Saturday, May 28, 2005

She's a Politician

Hahaha! I finally figured out why Obi Wan tells Yoda, "That boy is our last hope," in The Empire Strikes Back, despite the fact that he's known all along that Leia is Luke's twin sister. It's because she is a politician -- a senator --and he hates politicians. He can't conceive of teaching her the ways of the Force and turning her into a Jedi, because in his mind, she's already halfway to being a Sith.

Obi Wan's loathing of politicians had struck me as interesting but a bit strange ever since it was introduced in AOTC. Now I realize that it perfectly explains why his line to Yoda was, "That boy is our last hope," and not, "Well, he's a goner. I guess we'd better get to work on Leia."

It Deserves Our Gratitude

[SPOILER WARNING -- Episode III details in this post]

Now that the Star Wars saga is complete, we have seen that R2D2 is the only character who appears in all of the films without transformation. The fact that he knows the scoop on everything in the prequel trilogy makes him even more interesting in IV-VI. For instance:

Artoo's exciteability in IV takes on a whole new tone. When he says, "She's here, she's here, I've found her," he's talking about Leia as someone he's watched over for 20 years, and whose mother he was personally devoted to. When he gets spastic in the throne room at the end of the film, it reflects a whole lifetime of waiting for something good to happen.

His attitude toward Yoda in V is contextualized too. He's not just mad that this old crazy guy has come out of the swamp and started ransacking his master's stuff -- he knows exactly who Yoda is, and knows that the crazy-old-coot schtick is an act. He's trying to protect Luke from someone he sees as manipulative. He knows that this Jedi training stuff didn't go so well for Luke's father. So his worry when he's told to wait with the ship isn't just fear for himself -- it's concern about what Luke's getting into.

And here's a partial list of his pivotal accomplishments throughout the films:

- Saves the Queen's ship as it flees Naboo
- Alerts everyone of Obi-Wan's capture on Geonosis
- Saves Padme from getting burned up in the droid factory
- Provides critical support for Obi-Wan and Anakin to rescue Palpatine and kill Dooku (not necessarily all good results, but failure would have meant their deaths)
- Carries the Death Star plans
- Instigates the rescue of Leia from the Death Star
- Shuts down the garbage compactor
- Keeps Luke's ship flying long enough for Luke to destroy the Death Star
- Provides smokescreen cover for the escape from Bespin
- Repairs the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive, allowing it to flee certain capture
- Conceals Luke's lightsaber until the critical moment on Jabba's sail barge

In pretty much every one of the films, there's some moment at which one or all of the principle charaters would be toast if it weren't for Artoo.

What a guy.

Another Happy Landing

Well, I've seen Revenge of the Sith three times now -- the 12:01 a.m. showing on the 19th, a matinee that day, and then again with the kids a week later.

My expectations were so high, and I had so much invested in my pet theories, that I actually didn't like it all that much on the first viewing. I was hoping to see more of Christopher Lee than we did, and really, really wanted a different role for Padme. But the movie closes with some of the most effective scenes of the whole series -- in fact, I was crying by time the final image came onscreen. I loved the next two viewings, and really want to see it again before it leaves the theaters.

Among many excellent accomplishments, the film succeeds in making Return of the Jedi a much better movie that it was before. My oldest daughter wanted to watch ROTJ as soon as she got home from ROTS. Since it was past her bedtime, I had to say no, but we watched Ep. VI the next day, and several lines floored me in the context of the completed prequel trilogy. When Darth Vader tells Luke, "Obi Wan once thought as you do," the meaning became completely different than it had been before.

If you haven't already seen it, go right away. Although I guess that if you haven't already seen it, you're probably not the kind of person likely to be reading this blog. : )

[SPOILER EXPLANATION -- Even if you've seen Ep. III, you might not want to read this without rewatching ROTJ. Before, Vader's line to Luke always struck me as a reference to having defeated his old master -- "Obi Wan once thought the good side more powerful, but I showed him." Now, having seen Anakin crying after he massacred the Separatists, I hear it as, "I recognize that Obi Wan truly wanted to help me when he confronted me on Mustafar." Similarly, the line, "It is too late for me, my son," is more powerful because it's obvious that Anakin has been telling himself this, over and over, ever since the moment he turned on Mace Windu.]