Why Not Call It Something Other Than “The Dark Side”?

We find ourselves back in Star Wars territory today, with a question posed recently by my friend, @theinsanerobin. He originally shared this thought on Twitter, Before you wonder if I somehow broke my social media fasting, he proved one of my theories true by sharing this musing with me independently.

As he shared it with me:

You’d think the Dark Side would brand themselves differently. Something other than what the Light Side calls them.

Everyone thinks they’re righteous.

Like instead of being “Anti-Light” they’d be “Pro-Passion” or something.

My response was, simply, Do you really want to go down this road[?]

He said my insight would be fun. While I do have fun with my insights at times, I don’t know how fun this will be.

I do believe you’ll enjoy it, though.

Brandon Lee as The Crow in the movie The Crow released in 1994 starring Brandon Lee and featuring the great soundtrack to The Crow starring Brandon Lee.
Let’s have some fun!

What’s in a Name?

The first thing to establish here is that I’m not going to pursue any pedantic, circular arguments about Lucas establishing a fairy tale. However true that is, which does ameliorate a lot of these sorts of questions, it’s an easy way out of the argument.

I’m going to present logical, believable reasons, consistent with everything understood about the Dark Side of the Force.

It boils down to the very Shakespearean sense of the Sith, and any other Dark Side user in the Star Wars galaxy. To borrow the Bard’s sentiment, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.

The Honesty of Darth Bane

Practitioners of the Dark Side are simply too honest to care about using a different name. They do not waste their time with preamble about why you should believe their doctrine. Either you will buy in, or you won’t. The only liars are the ones who can’t be honest with themselves.

I’m including Anakin in that line about characters lying to themselves. I still entertain the controversial view that Anakin flipped to the Dark Side in Attack of the Clones, and the rest of the Prequel Trilogy is the story of a man denying what he’s truly become. He’s started the slide, and as he scrambles back up the slope continues to find that his heart pulls him back to the truth of himself.

I’m not completely sold on that interpretation, but it does fit. Even if you incorporate The Clone Wars television series, you can see the Jedi being dishonest with themselves and indulging his worst tendencies in the hopes their prophecy comes true in a positive way. They pushed all their chips in to bet on Anakin, and will do anything to make sure it pays off.

It’s certainly a really interesting filter through which to watch his arc.

The Honesty of Another Bane

Back to the point at hand, Dark Side practitioners may be dishonest as a means to an end, but they’re never meaningfully dishonest about their quest for power. Their end goal is power, control, and domination. They are ultimately selfish.

There is a universal objective recognition that the goals they seek are not good. Since they cannot be of the light, why not simply call it what it is, and pronounce it dark.

You can look to another work that demonstrates this principle just as clearly. Christopher Nolan’s superb The Dark Knight Rises has a character called Bane who’s painfully honest about being “molded by [the dark].” He refers to himself as “necessary evil.”

This gets to an underlying and interesting philosophical point that surely would cause LANDRU to explode. (If you don’t get that reference, it’s a Star Trek thing.) Bane, like his mentor Ra’s al Ghul and other people “of the dark,” can often see themselves as the unpleasant tools of life. They understand and appreciate the personal wrongness of what they do, but can justify it as a means to an end.

I don’t think that applies to Palpatine, though, who’s just an all-around bastard.

Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, a Batman movie starring Tom Hardy as Bane because Bane is a primary villain in The Dark Knight Rises.
Another example of an Honest Bane. Darth Bane would be proud!

They’re Not Trying to Sell Soap

The idea that there’s some sort of political advantage to having a nicer name seems a byproduct of our marketing mindsets. After all, we’re self-marketers on social media, leveraging hashtags and keywords to generate engagement and satisfy our…whatever.

While Sheev Palpatine may have danced around it at first, note that he was exceedingly up front with Anakin Skywalker in the opera box. He flatly declares, “The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be…unnatural.

In short, there’s no reason not to call it The Dark Side. There’d be little to no point, because once you got past the name, you’d say, “Boy, that sounds pretty…dark. Like the opposite of light. Can we just stop calling it Fluffy Bunny Side and keep moving?”

It’s about pursuing things that are ultimately selfish. The means to achieve these things are against the Natural Order, like creating life using dark magic, or justifying the slaughter of innocents as a necessary tool.

Anakin is correct that the Sith – our model Dark Side users for the better part of four decades – think inwardly, only of themselves. It’s not limited to the Sith, and I’m not even bringing in the Nightsisters to supplement the argument. I’m not even talking about the Knights of Ren (or Stimpy).

There are people in the Star Wars galaxy using the Dark Side who have no affiliation, or who don’t even have a strong Force connection. Their selfish and monstrous acts simply feed that Dark Side.

The operatives of Crimson Dawn, the soldiers of the Empire, and the chalky visage of General Hux all display an honesty that, while not admirable, is exceedingly blunt. Those of The Dark Side don’t care about what you want to call it. What point is there in obfuscation once they’re revealed?

