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View Full Version : The mistake of making Anakin the focus of the PT



jeddah
08-03-2004, 05:07 AM
Hi,

I was reading one of JTs replies in the Seb Shaw usurpation thread and something struck me which I felt warranted its own home. Hence;

As GL has said the PT is about the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, and this is what is and has been portrayed in those films. The thing that doesn't integrate too well is the focus given to his redemption. If Anakin's fall takes 3 films, how come his redemption is dealt with so quickly and cursorily in ROTJ? Luke claims he can still feel good in him, and then <boom> the Emperor fires some blue frizzy stuff and Vader has a change of heart because it is my son he's hurting. It seems a little hamfisted compared to the dramatic tensions that Lucas sets up in the PT.

The PT has been at pains to show Anakin's motivation for falling under the charms of the Dark Side and has given us a believable background and motivation for his doing so. Should his redemption therefore not be equally as fleshed out?

I guess I just realised the things I take for granted as gospel in the OT are not beyond reproach.

(Furthermore, could Lucas have made an entirely separate story for the PT, veering away from Darth Vader and Anakin? I don't think he was forced to go with that. DV could simply have been an arch bad guy. The Clone Wars could have been dealt with as they hint at having a bearing on the Empire in the OT but DV's role was not imperative until GL came up with this "chosen one" PT ethos.)


jeddah

B_C
08-03-2004, 08:59 AM
If I remember correctly, ROTJ would have been completely different if George Lucas had not got tired of working on the films. I read somewhere that the relationship between Gary Kurtz and George Lucas had become strained between the making of Empire and Jedi because, Lucas had always said Star Wars would be a 9 part saga. You would never see the emporer in person until episode 9, he would always be holograms. Han Solo would become a martyr to the rebel cause...etc. Lucas just got fed up and decided to wrap everything up in one film and Kurtz didn't want to stay on because of the creative differences he had. I may have over simplyfied the story, but that is why Jedi is such a busy film. I think it may have been the Insider where I read it.

JEDIpartner
08-03-2004, 09:10 AM
...and curiously, it's my least favourite film of the series so far!

:eek:

Yep, you read that correctly.

Kidhuman
08-03-2004, 09:24 AM
So instead of getting someone different we get a shortened version of the story? Way to go Porgie.

stillakid
08-03-2004, 11:02 AM
Hi,

I was reading one of JTs replies in the Seb Shaw usurpation thread and something struck me which I felt warranted its own home. Hence;

As GL has said the PT is about the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, and this is what is and has been portrayed in those films. The thing that doesn't integrate too well is the focus given to his redemption. If Anakin's fall takes 3 films, how come his redemption is dealt with so quickly and cursorily in ROTJ? Luke claims he can still feel good in him, and then <boom> the Emperor fires some blue frizzy stuff and Vader has a change of heart because it is my son he's hurting. It seems a little hamfisted compared to the dramatic tensions that Lucas sets up in the PT.

The PT has been at pains to show Anakin's motivation for falling under the charms of the Dark Side and has given us a believable background and motivation for his doing so. Should his redemption therefore not be equally as fleshed out?

I guess I just realised the things I take for granted as gospel in the OT are not beyond reproach.

(Furthermore, could Lucas have made an entirely separate story for the PT, veering away from Darth Vader and Anakin? I don't think he was forced to go with that. DV could simply have been an arch bad guy. The Clone Wars could have been dealt with as they hint at having a bearing on the Empire in the OT but DV's role was not imperative until GL came up with this "chosen one" PT ethos.)


jeddah


Yeah, I've been saying this for years. The point of the saga never started out as being "Darth's story" or "Anakin's story" or even Luke's for that matter. The Saga was a much broader tale about the rise and fall and recovery of The Republic. To tell that story, the filmmakers used a variety of characters to show the broad strokes as well as the more personal tragedies and triumphs of such a struggle.

Then somewhere in there (mid 1990s I think), the saga got hijacked and suddenly became all about Anakin throwing the focus way out. It is from this primary change that so much of the incongruity of the saga is derived. The Prequels should have been more "global" in scale, moreso than the Original Trilogy was. In fact, that's what Lucas promised us so long ago when he described future films (the prequels) as being "Machevellian." In the same interview, he suggested that audiences wouldn't like the new films as they would be focusing more on the politics and be less "action film" like as the OT films are. Clearly, Lucas had a change of heart and is now downplaying the politics in favor of pleasing the 3-7 crowd (or so he thinks). Flashy images, fart jokes, and dancing cartoons to please the kiddies is now the priority over telling a solid story that leads into the established continuity. And as such, he's vandalizing the original films to bring them down to the level of the new ones instead of making the new films on the high level of the old.

