Star Wars: The Prequels
By Mike Derderian
The circle is now complete and I will always remember May 21, 2005, as the day when the lingering intergalactic journey known as Star Wars has finally came to an end. Fare well Anakin, Padmé, Obi Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, Yoda and all the bold Jedi Knights, who died defending the old republic.
This journey that has inspired the imagination of sci-fi moviegoers and worldwide Star Wars fans lasted over 28 years in the making. So the first thing that I would love to say is: hats off for George Lucas, the man responsible for creating a six-episode saga that will more than endure the test of time.
For a person, who watched the first Star Wars trilogy [Episode IV-New Hope (1977), Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Episode VI-Return of the Jedi (1983)] over a hundred times, I felt dismayed when I walked out of the theatre as Anakin’s story was painfully unraveled in Lucas’s 2005 masterpiece Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Anyone who says otherwise with all due respect is not into Star Wars.
Some might say it is not the end of the world—that we shall leave for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming sci-fi horror War of the Worlds—but it’s the end of Star Wars. The eight-year-old boy that still lives within me will never forget the first time he was introduced to Luke Skywalker’s smile and Jedi powers, Han Solo’s boldness and reckless dashing into trouble and Princess Leia Organa’s beauty and strong character. (Excuse me but in 1977 beauty standards, Carrie Fisher wasn’t just a babe wearing a skimpy outfit in episode IV, she was an icon of heroism and courage).
Just as we all remember Chewbacca, C3PO, R2-D2 and the sinister characters like Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt and the evil emperor. We all shall remember Qui-Gon Jinn, Jar Jar Binks, Shmi Skywalker, Mace Windu, Count Dooku, Darth Maul and Jango Fett, whom we all were introduced to in Lucas’s brilliant Star Wars prequels.
In an interview published in the 1997 March issue of Starburst Lucas said, “The first film is basically about the young Anakin Skywalker and how he became Darth Vader, and the young Obi Wan Kenobi. It’s the back-story. I like to work in rhythms and patterns. Aesthetically it’s something I’m drawn to. The first film introduces all the characters, in the second film Anakin falls in love, and the third film is his fall. That’s the overall scope.”
Even though I knew of the ensuing tragedy and what was to become of Anakin Skywalker, however, I never realized it could have been so dark, painful and heartbreaking. I also remember Obi Wan (Sir Alec Guinness) telling Luke (Mark Hamill) about his involvement in the Clone Wars in Episode IV but I never imagined that the old geezer was quite a cunning warrior in his youth, not in the way Lucas presented him and other characters in all three prequels, Episode I-The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II-Attack of the Clones (2002) and Episode-III Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Enacted by a very fit-into-the-shoe Ewan McGregor, Obi Wan Kenobi was literally kicking droids’ and clones’ behinds. McGregor not only captured Guiness’s charisma, solemn composure but also gave the Jedi master a humorous edge.
A lot of reviews, however, slammed Lucas’s Star Wars prequels, especially The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones; however, none of them were unfair as the ones that attacked Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of the man behind the mask. I mean, face it, he’s the chosen one and the director’s choice.
I’ve seen all three prequels and Christensen brilliantly enacted the role of a man suffering from avarice, selfishness instead of selflessness—as the Jedi code states—and inability to express his deepest feelings even to his wife Padmé (Natalie Portman).
Anakin is a lost Jedi Knight and a person heading towards the dark side, he is not all-powerful or confident as many have wished for Christensen to portray.
It seems Lucas conception of Lord Vader was that of a childish man, who ended up as a half man-half-machine after taking the wrong choice and the wrong path. Seduced by the lure of the dark side of the force and the dark art of the Sith by Darth Sidious, Anakin loses all and becomes, as Yoda puts it, consumed by Lord Vader. If you ask me, critics just hated Christensen for who he was the one and only Anakin Skywalker; and no matter what they do he will be always be remembered as Lucas’ choice for the role.
To compare Lucas’ Star War prequels to their old sequels is not only unfair but also stupid. People forget that they were produced in different times. After I returned home I decided to watch episode IV and I was shocked by the special effects, simplicity of the dialogue and the all-fantasy atmosphere.
No one though can argue that episodes IV, V and VI are more than a cinematic work of art; a cult is more adequate, and so should the prequels be regarded. In light of the current political, social and cultural circumstances, I find the prequels more true and genuine to the Star Wars message Lucas tried to convey back in 1977.
The prequels are dark, grim and realistic not to mention packed with different storylines and enjoyable action sequences.
Contrary to Jedi belief that anger leads to the path of the dark side of the force, I always believed that my writings and creativity were sharper and more refined when I was raging with anger, but when I saw what happened to Anakin, I decided I was heading down the wrong path. May the Force be with us all in these dark times of chaos, injustice and humility.