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View Full Version : Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?



JediTricks
04-11-2005, 06:40 PM
One thing that's been bothering me lately is that the more I think about these Jedi characters of the prequels, including these early versions of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the more I realize how unwizardly they seem to me.

Alec Guiness played Ben Kenobi with a little twinkle, something extra that gave him a wizard-like feeling, maybe it helped that Luke saw him that way, but even before Luke interacts with Ben the old guy is definitely coming off as a wizard (and now I am officially sick of the word "wizard" :p) scaring off the Tuskens and having that great reveal and being friendly towards R2 while looking over Luke's unconcious body. Throughout the rest of his performance in the film, the guy seems to have that something extra, that "twinkle", which lends credence to the idea that he's wielding space magic and comes from an order of others wielding that space magic. That Merlinesque sense of wonder that surrounds Ben make him special in a cinematic universe that's already incredible to begin with, it's one of the things that has drawn me to the Star Wars universe even from an early age. Yoda also had that "twinkle" in the prequels, his wisdom wasn't just given out like a grade school teacher, over and over he made Luke - and by extension in a way, the audience - earn the right to gain the knowledge of the Jedi Knight.

In the prequels however, it seems like the idea of the order of wizards did not fully come to pass. In TPM we're given Qui-Gon who is a tiny bit wizardly at times, but I never felt he totally carried it as it came and went too inconsistantly; and the Jedi Council was portrayed more like the Los Angeles Unified School District Council with all of the magic and sparkle of a meeting to determine whether or not to raise the price of student lunches. AOTC had a fully-knighted Obi-Wan yet he was merely a chiding mentor without any real magic whatsoever (except possibly the "good job" line), and every other Jedi was portrayed as a galactic FBI agent except for Yoda who was a kindergarten teacher.

Never did I feel that the Jedi of the prequels were magical wizards wielding arcane ancient knowledge in the service of protecting the order and peace of the galaxy, the Jedi of the prequels were just guys with Force powers, brown robes, and lots of flashy lightsaber moves for the most part.

Kidhuman
04-11-2005, 06:47 PM
When we first see Ben we know nothing of the force or what it really is supposed to be about. To me it is understood as a special "magical" thing that people do. Toi a sense giving him that Wizardly twinkle. We then learn that Vader can use it as well. Through out the entire PT, we learn that six people have this ability, 5 of them use it. (Leia being the one that doesnt), and three of them are family.

Fast foward(rewind in essence) to TPM. We know have a ton of people who spend their life devoted to the force. It takes away the magical essence that the OT has given us. Qui-Gon, Yoda, Mace, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ki-Adi, and the rest of the council and such. Through-out the entire PT we see these people using the force. NOt so magical and intimate to me anymore.

JediTricks
04-11-2005, 07:10 PM
Vader does have a little "evil twinkle" though, Tarkin is clearly the head villain in ANH yet Vader is the one who shines the brightest (it helps that he looks the most evil, but his actions are also a little above and beyond the regular evil, by contrast Tarkin's ultimate evil action is played brilliantly by Cushing as little more than a lark to him, just a big day in his bureaucratic button-pushing). However, "evil wizards" generally don't get the same kind of character development, so they don't get as much to sparkle from, "good guy wizards" get a lot more of that sort of thing to work with - true, Obi-Wan is the "hero wizard" in ANH, but even after he takes the background role, he and Yoda still have that sparkle I think, that sense that they see the universe on its edge, that they get some of the cosmic jokes that the rest of the characters don't. Maybe that's what it is really, Qui-Gon is IMO the only one who shows this throughout all the prequel Jedi so far, perhaps Dooku could be added to that list but as the "evil wizard in training" it didn't shine through for me.


Whatever the reason the prequels don't seem to have it, I find its absence takes away a lot of the "fantasy" part that made Star Wars stand out from other science fiction.

El Chuxter
04-11-2005, 07:29 PM
No, for the prequel Jedi, it's more important to have hot green women running around in bikinis and cool green dudes smiling at them.

rbaumhauer
04-11-2005, 08:07 PM
I said it a few days ago in another thread - the PT Jedi, when they aren't acting like schoolboard members or FBI agents, are more like superheroes with lightsabers than anything else. Inevitably, EpIII will bring us the hackneyed supervillain character - Grievous - in a misguided attempt to add some sort of drama to the proceedings. He will (in fact, already has in the Clone Wars cartoons) wipe the floor with everyone until the story requires him to die, just like all supervillains do.

