VIDEO: Star Wars Episode III: revenge of the script

Part One:

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Part Two:

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In this two-part episode, Ursa takes a crack at Revenge of the Sith and the joys of people taking action while advancing the plot through dialogue. She also tries to figure out some of the more impenetrable logic chains in the story, and discovers that you can be a mostly perfectly fine and inoffensive film and still send Ursa into a blind Nerd Rage if you don’t provide sufficient structural backing to your plot. Buckle up, folks, this could get messy.

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Tag: Sursum Ursa's Star Wars videos

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  • Zee Panda

    Interesting that you say “when you have to turn to deleted scenes or novelizations..” as I’ve wondered if you’ve read the novelizations of the prequels. I first read them about a year or two after the final movie – on a whim, basically – and was surprised at how much I liked them because, gosh, do I hate the movies. Re-reading them again recently, I realized that reading the novels made me like the prequels a bit more because I felt like there was a much better story there.
    And now here you are reminding me that I shouldn’t have to read the novelizations to get the movie. They should enhance the movie experience not prop it up.
    I’ve watched and read a lot of “how the prequels could be improved” bits (I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much time I’ve spent thinking about this all on my own. I think I’m up to version 50 by now.) and a lot of people have proposed that idea about Palpatine stealing Padme’s life force as the cause of her death. It’s not a bad idea and would make her death a little more meaningful as well as a whole lot more believable but I just can’t get into the idea that she dies right there at all. It’s not the most stupid idea in the prequels but it’s pretty awful.
    The love story is just so unbelievable, at least from Padme’s point of view. In his stiff, wooden way Hayden Christenson does a convincing job in both part 2 and 3 of getting across the idea that Anakin is in serious, total, all-consuming, obsessive love with Padme. But I never have bought the idea of Padme returning his feelings. It’s not entirely Natalie Portman’s fault. She’s not terribly convincing in their romantic scenes but to give a regularly solid actor some credit, she doesn’t have a whole lot to work with. We’re told, told, told, and told again about their mutual love. Even that bloated bit in part two that’s all about “showing” us them falling in love we’re really still just being told. So here’s MY fan reinterpretation: both the prequel and the original trilogy are being told a long time later in a place far, far away by an unreliable narrator repeating a story that’s shifted a lot over time. Somewhere lost in the mists of time is the fact that Anakin and Padme didn’t really have a grand mutual love affair; Padme, the consummate public servant, married Anakin in hopes of containing him. She’s giving birth realizing that she’s failed and that’s the heartbreak that causes her to simply give up life. And, yes, I realize that’s not much better than what happened in the actual movie, but at least there’s a logic to it. There is no logic to her death even if you discount Leia’s remembering her.

    • Jill Bearup

      SHHH! You’re stealing my material from my Empire Strikes Back scripts! (Which are about Han/Leia and Anakin/Padme).

      I’m just kidding, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought ‘WHY the heck would Padme love Anakin, for pity’s sake?’

      But I really should give the novelisations a go, they might make me less crotchety. Reading meta tends to do that as well, and helps me forget lines like ‘From my point of view the Jedi are evil!’ coming from the mouth of a man who just MURDERED HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN.

      I felt very sorry for all the actors, tbh, and I’ll be talking about that too, because yeah, all tell, no opportunity to show.

      • Jonathan Campbell

        “Reading meta tends to do that as well, and helps me forget lines like ‘From my point of view the Jedi are evil!’ coming from the mouth of a man who just MURDERED HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN.”

        I guess that sums up my issues with your argument.

        I’ve actually heard this sort of thing before. So, it doesn’t sound so insane to me.
        Reminds me of the old, “Why would anyone work for a villain who keeps killing his own men?” question- that sort of thing really does happen, so it’s not really a plot hole or character derailment.

        (as for why Padme would fall for Anakin…oh, don’t be such cynics. Love has nothing to do with reason…or so Disney taught me)

        • Sardu

          Padme loves Anakin because he’s hung like a dewback.

          Hey, that’s what I heard.

