Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Anakin And Watto Meet Again

In AOTC, Anakin returns to Tatooine to find his mother, Padmé and Artoo in tow.  He is disobeying his orders to remain on Naboo with Padmé and she goes along ostensibly to make sure he’s not “technically” in trouble, but of course it’s also because she is in love with him.

Anakin first finds Watto in Mos Espa.  Watto, wearing a nifty hat, at first doesn’t recognize his former slave.  The odd thing about their meeting is Anakin first addresses him in Huttese and helps him fix a troublesome piece of what looks like a pit droid.  It seems almost affectionate, as though Anakin is acknowledging that tie with Watto and at the same time is hoping that would remind Watto of who’s addressing him.

Watto realizes he’s speaking with a Jedi and then recognizes that it’s Anakin.  Watto tries to be friendly, even affectionate with Anakin, like an uncle who hasn’t seen his nephew in a long time.  He even has the nerve to ask Anakin for his help to go after some deadbeats.  But Anakin becomes intimidating.  He dispenses with pleasantries (to borrow from his later alter ego Vader) and demands to know where his mother is.  Watto starts to seem uncomfortable as he reveals Shmi was sold.  Anakin speaks softly but his “I’d like to know” is delivered like a Mafia enforcer looking for the guy who owes him protection money.  Watto gets the message and goes to find the location of the Lars homestead.

One amazing thing about this scene is to see how the dynamic between Watto and Anakin changed from TPM to this awkward reunion in AOTC.  Here is one moment in the film where Anakin’s growth into a young man served to his advantage.  He’s no longer Watto’s property; the Toydarian no longer has Anakin’s fate in his hands.  Anakin is tall and casts an imposing figure over his former master.  Plus Anakin is a trained warrior.  The body language and tone of the scene seems to reflect Anakin saying, “You don’t scare me anymore.  I can swat you like the flies all around here.”  This is an empowering scene for him and it’s interesting to note that Padmé is there beside him as this is happening.

At the same time, Watto clearly had some affection for Anakin and in a weird way, Anakin seems to have a teensy-tiny soft spot for Watto as well.  It’s not as though Anakin took out his lightsaber, held it to Watto’s throat, and demanded Shmi’s whereabouts.  Watto had better thank his lucky stars he didn’t encounter Anakin as Darth Vader!

Watto doesn’t get enough credit as an achievement of CGI.  I always found him believable and loved his characterization.  Hayden Christensen does a fine job interacting with Watto and expressing Anakin’s conflicting emotions.

Plus there is the visual feast of Mos Espa, a place teeming with animals, aliens, people, and droids.  There’s something about Lucas’s visuals that make a place come alive.  Mos Espa always make me think of Moebius’s comic art, which served as inspiration for the PT.  Completing it is John Williams’s score reflecting an ancient and exotic culture.


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22 Responses to “Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Anakin And Watto Meet Again”

  1. Artiom Says:

    Great observation!
    This is a powerful scene, as well as the whole Tatooine sequence in this movie.
    Before this scene we see Coruscant, with Jedi Temple and senate, Naboo with the royal palace, and then back to Tatooine to Anakin’s past on the outskirts of the Galaxy – low life comparing to the Anakin’s present life as a Jedi. Encounter with Watto only adds to it (his is the moment when I see how much Anakin grew as a person since the first episode).

  2. Hoggle Says:

    Yep a great re-union and setting.
    I don’t know why the “I’m a Jedi!” & “What do ya Know!” bit from the trailer got cut ( or the trailer bit outside with the niteclub with Obi ) from the movie, it was an extra cool moment that worked great i thought. Also would clue Watto into that Qui-gon was a Jedi after all, DOH!

    Some classical GL character & story shading going on here with Anakin, he accepts that for Watto, selling Shima and her new circumstance, was abit of a puzzle outside his toydarian business sense, much like for Anakin later on as Vader, the reason for the rebellion becomes hard to grasp outside his sense of public duty in helping the Emperor rule the galaxy.

    • Hoggle Says:

      I think it was ‘I’m a Jedi!’….’A Jedi! What do ya know!!!’ that was in the trailers to be abit more accurate in what i was trying to say. It’s a got more of a friendly vibe to begin with i guess.

      So would have been Watto recognised Anakin, & then the exchange, rather than Watto recognising Jedi robes & then Anakin…….’you’re a jedi arn’t you? only a jedi carrys that type of weapon’

  3. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    I’ve always found this scene to be very interesting. Rather emotionally complex. It’s a favorite with my father.

