Okay, so that’s not the actual chapter name on the DVD but you get the idea. Yet again this is a scene that doesn’t depend on action or lots of visual effects, though of course effects are present in creating the cavernous Senate chamber filled with a dizzying number of representatives. It is a pivotal moment in the film because it is perhaps Palpatine’s biggest chess move on screen. Queen Amidala is subtly manipulated in a prior scene into believing (rightly or wrongly) that Valorum is a dud and corrupt. She gives an impassioned speech about the illegal occupation of Naboo by the Trade Federation and demands the Senate do something about it. Palpatine whispers in the young queen’s ear like the serpent whispering to Eve, continuing to manipulate her as Valorum confers with his staff. When Valorum decides to address this urgent situation with a committee, Amidala loses it. Padmé doesn’t show anger very often in this trilogy–she’s probably ranks just behind Aunt Beru as the least angry character in the saga–but she’s thinking, “Palpatine was right.” And then she kicks off a vote of no confidence against who had once been an ally, a vote that succeeds.
This was a nice piece of political drama, complete with emotional speeches and galactic-history-changing moments captured almost like a C-SPAN broadcast. Except C-SPAN wishes it was even that interesting. Ian McDiarmid kills it like he always does, coming across as a trustworthy mentor and insider. It’s not as though Palpatine wasn’t totally inaccurate about the state of the Senate and Valorum’s strength as a leader. Through the use of a fourteen-year-old girl, Palpatine gets to own ol’ General Zod! I also think this was one of Natalie’s best moments in the film, even as she had to act with a headpiece that weighed about as much as she did! Plus, the E.T.s in the audience!