      • Zee Panda

        ‘From my point of view the Jedi are evil’ vexes me because it’s so unnecessarily clunky. I know it’s meant to be a call back to Obi-wan’s whole “from a certain point of view” waffling in ROTJ (which itself is irritating and unnecessarily clunky), but if we must be reminded of Anakin’s viewpoint (hello, he’s just wiped out the CHILDREN, we don’t need the reminder), it should simply be “The Jedi are evil!”
        I’m sorry to report that the line is preserved in the novelization, but despite that, I still whole-heartedly recommend all three of them. The love story remains less than convincing, but it’s a little more understandable, or perhaps just less annoying. Easier to skim over? I’m being blithe here, but, really, I do recommend the novelizations. I’ve recommended them to people who don’t even like Star Wars because I think they’re interesting enough on their own.
        They’re excellent examples of how a movie novelization should work, anyway – they don’t change the story in any way but they add some richness and depth. The first one even touches a bit on a story element that I think was shamefully overlooked, Anakin’s life as a slave. It really bothers me that they went to the trouble in Phantom Menace of setting up this genuinely intriguing concept and then just sort of toss it aside.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          I think it sort-of works as an insight into Anakin’s mindset at the time- he’s decided to buy into what Palpatine said earlier about “Good and Evil are points of view”, so “The Jedi are Evil” is actually a different argument- Anakin is saying that the truth doesn’t matter and never did, appealing to sophistry and moral relativism.

          It’s still clunky, but it’s nonetheless distinct from Anakin honestly and truly believing that the Jedi really were the bad guys. This is more him saying, “I reject your reality and substitute my own”.

  • RockyDmoney

    Another thing is as soon as Palpy says he actually doenst know the secret to keep Padme alive Anakin should have been like “wait..what? I”LL KILL YOU!!!!”

    • Jill Bearup

      Word.

  • danbreunig

    There is simply nothing more adorkably appealing than the very image of Sursam Ursa casual and giddy whilst immersed in lava.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    Half way in and I’m reminded of how much more authoritative criticism sounds when it it preceded by positive concessions.

    • Gallen_Dugall

      I will add that you can come at it from the perspective that the Sith are the same as the Jedi and simply have different methods to achieve the same results with less hypocrisy. The setting alludes to common people not seeing a difference between Sith and Jedi since the first film where all force wielders are seen as part of a common dead religion. Also note that the Jedi have gone from having to hitch rides to get places in Phantom Menace to having fleets at their command. With lots of reading into things then it makes “more” sense.
      The “fan theory” is a product of the “cloud mind” which is “smarter” than any individual.
      That all said the real problems with these films have a variety of sources.
      1) The original film utterly failing… upward. Turning out in no way as GL imagined and making its success not reproducible.
      2) Empire Strikes Back building its success very methodically on the destruction of the franchise which has forced every movie since to live in its ashes. Yes, Empire is the most watchable film of the franchise. Unfortunately it did this by running around and smashing the foundations letting everyone oh and ah at the destruction.
      3) No one knows what made the original work. Theories about why the original film was so successful have always said a lot more about the people stating them (usually to sell a product) than about the film – proof that they’re all wrong is that no one has been able to reproduce the success even in part. Worse, GL has actively obfuscated many critical details about production for unknown (and widely speculated upon) reasons. Most of the cast and crew didn’t have the slightest idea what was going on, many were on drugs.
      4) GL doesn’t care to even try to reproduce the success. He has no attachment to the films or connection to their fans. His only reason for making the prequels was to underwrite R&D for new special effects technology. Numbers said he could make the films, develop the techniques to keep his company ahead in an increasingly competitive field, and turn a profit. That kind of top down ambivalence shows in every aspect of the prequels.
      5) Irrational fan expectations (driven by the cloud mind) coupled with a “Everything is either THE BEST EVER!!! or THE WORST EVER!!!” mentality promoted by popular and entertaining internet rage critics. If the prequels had been better then the rage would be how much the originals sucked and we’d be living with that bashing. In many ways the “worst ever!” consensus of venting is what allowed room for The Clone Wars to tell such good stories – if only the Star Trek franchise had been so lucky.

  • Jonathan Campbell

    Okay, finally got round to watching these.

    As I suspected, sadly, the reason you don’t understand what was going on, is that you tragically have a case of Good Cannot Comprehend Evil.

    (e-hugs for Ursa)

    Oh, Jill.

    Poor, sweet, innocent Jill.

    Of course Anakin knew what was going on. Of course he knew that everything Palpatine was saying was bullshit.

    But it was bullshit he could believe in. It was bullshit that eased his conscience. It was bullshit that helped him avoid the reality of his situation- that he had just helped kill a Jedi Master, saved the life of the Dark Lord of the Sith, and probably doomed the entire galaxy.

    Sure, he could fight, but this guy is clearly more powerful than he is, and furthermore he needs him. And if he turns against Palpatine and loses, not only is he dead and unable to save Padme, Palpatine might find and kill her out of spite, just because. And if he DOES kill Palpatine, the Dark Lord who has played him and the galaxy like a fiddle for years, and who is stronger than he is…what then? He’s still killed a Jedi Master, the Republic has no Head of State, the people in positions of power are his lackeys and likely won’t take his death lying down, and the loyalty of the entire Clone Army is in question.