Their point is not simply to convert, but dominate. To borrow a line from Darth Sidious, “If you will not turn, you will be destroyed.” You can either be down with the sickness, or get 10,000 volts blasted at you through evil magic.

In Conclusion

What is that people always say they want to see more, anyway? Honesty! Billy Joel pointed out that it’s such a lonely word, and everyone is so untrue. So embrace the Dark Side’s honesty. They don’t care if you join, because they believe that their power will give them the way to win either way.

I should be president of the Dark Side. Too bad I don’t want to be.

Ray Park as Maul, who was formerly Darth Maul, but became Maul instead of Darth Maul because he wasn't a Sith and Darth is a Sith title and so he's just Maul for SEO purposes.
Remember, NOT a Sith at this point in the story. Do not use “Darth” or he’ll mess you up.

Were the Jedi Vegetarians?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. In the gaps between important thoughts that impact the family, as usual I start to wonder about Star Wars questions no one asked.

The Jedi could sense suffering and death. All living things were a part of The Force.

Therefore, I wondered if it would necessarily follow they were vegetarians.

We have on-screen evidence that the Jedi can sense the large scale suffering of beings. However, we don’t know that it has to be sentient life.

When Alderaan explodes, Obi-Wan gets heartburn. To extend this specific speculation, he merely says “millions of voices cried out” (which seems kind of low for a planetary population, but whatevs); maybe he was also sensing the forest creatures and house pets that the Alderaanians had.

Adding to that is the on-screen evidence of a link Jedi have for animals. In Attack of the Clones, Anakin can “connect” to the Reek so that he rides it. This implies some sort of affinity with creatures regardless of species.

Further pursuing the thought of heightened sensitivity, perhaps they were vegans. Living in a galactic culture where just about everything can be synthetically produced, it seems to follow that they’d have become vegans. If you feel the death of an animal through The Force, I imagine it dissuades you from consuming or killing it.

In an existence full of hyperspace and city planets, they’d have access to all the resources necessary to eschew animal-based products of any sort.

However

The strongest counterpoint is that the Jedi do seem to have their sensitivities tuned to the sentient. Luke kills the Rancor without so much as a light headache. Obi-Wan slices and dices the Acklay piece by piece. Mace Windu kills the Reek without a pause. For goodness’ sake, other Jedi drop like flies on Geonosis and the ones left standing are doing fine.

If they were that sensitive, then the Rancor eating the Gamorrean should have made Luke curl into a little ball and cry like an abandoned child.

In short, the animals of Star Wars can go screw. The Jedi obviously had barbecues.

Another Unanswered Question from Attack of the Clones

Today’s question is from Attack of the Clones.

And honestly, it’s one that’s bugged me for years.

Why Didn’t the Galactic Republic Have Some Sort of Armed Forces?

This one has the symbolic level – the Republic can go to war without the people minding because there isn’t a direct toll on their lives/lifestyles. If it doesn’t impact daily life, people tend not to give a care.

And I know that the Jedi are the guardians of peace for the Old Republic (or as I termed it many years ago, the Thugs of the Old Republic), and are supposedly working in tandem with the government to keep the peace across the galaxy.

And I know that there hasn’t been a war since the formation of the Republic (per Sio Bibble’s line in the film), and as hard as that is to swallow, I’ll accept the exposition as fact.

But come on. They had no token military at all? What if there were some sort of genocide-type thing happening on a planet? Wouldn’t the full military force of the Republic be used to protect the people being harmed?

The possibly horrifying conclusion is that the Republic is so hands-off about things that there are terrible things happening regularly and they just send in the Jedi every so often to intimidate and kill who they want removed. Kind of a crappy thought, but I’m interested – what do you think?

Why would the Republic not have a standing army of some sort?

Let’s Get Some Perspective Here

Lately there have been a few flare ups on the blog, on Twitter and elsewhere having to do with my love of the prequels. I was originally considering going with yet another rant about how much I honestly love them (I’m listening to the Episode III soundtrack right now, actually).

Before wading back into the “debate,” it struck me to take a different tack this time.

Whatever Do You Mean, k?

I mean that I’m going to put the ridiculous assertions to the test by measuring, one day at a time, the much–maligned prequels against films that really and truly are terrible. If for no other reason than to give some perspective on what I think is a ridiculous claim to assail them on purported quality. There are different aspects to this, and I will pick on each one.

Today I will go with a personal favorite: inconsistency.

Reinventing the Wheel

Connor MacLeod of the Clan..Wait, What? ZEIST? What the Hell is a Zeist?

Have you ever seen Highlander II: The Quickening? If yes, try to guess where I’m going with this. If no, the price of continuing on here is to rent and endure that piece of offal.

See, Highlander was a low-budget cult hit featuring the music of Queen, a completely awesome villain named Kurgan brought to life by Clancy “I’ll see anything with him in it now” Brown, Sean Connery still trying to find his post-Bond identity, Christopher Lambert and a plot involving…IMMORTALS WITH SWORDS KICKING ASS.