So that's why I'm writing off the Prequels as Expanded Universe fare, where continuity doesn't matter and the characters aren't necessarily the ones that are in or referred to by the original films. George f'd up and continues to do so. His legacy won't be that he created such successful films. That may be mentioned upon his death, but there will be an asterisk over that statement as everyone agrees with a "but then he screwed it all up" whether spoken or not. Oh well, at least he'll go out rich. :ermm:

Rocketboy
08-03-2004, 11:25 AM
So that's why I'm writing off the Prequels as Expanded Universe fare, The PT is definitely not the OT, but saying it's as bad as the EU (especially all the post-Jedi garbage) is just plain wrong.

bigbarada
08-03-2004, 01:11 PM
If I remember correctly, ROTJ would have been completely different if George Lucas had not got tired of working on the films. I read somewhere that the relationship between Gary Kurtz and George Lucas had become strained between the making of Empire and Jedi because, Lucas had always said Star Wars would be a 9 part saga. You would never see the emporer in person until episode 9, he would always be holograms. Han Solo would become a martyr to the rebel cause...etc. Lucas just got fed up and decided to wrap everything up in one film and Kurtz didn't want to stay on because of the creative differences he had. I may have over simplyfied the story, but that is why Jedi is such a busy film. I think it may have been the Insider where I read it.

That's pretty much the way I've understood it also. The revelation of Luke and Leia as twins was another half-arsed attempt at tying up some loose ends as quickly as possible. That wasn't a part of the story until Lucas started taking shortcuts with the ROTJ script.

If you look at ANH and ESB, Han, Luke and Leia are given roughly equal time to develop as characters. By ROTJ, it's all about Luke; Han and Leia are reduced to mere caricatures of their previous selves. Then in 1995, we learn that it's really all about Anakin (I'm referring to Lucas' interview with Leonard Maltin on the THX releases).

So the prequels ARE too Anakin-centric. Thus major characters like Obi-Wan and Padme still seem flat and undeveloped after two films.

2-1B
08-03-2004, 01:35 PM
Vader's redemption is not limited to just ROTJ. It starts in TESB with his obsession to find Luke for the purpose of turning Luke to his side. ROTJ is the conclusion of that setup.

ANH has nothing to do with it of course since it was made as a stand alone and there is very limited character development.

stillakid
08-03-2004, 08:12 PM
The PT is definitely not the OT, but saying it's as bad as the EU (especially all the post-Jedi garbage) is just plain wrong.

I wasn't comparing in terms of quality per se. The comparison had to do with the lack of continuity et al.

JediTricks
08-03-2004, 09:48 PM
(Furthermore, could Lucas have made an entirely separate story for the PT, veering away from Darth Vader and Anakin? I don't think he was forced to go with that. DV could simply have been an arch bad guy. The Clone Wars could have been dealt with as they hint at having a bearing on the Empire in the OT but DV's role was not imperative until GL came up with this "chosen one" PT ethos.)I've always felt the prequels could have been primarily about Obi-Wan with Anakin not being the focus. Also, Lucas' earlier large-scale visions of the Star Wars saga were also much more focused on Palpatine and his rise to power. I think either avenue would have been preferable to what we got.



The PT has been at pains to show Anakin's motivation for falling under the charms of the Dark Side and has given us a believable background and motivation for his doing so. Should his redemption therefore not be equally as fleshed out? Yeesh, would that have been boring! That's what I think makes the character development in the OT so great, it comes in small bites while our characters are trying to survive through these amazing adventures of galactic battle. Nobody stops in the middle of the film to take a vacation on a peaceful utopian planet so they can flesh out their (poorly-contrived) relationship, the OT heroes have to figure out their romance while dodging space monsters and blaster fire.

That's not to say I totally disagree with your assessment, ROTJ didn't do a very good job showing why Vader turned back to the light side at the end, but I think it only would require a smidgen more hinting during the film to get the end result right, too much and there's nothing left for the audience to fill in.

stillakid
08-03-2004, 10:12 PM
That's not to say I totally disagree with your assessment, ROTJ didn't do a very good job showing why Vader turned back to the light side at the end, but I think it only would require a smidgen more hinting during the film to get the end result right, too much and there's nothing left for the audience to fill in.

I don't really agree with that. I mean, what else do you guys want? As Caesar points out above, Vader's "turn" really begins back in ESB. We begin to get this inkling that while he has no problem slicing and dicing Rebels and Imperial Officers, the mere thought of taking his own kid out is unsettling to him.


EMPEROR: We have a new enemy -- Luke Skywalker.