Your point about that wizardly "twinkle" is a good one, and something I hadn't been able to get a grasp of myself - this is another of those subtle but pervasive differences in tone that make the PT universe feel so different from the OT, to its detriment both as the basis of an independent series of films and it's connection to what supposedly will follow.

Rick

sith_killer_99
04-11-2005, 09:05 PM
I always kinda thought of them as monks or some other "holy" people, running around in simple robes and meditating. "You my friend are all that's left of their religion".

Ben and Yoda are certainly different, but then they are the only ones to survive and I am sure that that learn more about the force between ROTS and ANH, thus setting them apart from the Jedi of old.

Ji'dai
04-12-2005, 01:06 AM
I was thinking along this line when JabbaJohn posted his thread about A New Hope being unlike the other films in the saga. One of things he didn’t like was that ANH didn’t have Yoda. Although Kenobi didn’t quite capture the following as Yoda did in ESB, having grown up during that time I remember that Guinness’ portrayal of Kenobi earned the character a lot of respect. I think it was Kenobi’s wizardly quality that drew fans to him even though the character was an old man.

So many Jedi populate the prequels that it’s difficult to get to know these Knights on a personal level. And part of the Jedi mystique has been destroyed by Lucas himself with the introduction of the midichlorians. I don’t know if Lucas was intentionally trying to dispel the quasi-religious aspects of the Force (it’s not like it’s become Hubbard’s Scientology) or if he was just using the midichlorians as a plot device (in TPM we are told the Jedi have a symbiotic relationship with these things which later parallels de’ Gungans and de’ Naboo relationship).

None of the Jedi in the PT really stand out in my mind. I like Mace Windu, if not necessarily for Sam Jackson’s portrayal of him but because it’s Sam Jackson. After seeing him stand out in so many films, his persona tends to transcend the roles he plays no matter what film he’s in. I’m sure if you searched the pockets in Mace’s Jedi cloak you’d find a certain wallet.. you know, the one that says "Bad*** Mother*****r" on it.

JediTricks
04-13-2005, 05:05 PM
Mace is a good example as he's a consistant Jedi throughout the prequels that we get to hear from and even see do stuff, yet not once did I get the impression that he was a sage mystic, everything was just business from him and that doesn't seem like the Jedi which Ben waxes nostalgic over in ANH to me. The prequel Jedi seem not like noble warrior holy men, but just superpower-bearing bureaucrats and soldiers, perhaps this is what Lucas was going for, but I can't see why he'd do that, why he'd drain the magic out of such a unique type of character base no matter what concept he was trying to sell.

Darth Jax
04-13-2005, 10:57 PM
it's not just JT that thinks Obi-Wan is a wizard. Doesn't Owen tell Luke to "stay away from that old wizard" at the dinner table in ANH.

stillakid
04-14-2005, 12:09 AM
This is an interesting point. Coincidentally (or not) it appears to coincide with the current debate in the film/television production community in regard to digital acquisition versus film. One can argue over the merits of both (and many do...argue that is) but undoubtedly, there IS some intangible "mystique" (?) that exists within the chemical process as opposed to having your image captured as ones and zeros. The same kind of "magic" that I think JT is speaking of exudes a kind of romantic quality when viewed on "good ol' film stock" but there is a kind of impersonal distance in the digital experience. It's a difficult concept to express in words and perhaps better left to the poets, but it does make me wonder if in the race to prove to Hollywood that the technology would work, if Lucas lost sight of that "heart" which must be infused into the movie as well. In other words, the Star Wars Saga became more about the technology for Lucas and less about just telling a great story so those subtleties, like "wizard-like" Jedi are left in the past while the Jedi of now run around like floozies on the make, leaving nothing to the imagination...

2-1B
04-14-2005, 01:26 AM
Anakin's podracer was wizard.