    Watto realizes he’s speaking with a Jedi and then recognizes that it’s Anakin. Watto tries to be friendly, even affectionate with Anakin, like an uncle who hasn’t seen his nephew in a long time. He even has the nerve to ask Anakin for his help to go after some deadbeats. But Anakin becomes intimidating. He dispenses with pleasantries (to borrow from his later alter ego Vader) and demands to know where his mother is. Watto starts to seem uncomfortable as he reveals Shmi was sold. Anakin speaks softly but his “I’d like to know” is delivered like a Mafia enforcer looking for the guy who owes him protection money. Watto gets the message and goes to find the location of the Lars homestead.

    There is one thing about Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Anakin that I have always found fascinating is that I’ve always got the impression that even if Anakin had never became a Sith Lord, he would always be an intimidating figure. It’s interesting that the only descendant who seemed to have displayed any real sign of Anakin’s penchant for intimidation is Leia.

    • Natalie Says:

      For all the flak he gets for being “whiny” Anakin is certainly more intimidating (especially in ROTS) than his grandson (the “horseface” as my husband calls him).

  4. lovelucas Says:

    FWIW – Doesn’t Watto say “what do ya know” as he mimics a boxer? It’s part of his charm. Re Anakin showing the tiniest flick of affection towards Watto – I’m not seeing that at all….especially the way he repeats Watto – You…..S.O.L.D her? An unwelcome reminder that slaves still have no status – they are property. Anakin’s “I want to know” is a very Vader reaction of intimidation to gain the knowledge he needs of Shmi’s location. Love Tatooine even though Anakin doesn’t. The Homestead is missing in more ways than one in TFA.

  5. Heidi Says:

    I got the sense it was a test for Anakin, to behave as a Jedi should and show compassion when Watto took so much from him. He could have handled the situation much differently but he didn’t and I think kudos to him because it was an important moment in life and to adulthood. It’s too bad that so shortly after that he takes a step back at the Tusken Camp.

  6. Eduardo Jencarelli Says:

    Speaking of Star Wars and Lucas’ visual imagination, James Cameron manages to be candid regarding the issue.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      LOL at Indie Wire’s spin.

    • Heidi Says:

      Haha, more reason to love Cameron. I’m way more excited for his Avatar films then the never-ending SW installments.

      Of course they have to get Cameron’s opinion on the new SW films because they’re slated to land in the December months which is the same month chosen for the Avatar releases. Reporting media want’s some sort of showdown for the two franchises.

    • andywylde77 Says:

      Ah this is very interesting with Cameron’s opinion. I just noticed it this morning and I read through the comments and just as the hands of the clock keep turning, the whiny ***holes came out of the woodwork. The usual whining followed. Because Cameron didn’t praise TFA to the skies, he was met with a barrage of ignorant drivel.

      And of course anyone that seen negativity in Cameron’s words then brought up how Avatar sucks and the PT sucks. See this is really beyond the realm of normalcy here. This isn’t about films anymore. This is some kind of sick and twisted competition. Which is better? TFA or the PT? Avatar or TFA?

      What kind of garbage is this? I personally don’t care which movie or series is “better” but now that is all these franchises are about. So now when someone gives their opinion, their reputation, work etc. get dragged through the slime pits of the internet. No matter where one looks or reads about opinions of TFA, for some odd reason the PT has to be brought into the discussion to quell the criticisms of TFA. Why? Why can’t this movie be discussed and criticized on its own merits? I personally don’t think it can. To me it was pure rehashed trash with an I.O,U. letter attached that said, “we promise you something more original in the next film.” But that is just me.

      Though as the months push on since the release of TFA, I have been personally detaching myself away from the “new generation” of SW fans. This new breed of fans are a pretty cynical bunch. They care more about box office totals than characters and story. They have a penchant for believing their own BS and BS spewed by others. With trash such as:

      “Well they needed to rehash so the could bring back old fans”
      “They will do something more original in the next films because they had to re-establish the franchise.”

      I mean I have read stuff like this and even more stupider stuff to the same effect and it is actually starting to make me physically sick when I do. I know this franchise is in serious trouble. I seen the writing on the wall ever since “the sale” This new era of SW is being constructed on tears and soiled diapers of whiny fan boys and girls for close to 2 decades worth. I don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel unfortunately.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        And here comes my next post.

      • Hunk a Junk Says:

        “This new era of SW is being constructed on tears and soiled diapers of whiny fan boys and girls for close to 2 decades worth.” And there it is. Truth. I’ve always admired Cameron, but this just reinforced my appreciation.

      • andywylde77 Says:

        Yes I feel the same way about Cameron now as well. I always appreciated his work. I was happy that he stepped up for Lucas on this. But what he said really was a truth that many know and many others are unwilling to accept. But a lot of reactions I seen about his statements are being met with bashings of Avatar. I don’t get it. They cry that Cameron and Lucas were worried about pushing the envelope on special effects. Well they were worried about more than that and secondly, someone had to push to progress the field of SFX, right? SFX just don’t evolve on their own.

