Archive for the ‘What I Love About The Prequels’ Category

What I Love About The Prequels: Chris Seekell

May 18, 2011

“I saw the Original Trilogy as a four year old a few years before the special editions were released. I never saw the originals when they were re-released, but I loved watching them on VHS and playing with the toys. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw a trailer for Episode I a few years later. I quickly went out and found out as much as I could about the movie before it was released. I read the junior novel and bought all the younger picture books. For some reason, I remember thinking that Qui-Gon was Anakin’s father at first. I was so eager for the new toys, that I turned everything I could into an Episode I character. I remember pretending that a green marble was Qui-Gon, a blue one was Obi-Wan, and a red one was Maul. I even made a paper OOM-9 battle droid commander action figure with magic markers. Haha, after pretending that badminton rackets were lightsabers for a few months, I was ecstatic that day I walked into the store and saw hundreds of new action figures on a wall with their yellow Darth Maul eyes staring at me. It’s funny, because even before I had seen the movie, I had read all the books, bought as many figures as I could afford, and role-played the movie for months. Finally that summer day came when I saw Episode I in the theater, and I thought is was the best movie ever. I totally related to it, as I was about the same age as Anakin. Qui-Gon was that father figure, Obi-Wan that skeptical older cousin, Padme that girl that was a bit older that I had a crush on, and Jar Jar that goofy friend with the golden heart. But it wasn’t just about the movie for me, it was the experience, the action figures, the books, the Lego sets, the stickers, the music. But most of all it just felt so natural, so cool.

A few years later I moved to a new state. New places, new friends, but Star Wars was always there. I was once again excited about Episode II coming out. I continued to collect the action figures and other merchandise, and like the first prequel, I related to Attack of the Clones as well. I was a bit older, and I wanted to be Anakin. I wanted to be that bold, headstrong Jedi racing across the stars and chasing after his destiny. But to me, nothing was cooler than that Clone Army. I had never been amazed by the Stormtroopers, they were always ruthless, robotic, and awkward. But these young soldiers were shiny, heroic, and efficient, and I really dug the new helmet design. I spent the next several years hunting down every Clone Trooper action figure variant I could find, trying to build the ultimate Army of the Republic.

I wasn’t as excited as I was anxious to see Episode III. I was a teenager now, and saw the story a bit more analytically. I was worried about how the characters would turn out. I knew it would be a dark movie, and braced myself for potentially distressing scenes, like Order 66, and the Mustafar dual. I found the movie engaging, and continued collecting all the merchandise, but I enjoyed the adventurous and playful attitude of the previous two prequels more. But little did I know that in a few years, my fandom would reach even greater heights, with the advent of the Clone Wars show and the amazing powers of the internet.

For me, the prequels are a huge part of me, because I grew up with them. I was shocked to learn that many older fans found them appalling and claimed that their childhood was ruined by something that had been so influential in mine. To this day I defend the prequels, and find solace in discussing them with like minded fans. The prequels were the most iconic movies in my generation, and that’s what they mean to me.”

It’s Your Last Chance!

May 17, 2011

Tomorrow is the deadline to submit your “What I Love About The Prequels” to qualify for the drawing! Send ’em over to SWPASadmin@gmail.com!

What I Love About The Prequels: Jonathan Pincus

May 17, 2011

“I didn’t mind the 16-year-wait for another unbelievable Star Wars Trilogy from the vision of George Lucas. With the help of new technology, he brought us new worlds, new characters, and breathtaking special effects in telling the story of Anakin Skywalker. It was well worth it!”

What I Love About The Prequels: TB

May 17, 2011

“Why I Love the Prequels

1. Obi-Wan Kenobi
I have always been a fan of Sir Alex Guinness. His performance and mere presence as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original trilogy lent an immediate sense of honor and nobility to the character as well as to the Jedi order. He is, in fact the first Jedi we ever met. However, Ewan McGregor stepped into the daunting role of playing not only a much beloved character in the most known franchise in the world, but also the boots of Sir Alex Guinness and did so to great success. Ewan McGregor and the Prequel storyline did something I never thought possible. Both revealed new dimensions to Obi-Wan Kenobi, someone I thought I knew so well.

