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  1. #1

    Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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" ) 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.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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.
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  3. #3

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  4. #4

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  5. #5

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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.


  6. #6

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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.
    May the force be with you.

  7. #7

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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.

  8. #8

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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 Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  9. #9

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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.

  10. #10

    Re: Are the Jedi in the prequels at all wizardly?

    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...


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