Highlander was all sorts of awesomesauce. It has a befuddling 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, barely approaching Revenge of the Sith’s 80% (see what I did there?). Granted, The Phantom Menace has 57% and Attack of the Clones has 67%, but I love all four of them.

Highlander II, however,was so bad that I don’t want to believe it exists. It recasts these mysterious immortals as aliens from the planet Zeist, ignores Kurgan and has some horse crap about environmentalism worked into it. It is beyond atrocious.

In my opinion.

But What Else?

What else do you need? For all the little hiccups you might have with the prequels being “consistent” with the original trilogy, one or two require some creative allowance, but they’re not unforgivable sins.

Highlander II, however, completely wrecks any attempts at consistency. In the first film, Connor MacLeod asks Ramirez what makes them immortals. Ramirez wistfully explains no one knows why. He muses that to ask such questions is like asking if “the stars are merely pin pricks in the curtain of night.” In the second film, they’re aliens from another planet, fully aware of what they are.

It also features one of the worst villains of all time.

Here’s the Catch

But I remember a guy in one of my film analysis classes who wrote a paper about the Highlander series and he loved Highlander II. It was the cornerstone of his paper! I remember thinking he was out of his mind and that the professor should flunk him on principle.

I have no idea what he got on the paper, but I can say that I look back now on my disdain for him and feel shame. He turned to me for support at one point and I left him high and dry. He didn’t deserve that.

Why?

Because even if I could never agree with him, he had his reasons for liking the film. More power to him.

The Real Chosen One: Other Theories and Final Conclusions

Here we are, the final chapter in the Chosen One saga.Obviously, my focus through the previous blogs was on the dilemma of the Chosen One. My three candidates are obvious: Qui-Gon, Anakin and Luke. The official take on things is that it’s Anakin, Luke is something of a fan-favorite choice and Qui-Gon stems from what could be called my unique perspective on things.

I’m living evidence that you don’t need to be in college, drunk or near weed to spend time to analyze small details. I’d hope, actually, that everyone’s figured out that my love for Star Wars is legitimate and more than just a nostalgic joyride. There’s no ironic act here; it’s simply that I see it through these eyes.

But instead of approaching the smattering of left-over tidbits like why Obi-Wan doesn’t qualify, why I don’t focus on Leia, and what music I use as my writing inspiration with the rigid format of the previous, I’m just going to go with an FAQ approach. Hopefully it encourages some of you to build on it in the comments section.

Why Doesn’t Obi-Wan Qualify?

Simply, because there’s nothing special about him.

This is not to say he’s not a pivotal character. Of course he is. He is instrumental in screwing up Anakin’s training and beginning Luke’s. But there’s nothing to Obi-Wan that says someone else couldn’t have been there in his place. Would it have changed the variables? Affected the outcome? Of course.

But changing the type of car I drive doesn’t mean I changed my destination.

Why Don’t I Consider Leia to be the Chosen One?

[For the people who like to be outraged and take screenshots out of context for their social media pogroms:JOKE FORTHCOMING.]Because women ruin everything. [It’s a joke.] The Chosen One is supposed to save it.[THAT WAS A JOKE.]

I kid, I kid. I don’t consider Leia to be a candidate for the Chosen One for two simple facts.

She’s not strong in the Force. Luke’s out there flying, able to skim Beggar’s Canyon thanks to some seriously innate Force skills. Vader can torture Leia at point-blank range and not even sense a disturbance (but does the Emperor?).

Second, so that I can drain some of the fun out of this for The Boy Wonder, Leia wasn’t Luke’s sister until story conferences for The Empire Strikes Back. The concept of twins was in the original script, but Lucas didn’t write Star Wars with the brother-sister thing fleshed out. This doesn’t bother me the way it bothers other people who were fine with it until the 1990s, but I do consider it sort of a DQ here.

What is Meant by “Balance of the Force”?

This is one that can’t be completely clear to anyone, I think. You have the immeasurably metaphorical balance of light and dark. In the TPM era, there’s too much light. In the original-trilogy era, there’s too much dark. Luke is the Superman, a blended balance of light and dark personified, and Leia will be the virtual well-spring of future Jedi.

There are two Jedi and two Sith (film character-wise) from the end of Revenge of the Sith to the end of Return of the Jedi, when the meaning of Jedi and Sith are rendered irrelevant. Technically the Jedi remain, but in a drastically different way.

Do I think that there were only two Jedi and two Sith in play until Luke came into his own? Frankly, yes.

This doesn’t mean there weren’t other Force users. Vader and Palpatine were described by Lucas as a dysfunctional couple always looking for something better, but they never found it until Luke offered the real potential. So yes, Balance was also for a time the strict 2-2 count between Jedi and Sith.