It’s like the day when you grow up and realize that your parents aren’t just your mom and dad, but that they had a life before you and are actually their own, individual people. Obi-Wan had a Master who he questioned, who he respected and loved, dearly. Ewan McGregor brought sex appeal to a character that was a father figure for decades and made him a man. Obi-Wan was a young, powerful and fervent Jedi before he fulfilled his final destiny of mentor to Luke. He had a passionate and tenacious spirit that enabled him to defeat Anakin, a much more powerful Jedi. Obi-Wan was able to defeat Anakin because he was on the side of what was right. His humble, selfless surrendering of himself to that end, the defeat of evil, gave him the fortitude to be victorious. In every battle that Obi-Wan faces he is not arrogant, does not gloat, but he does not stop until he succeeds. Even his surrender of himself to Darth Vader’s Sword was to this end, the ultimate success of Luke. When Obi-Wan meets Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Cantina, his almost blasé demeanor makes perfect sense after seeing the prequels. Obi-Wan after all fought in the Clone Wars, defeated many foes like General Grievous and lived to fight another day after facing Lord Vader. He was there when “dinosaurs” walked the earth. Jedi like Yoda, Mace, Qui-Gon, etc. So the fact that he is not impressed by Han Solo is no big deal. The prequel just makes Obi-Wan make even more sense to me.

2. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
As with any character in the original trilogy that also appears in the prequels, more of who that character is is revealed. We only know Anakin by name in the original trilogy or by Obi-Wan’s recollections of him. The prequels give us a chance to finally know this man, father, husband and Jedi who would eventually turn his back on everything he knows and loves. Without the prequels his ultimate betrayals in the original trilogy— the most stellar of which is revealed after removing Luke’s hand, “Luke, I am your father!” — have no meaning. How could you take vows as a Jedi, turn your back on them and aid the execution of their order. How could you betray the only father you have ever known? How could anyone torture and hunt down their son and daughter? All these things are revealed in the prequels. Not only are they revealed but they make them believable, maybe even inevitable. The most iconic cinematic villain of modern times becomes pitiable. More miraculous than this, his journey becomes one that is a map of redemption for us all. If Darth Vader can turn his back on good, do the evil things that he has done—which seem unforgiveable—and yet have the very object of that betrayal, Luke, enable his return to the light, then maybe all of us can slough off the shame of past acts that stop us from reaching our ultimate potential. We learn from the Saga ultimately that it ain’t over until it’s over. You can always choose to do the right thing and redeem yourself no matter how badly you have messed up.

3. Shmi Skywalker
I think that Shmi Skywalker is my favorite unsung hero in the prequels. What a formidable woman! Shmi is not formidable because she is physically imposing or a good fighter. She comes from the most humble beginnings. She is a poor, single mother who doesn’t even possess her own freedom. Yet, from this lowly beginning it is she and not the Jedi who truly begins Anakin’s training. Anakin knows nothing of greed; he is selfless and has been taught to listen to his heart. Aren’t these ultimately the things that Yoda teaches Luke? It is Shmi’s teachings that allow Anakin to tap into the power that is within him. Shmi is a selfless mother. Willing to give him up so that he can have a better life. Allowing him to pursue his passion, being a pilot, even though it “kills [her] when he does it”. The way she holds on, just so she can see Anakin again. The torture she must have endured for that meeting; yet, somehow I know she would not wish on the Sand People the fate that Anakin gave them. Shmi Skywalker is a Jedi Master.

4. The Emperor
Darth Vader is still the coolest villain ever to hit the silver screen. He is as aesthetically beautiful as he is flawed. But, for every Frankenstein’s monster that exists there is the brilliant, mad scientist who created him. And Senator Palpatine, the Emperor, is that man. In the original trilogy, Lord Vader was the icon that I learned to fear. There was a glimpse of the evil, disfigured Emperor, but what could possibly be worse than finding out that it is your father who has betrayed you? (I was the poster child for Daddy’s Girl.) Possibly, being an orphan who wants to do the right thing and being lead down a road by someone you trust and admire who enables you to destroy and betray everything you have ever loved. If someone had told me before seeing the prequels that there could be a more perfect villain than Darth Vader and that I would learn to pity Vader, I would have told them that they were crazy. Palpatine is not only the most cunning politician and masterful manipulator, but he has absolutely no conscience. Even Vader, shows remorse. In the original trilogy Vader explains that he ‘must’ obey his Master and the dark side of the Force. You can see that Lord Vader has been blinded by the drug, Power, that Palpatine has given him a taste of. Though Lord Vader willfully chooses the dark path over good in the prequel, his sadness, pain and shame are evident. While Palpatine sits quietly, coolly as he tells the story of murdering his mentor in his sleep. He isn’t sorry, he revels in the fact that he stole his mentor’s like while he was none the wiser of the danger. Palpatine is so charming that you completely understand and accept why Vader made the choice that he did. You can’t watch the prequels without saying, darn; I wish he was on my side. He is that good at being bad. I’ve said it once and I will say it again; I have no idea why Ian McDiarmid was not nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar!

