Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Qui-Gon’s Funeral

Qui-Gon’s funeral on Naboo is one of those important, fascinating yet kind of overlooked scenes in the saga.

The major players in the prequel trilogy are assembled in a tiny room as they watch Qui-Gon’s body burn on a funeral pyre.  The fire provides the only light in the room as they stand grim-faced, John Williams’s funereal score emphasizing the solemnity of the scene.  (For you trivia buffs, the lyrics are in Sanskrit, as are the lyrics to “Duel of the Fates.”)  Anakin asks Obi-Wan what’s to become of him, and Obi-Wan reveals to the lad that the Council has agreed to let Anakin be trained.  (You’d think they’d bother to tell Anakin sooner.)  It’s interesting to note that in many scenes crucial to Anakin’s fate or to Vader’s, there’s fire present.  This is one of them.  Anakin is officially taking his first steps forward on the Jedi path.

Yoda and Mace Windu mull over Maul; here is where we hear the Sith Rule of Two for the first time.  There is only a master and an apprentice.  Just after Mace Windu ponders aloud whether Maul was the master or the apprentice, the camera focuses on Chancellor Palpatine.  There he is, right under everyone’s nose!   Is it possible he overheard the chatty Jedi?

I always felt like this scene also foretells the fates of everyone in the room.  Only Yoda dies of old age; everyone else dies tragically or violently.  Nobody lives past ROTJ.  Curiously enough it is the death of Qui-Gon that sets those events in motion.

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47 Responses to “Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Qui-Gon’s Funeral”

  1. Jason S. Says:

    “Nobody lives past ROTJ.”

    Well there goes my hopes of Old Man Jar Jar making a cameo in the sequels. 😦

    • James Says:

      I really want this, very badly. Perhaps unlikely but it would be the best reference they could ever make to 123. I really hope they retcon Gungans to be long lived, 900 year old jar jar, the haters would all have heart attacks!

    • Shaman McLamie Says:

      I’d be fine if they did a Jar Jar in carbonite cameo. It’s funny, seems appropriate, and isn’t distasteful.

    • Noah Evans (The Artist) Says:

      (Jason) messa fond yousas’ remark hilarious! But in all seriousness, it would be cool if Jar Jar was frozen for a long time (because of Coke.. I m-mean Snoke’s plans) and gets unfrozen sometime before the events of Force Awakens. That way, Binks can work behind-the-scenes to figure out the “first-order’s” plans. To get to the point, Jar Jar can pull a Barbosa at the end of 8 and be a full time player in 9 (even if he does die, but if so, hopeful in an honorable and respectful but not generic way). However, because of Iger, Kennedy, and Mickey Mouse’s dopperganger, that is unlikely 😦

  2. susanbowes Says:

    Jason is right. Luke and Leia were still alive at the end of ROTJ, but none of the other Jedi survived. (Except for Luke who was the last of the Jedi.)

    As far as Qui-Gon’s funeral – it was one of the most moving parts of the movie. I also loved how we heard Qui-Gon screaming “No Anakin. No!” in AOTC when Anakin killed the Sandpeople. There’s been a few fan-made videos where Qui-Gon speaks to Darth Vader too.

    Makes you wonder what would’ve happened if Qui-Gon had trained Anakin instead of Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon was much more understanding and Anakin would’ve been able to go to him about marrying Padme, whereas Obi-Wan would’ve felt duty bound to tell the Jedi Council. I doubt Anakin would’ve turned to Palpatine as a father figure, nor turned to the Dark Side if Qui-Gon had been his Master.

    • jayoungr Says:

      Eh, I don’t know–Anakin’s biggest problem was the fear of loss, and I don’t know if having Qui-Gon for a master would have cured him of that. It might just as easily have made it worse, if he’d latched onto Qui-Gon as a parental substitute and started to fear losing him as well. And even if he’d been able to be openly married to Padme, that wouldn’t take away his fear of losing her.

      • susanbowes Says:

        I agree with most of what you said about Qui-Gon being Anakin’s Master. And if Anakin had told him about being married there would be no way Qui-Gon would be able to keep the Council from expelling Anakin from the Order. Palpatine would’ve still gained control over him and Anakin still would’ve turned to the Dark Side. Anakin HAD to turn anyway… if he didn’t there would be no Darth Vader and no reason for Lucas to make the prequels. LOL 🙂

      • jayoungr Says:

        True, as you say, Anakin HAD to turn. 🙂 Also, Qui-Gon’s death makes one more person he’s lost, so he holds onto Padme that much harder.