But ultimately I take “Balance” to mean, the eradication of the old order and the birth of the new (hope). Basically, the old system was broken beyond repair and had to be scrapped completely. This was the destiny. How that happened was determined by the actions of the major players.

One Final Note

The last theory I entertain is that the Prophecy wasn’t misread. It was read properly. But it was bungled by the Jedi (and specifically, Anakin) and so the Force intervened to put pieces in place that would ensure its fulfillment. It’s that whole “Free Will but within a Framework of Destiny” argument.

To wit: Anakin should have been left on Tatooine. Qui-Gon seriously screwed up by taking him away from his loving parent and putting him into the very system that would lead to his corruption. At the moment Qui-Gon works to influence Destiny (the chance cube with Watto), he sets off a chain reaction of events where The Force/midichlorians have to bat clean up. Then, as punishment for being a colossal douchebag, the Force keeps Anakin alive when he should be dead.

So..and here’s where I get weird…Anakin was the Chosen One until Qui-Gon dies/the Jedi reverse their decision about his training/he kills the Tuskens. The exact flashpoint doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Jedi initially recognized they shouldn’t train him. They even say he may be the Chosen One, but his training carries grave danger. In other words, let the Force have its day.

Instead, they act out of self-preservation to make the Chosen One influence the galaxy the way they see fit. Qui-Gon influences the die roll out of hubris and the desire to be “right.” So the midichlorians create the twins (Anakin and Padme as the conduit) as Plan B. One of those children then becomes the Chosen One; or they are the Force’s way of splitting the prophecy in two to make sure not all the power is concentrated in one vessel.

Like I said, it’s a little weird. But I kinda dig it.

Fin

Well, there you go. What say you?

The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Luke Skywalker

Sorry for the delay: child injured, stitches, horror, it’ll probably take me longer to recover from the experience than her. Jar Jar Hater’s heart is completely hardened to my pain, but seriously, the fact that I had to hold down my own child, screaming at a pitch and volume that I’ve never heard come from another human, as they turned her chin into a knitting project is just one of those horrific moments of complete helplessness that will haunt me for years to come.

Speaking of children, let’s get to who I consider to be our final legitimate candidate for Chosen One in the Star Wars galaxy.

I’m speaking, of course, about Luke Skywalker. He was mentioned in the comments when this series first started, and I think for a lot of the same reasons I’ll list here (plus a few others that I’ve collected after obsessively musing the question for the better part of the last 13 years).

But given all the other speculation, what compelling arguments exist that Luke is the one who was prophesied?

As it turns out, a fair number. But it’s not so straightforward in my mind as others might take it, and let me tell you why…

Building the Case for Luke Skywalker

The prophecy is specifically about one who will “bring balance to the Force.” The tip to the Jedi that it might be Anakin and that the prophecy may be coming true is that Anakin is apparently a directly-conceived child of the Force. Divine conception is a big tip that someone is a wee bit special, traditionally.

But the full text of the prophecy is never stated in the films and honestly, I don’t think it’s ever been spelled out anywhere. Even looking at a source that takes into account the expanded material never has specific text listed. And as with most of my examinations of the text of the films, the EU is discounted from these discussions. It is worth noting, however, that it would provide a fascinating supportive argument for Luke being The Chosen One by the mere existence of light/dark conflict beyond the six films.

And the collective editors of the wikis seem incapable even of acknowledging that the line that tips off the Council about the prophecy is the “conceived by the midichlorians” bit Qui-Gon sneaks in there. And I refuse to get into those discussions, because I gave up on the post-Jedi “Expanded Universe,” or allowing Lucas to be sole arbiter of interpretation for these works, a long time ago. In fact, I dislike it when a filmmaker tries to tell me “what I’m supposed to see” in the story, because that takes all the fun out of it.

But I digress.

Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter talk on Tatooine in the original Star Wars directed by George Lucas
“My dialogue from this scene reads like an Ayn Rand treatise…I’m going to get cut, aren’t I?”

Luke is the Expression of Balance

Plainly, Luke is the expression of balance. He personifies it. He has passion and he has love, but he does not let them rule him. He is part machine, but it does not define him. He wears black but is a hero and spiritual leader.

Like Anakin, the entire fate of the galaxy hinges on his personal decisions. His decision to leave Tatooine to become a Jedi leads to the destruction of the Death Star. His decision to leave his friends after Hoth leads to the death of the Empire.

While it may seem minor, Yoda’s life seems preserved by the Force for the sake of training him. However, couple that with the fact that Obi-Wan is able to commune with him directly after death; if you note, his physical presence as a spirit also becomes more pronounced as Luke grows stronger until he’s sitting next to the young Jedi on a log. The two Sith are moving to master him and by extension replace the other.

Beyond all that he makes the right choices, and with less opportunity, than Anakin. He has the opportunity for vengeance and instead exercises mercy. He does not have a lifetime of training to provide a clear definition of right and wrong, just being raised by loving, murdered “parents” unexpectedly.