        I swear dealing with some of these people has given me Agita. Funny how some of the folks cry about how the new SW films “will make people forget about the PT” How can anyone forget about the PT when the people that hate them can’t stop whining about them?

    • Hoggle Says:

      It’s a good point.
      I’m curious about the Avatar sequels. I was not interested in the first Avatar but depending on the context created by the sequels could be.

      That’s the thing about a series, a standalone entry that one doesn’t like of finds really lacking in someways, has the potential to become an episode one gets fond about in a different way to the mainstays of why one might of gotten interested or drawn into a series.

      The six middle earth extended films are like that for me & probably one of the biggest example of that can be, elements that turned me off in it’s later entrys i now find more endearing in a stylistic type of cinematic form & story elements that i didn’t appreciate now have greater contextual oversight in color/ tone etc

      • Heidi Says:

        I’m just curious if you’ve seen the deleted scenes for Avatar? I watched them recently and I realized Cameron has much more in mind for his creation then what could be told in one film alone. The deleted scenes actually changed my first take on Avatar, it brings more to the table and gives a glimpse of what will come in the upcoming installments.

        I was a casual fan at first, my sister introduced me to the movie 3 years after it’s release (I wasn’t even aware of what ‘Avatar’ was in 2009, I was living under a rock). I enjoyed it, but overtime my appreciation has steadily increased. My admiration for Cameron and his patience to tell a good story with the tech that he’s waited for, not to mention the sure guts it takes to film four movies at once is ridiculously admirable. And whether the movies are hit’s or not, he said he wanted to make a movie that he would want to watch, Avatar is his baby and will probably be his last movies… but he’s happy with that.

        I can’t help but appreciate Avatar than much more now but the deleted scenes (mostly, the Na’vi culture that was cut) really solidified my opinion, because I love cultures. And people groups like the Polynesians (a heavy inspiration) don’t make appearances too often in films. The first movie makes my mouth water for a sequel because of what I know now.

      • Hoggle Says:

        Heidi, no i havn’t, the only bits of Avatar i have seen are from when in elec. appliance type shop & it playing on the tvs.

        I know it has an extended edition, & have seen some comments that could be along the lines that the first film was as much a shared universe type of tale as it was an introduction sort of thing.

        Hopefully they can pull off imaginative effect blockbuster thrillrides, wth interesting & fun thematic thready narrative type extendeds all going well to get as much out of the project as possible.

        Something impressionistic like ‘Cirque Du Soleil Worlds Away’ except with alot more narrative journeying over 3 or 4 films would be pretty darn amazing.

  7. Jonathan Edney Says:

    I watched the whole interview with James Cameron and it is quite amazing how much sense comes out of his mouth and is swiftly ignored by many of the comments. People say ‘oh yeah because Avatar was original, wasn’t it?’ but the biggest thing that James Cameron said about FA was its lack of ‘visual imagination’ compared to the GL saga films. If any film director working today can make a statement about visual imagination, it is James Cameron because Avatar (as well as his other films) had it in abundance even if its story followed the basic structure of ‘man introduced to new culture, ends up loving it and defending it against his own kind’ seen in Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves etc. He brought something new to the table with the pioneering technology (3D and motion capture), just as the original Star Wars basically retold The Hidden Fortress but created a new universe to tell that story in. George Lucas and James Cameron are both filmmaking pioneers who also recognise the virtues of old-school filmmaking, Cameron here talks about how he wishes there was more beauty in cinema and he’s right: that’s what makes the 6 Star Wars films and the Middle-earth films special is that they have these moments that savour the world that has been created on screen and FA lacked that for me, its only real moment of beauty was when Rey saw trees for the first time and even that was conveyed through dialogue rather than just showing wonder or maybe also when Rey is introduced and the Rey’s Theme music plays over that ‘trailer shot’.

  8. jayoungr Says:

    Cover fire?

    “The comment skirts an incredibly fine line, managing to call the prequels visually imaginative, but not necessarily calling them good…”

    Because calling the prequels good would immediately signal that Cameron’s opinion was worthless?

    • lazypadawan Says:

      That’s what I meant by Indie Wire’s spin.

    • andywylde77 Says:

      Yes that is basically what is happening with Cameron’s opinion now. For those that don’t agree with that opinion are saying things like “well what does Cameron know?” or “Cameron’s a hack for Avatar and shouldn’t be saying anything about TFA”

      Yeah it is pretty sad the new lows that get reached by some folks.

  9. Natalie Says:

    The thing about Cameron is that while I felt Avatar (and Titanic) had cliched plots they certainly provided an amazing visual experience – something that’s severely missing in today’s blockbusters. I only saw Avatar once but the imagery has stayed with me while all the Marvel movies have already faded. On top of that, Cameron is not afraid of worldbuilding or exposition. At this point, I’m more interested in Avatar sequels – I just hope the story is going to be more original this time around.

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