Star Words AOTC Part 1

Here’s the first installment of Matril’s look at the significant lines of AOTC:

Now, on its own this line carries a sort of dark humor. We all know that a character should never, ever say there was no danger after all, because that’s the surest way to bring calamity upon your head. Dramatic irony being what it is, the worst possible thing is always going to happen right after you let your guard down. So, we’re all kind of groaning as Captain Typho says it.

But I think the line goes deeper. It’s an indication of where this movie is going to take us. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t assume you’ve figured it all out, because just when you think you have, you’re going to have the rug pulled out from under you. This film, particularly Obi-Wan’s storyline, is going to take us through reveal after reversal after reveal. From Zam to Jango to Kamino to the first mention of “Tyrannus” to Geonosis to Dooku to the Separatists…and then, after you might think everything’s finally explained, we end up going back to Geonosis with Dooku — who turns out to be Tyrannus — who was working for Darth Sidious all along.



6 Responses to “Star Words AOTC Part 1”

  1. Cryogenic Says:

    This “Matril” person you keep quoting from, LP, is really great! Women seem to understand the prequels and give a closer reading than men. Puts Disney’s virtue signalling about making the franchise more “diverse” and “inclusive” in deeper perspective. George already started that project in 1977 and massively intensified it circa 2002. And he wasn’t even trying; he was just a guy telling his story. Anyway…

    I feel I want to quote Matril’s other paragraph here:

    “The opening scene of Episode II begins subverting our expectations immediately, warning us that things are not what they seem. From the camera panning up to Coruscant rather than down, to the reveal that it was a decoy and not Padmé Amidala on the ship, we see that we’re in for plenty of surprises. This is not accidental. The prequels, and Attack of the Clones in particular, are all about the familiar being turned upside-down. Vader is a thoughtful and well-intentioned boy, helmeted troopers are the army of the good guys, the Jedi are far from the infallible sages we thought they were…it’s all topsy-turvy.”

    Aptly expressed; very succinct. And I’m quoting it because I want to plug in another AOTC opening-scene analysis found here:

    “The ships begin spinning around their axes, putting the lie to our idea of up and down. By the second shot, the camera has spun too, and now we descend toward the surface of Coruscant. Right away, this introduces the theme of Attack of the Clones: nothing is what it seems. The Star Wars cycle consists of a tragic half and a comic half (otherwise known as “the prequel trilogy” and “the classic trilogy“), and Episode II is the second act of the tragic half, a time of schemes, subterfuge, and confusion.”

    The author then adds a very sharp observation to the above:

    “Next, in the first of the film’s many stagy interiors that I like to enjoy as intentionally campy allusions to Flash Gordon, a person we only see from behind is addressed as Senator. This makes the first word spoken in this film a lie.”

    I noted some years back that each of the prequels begins (or almost begins) with a character being addressed by their title or rank:

    TPM = “Captain”
    AOTC = “Senator”
    ROTS = “Master”

    Anakin’s ambiguous directive to R2 (“Lock onto him, Artoo”) breaks the pattern slightly in ROTS; while, in AOTC’s case, as Jurgen Fauth notes, that first word is fraudulent. A pattern with a moire ripple to it. I think it’s really cool to observe all the subtle intertwining, twisting, flexing, and subversion at work in these films — a master patchwork. And AOTC, in some ways, a lot of ways (thanks, Anakin), is the exotic, erotic, crazy-quilt installment of the saga. Perhaps, being so digital, spacy, and weird, and for all its epic themes, and clashing between high and low, pulp and the sublime, it is also the most radically realized of all the films. It’s kind of the perception-distorting shield that must be penetrated, you might say, like a good piece of poetry, before the rest of Star Wars can be more deeply apprehended and wrestled with.

    * * *

    Now, back to Matril’s analysis, there is the paragraph segment you quoted, with her noting the maze-like construction of the story: reveal upon reveal, reversal upon reversal. Anakin and Obi-Wan (and, by extension, the Jedi) seem to merely be chasing their own tail in the movie. For instance, they pursue Zam on the first big planetary environment of the movie left-to-right, while similarly pursuing Dooku through the air on the last environment right-to-left. Talk about chasing things in circles. And to underline this reading: They track their prey (they’re rather like bounty hunters — echoing the conception of the clones and the machinations of the separatists) into cave dwellings; Anakin is bossed by Obi-Wan into a supporting role; sabers are drawn and a limb is lost; and the plot merely thickens as their exact goals are eluded and the Sith conspiracy rolls forward beyond their grasp.

    I’ve perhaps described things in a drab, depressing way. But one of the mercurial pleasures of AOTC is that it isn’t a depressing film — and yet, it is! For it’s very ruminative and melancholic; and I think this is something some people find off-putting about it. The opening scene is a great tone-setter and very much a pitched summary of what is to come. I like how Amidala glimpses her own death here. I like how she wears a mask to begin with (Anakin, by contrast, in AOTC, and only AOTC, does not). I like the first close-up being on Artoo. I like how Yoda refers to this scene in the next as Amidala’s “tragedy on the landing platform” — an oblique echo of the tragedy she is fated to experience on the landing platform on Mustafar. I love all the rhymes and resonances. There’s definitely something a bit moody and surreal about AOTC above all the other films.

    And yeah, that shot of a one-eyed (hmm!) Captain Typho, smiling errantly to Amidala. I can almost hear the voice of the Emperor: “Young fool.” There are no happy times here; joy and relief are but fleeting and illusory. Supposedly, Ewan McGregor improvised Obi-Wan’s quip at the end of the opening sequence to Sith: “Another happy landing”. But it’s a pretty nifty call-back to this scene in AOTC. Sad, too, that the more innocent time of TPM is violently effaced by those yellow N-1 fighters tumbling over the edge of the platform. The Queen’s ship, too, took a hit in that movie running the blockade, winding up with a leaky hyperdrive, but it otherwise seemed invincible and inviolable. Not this time. Very ominous start!

    • lazypadawan Says:

      I think AOTC could be summarized as, “You think you know Star Wars? No, you don’t know Star Wars.”

    • Moose Says:

      Great analysis, as always. Your comment about the tragedy on the Mustafar landing platform made me think of something else. Did Padme not say something similar about “no danger” to Typho on another (or maybe the same) Coruscant landing platform when she left for Mustafar?

      • Cryogenic Says:

        Thanks, Moose!!! And good catch. Padme does indeed say to Typho: “I’ll be alright, Captain. There’s no danger. The fighting’s over and this is personal.” Can’t say it’s the same platform, and it’s definitely not quite the same ship (although it bears a neat resemblance), but there’s certainly a striking resonance with that dialogue.

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