He is Batman to Vader’s Bane. (Yeah, I made that connection. Geeksplosion!)

But most importantly, it is important to note that while Vader may be the hammer that smashes the Sith, it’s Luke’s willing self-sacrifice that is the force driving him. Vader, a monster in shape and action, is moved to destroy himself and the master of evil because of it.

In other words, the forgiveness he extends to the fallen redeems the world. Sure sounds like restoring balance to me.

What do you think?

Are these arguments more compelling than the ones for other characters? Less so?

Next Blog: The Real Chosen One: Other Theories and Final Conclusions

Just to give a tease on the last installment, I’ll address why Obi-Wan never enters the discussions, why I don’t focus on Leia, and what music I use as my writing inspiration for these blogs.

The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Anakin Skywalker

The most obvious choice for Chosen One in Star Wars has been, since 1999 at least, Anakin Skywalker. He was conceived by the midichlorians, was the most powerful Jedi in all six films, and the Jedi viewed him specifically through the prophecy of the “Chosen One.”

Sure, you could argue he wasn’t truly “most powerful” until he turned to the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith, but at that point you’re really going to lose yourself in the “when does he truly become Vader” debate.

It's Darth Vader, not Anakin with Yellow Eyes.
It’s Darth Vader, not “Anakin with Yellow Eyes.”

We’ve examined at length the unorthodox idea that Qui-Gon actually is The Chosen One – and the comments are well worth looking for further fleshing out and argument of that idea.

I reiterate, though, that the beauty of the discussion is that there is no wrong answer…depending on how you look at it. If people in the real world can tell me that morals are to be viewed on a sliding scale, then surely something as trivial as this can be too.

Building the Case for Anakin

The primary trouble with building a compelling case for Anakin as the Chosen One, is that in many ways it feels like a pointless debate, since it’s easy to accept.

He is the tying thread in galactic events through all six episodes of the saga and has a hand in laying the Jedi low, and then destroying the Sith (killing the true Sith convert, Dooku, and eventually the Sith Lord of All Sith Lords, Sidious).

He is conceived by the Force itself, via the midichlorians, which was supposed to be a sign from the prophecy. Remember that it is Qui-Gon’s statement on Anakin’s supposedly divine birth that stuns Windu into referencing the prophecy in the first place.

Further, the statement that I used to jump off with this series which showed the prophecy may have been misread, is one that simply can mean, “Well, we thought balance was all awesome and everything, but darned if we didn’t do the math right and figure out that we were the ones throwing things out of balance and the Force wants to clean house.”

So What Would Make It Inescapable?

Frankly, Anakin is the sensible choice for this debate for all the reasons listed above. So I try to latch on to something that makes it an unexpectedly persuasive argument in his favor.

The tiny little detail that kind of seals it is more subtle than you might suspect. Hidden in plain sight, so to speak.

It’s that the entire fate of the galaxy hinges on his personal decisions. The moment when Anakin chooses to ally himself with the Sith—and he is forced to choose, even after all the evil he has done, as opposed to passively accept—is the moment when the Dark Side specifically gains the irrevocable upper hand to take control of the galaxy again.

It’s not Windu’s death that Yoda feels in the Force. He reacts after Anakin kneels and pledges himself to Sidious. One man’s pledge has sent dynamic ripples through the very fabric of existence and changed the fate of every last man, woman, child, clone, Ewok and robot.

I believe that’s the most clear indication that Destiny and Free Will interact—at least in the Star Wars universe—the way that they interact in Frank Herbert’s Dune. There are many paths but they all pass through the same key points.

In other words, The Force was going to get back into balance one way or another and Anakin’s choices determined how. If he hadn’t saved Palpatine, would he have gone down a similar path? Would he have found a way to leave the Order and show the Jedi a new way to be?

What do you think?

Next Blog: The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Luke Skywalker

The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Qui–Gon Jinn

As expected, the opinions about The Chosen One for Star Wars aren’t really as cut–and–dry as they appear at first glance.

We had a vote for Anakin, who over the arc of the six films arguably fulfills that role, Luke, who succeeds by becoming “a better Jedi” than his old man and a supporting vote for Qui–Gon.

I received some off–line comments indicating that there were people who had an opinion but were far too lazy to leave their thoughts here.

The beauty of the discussion is that there is no really wrong answer; as Obi–Wan might frustratingly point out, it all depends on your point of view.

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan

Building the Case for Qui–Gon

I think that the idea of Qui–Gon as Chosen One has merit and is worth examining.

As a jumping point, I want to use one of the comments left on the previous post:

The Boy Wonder observed astutely:

It makes sense, after all, Qui-Gon is the one who set the balance in motion with finding Anakin. If there was not Qui-Gon, then there is not finding the boy and there is no way for the Dark Side to truly get its full strength.