VADER: Yes, my master.

EMPEROR: He could destroy us.

VADER: He's just a boy. Obi-Wan can no longer help him.

EMPEROR: The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not
become a Jedi.

VADER: If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally.

Then at the end, he is in full court press trying to "seduce" Luke to join him. We could speculate all day about what that exchange might have been like had Luke not had the opportunity to jump his way out of that corner...would Vader have really killed him as he suggested to Palpatine earlier?



EMPEROR: Yes. Yes. He would be a great asset. Can it be done?

VADER: He will join us or die, my master.

Or would Vader have chickened out and let Luke off the proverbial hook as he essentially does in ROTJ:


LUKE
I will not fight you, father.

Vader walks back up the stairs to Luke.

VADER
You are unwise to lower your defenses.

There, instead of just attacking, he gives Luke ample warning to defend himself. Clearly Vader has no interest in killing Luke.

Then, as Luke hides in the shadows, Vader all but gives up on the "turning" thing and most likely assumes that if he doesn't kill Luke, Palps will, so getting Luke to come back out to "save his sister" is the best way to go at that point. Luke takes the bait and Vader cowers back, almost refusing to put up any kind of real defense. He hasn't been able to bring himself to seriously attack Luke yet and he isn't about to start now. Arguably, he lets Luke win. It's almost safe to assume that he was hoping that Luke would kill him first so that he wouldn't have to witness Palps going to town on his boy. But lo, Luke takes the high road and lays himself on the line as a martyr, leaving Vader the time to ponder his choices.

So no, this was certainly not a "rushed" ending or decision on Vader's part. That doubt in him was sparked by the new knowledge that he had a son. It was probably solidified by the revelation that he also had a daughter. And all that soul-searching came to a head when he saw this man who he had revered for so long, heartlessly torturing the son he never knew. The Vader of the Original Trilogy was a smart guy. He would have figured out the few possible outcomes of Luke's visit into the dragon's lair. Somebody was going to die that day, and the "look" of consternation that he manages to exude from behind the mask out on the Endor gantry telegraphs everything we need to know as the final climax is set to begin.

rbaumhauer
08-03-2004, 10:15 PM
The prequels were always going to suffer from being most strongly linked, thematically, to by far the weakest film in the OT (ROTJ). The roots of ROTJ's weakness lie, I think it's clear, in the fact that, by the time he got to the third movie in what was supposed to be the "middle trilogy", Lucas was tired of "Star Wars", but needed the buckets full of cash that the movie was destined to gross in order to completely remove himself from Hollywood. He was tired of the GFFA, but addicted to the commercial benefits of making the movies.

Ironically, having cast aside much of the original, superior backstory (as laid out in the original novelization of "Star Wars", which was originally subtitled "From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker", interestingly) of multiple Dark Lords and a figurehead Emperor in order to wrap everything up and put a bow on it in Ep6, Lucas is now laboring, through three films and over 6 hours, to create a "Grand" prequel trilogy that gets its "payoff" in the half-hearted, unsatisfying ROTJ. The OT was not intended to be the story of Anakin's redemption until George got tired and decided to wrap things up in a hurry - it's no wonder the whole thing feels wildly out-of-balance these days.

It's a shame that the "modern" George Lucas seems to have been born during the struggle to finish ROTJ - the PT has many of the same problems as that film, with necessary events thudding onto the screen so he can get them checked of the list of "things that have to happen". The plots swing wildly from overly portentous, heavy dialog, to breathless action sequences, to juvenile humor, while the actors go through the motions, trying to figure out what the point of the whole thing is.

By insisting that the whole Saga was the story of Anakin Skywalker's fall and redemption, Lucas locked himself in to making the PT, ostensibly, about certain characters, when it was originally presented as a trilogy about Events, the history that led up to what we saw in "Star Wars" in '77. If he'd had the guts to stick with the original "boring trilogy about politics", at least the movies of the PT would know what they are, which is more than can be said at this point.

This insistence on making the PT about Anakin, and really only about Anakin, has also led to the bizarre revision of the timeline. Even the original story conferences for ROTJ had Anakin's age as "in his sixties, about 10 years younger than Ben". With the current timeline, with the fall of the Republic mirroring the fall of Anakin Skywalker, he's barely going to be in his forties by the time we get to ROTJ. This leads to an Evil Galactic Empire that lasts all of 20 years - in the history of a galaxy, that seems like barely a blip.

All of this, it has to be said, is entirely separate from the myriad regrettable "small" decisions that Lucas has made after handcuffing himself to a rather less-than-ideal overarching structure for the PT. That's a whole 'nother topic entirely............