5. The Star Wars Saga
I could go on and on about why I love the prequels. I could mention the action sequences. Finally seeing the Jedi Order, the Clones in action, the battles, the planets, etc. It is all miraculous. The main reason that I love the prequels is that it makes the Star Wars mythology more complete. We not only have the Hero’s Journey, the Ultimate Redemption, a more complete view of the Force, the birth and death of a government but many other mythologies that you can find to be entertained and educated by. The layers of the original trilogy that I loved because of all that was to be learned in each viewing has now been increased exponentially. I have learned insights that I never thought I would and the potential to learn more is there. It is just a matter of opening your eyes to see what you have not seen. The best advice I can give anyone who thinks that there isn’t much to love about the prequels is to do what you have done with the originals: watch them, again and again. Every viewing reveals more and more.
May the Force Be With You, Always!”

What I Love About The Prequels: Vickie Boyd

May 16, 2011

“The prequels gave a whole new generation a chance to see George’s vision in action again.
George had a chance to show those links to the past he hinted at from the original trilogy.
The prequels allowed a young man from Scotland follow in the footsteps of his uncle to be in some of the greatest movies of all time. (Ewan McGregor and Denis Lawson)
The prequels allowed George to have the special effects he had always dreamed of for the original trilogy.
They allowed fans of the original trilogy to actually star in the movies and brought fame to some lesser known actors.
And best of all, they gave the generation who saw the original trilogy a chance to relive their childhood and share it with their own children.

I love George Lucas’ imagination and I am so happy he was able to show us his vision.”

What I Love About The Prequels: David Manderville

May 16, 2011

“What I appreciate about the prequels: The fact that even adults can continue to have fun with Star Wars…that it’s ok to proclaim your love for Star Wars loudly and proudly and not care what anyone else thinks about it…the fact that classic story telling and classic characters only get better with time…and the fact that George Lucas is a genius, proving with the prequels (and how they link into the original trilogy) that it’s all one saga…one story…the story of a small boy from Tatooine who grew up, turned down the wrong path, and was eventually redeemed by his children. Bless you George Lucas for bringing us the prequels and more Star Wars to come!”

What I Love About The Prequels: J. Reeves

May 15, 2011

“There’s an obscure word I would like to extend to the PT and its richness of form and content: concinnity (meaning “a harmonious or elegant arrangement of parts”). In my view, the PT shows much concinnity, ranging from its nervy ambiance of character names and places, drawn from a vast array of human cultures and histories (themselves deeply intertwined), to the panoply of costumes, cloaks, boots, belts, weapons, etc. (a whole language of cinema unto itself), to the skillful conjugation of body language (an oft-unheralded aspect of the minimalist direction of George Lucas) — repeating looks, gestures, poses, etc. — to the polyphonic creation and cornucopian promulgation of sounds (go back and watch the Tatooine scenes in TPM sometime), paired with the sensationally ebullient sweep of John Williams’ “endlessly compelling” music, to the tight interweaving of themes, motifs and ideas (literary and otherwise), all within a masterfully controlled visual field, with generous Kurosawa-like wideshots one moment, and acute Scott Bartlett-like flashes of shapes and colours the next (if not, indeed, within the same frame). It’s this gargantuan compression and condensation of formal constructs and wordless notions on these various levels, told with vigorous, pulpy alacrity, that gives Star Wars — and the PT, where Lucas’ sizeable visual skills are harnessed to their fullest — an intensely expressive quality unique in the cinematic arts (its colour symbolism, alone, is “off the charts”, to use Obi-Wan’s coinage as he looks at a blood-red display in a chrome-plated, cream-interiored ship), allowing it to unfurl in the mind’s eyes of cosmic travelers big and small, from the unbridled (or unburdened) imaginations of small children, to the relentlessly verbal, neurotic, encrusted minds of adults (where and when the child and its innate curiosity still lives).