And I agree to a large extent. Qui–Gon sets everything in motion. He is, in fact, the vessel to deliver the means of balance to the universe. In other words, he delivers Anakin, the tool by which the midichlorians will make their will known on the galaxy: clear the plate and start again.

But That Is Not Enough

While that is certainly a good start, it doesn’t truly elevate Qui–Gon beyond Dalai Lama and we’re looking for the Panchen Lama here. While the prophecy is not definitive on who is precisely the one who will bring balance, it is supposed to be the one that actually brings the Force into balance.

So being the one who finds Anakin is not enough by that standard.

So what argument exists to vault Qui–Gon that extra length to the highest height?

Easy.

Life After Death

Qui–Gon becomes the first Jedi we as the audience witness retaining his identity after death. However briefly, we hear his voice in Attack of the Clones.

The fact that we hear him reaching out from beyond the grave in an attempt to stop Anakin’s downward spiral from starting also is a strong argument that he not only achieved total consciousness but can at least attempt to affect life in “reality.”

This is important because (though I know some readers will groan) the point is made in the novelization that this is unique; the novelization was born with Lucas’ direct involvement in an age when he was much more controlling about what was said in directly supporting materials.

However, we also get a glimpse into this when Yoda counsels Anakin in Revenge of the Sith.

Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.

In other words, quit your belly–achin’ kid, we’re all dust when this is through.

And Then…

But Qui–Gon bridges this obvious gap and opens the pathway to the afterlife. At the end of Sith, Yoda drops the bomb on Obi–Wan that his old master will teach him how to retain his identity and commune with those still living.

So we have a balanced Jedi who retains his consciousness and later provides the tools by which Anakin’s evil can be undone after he was also the one who delivered him to the galaxy to do the damage in the first place. And it’s here we see an extra argument for him as The Chosen One.

For Qui–Gon has enabled the destruction of the Old Order and is the one who provides Obi–Wan and Yoda the means to train Luke even if they die before his trials are complete.

Heck, you could even say that he is “brought back” from the afterlife by the Force specifically because Anakin went down an unintended path.

So Is Qui–Gon The Chosen One?

Maybe. I’m not not particularly advocating that as the case. I really started writing this series just as a mental exercise. It’s certainly a worthwhile discussion.

But after reasoning it out here, I’d have to say that there are some pretty strong arguments in favor of it.

What do you think?

The Real Chosen One: Introduction

Some of you reading this may be (hopefully) people who just discovered this blog recently thanks to WordPress’ kind featuring of my last piece on Freshly Pressed. If so, welcome. It’s not always about Star Wars and Star Trek, but trust me, most of the time it is. Just with a fresher perspective of things.

This piece is something I’ve mulled for some time. It’s an examination of Star Wars that came to me as I was re–examining a lingering point from the prequels.

I started to think about a question that’s sort of plagued me in recent years as I think about the “Prophecy of the Chosen One” in Star Wars lore.

Namely, was it really Anakin? Was his accomplishment of really the one that the prophecy foresaw?

To approach this completely, I want to hit on two benchmarks of dialogue from the films.

In Episode I, Yoda muses to Obi-Wan, “The Chosen One, the boy [Anakin] may be. Nevertheless, grave danger I fear in his training.”

Yoda does not share the now–deceased Qui–Gon’s enthusiasm for the child, and the Council at this point has overridden his objections to allow Obi–Wan to train him. “Agree with you the Council does” is an important distinction for Yoda to draw. He doesn’t say “I” or “we” agree with you [Obi–Wan], but that the Council does. The cranky old muppet got out–voted.

So from the beginning we have doubt about Anakin’s true nature and the role he will truly play.

Revenge of the Sith

Moving past the fact that Anakin is a “slow learner” and has yet to mature into his role as a Knight, much less the Chosen One (a point which Mace Windu raises) we get to the heart of where the question really blossoms.

The deepest verbal doubt was further cast in Episode III with this exchange:

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Anakin did not take to his new assignment with much enthusiasm.
Mace Windu: It’s very dangerous, putting them together. I don’t think the boy can handle it. I don’t trust him.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: With all due respect, Master, is he not the Chosen One? Is he not to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force?
Mace Windu: So the prophecy says.
Yoda: A prophecy that misread could have been.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: He will not let me down. He never has.
Yoda: I hope right you are.

And it was reviewing that exchange that got me thinking, if the prophecy is wrong, then who is the Chosen One?

Mulling it over, it came to me that a potential alternative answer is there for us, if we look at it from a certain point of view.

The real “Chosen One” may be Qui–Gon Jinn.

I know, I know. Not even he would expect that to be the case, as he’s the one that discovered Anakin and proclaimed him to be.

He’s the first Jedi known to achieve true immortality, the one who listened to the will of The Force (God) without hesitation and who accepted all things on calm, assured faith. And again, without him Yoda and Obi–Wan don’t receive the gift that is retaining individual consciousness after death.

From there, I started really thinking about it.

Qui-Gon Considers Things
Even Qui-Gon is taken aback by the concept that I’m about to lay out there.

