Haiku Me Friday! A formidable queen

Planet in distress Lovely, isolated queen So young for the role

Planet in distress
Lovely, isolated queen
So young for the role

Shout out to Queen Amidala.  I was supposed to do a Fan Art Friday with Mei-Mei and I completely dropped the ball.  First, I forgot.  Then, my daughter got very sick and all my attention was devoted on getting her well again.  So be sure to check out Mei-Mei’s coloring book post and I’ll be back with her in February for the next one.

But I wanted to give my own little homage to Queen Amidala because she is one of my favorite characters in the PT.  I like Padmé, but Queen Amidala and Qui-Gon Jinn changed my liking of Star Wars into an obsession when I was 11 years old.  Padmé and Queen Amidala are the same though, right?  Yes and no.  I don’t think the Barack Obama we see on TV is the same Barack Obama behind closed doors with his family.  Padmé from AOTC and ROTS was different than Queen Amidala as she was no longer ruling.  Though she was a senator, she was freer to be herself.

I loved Queen Amidala because she represented strength to me.  Though I am older and also see the way she got played by Palpatine, I hardly fault her for it.  Palpatine is one of the best characters in Star Wars because of how he plays everyone in the galaxy as pawn in his masterful game of chess, including Amidala.

I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but another reason why I loved her is because there was no man by her side.  The Jedi protected her, but they were not from Naboo, nor were they part of her politics.  I appreciated how she made the decision to return home to Naboo though every man advised her not to.  She appreciated the advice of counsellors, but led with her gut and made her own decision in the end.

It’s hard for me to relate to people who hate The Phantom Menace.  I understand where they are coming from as TPM is vastly different from the Original Trilogy, but by hating the movie, they miss out on some great characters, with Amidala being one of them.

But the Female Lead Theme Music…

I have a little bone to pick with John Williams.  I love him, you know I do and I’ve written posts about the PT music vs. OT music.  I think he is THE greatest composer of this day and age.  While I love Lord of the Rings and its soundtrack, I really don’t think it should have been voted by the BBC as the best soundtrack.  Though it has great themes and music, it’s a little repetitive, whereas Williams’ tracks are always original.

My bone to pick with Mr. Williams started small, but it has lately been gnawing at me a little more: the female themes in Star Wars are lacking, or worse, get forgotten.

There are so few female leads in the saga, but because of that I feel like the main three should get some stellar treatment from Williams.

  • Prequel Trilogy – Padmé Amidala Naberrie
  • Original Trilogy – Princess Leia Organa
  • Sequel Trilogy – Rey (as it stands now)

padme-amidala-coruscantWhen looking at the themes for the PT, I have to ask – what about Padmé?  Why does she not have her own theme?  Padmé is just as an important character as Anakin.  In fact, without Padmé, we would not have Darth Vader – the reason for the saga and why we’ve been following the Skywalker family.  I think John Williams could have done an amazing theme for her and I believe some of her theme, if she had one, shows up in Across the Stars.  The theme is tragic, beautiful, and dark all at the same time.

But unfortunately, and this is where my annoyance also gets stronger in the OT, Across the Stars is a blend of Anakin and Padmé, not Padmé by herself.  It pulls in hints of Anakin’s downfall, a doomed love, and Padmé’s beauty with indications of foreshadowing.

Princess Leia does have her own theme in ANH, which is a step up from Padmé and her lack thereof.  It’s a beautiful theme and really pretty – but we rarely hear it.  There is a snippet of it before she is stunned right in the beginning, but other than that, most of ANH is dominated by brass and some of the Force theme.

I look at the Force theme as Luke’s theme because, obviously, it shows up whenever he is present.  It is similar to the Imperial March being construed as Vader’s theme because it starts playing whenever he looms into the camera.  You’d think that Princess Leia’s theme would also show up when she’s on screen and into the next two films as well.

Unfortunately, Leia’s theme dissolves while the Force theme still rears its head whenever Luke is around for ESB and ROTJ.   What bothersluke-leia-han-gif me more is not the fact that her theme is no longer present – but the fact that Leia’s theme gets pulled into other themes.

