Anakin just murdered an entire clan, or tribe, of Tusken Raiders and is returning to the Lars homestead with his mother’s body. Padme cares very little for this fact, shrugging off their deaths as a natural result of human anger. And, as if that weren’t disturbing enough, from this point onwards, the galaxy runs headlong for civil war, though that course of action is not the logical result of anything.
Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones (01.23.09-01.35.28)
Anakin rides up, and carries his mother’s body into the homestead. He still looks pretty pissed while he does this. Meanwhile, one thing to notice during this scene, and remembering the rest of the scenes on Tatooine: everyone wears one change of clothing, except Padme, who here, like everywhere, changes clothes every ten minutes. When does she do this, and why? And how much of her taxpayer’s income goes toward funding, and transporting, her obscenely massive wardrobe?
Anyway, on to the true horror of this section of Attack of the Clones. Padme finds Anakin in the shop, the very same workshop in which Luke will fiddle with an older Artoo and find a message from Leia to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Anakin is fixing the shifter on the speeder, and Padme offers blue milk and cookies. Anakin talks incoherently for a few minutes about nothing before exploding into a small rage and blaming Obi-Wan for his failure to remake the universe as he saw fit. (By the way, this discussion is very much a rehash of the earlier conversation in Padme’s apartment back on Coruscant.)
Anakin is acting like a five year old who has never seen death before, which is impossible. He has been living at the Jedi temple ever since he was “rescued” from Tatooine by Qui-Gon Jinn, and given the way the Jedi celebrate death, I find it hard to believe he never once attended a bonfire funeral and learned about death. Or his mother’s death has forced a psychological break in which he has reverted to a child-like state, which could explain his temper tantrum, ie, mass murder. Padme even responds to him as she would a child: “sometimes there are things no one can fix” before trying to gently crush his thoughts that he can stop death: “you are not all powerful” but Anakin isn’t listening: “well, I should be!” (01.24.37). What? Where does this idea come from? The quiet whispers of Palpatine?
At this point, Padme should be starting to seriously reconsider her relationship with, and physical proximity to, Anakin. Delusions of grandeur and megalomania are signs of an increasingly unstable person.
Anakin continues to sound like an angry little child when he insists that he will be “the most powerful Jedi ever!” I mean, I would expect to hear this from a kid throwing a tantrum, but not a 19 year old (01.24.48). I am starting to think that while George Lucas was writing this dialogue he was thinking of the 9 year old little kid Anakin was in the Phantom Menace: “I’ve built the fastest pod ever!”
Padme asks what is wrong. And gets this reply:
“I…I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead. Every. Single. One of them. And not just the men. But the women. And the children, too. They’re like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals. I HATE them!” (01.25.50).
Padme should be running, not walking, back to her ship and blasting the heck away from Tatooine, or calling the Jedi Council for someone to come and lock up her boyfriend before he slaughters anyone else like an animal.
“To be angry is to be human,” (01.26.09). What? what is she doing? Sitting down, talking gently, rubbing hair, giving Darth Vader safe haven? No. She is a senator of the Galactic Republic, a person of annoyingly high moral character, outraged over the littlest form of injustice and a human being, and she shrugs off an admission of wholesale slaughter of innocents with a trite platitude. Murder may be the natural human response to a great injustice, but it is one almost every civilized nation on this planet condemns and expects its citizens to restrain from exercising. We lock up and execute people who refuse to follow this mostly universal and very simple rule. Nothing explains why Padme absorbs and promptly forgets Anakin’s admission of heinous guilt. But, she will do the exact same thing several times again in Revenge of the Sith. More and more I think Padme is as tweaked as Anakin.
Artoo interrupts a funeral, and more pathetic whining and self-aggrandizement from Anakin, “carrying a message from an Obi-Wan Kenobi” in a cute little foreshadowing of a New Hope (01.28.06). I want to draw attention to Lucas’ editing style in the next little sequence: he tends to leap from point to point in a story while skipping as much of the connective tissue as possible. This is a tendency that he has carried for a while, a fact confirmed to me when I recently read a transcript of a story meeting between Lucas, Spielberg, and Larry Kasdan in which they discussed Raiders of the Lost Ark scene by scene. To whit: Anakin and Padme suddenly appear inside Padme’s ship, and then a few Jedi and Senators suddenly appear in Chancellor Palpatine’s office. There is no farewell scene between Anakin and the Lars family. There is no explanation as to why Kenobi’s voicemail is relayed to the Senate building instead of the Jedi Temple, or what this group is even doing there. The setting of these scenes is convenient, and the jumps between them designed to waste as little time as possible, but sometimes those connective moments need to remain. Rather than have Indiana Jones immediately appear in different countries, someone (I am guessing Spielberg) put in travel montages overlaying a map to imply travel time. It wasn’t much, but I think it was more elegant than “Scene Cuts to Morocco”. Personally I think that Anakin just walked away from the Larses without a word, much in the same way that he arrived, but seeing that would reinforce just how much of a dick Vader is. But, I think it is much more important why that particular group is assembled in Palpatine’s office.