That according to Kittster. lol

JediTricks
04-15-2005, 06:50 PM
it's not just JT that thinks Obi-Wan is a wizard. Doesn't Owen tell Luke to "stay away from that old wizard" at the dinner table in ANH.Well, yes and no, Owen tells Luke "that wizard's just a crazy old man", which can be taken a few different ways. Still, I think since Owen is trying to dissuade Luke from further interest in Ben Kenobi, even if Owen is saying that Ben isn't as much a wizard as a whacko, it seems like he's intentionally lying to Luke in order to keep him from getting into Ben's unique brand of trouble.


At first Stilla, I wasn't sure how that tied in directly, but after a second read I got it... except the "floozies" part. I'm not really sure if Lucas's lack of "wizardness" in the Jedi is about his technaddiction or if he's simply grown tired of putting a magical kind of whimsy in his films or characters. I mean, Alec Guiness was not happy shooting ANH because the part he was originally given was even MORE wizardly and got cut down to what we eventually saw, is it possible Lucas just kept cutting and cutting or simply didn't want to write those elements into those characters anymore? I don't know the "why", only the "what" as in "what is now missing from the Jedi".

stillakid
04-15-2005, 11:14 PM
At first Stilla, I wasn't sure how that tied in directly, but after a second read I got it... except the "floozies" part. I'm not really sure if Lucas's lack of "wizardness" in the Jedi is about his technaddiction or if he's simply grown tired of putting a magical kind of whimsy in his films or characters. I mean, Alec Guiness was not happy shooting ANH because the part he was originally given was even MORE wizardly and got cut down to what we eventually saw, is it possible Lucas just kept cutting and cutting or simply didn't want to write those elements into those characters anymore? I don't know the "why", only the "what" as in "what is now missing from the Jedi".

Yeah, I wasn't sure I was being entirely clear. Somedays I wake up and the words come out like I was Norman Lear or something, but others...well....

But anyway, I think that you described what I was getting at with the floozies reference. Even if Old Ben did have all the power that we see the Prequel Jedi have, he didn't flaunt it either in deed nor swagger. As you were getting at, there was a subtle grandeur about the guy that was evident behind the ragged exterior. The Prequel Jedi, on the other hand, all seem to come off as rather cocky, which I suppose, is maybe intentional as part of the reason there is a downfall in the Republic. If I had to, I'd liken the difference to something like Chow Yun-Fat versus, say, Steven Segal. Quiet dignity contrasting with arrogant overconfidence.

Turambar
04-16-2005, 10:32 PM
Great thread, JT.
The jedi in the trilogy added to that "magical" quality that the movies had overall compared to the flat, impersonal prequels. Obi-Wan and Yoda saw things in a much more objective/big picture type way as opposed to the prequel jedi who quickly move from one fight to set up another with occasional awkward dialogue thrown in as an attempt to add depth to them.

George realized how popular they would be and supersaturated the films with jedi, lightsabers, fancy martial arts, and more jedi without bothering to develop the characters of any of them. They are all such disinteresting people where one is no different from another. I honestly didn't care about any of them (as much as I wanted to find somthing interesting about the young Obi-wan). Then we see yoda more as a caricature of himself in the trilogy. Instead of being a wisened sage he simply has turbomartial arts skills and does the "backward talking" so we don't forget who it is.
Lucas correctly assumed that he could cash in by giving the audience tons of saber action. . . one of the many factors that ruined the films.

rbaumhauer
04-17-2005, 11:28 AM
It's amazing that Lucas has taken one of the things most fans have wanted to see for over 20 years - the Jedi as they were before the "Dark Times" - and made them seem so overwhelmingly ordinary and, frankly, not very likeable or interesting. Ironically, TPM - a real stinker of a movie - does a better job with the Jedi than AOTC which , on reflection, did more damage to the "Star Wars feel" of the PT, while being an objectively better movie. For all its faults, the opening sequence in TPM, with the Jedi fighting their way out of the Trade Federation Cruiser, felt about right. AOTC pushed the Jedi into the "superheroes with lightsabers" milieu that is a dramatic dead-end.

This all ties back to Andrew Rilstone's essays about the prequels (referenced by stillakid a couple months ago), in which he points out the overwhelming banality of the world we see in the PT. We were led to believe, all those years ago, that the Republic was something that was mourned, something that was great and was lost. Unfortunately, we've never seen that Republic in the PT - we've seen a place that seems to need shaking up, something that has ossified, something that shouldn't be mourned. Whether the disillusionment (in the viewer) over this is intentional or not - and I think it's an open question, though I'm not convinced that Lucas is that deep - is one of the great questions about the PT.

