Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How I Would Have Done the Star Wars Prequels

Way back when, before I grew my first beard or (truth be told) dated my first girl or had my very first job, George Lucas gave me a wonderful gift.  Star Wars.  My siblings and I insisted our parents go this flick.  They didn't much care for science fiction, but came back with grins on their faces.

Good times.  Good times.

So maybe you can imagine how thrilled my soul felt as word came out that after years and  years a brand new Star Wars trilogy was on the way.  To the left is the first poster I ever saw.  Oh, the pathos of that image--an innocent little boy with that darkness in his future...

Words cannot express my disappointment with the final result.  I saw The Phantom Menace at a discount price and felt myself robbed.  Never again did I dole out any of my hard-earned money to see the rest of the prequels.  In time, I rented them.  Reluctantly.  Okay, they proved better than Episode I, but really isn't that as low a bar as one can imagine?

Rather than whine about what's wrong with these movies (which has been done in a far more funny, scathing and exhaustive manner elsewhere) but rather suggest how I might have done it differently.

Which makes for pretty good evidence of my arrogance.  A fair cop.  Mea culpa and all that.

Let us start with a threat to the Galactic Republic, namely the return of the Dark Lords of the Sith after a thousand years' absence.  If Jedi are mystic Knights supposed to be cool, calm and collected then how about the Sith acting as their polar opposites?  Passionate, intense, hot-blooded and fierce.  Consider though--these hardly make someone evil in and of themselves.  One thing that immediately pops into my mind is that two Sith be the center of an incredible love story.

So let me begin with an original character, Darth Shado.  Imagine a seer of the Dark Side, one not very popular among his fellow Sith because he doesn't hate the Jedi, merely disapproves of them.  He sees them as an order of eunuchs increasingly shaping the galaxy in their own image--sterile, cold, rigid.  A classic conflict between Dionysian and Apollonian forces.  Amid some military campaign in which the Sith and their allies seeks come coup against the Republic, Shado confronts a very able Jedi Knight named Gideah Lann.  Okay, just for fun let's cast them shall we?  Jonathan Rhys Myers as Darth Shado, with Kate Beckinsale as Gideah Lann, who starts off as the perfect Jedi--coolly efficient, ever-in-control, seeing things from a broad perspective only--and disapproving of the interest some other Jedi are taking in romance, in personal relationships.  Like Yoda and others, she approves of the super-ascetic lifestyle that has evolved over the millennia--until she meets and falls in love with someone who's had visions of her since the Force awoke in him.  Yep.  Darth Shado.  I'd build a chunk of the prequels around their love story, in a dark parallel with Princess Leia/Han Solo.  Each would actually try to persuade each other to defect, with their growing love a sign that each side has a point.

Clearly I'm tossing aside the whole "Only Two Sith" bit, in favor of a more diverse and interesting enemy.  Since Palpatine is canon, we must show him as the Sith hiding in plain sight, a Senator who rises in political power amidst the conflict of the Clone Wars.  But rather than a stupid war between clones and robots, I'd have a conflict between people--perhaps several more aggressive races using cloning to vastly increase their numbers, threatening the stability of the Republic.  Attempting to intervene, the Jedi (including Gideah Lann and the young Obi Wan Kenobi) only set off the conflict earlier than anyone expected.

This sets up a need for more warriors trained in the Force.  Obi Wan meets the fighter pilot Annakin Skywalker mid-battle.  In time they become great friends, and the Jedi starts to train his great pal in the ways of the Force.  But what we see is a tragic mismatch of teacher and student.  Annakin has questions (the same questions that Darth Shadow asks Gideah) but Obi Wan lacks satisfying answers.  In the heat of battle, Annakin turns to the Dark Side, to his rage and hatred in order to survive.

In the end, Shado and Gideah begin to see eye-to-eye, perhaps believing they can find a way to work together, offering a possibility of ending the age-old dispute between Sith and Jedi.  But they are destroyed along with most of a world in a massive use of weaponry led by now-Admiral Skywalker, commanding elite troops under the direct control of Senate Lord President Palpatine.  Kenobi tries to stop him, and in the end wounds his once-great friend so terribly he ends up in that black suit.

Many Jedi and Sith are now dead.  Palpatine notes the Jedi are now actively intervening with the war effort and demands they swear loyalty to the Lord President.  Few agree, and are outlawed.  Kenobi and Yoda receive a last recorded message from Gideah, a Force Vision of what they must do (actually from Darth Shado).  They meet Annakin's wife, who believes her husband dead.  She is returning to her home world of Alderaan, deeply sorry her husband never knew she was expecting their child.  Kenobi accompanies her while Yoda heeds the Vision and goes to Dagobah.

All around them, the war continues, now one of conquest.  Lord President Palpatine has been declared Emperor, and outlawed the Jedi Order.  News of a new and terrifying warrior named Darth Vader hunting down the Jedi reaches Obi Wan and the widow Skywalker.  He assures her things will change.  They always do.  We must have hope.

The End.  For now.

Any commentary is more than welcome.  Just glad to get that off my chest.


Catherine/Suburban Vampire said...

Thanks for the entertaining post. I too, felt great excitement when I first saw the prequel poster but was disappointed with the actual movie. I'm still a die-hard fan of the originals and fondly remember my parents taking me and my sister to a special theater with superior sound quality to see them.

Dr. Cayne Armand said...

THOSE sound like a series I'd like to follow. I don't know about reconciling the force, but I do know that I really like the culmination of everything.

The original trilogy was so rich in backstory, the second so flat and mono-faceted. Part of his problem was all of the novels that had been written, accepted by fans and taken as canon.

His hands were to some great extent bound because of the time that had lapsed and the canon and lore that had risen up around the creation. I think at some level it was due to failure. Jar- Jar was only the last nail in the coffin

Nadine said...

Yes, but if they did this then we wouldn't have all those great skits from Robot Chicken, which is the best thing about the prequals IMO.

Nicole Hadaway said...

Zahir, if only you'd pitched this idea 10+ years ago -- it's better than what the prequels actually ended up showing!

Maybe I'm just biased because I grew up with the original trilogy, and view it as a great masterpiece (am I looking at it with my 10 year-old eyes? Will I ever see it as an adult?), but the first two movies in the prequel fell short. And to have Anakin as a child in one, rescuing a princess with whom he falls in love with as an adult -- that was far-fetched.

Thanks so much for this post -- I loved it!