Why does Padme react with more horror to Kenobi being attacked in his video voicemail than to Anakin’s admission of mass murder?
Anyway, Yoda says something very obvious: “more happening on Geonosis, I feel, than has been revealed” and like Windu replies, “I agree” (01.28.59). Right after this plans are made to vote Palpatine emergency powers so that he can approve the creation of a clone army that already exists so that the Jedi can take it to Geonosis and start a war with a political group “within” the Republic over the incarceration and planned execution of one Jedi who was probably trespassing.
I don’t know where to begin. Hmm. Ok, back to Anakin: “if he’s still alive” (01.29.29). Good point. Before launching the galaxy into civil war, why not ascertain all the facts first? The Jedi Council, Palpatine, and Padme all jump to conclusions an decide on lethal action before any attempt at all is made to actually figure out what the heck is going on. Isn’t this a Senate sanctioned Jedi investigation? Isn’t Palpatine in negotiations with the Separatists? Couldn’t he open talks with Count Dooku about the events and get his side of the story? All of these people assume that Kenobi is about to be killed, or is in danger of death, but he could be A) already dead or B) incarcerated. And even if he is important enough for some sort of military action, wouldn’t a covert operation with Jedi commandos be better than a full scale invasion of what appear to be completely legal droid manufacturing plants on a planet that may never have been part of the Republic? I know that Palpatine is eager to launch his Jedi killing war which will vault him into emperorship, but is no one else realizing what is blatantly occurring? Even the good Senator Bail Organa is simply looking for a loophole that will short circuit the debate in the Senate that has thus far stonewalled creation of a Republic army. Obviously many Senators are still against an army and open war with the Separatists, and I fail to see them all just quietly going along with this grave miscarriage of justice and governmental responsibility.
And another thing, what would make perfect sense is for Anakin to rush off to try to save Kenobi after being given strict orders not to interfere because the Republic doesn’t want to start a war, but he does so anyway because Obi-Wan “is like [his] father” (01.29.35). Padme has to convince Anakin to do something he just did. Anakin disobeyed strict orders to protect Amidala by high-tailing it to Tatooine to save his mother, so why does he need to be convinced to do the exact same thing? Come on, Lucas, this was an easy scene to write!
One more thing, back in Palpatine’s office, during the discussion of how to hoodwink the Senate into allowing the creation of an army, Palpatine’s advisor laments (in one of the more ridiculous exchanges in the movie) “if only Senator Amidala were here” in an attempt to get Jar Jar to volunteer as political pawn (01.30.46). That makes no sense, because Amidala was, in the beginning of the film, flying to Coruscant to vote against the Military Creation Act. She was the strongest opponent of such action, even. She would be the last person to give Palpatine that power. This writing/internal logic/plot planning is so bad it hurts.
Lastly, there is a little scene between Count Dooku and Obi-Wan Kenobi which is meant to mirror the confrontation between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back, but without the emotional weight, drama, and high stakes. Much is revealed, but because Kenobi is a fool and an idiot, all the truths are dismissed as outright lies. Count Dooku tells Obi-Wan all of this as plainly and as honestly as possible and Kenobi hums and puts his fingers in his ears. If this weren’t so stupid (I mean, at least pretend to believe and pump for information to be verified later!) it would be laughable how obstinate Kenobi is being. Dooku tries to recruit him, somewhat lamely, and mentions that he thinks Qui-Gon Jinn would join him, and given my examination of Jinn during Phantom Menace, I believe him completely. Jinn would definitely have joined Dooku, and that would have been an interesting wrinkle in the story.
But, while Kenobi spins in disbelief, Anakin flies to his rescue, Jar Jar votes emergency powers, and the galaxy drives towards senseless war on the wings of Mace and his Jedi and Yoda and his clones.