        It is interesting that he didn’t seem to fear losing Obi-Wan, though! Especially since I do accept them as friends in the movies and ST:TCW really fleshes out a good relationship between them, even if they don’t always see eye to eye. I wonder why that is…

      • susanbowes Says:

        I don’t wonder why they didn’t see eye to eye at all. Obi-Wan kept Anakin at arm’s length, never truly accepting him. He never wanted to train Anakin and only did so because he promised Qui-Gon that he would. Personally, I think Obi-Wan was jealous over Qui-Gon’s attachment to Anakin and that he wanted to take Anakin on as his new padawan learner, although Obi-Wan was more than anxious to move up in rank himself. There’s more too, Obi-Wan never truly gave Anakin the encouragement he needed while training him, belittling him all the time, especially in front of Padme. He never really trusted Anakin either and of course Anakin sensed it. Obi-Wan and Anakin friends? I think not.

      • jayoungr Says:

        *shrug* I can only say that your view of their relationship is much more negative than mine. Their banter in AOTC and early ROTS, plus the more detailed scenes in ST:TCW, convince me that they have a good relationship. It looks to me like most of the friction in AOTC comes from Anakin’s very typical teenage feeling of chafing against parental restrictions and wanting to do his own thing.

      • susanbowes Says:

        First of all – when I discuss Star Wars it’s only the movies I’m talking about, not the TV shows, other spin-offs, books, EU, nor anything else involving the saga.

        Secondly – Yes, a lot of Anakin’s anger came from being a teenager in AOTC, but it also stems back to when Qui-Gon first took him from Tatooine – having to leave his mother behind, Obi-Wan not accepting him even then, (Why do I sense we’ve picked up another pathetic life form?) I’m sure Anakin must’ve felt Obi-Wan’s disapproval even then.

        I could go on an on about my reasoning, but I doubt I can make you understand my interpretation of Obi-Wan’s and Anakin’s relationship. It’s much more complex than what most people can see and you have to more or less “read between the lines.”

      • jayoungr Says:

        Yes, I tried to make it clear that TCW just expanded on what I was already seeing, rather than giving me a new view.

        The good thing about reading between the lines that that different people see different things there. Which I think lets us both see what we see. 🙂

      • susanbowess Says:

        Your right about people seeing things differently. People can see a car accident and give 50 different versions of what happened. Movies are seen the same way. How you feel about a scene all depends on your own point of view.

  3. Edward Diego Says:

    I always liked the camera pan over to Palpatine. A nice notion of things to come. Lucas should have included a shot of Palpatine looking over to Anakin – just for second or two. That would have been awesome.

    One thing makes the scene somewhat creepy for me – they are standing next to burning body. The smell must be horrible! Do they have somekind of an odor-force-field in that chapel?

    • Hoggle Says:

      I’m pretty sure they commonly use a special type of fire in the galaxy for funeral pyres all around the galaxy, one of the main exporting sources being Mustafar, & that’s what……oh shut up me….ok 😷

    • susanbowes Says:

      I agree with you that Lucas should’ve had Palpatine look over at Anakin – a little preview of things to come. 🙂

      As far as the funeral pyre – standing so close to a burning body would smell quite a bit, but it was the Jedi tradition to cremate their dead and they were probably standing downwind from the smoke – or it would be something they’d tolerate in order to honor the deceased.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      I’ve wondered about this myself for 17 years, heh heh.

    • Michael Says:

      The focus pull in that shot is killer. Just really, really smart filmmaking.

    • Steve Bragg Says:

      Guess you forgot he already had that scene where Palpatine said he will be watching Anakin’s career with great interest.

  4. Jacobesico Says:

    It’s a very powerful scene and as stated above, the camera focusing on Palpatine is genius.

  5. Noah Evans (The Artist) Says:

    Having read some of the comments and even took thought into it the many times I have watched, this scene adds to why Qui-Gon’s death is more heartbreaking than Obi-Wan’s …and I do mean it, every time Qui-Gon dies in front of me, I mean when watching Phantom Menace, I am sad on the inside. Having watched A New Hope again recently, I do see how forlorn Obi-Wan’s death is. However, we got to know Qui-Gon a lot more in 1 than Obi-Wan in 4, so there is more attachment as well. I do wonder though how Obi-Wan’s death is seen by kids (or anyone of any age) who has or will watch the films in story order from 1-6 (or 1-9, or 1-9 and spin-offs included).

    • Jacobesico Says:

      Qui-Gon’s such a warm character that his death gets me as well.

      I was a little kid (about 7) when I saw TPM in the Cinema and I cried when Qui-Gon got stabbed and a couple of my friends cried as well.