Lucas’ deftness was in evidence from the opening moments of the original Star Wars movie, or what is now called “A New Hope” (an allusion, among other things, to the washing away of the prequels’ giddy excesses). Watch the playing with colour, the rapid blending of visual forms, and the first characters we’re introduced to: robots, not humans. Straight away, a startling moment of subversion. These films are deeply entrenched in perception: how we gain it, how we lose it, how we may lack it entirely, how we always mistake the external for the whole. The prequel trilogy is a detailed elaboration on this visual manifesto and playful critique of human nature. It takes us deeper into the rabbit hole. History is shattered, ripped up, run over, slagged and bagged. But not cruelly or sadistically. There is much beauty here. For all the visual weirdness (and Star Wars is much weirder than we have yet gotten to grips with), there is also a kind of homespun charm; a straightness; an economy; a plaid-shirt-like humility to its tone and presentation. It can be detected all over. It doesn’t need to be detected. It’s here, there and everywhere, from the simple exchanging of a gift between a slave boy and a queen in disguise, to the way one character calls another character “slime” and eggs him into combat. We are not perturbed by the strangeness of Star Wars: we embrace its eccentricity as drama, as comedy; as familiarity, as honesty; as pastiche, as cheese. The prequels enlarge the canvas of Star Wars by enlarging the stakes: visual, aural, musical, dramatic. Everything is brought up a level, so that it can be brought down and begin anew. It bequeathes a refreshing, cyclical quality to the saga. One can start at the PT, go into the OT, then start again. Or one can start at the OT, journey to the PT, go back into the OT, etc. In religious art, this is the Ouroboros: a serpent eating its own tail.

Those with an affinity for such things may also enjoy the bolting on of religious references and motifs within the films themselves, ranging from the hellish environment of Mustafar (also, of course, a mere mining facility, for every locale in Star Wars is a mixture of form and function), to Obi-Wan casually threatening a vagabond with the idea of being blasted into “oblivion”. Or Qui-Gon’s shawl (recalling the Shroud of Turin and other items). Or references to classic paintings and sculptures (e.g. Michelangelo’s Pietà in AOTC, “The Abyss of Hell” by Sandro Botticelli in ROTS). Or fleeting film trinkets (e.g. a pod from “2001: A Space Odyssey” in Watto’s junk shop; the Maltese Falcon in Senator Palpatine’s apartment). Or tips-of-the-hat to classic novels and films in even the movies’ working titles (TPM was called “The Beginning”, which references the opening sentence of Frank Herbert’s “Dune”; AOTC was called “Jar Jar’s Big Adventure”, which riffs on “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”, Tim Burton’s first feature-length film). Or nods to classic and contemporary spectator-based entertainment (e.g. the pod race in TPM; the arena scenes in AOTC — with visual palettes that cleverly overlap). Or blended wink-nods in the direction of James Gurney’s “Dinotopia”, “Flash Gordon”, royal sculptor William Theed and even the rival Californian film campuses that Lucas and his his peers attended in the 1960s (i.e. Naboo). Or the tributes to kabuki and theatre arts (e.g. Darth Maul). Or even visual assimilations made in surprising, abstracted ways to filmmaking friends (e.g. again, Darth Maul — his face paint recalls the opening titles of Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”). Or the impressionistic conjuring of old cinema (e.g. the animated film scratches searing across the red laser gates in the lightsaber duel in TPM; the raining ash representing flecks of dirt on a negative in the Anakin-Obi-Wan duel in ROTS). Or Queen Amidala and her successors looking like they’ve been ripped from the pages of National Geographic. And could I, in good conscience, leave out another completing of a circle? Let us spare a moment for Christopher Lee’s magisterial turn as Count Dooku, mirroring the presence of his Hammer counterpart, Peter Cushing, as Grand Moff Tarkin, in the earlier trilogy. What we have here is a world. More than a world: worlds within worlds, wheels within wheels, jewels within jewels.