    And actually you are wrong- Palpatine isn’t lying about the Jedi plotting to overthrow him and the Republic…from a certain point of view, of course. After all, he kind of forced them to do just that- they know that Palpatine needs to go, and they know they can’t trust anyone in his government after he has gone, so a Jedi oligarchy is actually quite a feasible outcome.

    And do bare in mind, Anakin was already somewhat open to the idea of a galactic dictatorship in the previous movie, and even if he did know that Palpatine was ultimately responsible for the whole mess, that doesn’t mean the old Republic didn’t have real problems with corruption and weakness that Palpatine may have exploited but did not create. Going along with Palpatine is gut-turning, but it makes sense from a strategic point of view- strong yet evil vs good but fractured…what does the galaxy need?

    But of course it helps it helps if Anakin has some sort of fantasy he can cling to, preferably one that plays to his pre-existing prejudices about the Jedi and the state of the Republic, so Palpatine tells him all he needs to here:

    “There is no war in Ba Sing-Se.”

    “We have never been at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia.”

    “The Jedi are plotting to overthrow the Republic”.

    Doublethink- the backbone of any self-respecting totalitarian dictatorship, and the leaders can be just as self-deluding as the rest of them, even if the know better. And Anakin DOES know better- he tells Luke in Empire that they can overthrow the Emperor together; hell, he tells Padme in this very movie that he can overthrow the Emperor himself. It’s a recurring theme with his character- he is avoiding guilt and trying to salvage what he can from the mess of his own making, and if that means living a lie and believing in that lie, then so be it- it makes it easier to live with the guilt.

    Anakin isn’t dumb (well, not THAT dumb). He knows exactly what’s going. But “what’s going on” utterly terrifies him and makes him a murderer and a traitor and means that his life and the galaxy are probably going straight to Hell, so if The Devil gives you an out, you take it, even if it means living a lie. If Anakin can believe that the Jedi are planning to overthrow the Republic (and that even the children can’t truly be trusted) and that he and he alone carries the responsibility of “bringing order to the galaxy”, then he can do heinous things in the name of that lie, and FORCE that lie to come true.

    And THAT is what was going on there. And yes, George Lucas researched Fascist and Totalitarian regimes when conceiving this stuff, so he definitely came across it- and even if he wasn’t thinking of any of this while writing the script, it still makes logical sense. Anakin is believing a lie…and he knows it. That’s the point; that was the point all along.

    (the above should be read in a Hans-like voice, wherever possible)

    • danbreunig

      Jonathan, I’m now convinced that this is the most compelling argument/opinion I’ve heard yet about Revenge Of The Sith. It’s a take like this that keeps it from being lumped together with the “Phantom Menace and/or Attack Of The Clones are so terrible to exist” mentality.

      And Ursa, when you get to movies 4-6, I really hope you bring out the bad as well as the good. It goads me to think that even a decade or so later so many cling to the “this trilogy’s perfect, that trilogy’s shit” nerd extremism. Can’t we all just agree, each and every Star Wars film is both perfect and shit at the same time? Okay, I’m wandering…

      ROTS is what I’d consider The Empire Strikes Back of trilogy #1, meaning it’s the deepest of its respective trilogy. And like movie #5, there’s no happy ending, just the hope of one later in the next film while the current film bathes in anticlimax. It’s also the closest we come to a character study, or certainly a character arc that reaches or nearly reaches its top–we get to see the deepest fears of Anakin and Luke proportionately.

      “Anakin isn’t dumb (well, not THAT dumb). He knows exactly what’s going. But “what’s going on” utterly terrifies him and makes him a murderer anda traitor and means that his life and the galaxy are probably going straight to Hell, so if The Devil gives you an out, you take it, even ifit means living a lie. If Anakin can believe that the Jedi are planningto overthrow the Republic (and that even the children can’t truly be trusted) and that he and he alone carries the responsibility of “bringing order to the galaxy”, then he can do heinous things in the name of that lie, and FORCE that lie to come true.”

      Hands down my favorite sequence in this film and maybe even the collective sextet of SW movies. It’s painfully obvious that Mustafar is a stand-in for Hell itself, and dammit (pun intended) the symbolism works so effectively. That’s where everything Anakin lives for, his beliefs (real, assumed, or challenged), his love, his duty, all end in literal smoke, courtesy of the devil who took his soul and sent him there. There’s a beauty to be had in the tragedy.

      I guess I’m preaching to the choir here; there’s no better place to air my feelings on this, though. I love that whole scene–not to mention it set a record for longest continual swordfight in a movie then (about 12 minutes).

