“Love can’t save you Padme. Only my new powers can do that.”
“Hold me like you did by the lake in Naboo.”
And I’m thinking, “Sweet fuck, why?”
To his credit Hayden Christiansen really gave it his all. He told the story he wanted to tell, he worked as best he could with the lame dialogue and sudden loyalty-switching scene that had very little lead-up. It was a poorly written script. Lucas spent the first half of the movie lovingly panning through long, drawn-out shuttle docking sequences, and must have realized two-thirds of the way through the film that he was actually telling a story that somehow involved the actions of people, and he spent the last half of the movie cutting through a series of quick-cut scenes of the most disrespectful sort that not only insult your actors, but insult your own worldbuilding skills, so that Super Jedi who can “sense” things with the force get taken out by a couple of blaster-shots to the back (in fact, only two Jedi besides Obi-wan actually get any sort of actual fight scene when they get turned on, both of them being men).
The tragedy of this movie is watching what is, at core, a really great story about how power corrupts, and how you kill what you love, and turn yourself into a monster. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch someone who’s a great “idea” guy fuck up stuff like the actual telling of a story: he has no intuitive sense of narrative drive, of how to cut a scene, of when to trust his actors to deepen a scene, of when to edit a fight scene because they all look alike. In fact, he’s not even sure of the right balance between fight scenes and character/plot scenes. Any scene with dialogue is almost always painful. Ewan McGregor is about the only one who can do anything at all with the shitty dialogue, though Hayden gives it his all: you can tell that he was holding out for this movie and fuck George if he wanted him to play it wooden, cause this is why he signed up for this shit, to be fucking Darth Vader.
And then, of course, there’s the Holy Womb of Antioch.
I mean, Padme.
The Senator, right? Busy doing senatorial things, meeting with people, having her own subplot, caught up in negotiating with Jedi and telling Palpatine to fuck off and engaging in long talks with the new Queen about domestic policy and…
Oh, I’m sorry, I was thinking of the wrong movie.
In fact, every scene Padme is in, she’s sitting on a couch or standing at a window or standing on the balcony staring blankly at something, pregnant, (because everyone knows pregnant women live like invalids) waiting for the scene to start. Waiting for Anakin or some Jedi to come in and break up her staring-at-the-wall reverie. Natalie Portman checked out of this movie a long time ago. And who can blame her? It was utterly obvious from the writing that she was only there as a peice of scenery. Her hair and clothes changed drastically with every scene; she was a walking, talking set peice.
And her death scene? Oh, yea, death scene in childbed in the 80th century! The robots attending her surmise that “There’s nothing physically wrong with her. She just seems to have lost the will to live.”
Lost. the. will. to. live.
Luckily, she lives long enough to contort her face into what resemebles the face one would make during a particularly troublesome bowel movement, and squirt!-squirt! – there’s Luck and Leia! Isn’t that cute! I’m the director, and I’m just going to blast through all this silly plot and character stuff here at the end, cause everybody already knows what’s going to happen. I’m going to let the next three movies in the series inform just how significant this moment is, so I don’t have to work at it and write actual dialogue that makes sense!
So the men and robots make the decision to “operate” quickly to “save the babies” – an operation which essentially consists of her delivering the kids the regular way, not via Cesaerean, so I’m not sure what planet these robots came from where they thought natural childbirth was an operation, but they should probably be mindwiped.
But lo! Padme’s death is appropriately celebrated like any good female martyr’s – there’s a great parade through the streets and she’s in an open coffin with flowers all over her like good virginal Snow White. Having fulfilled her purpose for living, the Holy Womb is delivered unto the underworld. All hail the holy womb!
And this is the end, purpose, and plot we get for the only female heroine in the entire movie. She exists to give birth to Darth Vader’s kids. No hopes, desires, dreams of her own, except to escape back to Naboo with Vader and raise up his babies. Um, hello, isn’t she a Senator? Isn’t there work to do? Shouldn’t she have scenes where she did work? Couldn’t she have been better involved in the plot? I’d almost rather she didn’t have any scenes at all and the babies were just sent off to Obi-wan to distribute, but we were supposed to have these stupid scenes with Vader and Padme where they had this obvious love and chemistry for each other, so we could see why he’d go crazy and go all dark thinking that she’d die unless he had his “new powers.”
It’s such an incredibly sad movie to watch because you can see all these really neat set peices: the image of the Jedi temple burning, Anakin going in to kill all of the Jedi – including the children, the plausible scenerio of how a president/prime minister becomes a despot by ruling through fear, all of Yoda’s extreme coolness, Obi-wan’s affection for Anakin. All ruined, just ruined, because the delivery was for shit.
I just didn’t buy it. It was poorly written, and the actors were insulted with very little slow scene time in which to emote or at least pretend to feel something. Instead it was “line, line, line, CUT: new scene line, line, line: CUT.”
Thank God. Because really, Luke and Leia are way more interesting in the next three movies than just about anybody got to be in these three movies, so the sooner we get back to them, the better.
If anyone ever comes to my house and discovers that I own any of these three prequels, please feel free to put me out of my misery.