Whatever the case may be, the feeling I'm left with is that we haven't gotten the place, events, or characters we were led to believe we would see in a hypothetical prequel trilogy. While this sounds a lot like the PT fans refrain of "you don't like it because it doesn't fit with what you had imagined for 20 years", I think there's something real - and defensible - behind it.

I think it's possible to make a good prequel Star Wars movie without the original characters (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), without the original "universe" (or something that feels like it), without the original "implied history" that we all got from the OT. Lucas has failed largely because he's tried to do it without any of those elements, while papering over the problems with lightsabers and some familiar-but-not-the-same characters (such as the Yoda of AOTC) and hoping that nobody will notice.

Well, a lot of us noticed.........

Rick

Turambar
04-17-2005, 02:47 PM
Well said, rbaumhauer.
It really would have been much easier to make the prequels good movies than it was to make the original trilogy way back then. All Lucas had to do was go back and watch what had been laid down before and make films fit into that story line using quality writers and directors. Instead he was more obsessed with advancing his CGI and all that digital technology -- and cashing in big time. He "made things up as he went" knowing he could & would change anything in the original trilogy to make it fit a little better with his rewritten Saga.
And, although its nice that some people think these films are great, it is not a matter of opinion which are better. I get tired of hearing it is just my opinion that the trilogy is superior to the prequels. ESB was heralded as the best of the saga by film critics, followed by SW. After that it can be argued, but I'd take ROTJ since beneath the Lucas/McCallum superficiality lies a deep story, then TPM, and lastly AOTC. Funny that I actually liked AOTC better than TPM for a long time, but eventually began to see that despite all of the problems with TPM it does seem to be a better movie.

Dark Annie
04-17-2005, 03:45 PM
I always kinda thought of them as monks or some other "holy" people, running around in simple robes and meditating. "You my friend are all that's left of their religion".

Ben and Yoda are certainly different, but then they are the only ones to survive and I am sure that that learn more about the force between ROTS and ANH, thus setting them apart from the Jedi of old.

I agree with wut Sith said there. I wasnt born when any of the OT was first released, but when I was little I watched about 50 times each. They are far superior to the Prequels, and i have to admit there are many problems with the prequels. When my father first saw TPM when I brought it home on video, he watched intently expecting to see something like what he first saw back in 1977. But after about 20 minutes of trying to follow the story he told me to pause the movie. He said something to the effect of "What the hell is this? This is terrible. The acting is lame, the plot is lame, and there is no real dialogue between the characters. This is nothing like the Star Wars I saw." I got a similar reaction after trying to get him to watch AOTC. "This is just stupid. Its worst then that other one. I'm telling you, this is nothing like the old Star Wars..." He fell asleep after about 30 minutes.

I just watched ESB and ROTJ last night and I really felt something after watching them. The OT is just awesome. Obi Wan is awesome, Yoda is awesome, Darth Vader is awesome. They all three have that "wizardy" feel to them. But in the prequels, obi wan and yoda aint got it. But, maybe there is a reason that the Jedi are all cocky, and flashy, and less wise and wizardy. In my opinion, thats half the reason Palpatine was able to get started. He knew the jedi had lost touch with essential way of the force. The jedi order had deteriorated into a law enforcement group. That is why Yoda and Obi Wan in the OT seem so much more Wizardy. They have had time to think and get back to the true way of the force. So GL had to portray the prequel jedi in this way. Thats my opinion. May the force be with you.