      Also, I still stand by what I said about the Ursa and lava juxtaposition. >;)

      • Zee Panda

        No one will ever move me from my opinion that 4 – 6 are vastly superior to 1 – 3 but I do agree that 4 – 6 have their flaws, too, and…and I’m just not going to say any more right now because, well, we’re talking about 1 – 3. 🙂

        I never actually thought about Mustafar as a stand-in for Hell and yet reading your comment it now seems SO OBVIOUS that I am shaking my head at myself for missing that. Maybe I’ve just been distracted by how clunky so much of the dialogue is – I genuinely feel sorry for Christensen for having to deliver some of those lines. I do love the fight, though – it’s not only visually engaging, it’s emotionally engaging and communicates so much more about those characters and their relationship than a dozen talky exposition scenes ever could.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          I never thought of it as a stand-in for Hell either…

          Man, Lucas is heavier on the symbolism than I thought.

          • Zee Panda

            Using symbolism to add richness and deeper context to his story is something that Lucas has excelled at in many of his films. Even “American Graffiti”, which is a very different film from the SW saga, has some excellent examples of it. One thing that I think he did very well throughout the SW saga was to place characters in settings that communicated important information about them. I don’t like that Anakin came from Tatooine specifically, but it makes sense that he comes from a bleak place, just as it makes sense that Padme comes from a beautiful place like Naboo. It’s fitting for who they are.
            Also, “it was bullshit he could believe in” is a really good summation of Anakin’s character. I feel like the movies are very uneven in the treatment of Anakin’s fall into darkness, spending more time than is needed on some elements and not enough on others, but I do think that you’re right about the way Anakin thinks.

      • Muthsarah

        “I guess I’m preaching to the choir here; there’s no better place to air
        my feelings on this, though. I love that whole scene–not to mention it
        set a record for longest continual swordfight in a movie then (about 12
        minutes).”

        And what an awful, boring, dramatically-empty swordfight it was. It went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on with obviously over-programmed symmetry and was often “shot” at a great distance, which STILL failed to make it look like anything but two cartoon characters swinging…things at each other, deliberately aiming at each other’s swords so that the fight would keep going on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on….. Might as well have been Tom and Jerry light-saber fighting for all the Star Warsiness it felt like.

        In Empire, at least, every swing felt like it had meaning. Clumsy, lunging, sometimes, but deflected by the other’s swing, not because it was simply meant to be two people banging Glo-stiks together by design, in accordance with an elaborate pre-set choreography.

        EDIT: Y’know, I just figured out what that sword fight reminded me of. Remember Super Mario 64? Remember Lethal Lava Land? Inside the volcano? Riding that lift to the top of the volcano? Put Mario on the lift, then just stand there as the lift takes him up and around for a good 60 seconds, occasionally jumping to avoid a fireball? Only here, two guys, riding identical little lifts, coasting (Who’s controlling the lifts? Who put them there? Who designed their path? Where are they going? Why are they even there?) in circles up and up and occasionally down, then up, and finally to a platform/rock that, I guess, the lifts felt like (uniformly, since neither of the Jedi were controlling them) depositing them. Convenient the lifts would drop them off there.

        The whole thing felt like the final stage of a video game. There’s a platform, or complex, or something, inside a volcano. It starts falling apart, for no apparent reason, at that exact time, just so these two guys could fight on ever-shrinking platforms. Because…drama? If this volcano(-planet?) is so unstable, what is this facility doing there? Awfully convenient the volcano is only bubbling over now and only now starting to dismantle the facility now that the chorus showed up and these guys are ready to begin THE FINAL BATTLE. Good God, the final duel in Jedi at least had Luke and Vader on solid ground (the Death Star was, after all, fully operational). The OT had its trope-y moments, but the PT was one dramatic cliche after another.

        All spectacle. No reason.

      • Wizkamridr

        I can’t think of anything bad when it comes to 4 or 5. 6 was goofy because of the midget bears. IMO, 1 and 2 were crap. I only liked 3 because Anakin turning into Vader. The Wookies were pretty cool.

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      I couldn’t have said it better, Jonathan, I couldn’t have said it better.

      • Jonathan Campbell

        Well…I probably could have sounded a little less smug and “know-it-all”-ish.

        • CaptainCalvinCat

          I don’t know – but I would say, that this logic, you applied was…. well…. erm…. logical. ^^

  • Wizkamridr

    Would somebody please enlist Donnie Yen and Jet Li to become Jedi already?

  • RockyDmoney

    I keep hoping that Lucas will admit that the whole prequel saga is all a big joke