Within ESB, there is “Han Solo and the Princess” and in ROTJ there is the beautiful “Luke and Leia”.  Don’t get me wrong – I love “Luke and Leia”.  It’s one of my favorite pieces of ROTJ, but that’s not the point of this post.  It’s like Leia can no longer stand on her own and she becomes interlocked with the two men in her life.  I find it a little jarring because that’s not how I view her character (thankfully) but in terms of the music, the fault lies with Williams.

I do believe that musical themes should evolve – but they should not lose their core identity.  Just like we, as people, evolve through our lives, we still have a core of ourselves that is the same.  Luke’s Force theme shows up interwoven in different pieces throughout the OT and I wish I could see the same with Leia’s.

Water under the bridge at this point.

…Or is it?  Can this pattern be changed with Episode VIII and Rey?

I may like Rey’s theme even more than Leia’s.  Of course I’m biased because my daughter’s middle name is Rey, but the spunky, light-hearted, slightly wistful theme has become part of the weekly repertoire of music I listen to.  It touches my core and brings out something inrey-star-wars me where I almost feel like her at times; an understanding for Rey even though I have no idea what her life is like.  Williams’ music has the power to do that.

Williams said that one of his main reasons for coming back to compose music for Episode VIII was because he didn’t want any other composer writing music for Rey.  I love hearing that and it gives me hope that he keeps the essence of her in the upcoming movie within the score.

My main question and fear is: as Rey evolves as a character, will Williams keep her theme at the core?  Or will he forget it entirely?  Worse, will he blend it with other men?

I never thought I’d have an issue with Williams and his music, but here it is.  I’m also curious to see if Jyn Erso has a theme and if so, what it will sound like.  Or perhaps Michael Giacchino will not have any themes since it’s a standalone film and he’ll break the cycle.

Has anyone else noticed what I wrote about? 

 

Haiku Me Friday! Padmé’s Strength

A young but strong queen A vivacious senator Doomed to love evil

A young but strong queen
A vivacious senator
Doomed to love evil

It’s a long time since I’ve talked about Padmé.  I feel she’s been slightly forgotten with the addition of TFA to the saga.  Rey has taken over as the new, evolved, wonderful main female protagonist and Leia has been thrust back into the spotlight because of TFA as well.  So Padmé has been pushed aside.

Without Padmé, we wouldn’t have Leia, Luke or Kylo Ren (I still think Rey looks so much like her that I believe she could also be a Skywalker).  I know that goes without saying, but it’s something to remember as we head into this new era of Star Wars.  I wonder if we’ll see the future directors looking back at Padmé and using some of her traits to guide Luke, Leia, and Kylo’s actions.  I feel Abrams actually did that strongly with Kylo Ren and his temper tantrums.  They were so similar to Anakin’s that I’d like to believe it was deliberate, though Abrams has been known to shun the Prequels.

Though I didn’t love Bloodline, I did love this one section where Leia referenced going back into records and finding out as much as she could about Padmé so she could understand her birth mother.

padme 3Padmé is an amazing character.  She was queen of an entire planet at 14.  SO young.  What was I doing at 14?  I was a freshman in high school.  I had my first boyfriend who was a year older than me and we talked every day on the phone (he didn’t go to my local high school).  I hung out with the punks, one guy had pink hair and one had a bright green spiked Mohawk.  I only hung out with them because they were different and I was trying to find my group…I didn’t remain friends with them as high school continued.  Needless to say, my daily stresses only included getting homework done and trying to maintain a relationship that was cute at best, it didn’t have any substance (though I can’t imagine telling my 14 year old self that…I would not have taken that well).

Padmé was ruling an entire planet, and on top of that, ruling a planet when it was in a crisis.  The Trade Federation had formed the blockade and she had to escape the planet to plead her case to the senate.  Oh, and her ship’s hyperdrive broke while escaping.  She had to make a large decision to leave the safety and security of Coruscant to return to Naboo and befriend the Gungan race whom had previously ignored each other.