JediTricks
08-03-2004, 11:40 PM
Stilla, notice how most of your examples come from ESB? That's why I said ROTJ was the weak one. :p


There, instead of just attacking, he gives Luke ample warning to defend himself. Clearly Vader has no interest in killing Luke.I wouldn't agree with this one wholeheartedly, Vader may simply have been trying to break the boy. I don't think the Emperor really meant to just ask Luke politely and if he says "no", immediately throw a lightsaber through his chest.


Then, as Luke hides in the shadows, Vader all but gives up on the "turning" thing and most likely assumes that if he doesn't kill Luke, Palps will, so getting Luke to come back out to "save his sister" is the best way to go at that point.That is too much assumption of his motivation for me, you could well be right but we're not given enough to really suggest this.


He hasn't been able to bring himself to seriously attack Luke yet and he isn't about to start now. Arguably, he lets Luke win.Again, I think you're assuming too much on both points to say definitively or even strongly suggest, some of his attacks on Luke in the throneroom were quite powerful and Luke uses the Dark Side to defeat Vader which was part of Palpatine's Sith-seduction all along.

So I stand by what you quoted, I think "ROTJ didn't do a very good job showing why Vader turned back to the light side at the end", and the major examples you cite from the film are hardly conclusive evidence and come off as mostly your own interpretations.

Kidhuman
08-03-2004, 11:43 PM
I saw that JT, I didnt say anything....:D. I was gonna quote you but you edited to quickly. :beard:

JediTricks
08-03-2004, 11:48 PM
Yeah yeah yeah, smartguy! ;) (I had 2 windows open and got a response from Stillakid in this thread confused with KH's response in the other thread and commented as if I was responding to KH, then edited it to say "stilla" because I'm not as slick as I should be :D)

stillakid
08-04-2004, 12:06 AM
Stilla, notice how most of your examples come from ESB? That's why I said ROTJ was the weak one. :p

I disagree with that. If we're going to start in on the quantity over quality thing, I count 2 instances of "Vader doubt" in ESB vs upwards of 4 or 5 in ROTJ. But I'd rather not go that way with the argument as a single brow raise by a character can say more than 10 sequels combined.


So I stand by what you quoted, I think "ROTJ didn't do a very good job showing why Vader turned back to the light side at the end", and the major examples you cite from the film are hardly conclusive evidence and come off as mostly your own interpretations.
Yeah, admittedly I did take some liberty with interpretations and I perhaps painted Vader's actions as more intentionally Luke-biased than what actually probably happened. However, I do believe that the primary point does hold water that Vader never had the stomach to off his own offspring and it took that final imagery of watching his son writhe on the floor to "show him the light" as it were. (And, off/on topic sort of, this is the exact path that my Post-quel Luke would take to his own redemption. Believing that Leia is full of **** for much of the Post-quel, it is only upon seeing her die at his own hand that would provide the necessary catalyst of self-awareness for what he has become.) So in the same way, it takes this horrible image of his own flesh and blood being tortured to death to wake him from his darkside stupor and put an end to it all.

plo koon 200
08-04-2004, 12:53 AM
Well, for me Jedi is the best film. And the turning makes perfect sense. I think it is the most powerful point in the Saga.

Watching his son dying... That is enough... From Palpatine's electrectution, alone we (at least I) can figure out why and how DV changes to light again.

bigbarada
08-04-2004, 12:47 PM
Well, for me Jedi is the best film. And the turning makes perfect sense. I think it is the most powerful point in the Saga.

Watching his son dying... That is enough... From Palpatine's electrectution, alone we (at least I) can figure out why and how DV changes to light again.

I agree that watching his son being tortured to death is ample reason for Vader to "suddenly" turn back to the light side; but I don't think ROTJ is the best of the films (mainly because my favorite character, Han Solo, acted like a lobotomized buffoon throughout the entire movie).

B_C
08-04-2004, 02:03 PM
I agree that Jedi is the weakest of the three films.

Empire elaborated the characters of Luke, Han and Leia and added depth to them. You have Luke the farmboy following his fathers footsteps and developing his abilities, Han the selfish pirate becoming responsible and of course the romance between Han and Leia. At the end of the film you have the revelation that Darth Vader is Lukes father after having his sword hand severed, Han is on his way to Jabba and there is a feeling of defeat. There is emotion all through the film.
Return of the Jedi came along and the main emotion in my opinion was left to three or four scenes: The Emporer arriving, Yoda dying and the final confrontation between father and son and the duel that follows. In Jedi, there is a hell of a lot of fluff inbetween the powerful scenes(no pun intended)that lessens the inpact and flow of the film compared to its 2 predecessors.