Next blog: The Real Chosen One: Building the Case for Qui–Gon Jinn

An Unanswered Question from Revenge of the Sith

So here we are, the end of our series of unanswered questions from the Star Wars saga.

But not really. I’m walking away for a little bit, but you can bet this topic comes back. Considering the entire concept was spurred by a question I asked Agent Bun just before we watched The Amazing Spider–Man, which was better than people gave it credit for and definitely better than Prometheus, the focus will expand. But for now…the curtain falls.

So here is my question (for now) regarding Revenge of the Sith.

Why Didn’t Mace Windu Take More Than Just Jedi to Accuse and Arrest the Chancellor?

I mean, on some level he had to know where things were headed. Especially since Anakin leveled the charge that Palpatine was the Sith Lord, meaning all of the focused physical power of the Dark Side was now manifesting in him alone just before they went off to get him.

I get that the Jedi were cocky, but this just makes Windu seem so cocksure as to be stupid. The troops were still loyal to you, and there was a whole battalion (I guess) headquartered in the temple or near it. If you went with a platoon of soldiers, at least you’d give Palpatine a motivation to “play it cool” and at least cede political power while things were “sorted out.”

He wouldn’t be issuing orders for one thing. Orders that led to the wiping out of the Jedi.

Unlike some of the previous ones, I don’t have a ready–made, logical answer to this one other than to say that Windu is already teetering on the edge of the Dark Side and motivated by a quest not for justice at that point, but vengeance.

Also for the record, I know that the way it is in the film is more dramatic, and played that way on purpose, but the whole point of this series is to look at things from different angles and try to imagine different ways it could have played. So don’t go responding that it’s for the sake of drama. I want a serious nerd over–examination of it.

An Unanswered Question from Attack of the Clones

Once more, I wade into potentially troublesome territory. But everyone stayed nice and on-topic with An Unanswered Question from The Phantom Menace—or resisted the urge to walk into my brazen trap like Jar Jar Hater and KCSMM—so let’s continue the series to its logical conclusion.

Today’s question is from Attack of the Clones. Like the previous, I have my own answer/response in mind, but want to see where anyone/everyone else goes with it. And since I’m gamely attempting to figure out again if Google+ is anywhere near worth the effort, I’m going to re–post it there.

Why Didn’t Dooku Sense Obi–Wan from Ten Feet?

Vader sensed Obi–Wan/Luke from outside the hold of the Falcon.

Obi–Wan sensed Sidious at work through the Force from across the galaxy in The Phantom Menace.

Vader sensed Luke hiding like a little Pinkman in the Throne Room in Return of the Jedi.

So why couldn’t Dooku, walking about ten feet away from Obi–Wan, sense him? Here was this venerable fallen Master of the Force, trained personally by Yoda as a Padawan and now a full–fledged Sith, turn and burn him to the ground?

Obi–Wan also hides in an alcove right above the conference of Separatists and Dooku doesn–t bat an eye.

Obi–Wan then runs off to his ship and sends a signal out to warn the galaxy about the construction of a top–secret army of Battle Droids Dooku is supervising.

So what say you? Was Dooku unable to sense Obi–Wan Kenobi, later to be venerated as one of the greatest and most powerful Jedi in history, hiding within arm’s reach?

What does that say about his connection to the Force? Was Palpatine really just keeping him at arm’s reach and using him as a place holder until a true inheritor to Darth Maul could be found?

Again, I have my own line of answers and I think they’re pretty firmly supported by the “text” of the films. But this series is about what you think.

The Phantom Menace: My Multi-Dimensional Review

Given: I am a Star Wars fan.

Given: I am a fan of the prequels. I’m a fan of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith as much as (if not more than) A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Given: If you give me a chance to see any of the six movies in theatres again, for any reason, I will go. I’m honest about it, and if you have a problem with it, well, I don’t care.

Given: I am skeptical at best of the 3D experience and/or its ability to enhance a film not originally shot for the format.

Given: I went to go see The Phantom Menace in 3D this past weekend.

What was the result? Only those who dare view the whole post will know.

Which Version?

The greatest question any Star Wars fan can ask when going to see a modern re-release is, “Which version of the movie will I see in 3D?”

Now, set aside the petty quips about Special Editions, DVD variances and Digital Tinkering. It becomes a more valid question, actually, because the recent 3D re-release of Beauty & the Beast was the non-DVD version without the additional musical number “Human Again” (which, actually, is the only version my girls watch anymore). Strangely enough, I also learned while going through final edits for this blog that Disney® ™ had released a 3D BluRay edition of Beauty & The Beast before even releasing it to theaters. Not a peep from people about .

So all fans can rest assured that the cut released in 3D is the superior BluRay version complete with digital Yoda (best digital character I’ve seen yet), smoother conversation edits, alternate reaction shots and the music soundtrack re-timed and re-mixed to maximize the emotional undercurrent of dialogue scenes.