What’s also compelling is the prequels’ expanded, self-conscious sense of mythopoeia: that classic rubbing together of the big and small, the mundane and the sublime. Jar Jar is the perfect totem for this. An outcast, a freak, an annoyance, a menace, a wanderer, a child: a shrewd embodiment of all that is most precious, shunned through hubris and fear (recalling a time-honoured Japanese saying: “the nail that sticks out gets pounded down” — or torn out and thrown away). His orange-yellow skin with speckled patterning, his eye stalks and duck bill, his Sphinx-like ear flaps fanning out in glorious waves behind his head — purely from a visual standpoint, this character, this creature, is amazing. Perhaps he is something that humans could transfigure themselves into one day: a hint of Star Wars’ futuristic outlook, even as it circumscribes the past and the present. And Jar Jar’s loneliness, his impertinence, his sincerity, his exuberance — all these things are mightily endearing for those willing and able to appreciate them. Of course, for some, this character ran slipshod over their inner dreams and fantasies, crashing, bashing and trampling their personal desires for Star Wars with gangly abandon. The sadist in me can’t help laughing about that. This, then, is almost a character that shouldn’t exist. Not by common decree. And maybe not even by George Lucas’ own instincts until he set to work on the prequels, refining his notes, his screenplays, and via the casting of Ahmed Best, who may just have breathed more life into this singular Gungan than even Lucas could have predicted, hoped or imagined. And then we have Jar Jar’s quiescence: an exotic, provocative combination of human performer, one-hundred-thousand-dollar suit and cutting-edge CG, animated by a diligent, exacting team. Just as this character bridges gaps between people in the story, so he is an amalgam of old and new film-making techniques, exemplifying the duality that permeates the length and breadth of these films. Then go back to the character within the films and think how Jar Jar contrasts with the lofty pretensions of the Jedi, the chilly stoicism of Queen Amidala, the portentous worry-warting of Yoda, the oleaginous scheming of Palpatine, even the mannered witterings of the droids. Yet he has a hidden, latent sagacity: as, for example, when he speculates, without disdain or irony, that the reason the surface-dwelling Naboo dislike his Gungan brethren is because the Gungans possess an army. Jar Jar cannot be easily placed within a box; he is an irresistible force like no other. And he has a home in this trilogy — and this saga — in a world of frayed hopes, guarded secrets, sententious rebukes, villainous entreaties, scorn, hatred and betrayal; which is also a world of triangles, squares, rectangles, circles, spheres, diamonds, hexagons; a world of brass, silver, plastic, sand, granite, marble, steel, glass, mud, water, lava, trees. It’s all here, someway, somehow, in an epic far, far away, and as we’re constantly reminded in the real-world locales cleverly mixed with digital and chemical dreamlands, as well as the plight of its protagonists, and the grandstanding of politicians and the blindness of citizens, not so far far away; not so far, far away at all. ”

What I Love About The Prequels: Carlos Preciado

May 12, 2011

“What I like most about the Prequels is that George Lucas is going to re-release them in 3D next year!!!!!! Starting with Episode 1.”

Prize Drawing Clarification

May 11, 2011

Just to make it clear, you are entered for the prize drawing on May 19 ONLY if you submit your “What I Love About The Prequels” entry to Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society (SWPASadmin@gmail.com). Posting on the Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Day Facebook doesn’t, doesn’t count ;). Though I’m more than happy to read what you post regardless!

What I Love About The Prequels: Eric Boggs

May 11, 2011

“There are so many great things about the Prequels that I don’t even know where to begin. Not only did it bring Star Wars back into the mainstream, and create a whole generation of fans (I’m a Prequel kid) but it added so much to the story and made it that much more meaningful. There is so much symbolism in these films. Take Vader for example, he’s the personification of evil, yet when we see his back story we learn that he is not so different from you and I, and that he was once a good man, which makes the story all the more tragic. This taught us that even the best of us can fall, and Anakin was certainly one of the best.

It’s not just the fall of Anakin that make these movies great, although the Prequels made it clear that it is Anakin’s story, but the introduction of new and old characters such as Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, young Obi-Wan, etc enriched fandom and gave us more Star Wars pop culture icons. I’d go as far to say that Jar Jar Binks is now a pop culture icon, despite not getting the respect he deserves.

There are certain beats that repeat themselves, each episode mirrors the corresponding episode. For example the lowly characters lead Luke to his destiny, in the same way that the most elegant characters are leaded to the most lowly of places where they find he Chosen one. Then there’s the fact that all of the events in the Original Trilogy can be attributed to the ammo conserving Star Destroyer gunner, just as the Prequels are attributed to Jar Jar granting Palpatine emergency powers in Phantom Menace.

Then you look at them from a technical standpoint and it just blows your mind! The music is amazing, and dramatic, the special effects are revolutionary, the lightsaber battles are relentless and epic, there really is nothing bad about these movies. I love them.”