JediTricks
04-17-2005, 05:05 PM
Ironically, TPM - a real stinker of a movie - does a better job with the Jedi than AOTC which , on reflection, did more damage to "the Star Wars" feel of the PT, while being an objectively better movie.I've been saying that since almost the day I saw AOTC. Heck, TPM drew me back to it 11 times even though I knew from the first viewing that I didn't like it, I wanted to mine the "magic" that was there and try to observe - and possibly even cobble together - a decent Star Wars movie out of it for myself... but with AOTC there was no wizardliness, no magic, nothing to mine and I never felt drawn to see it again after the first viewing. Nobody in the film has that sparkle, Jedi or otherwise, even the villains aren't particularly enjoying the "evil twinkle" that they did in TPM - a twinkle which itself was only a shadow of the OT's to be sure, but at least still there.

scruffziller
04-17-2005, 05:56 PM
Yea the PT is all about flash and in alot of ways nothing but a pimp for the OT.:rolleyes:

stillakid
04-17-2005, 08:03 PM
The more I think about it, the more I feel that the Jedi should have been "revered" and possibly even feared by the general populace. Imagine as they walk through the busy Coruscant streets that instead of having to say something inane, like "Move aside, Jedi business!" that the crowds would just melt away in a kind of awe or reverence for the mysterious cloaked ones.

This approach makes more sense if you look upon the use of this mysterious "force" as something that not everybody can do. Heck, just think about how Earthlings would handle a relatively small group of people who had the powers of telekinesis and mind control. After first trying to kill them off for being un-Christian witches, most of the moronic idiots of this world would cower in fear from this thing that their pea-brains couldn't comprehend. The residents of our galaxy far far away didn't seem that much more enlightened than our special kind of ignorant knuckleheads, so it only stands to reason that they might act just as foolishly afraid.

So whether it would have been fear or sincere reverence, either way the result would have been the appearance of a respected religion and a more "noble" and civilized time. Instead we got a cheesy spin-off of Barney Miller.

2-1B
04-17-2005, 08:06 PM
Scruff, didn't you say the first 2 are a setup for 3 ? :confused:
Sometimes I have no idea where you are coming from.

rbaumhauer
04-18-2005, 12:51 AM
The more I think about it, the more I feel that the Jedi should have been "revered" and possibly even feared by the general populace. Imagine as they walk through the busy Coruscant streets that instead of having to say something inane, like "Move aside, Jedi business!" that the crowds would just melt away in a kind of awe or reverence for the mysterious cloaked ones.

This is precisely why I think that the Mace Windu episode of "Clone Wars" was one of the best Prequel-era things I've seen. While Mace's powers are way over-the-top - with abilities the likes of which are demonstrated here, Mace should never lose a fight, period - the whole exercise is saved by that boy on the hill, looking on in awe.

It's the only time we've seen that sort of reverence for the Jedi, and you have to wonder why. If we're supposed to see the Return of the Jedi in Ep6 as a great thing, you'd think we'd be shown a populace that actually respected them in the Prequels. Of course, that would screw up the idiotic new timeline - if people thought "happy thoughts" about the Jedi when they were around, how could they be made to "forget" them in the mere 20 years between ROTS and ANH?

The more I really look at this, the more I wonder if it would have been possible to screw this thing up any more comprehensively than Lucas has. I know it's possible, but it seems like it would have taken an absolutely monumental effort............

Rick

scruffziller
04-18-2005, 10:15 AM
Scruff, didn't you say the first 2 are a setup for 3 ? :confused:
Sometimes I have no idea where you are coming from.

Ok 1 and 2 are a pimp for eps 3.:D

JediTricks
04-18-2005, 09:15 PM
It's the only time we've seen that sort of reverence for the Jedi, and you have to wonder why.Actually, little Ani is supposed to be showing awe for the Jedi at the dinner table in TPM, it's just such a muddled and badly-directed scene that it sorta gets lost and you definitely don't feel that the boy is representing the majority of the population's opinion on them. Look at other mystics and wizards in fiction, they're often both feared AND revered even when accepted by the people - sometimes this is even intentional on the part of the wizard - but nowhere in AOTC did I get the sense that people were in any way in awe of these guys. Hell, if you've played PS2's Star Wars:Bounty Hunter you'll notice that Jango gets more of that treatment from the general populace (especially right after he first dons his jetpack) - of course, in AOTC there wasn't much in the way of that for the bounty hunters either though. Hell, I just realized, the only character in AOTC I feel delivered a wizardly, mischievious, twinkling performance was a friggin' short order cook! Dexter Jettster doesn't just hand over the information in a straightforward manner, he smiles and winks and says something ominously, and generally seems like he still knows something Obi-Wan doesn't, like his unique wisdom carries him where nobody else has gone.