one.
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