      With Obi-Wan, he kept appearing as a Force Ghost in Episodes 5 and 6 so it’s not so bad but you just hear Qui-Gons voice in Episode 2 and he is mentioned in Epiosde 3 but that’s it.

      I sure got major feels when Liam Neeson came back as Qui-Gon in The Clone Wars. It’s just a shame that we didn’t hear Qui-Gon’s voice in Episode 3.

      • Cristian Martinez Says:

        The only reason why Ewan McGregor even would appear in the next episodes is because Alec Guiness is dead, and they didnt find a creative solution to use his voice and his imagine without appearing to be more a rip-off than already is, if he was still alive, they would have throw McGregor under the bus like did with the entire cast of the Prequels.

      • susanbowess Says:

        I don’t doubt that at all. Even Lucas distanced himself from Hayden after all the haters said he ruined Star Wars. That’s one of the reasons I could never get into The Clone Wars animated series on TV. They had just about every character look and sound like the real actors, except for Anakin. (Hayden) I doubt very much that the rumors about him being in Episode 8 are true too, although I think his Force Ghost would add a lot to the new movies. They could have him help Luke train Rey. That’s my opinion anyway.

      • Noah Evans (The Artist) Says:

        Thanks for bringing my chin up and my eyes in focus… the points about Obi-Wan’s ghost and Qui-Gon’s absence contributes to the point. Speaking of ghosts, I always like seeing fan-edits of Qui-Gon’s spirit showing up it the final shot of Return of the Jedi.

  6. timontatooine Says:

    Such a great and emotional scene for me. Qui-Gon is my absolute favourite Jedi of the saga, and – despite only appearing in one movie – my third-favourite character overall, which I think speaks volumes for George and Liam’s marvelous work in bringing this rich character to life. As much as I consider TPM the most gleefully light-hearted and most pure “fun” entry of the saga, for me Qui-Gon’s death is second only in tragedy to Revenge of the Sith. In my opinion it’s also a hugely instrumental point in Anakin’s ultimate fall to the Dark Side, one which I think is often overlooked in that capacity. The funeral score is incredible, and that pan over to Palpatine leading into the victorious rendition of the Emperor’s Theme… pure brilliance. Alas, I fear this kind of magic may just be gone from Star Wars for good now.

  7. ctrent29 Says:

    Eh, I don’t know–Anakin’s biggest problem was the fear of loss, and I don’t know if having Qui-Gon for a master would have cured him of that.

    I’ve noticed that most of the Jedi had a same problem – namely fear of loss. It was this fear that led Obi-Wan to attack Maul in a state of rage. And it was this fear that led both him and the Jedi Council members to make some erroneous decisions regarding this fear of losing the Order. This is one of the reasons why I believe they never really knew or learned how to let go of attachments.

    I think the question is . . . did Qui-Gon, who was the Jedi’s odd-man-out, share this same fear?

    According to Wookiepedia and an EU novel, Jar-Jar’s son fought with the Rebel Alliance. I don’t know if this is still canon.

    • susanbowess Says:

      YES! Finally somebody who understands that the Jedi were fallible. They made mistakes just like everyone else. However, when it comes to attachment, I believe most didn’t understand the term fully. Padawans were taken from their families when infants so they really couldn’t (or weren’t allowed) to form loving bonds with anyone, supposedly even their Masters. But most still latched onto their Masters like father figures.

      I think that’s one of the reasons that Obi-Wan never really formed a close bond with Anakin, even though he claimed otherwise. I think he was jealous over Qui-Gon’s attachment to Anakin and maybe even jealous about Anakin being the Chosen One. He loved Qui-Gon like a father, not wanting to share that love with Anakin. And as you mentioned, his love for Qui-Gon was why he went after Maul with such vengeance.

      The mandate that wouldn’t allow Jedi to fall in love was only good to protect them from the Sith using that love against them. (Palpatine using it to trap Anakin) Everyone needs to love and be loved, even little green aliens.

  8. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    Although Anakin and Obi-wan managed to form a close bond, I suspect that Qui-Gon’s ghost may have tainted their relationship throughout the years.

    The mandate that wouldn’t allow Jedi to fall in love was only good to protect them from the Sith using that love against them. (Palpatine using it to trap Anakin)

    What is ironic about the whole thing is that Palpatine’s scheming regarding Anakin and Padme tripped him up some twenty years later.

  9. lovelucas Says:

    Great call on the fire connection, LP. It’s there but somehow I never put it all together. FWIW and this is my opinion: Obi-Wan would never be jealous of Anakin. Never. That’s not who he is at all. He loved him like a brother…. and perhaps that is the weakness because Obi-Wan had form an attachment…to Anakin.

