Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Bye Bye Chancellor Valorum

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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!

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13 Responses to “Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Bye Bye Chancellor Valorum”

  1. Morgan Cherney Says:

    Love how hateboys like to ignore what’s actually going ON in these senate scenes, when they’re perfectly willing to have scenes of people sitting at a desk saying “the imperial senate will no longer be of concern to us. i’ve just received word the the Emperor has dissolved the senate permanently. the regional governors will now have direct control over their systems.” Ahh, hypocracy at its finest.

  2. buick runner Says:

    It’s how the hateboys complain that all the blocking during the talking scenes in the PT are characters sitting down, usually at tables. Yet that is the same blocking GL used in ANH, while most of the blocking in TESB are characters either welding or tinkering with machines.

  3. RK Says:

    All I know is without Hayden Christensen, Prequel 2 & 3 would NOT have been as interesting. He’s one hot guy and those love scenes with Padme are like no other EVER on screen…sexy without being pornographic. When he tells Padme he doesn’t care if everyone knows they are married…WHEW! Holy Moly what a sexy scene!

  4. peacetrainjedi Says:

    You’re right, Ian McDiarmid absolutely killed this scene; his acting is akin to perfection incarnate.

    Anyways, my favorite part of this scene is when Chancellor Zod slumps back down with that defeated, vacant look in his eyes after Amidala, goaded by Palps, drives the knife fully into his back with a vote of no confidence.

  5. M. Marshall Says:

    It’s also silly how everyone pins the blame on Jar Jar for being a pawn of the sith just because he gave emergency powers to Palpatine, yet they forget that it was Padme who brought Palpatine to power in the first place. This scene also came after the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal and now in light of the 2003 California gubernatorial recall of Gray Davis-eerily prophetic. I also like the Eve/serpent reference because in many ways I view Anakin and Padme as Adam and Eve. In episode 2 we see the dinner scene where Padme serves Anakin fruit and Anakin plays with it. Padme is wearing her tight-fitting black dress and the next scene has Anakin declaring his forbidden love for her.

  6. Adam D. Bram (The Nilbog) Says:

    “This is where the Chancellor’s strength will disappear…”
    *slinks out of frame as if on a conveyor belt*

    • RK Says:

      Yeah, I thought Padme was much too naive, especially when she was around Palpatine, the master of manipulation. God I love the 2 prequel films with Hayden Christesen …the more you view them the better they get and the more you see how AMAZINGLY WELL Hayden played Anakin and Palpatine, well he was brilliant. My only wish was that we could have seen Obi Wan and Anakin as they were heavily involved in the Clone Wars. What scenes we saw were stellar and Hayden and Obi Wan handsome like NO other human beings on the planet!! I will NEVER tire of the prequels as well as the others!

  7. Ian Says:

    In a way it makes Phantom Menace a better film. Mostly because it has General Zod in it. Maybe George Lucas is a fan of Superman.

    This may sound crazy but what if Chancellor Valorium was General Zod? That would be awesome!

  8. lovelucas Says:

    It’s hard to blame Padmé Amidala for being manipulated by Palpatine. Everyone was – If Yoda and the entire Jedi Council couldn’t pick up on the deviousness and greedy self promotion, how could she? It was all for “the greater good” – When you hear those words in real life, check out the speaker’s motives…real motives.

  9. buick runner Says:

    I like it when Palpatine looks up as the whole senete chants the vote of no confidence. You can see him thinking, this is it, everything is falling into place now. It is a great scene.

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