Does It Improve the Experience?

It’s kinda neat. I’m still not sold on 3D, and I think that audiences are going to get tired of it.

But when the opening title crawl rolls up, against the star field, it’s immediately cool. I saw it opening day with my daughter, and she thought that was pretty neat. In fact, she liked the film so much that she’s watched the BluRay three times since.

Which actually brings me to my next point. There are some sequences that are extremely cool in 3D. For example: the pod race, space battle and lightsaber battle at the end do indeed pop, and there is actually some background “stage business” that comes out in some scenes that makes them flow more organically. There are actually some reaction shots and character interactions that are different takes and/or enhanced by the background characters having, at turns, more and less emphasis.

But for all of the neat 3D effects that happen whenever there are digital characters or a lot of effects layering, you do in fact lose a lot of the color vividity. When I re-watched once with Maddy, the colors in HD on the BluRay just smoked the 3D print.

So it does underline the trade-off: what’s most important to you? HD picture and breathtaking color? Or sitting in a theatre enjoying popcorn and enjoying the ride?

(Tangentially: I said to a friend that Titanic is going to be the watershed moment for the re-release formatting: if that 3-hour behemoth can draw people back in (who have seemingly since soured on the experience and opinion of the film based on my anecdotal conversational evidence), then 3D re-releases and the 3D format will stick around for a good long while. If Titanic fails to open in the Top Five, then we could see the format fade more quickly.

Of course, please remember that when Disney® ™ and James Cameron® ™ re-release things in 3D, that’s OK. But never George Lucas.)

The Final Lesson

Again, 3D post-processing is not perfect and I’m not a particular fan.

But I figure if you’re going to re-release a film for the fans to come see in the theatre, what the heck.

At least it’s something different.

And as I pointed out above, any shots with a lot of layering look pretty cool.

Given that Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were basically shot in front of green screens, I’m anticipating that the post-processing method will actually work even better. And I’m definitely looking forward to the key sequences from Revenge of the Sith like the opening space battle.

It was $10 a ticket when I went to a morning show with Roo. Granted, we went pretty early in the morning, which isn’t always practical, but it was still fairly equal to the average ticket price. It was cheaper than the $11.50 I encounter normally for a ticket, so cost wasn’t a factor this time.

Will it change anyone’s opinion of the film, or 3D post-processing in particular? No.

Did I enjoy it? Yes.

But I enjoy The Phantom Menace genuinely, and this more–tightly–edited version in particular. To me, it was worth the time and effort, and I got the surreal experience of taking Roo to a Star Wars film in the theatre the way my dad took me all those years ago.

And it’s kinda more about our experiences than the things that spur them anyway…but that’s a blog for another day.

Darn It, Where Are My Expanded Soundtracks?

I’m going to be brief, but a bit nerdier than usual today.

Expanded soundtracks have been released for Episodes I, IV, V and VI. Empire Strikes Back‘s expanded offering features alternate music that got “spotted” out of the film in favor of silence or more subdued cues (one of which, I disagree with, but it’s not a big deal). Return of the Jedi‘s expanded soundtrack includes music that was likewise altered, and a musical cue for a scene that didn’t even make the final cut. A New Hope‘s featured music from an entirely cut sequence that was later re-purposed for an expanded entrance to Mos Eisley in the Special Edition.

Episode I‘s is pretty much the entire musical audio reel for the film, including background music that I didn’t even notice was there until I heard the disc for the first time (I can’t not notice it when I watch the film, now).

Episodes II and III, however, have gotten the single-disc treatment and have never been expanded. This is kind of bogus, for someone who’s a real fan of the music. Williams’ scores provide the heart and soul of these films – to the point where you have to admit they wouldn’t succeed without them – and I want every single ding-dong-doo-dah note.

There’s a beautiful cue at the end of Revenge of the Sith that’s truncated and it just irks me because…well, I’m a nerd. But aside from that, it’s one of the most stirring pieces and I want to hear it. There are incidental cues from Attack of the Clones that are terrific, and I’d also like to hear any alternate track treatments, like they have on the other expanded soundtracks.

For that matter, while every one else complains that they can’t (yet) get the “unaltered” films on disc – though technically they were released, just not to everyone’s satisfaction – the soundtrack thing is a gripe I have.

Make no mistake, it’s not because I can compose music or play an instrument. It’s because I thoroughly enjoy the music and it relaxes me. And when I’m working on something, it helps me focus and get things done. The unaltered soundtrack is a way for me to have the movie playing in my head while doing something else, so I’m coming at the sometimes-tedious work of scanning HTML or tweaking a design from a happy place. And I want Clones and Sith expanded soundtracks, but no one joins in it with me when I register those gripes on the Web site, or directly at Lucasfilm employees on Twitter.

I know it’s not the worst thing in the world, and obviously I can survive without them. But as a fan(atic) about the music, it’d be nice to get a little bit of love here.