    • susanbowess Says:

      We all have different opinions about SW, especially about how noble a Jedi Master everyone believes Obi-Wan was. But if you really pay attention to the prequels from PM to Revenge, you’ll hear Obi-Wan’s mistrust of Anakin come out – more than once I might add. He may have convinced himself (and apparently most fans) that he loved Anakin like a brother, but I “read” him differently. My opinion of course.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        I think Obi-Wan genuinely loved Anakin. Obi-Wan though was loyal to the Order and its ideals and that always came first. It was his whole life after all. There might have been some lingering questions on whether Qui-Gon was right but I think Obi-Wan got over the initial “holy cow I’m being replaced” reaction he had in TPM.

      • susanbowess Says:

        It all depends on one’s point of view I guess. You should read Jude Watson’s series about Anakin when he was training at the Jedi Temple. Her stories delve deep into their relationship.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        I read that whole series. I go by what’s in the films.

      • susanbowess Says:

        I usually go according to the movies too, especially in my fanfiction. I tried to stay as close to the films as possible, particularly Lucas’ ideals, but I did adopt some of Jude Watson’s theories about Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship in my story. However, most discussions about SW in this group, and other SW sites, generally include the EU, etc. when talking about the continuation of the saga – even though they were thrown out by Disney. Regardless of that, we’ve all developed our own theories about SW.

  10. lovelucas Says:

    Adding this – The music for the funerals of both Qui Gon and Padmé is the same. That’s another reason for tears in RotS.

  11. Eduardo Jencarelli Says:

    As I predicted, Force Awakens didn’t take home a single Oscar category. Mad Max swept the floor on every technical category, and Morricone took a well deserved best score award.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Oh well, there’s always the MTV Movie Awards!

    • Bob Clark Says:

      Mad Max deserved best director, too.

    • Hunk a Junk Says:

      And because Not-Lucasfilm doesn’t need to suck up to the Academy to try to win a visual effects Oscar any more, those spiffy effects breakdown videos showing the massive amounts of CG in the film will conveniently be forgotten and the filmmakers can go back to pretending that they only used practical effects again. Because at Not-Lucasfilm, it’s all about spin and recycling old ideas now.

      • Cristian Martinez Says:

        To be honest I didn’t want that Force Awakens gain an Oscar for best movie or even best script, because that would be the last nail in the coffin of the Star Wars universe, and what it used to be, world building and flawed characters, gaining those Oscars would be insult to everything that Star Wars represent and a major win for the stupidity that the Original Star Wars fans have been pushing for years, that the nostalgia is so strong and powerful that even blind the old crones of the jury of the Oscars awards.

    • Jacobesico Says:

      I think that that is for the best.

      It almost restores my faith in humanity.

      • lovelucas Says:

        Of course there’s a “SW was robbed” going on – more level heads to respond that TFA was not Oscar worthy….in any category. Initially some were predicting a win in score but the music is not Williams’ best..not even close.

  12. Falcongunner Says:

    And talking about the score…After much thought and listening, I wonder if the reason that this is the most atypical Star Wars score is because John Williams wasn’t exactly inspired by what he saw on screen? I mean, he’s seen and done this before only then it was for a much more talented and creative artist.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      I have a theory about the score (of course, people who loved it might disagree). One issue is Williams’s age and health. I think this may very well be the last film he’ll score and it’s entirely possible someone else had to help him complete it. The other issue is how Abrams uses music versus Lucas. Lucas uses music to help tell the story and therefore the music and the scenes they underscore are given a great deal of importance. They are also why that music was so memorable. The themes stick in your head, often from the first time you hear them. There are stretches of the six films where the score is literally doing the talking. Abrams on the other hand uses film music pretty much the same way nearly every other mainstream contemporary filmmaker does: as background. It’s there but it isn’t all of that noticeable or memorable. Williams is a great composer but as a film composer, he is reliant upon the vision of the filmmaker. If the filmmaker wants background mood music, that’s what we the audience are going to get. The third issue is that this is the first score without the LSO, and the L.A. guys’ sound isn’t as lush. The LSO has a unique sound that cannot be fully replicated.

      • jayoungr Says:

        I like your comments about Lucas vs Abrams; I hadn’t thought of that. It may be the reason why I liked the score for TFA much better after I listened to it on its own, without the movie.

      • susanbowess Says:

        Even though not as moving as the scores for PM to ANH, it’s true that if you listen to individual songs from TFA without watching the movie, they’re much better.

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