2-1B
08-05-2004, 04:38 AM
I'm with stillakid for the most part.

Even though Vader said "He will join us or die", I don't really think that Vader would have killed Luke on Bespin. Prior to the Falcon making the jump to lightspeed via Artoo's heroics, Vader did his ESP link with Luke and that "Father . . . Son" connection was locked in after the initial shock reveal.

So, while this is just my speculation, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Vader would have let Luke escape Bespin. Dropping the paternity bombshell on Luke would no doubt make him wonder about it and an impressionable young guy like Luke is going to want to find out more. Luke might even come back to Darth on his own accord like he did in ROTJ.

Hmmm, of course, Vader was very intent on sealing Luke in that carbonite to give to Palps so I don't know exactly how serious I can be in my earlier speculation. Maybe Vader just meant that Luke could be killed after Vader AND Palpatine had tried to turn him.

Thoughts? :confused:

JediTricks
08-05-2004, 07:51 PM
Good point about the carbonite freeze issue, though I suppose the devil's advocate argument is that he could have simply wanted to freeze Luke to unthaw him somewhere else outside the Emperor's control - granted, if the Emperor had learned about this he probably would have gone thermonuclear on Vader's mechanical behind, but it's a possible argument. I think Vader did want to bring Luke to the Emperor, he probably just thought they could all be Sith together after working Luke over to the Dark Side - this is obviously only possible if you negate the prequels' "there can be only two" rule for Sith.

As for "he will join us or die", I think Vader meant in the long term, though he did have the kid trapped on Bespin between joining him or killing himself (the Special Edition actually enhances this argument with the awful scream) and the original way it was shot was that Vader uses the Force to hold Luke over the chasm after Luke slips off the antenna, gives him one last chance, then when Luke declines he lets the boy fall (this is supposedly why Vader had those big hand gestures in the scene, they were Force moves).

bigbarada
08-06-2004, 02:34 PM
and the original way it was shot was that Vader uses the Force to hold Luke over the chasm after Luke slips off the antenna, gives him one last chance, then when Luke declines he lets the boy fall (this is supposedly why Vader had those big hand gestures in the scene, they were Force moves).

That would have been cool.

JediTricks
08-06-2004, 11:18 PM
As a stand alone bit, I do agree (I'm a sucker for that sort of Force thing used in a way new and/or more menacing manner in general); but with the pacing of the scene, I think it would have not worked too well.

Kidhuman
08-07-2004, 12:49 AM
I think it would have been a great scene, just to show how strong Vader is with the force.

scruffziller
08-07-2004, 03:46 PM
If he'd had the guts to stick with the original "boring trilogy about politics", at least the movies of the PT would know what they are, which is more than can be said at this point.

He did to a degree. I thought TPM was heading in that direction very strongly since alot of political stuff is going on to make it happen.

rbaumhauer
08-07-2004, 07:31 PM
Yeah, but in with all the politics, we have the invasion of Theed, the (painful) Gungans/Jedi encounter and "Planet Core" nonsense, pod racing, Anakin in a starfighter, etc. It's a movie that wants to seem all "grown-up" with its convoluted political backstory, but much of the movie is either too action-oriented or juvenile.

A straight political movie would have been much more character-based. Of course, this would have required George to actually develop characters through dialog and interaction, so I can understand why he wouldn't want to go that way.........

scruffziller
08-08-2004, 10:16 AM
Hmmm, of course, Vader was very intent on sealing Luke in that carbonite to give to Palps so I don't know exactly how serious I can be in my earlier speculation. Maybe Vader just meant that Luke could be killed after Vader AND Palpatine had tried to turn him.

Plus too with Luke being sealed in that carbonite they would probably not have to thaw Luke out to turn him to the dark side. Instead they could invade his mind and torture him. Easier to manipulate. He also may never need to be thawed out either(much like Anikin Solo did in the NJO from the womb). They could just use him as this dark side antennae hub.

TheDarthVader
08-08-2004, 01:44 PM
Plus too with Luke being sealed in that carbonite they would probably not have to thaw Luke out to turn him to the dark side. Instead they could invade his mind and torture him. Easier to manipulate. He also may never need to be thawed out either. They could just use him as this dark side antennae hub.

Good point! I tend to believe that they never would have thawed Luke out. He was their only threat. And with Kenobi gone (and Yoda soon to die), a jedi teacher for Leia would be absent. GREAT POINT!

Kidhuman
08-08-2004, 08:48 PM
BUt then finding someone to take their place in the Sith line would be worse. Might as well thaw him out, if he dont turn, slay his arse.