When she ended her stint as queen, she gravitated towards politics and became a senator.  By the time she met Anakin again at 24, she was a full-fledged senator of Naboo, weighing in on issues that effected the entire galaxy and her planet.  When I was 24, I had been married for a year.  The biggest stress I had was making sure we made enough money to save some and also pay all our bills.  Okay, that’s a pretty big stress, but I can’t imagine also having to make and participate in decisions directly effecting Massachusetts and the United States at that age.

So how can someone so smart not see that Anakin was turning to the dark side?

I went to an all-women’s college, Mount Holyoke, and while I loved the college and would go back in a heartbeat, it was sheltered in some ways.  A lot of the women went to a same sex college with the sole purpose of devoting their time completely to their studies with no distractions from men.

I imagine Padmé’s track a little similar…she focused so much on her career and politics that she may have not been completely attuned to the Padme1romantic part of life.  She hadn’t sharpened that gut feeling of when something is not right with your partner.  Sure, she had boyfriends (actually we only know of one other boyfriend other than Anakin) but like my 14 year old relationship, they were not substantial.  Her first serious boyfriend was Anakin, whom she later married.

I think a lot of critics and fan dismiss Padmé because she died of a broken heart.  But by doing that, you negate her amazing life and intelligence prior to her death.  I believe Padmé could have been smarter than Leia and Rey, though they are both quite intelligent.  But when it comes to book smarts, Padmé and Leia were probably on the same page, with Padmé inches ahead of her.

I hope that we see some homage to her in the upcoming movies because she is quite a woman and quite a character.

10 Reasons I Like Attack of the Clones

attack of the clones

I had only one New Year’s resolution when it came to this blog.  In 2015, I was going to watch AOTC and find 10 things I liked about it.  I never watched it on my own, but I did watch it a few weeks ago with the friends when I worked through the saga with prior to TFA (another post on that soon!).

To find 10 things I liked about AOTC was great up until number 8.  Then I really struggled with the last two items.  I eventually came up with them, but I had to rack my brain.

Here is my top 10 list for AOTC, therefore fulfilling my New Year’s resolution a month from the end of 2015.

10. Kamino. Out of all the new planets introduced in the Prequel Trilogy, Kamino is one of my favorites.  The weirdest thing is, I’m not a big fan of rain, but I love the visual element of it.  Plus, we’ve all had Kamino days before where you kind of feel bad for Kaminoans and the constant battering of rain…though with their skin, I’m not sure they’d last long in the sun.  Regardless, Kamino is one of the coolest planets in AOTC with the city on stilts, their transportation on the Aiwha’s, and their impressive cloning facility.  Super modern for a place that must experience a lot of power outages.

9. Puns. No Star Wars film is as rife with puns as Episode II is.  Part of me groans and hates how corny they are, but the pun-loving side of me rejoices in seeing so many in one movie.

2 Examples:

-Threepio’s head being dragged by Artoo to be put on his proper body: “Oh, this is such a drag!”

-Anakin worrying about Padmé and Obi-Wan says: “She seems to be on top of things,” as she climbs up the pole.

8. “This party’s over.” This is an example of a corny line in Star Wars this party's overthat is done so, so well.  Every time Windu utters that line I just want to woop.  Then all the Jedi start igniting their lightsabers across the Geonosian arena and it looks amazing.  It’s classic good versus evil.  The Jedi show up to save the day and you can’t help but think, “This is how it should be.”

7. The Geonosian language. I had some big debates on this when I was reading my list out loud after watching the movie but I have always loved the language of these critters.  All the weird sounds they make with clucks, clicks, whirring noises, and slightly human sounds in it is super interesting.  It’s my favorite language of species out of the entire Star Wars saga.  In case you ever want to listen to 10 hours of it, someone has granted your wish:

6. Seismic charge. The asteroid chase scene, while an homage to ESB, did not come close to matching the magnificence of the Empire chasing the Falcon.  What it did do was give us two well-equipped adversaries battling it out with lots of obstacles.  So in a sense, it was very different from the chase in ESB as this was not so much of a “chase” but a seek-and-find.  Out of this, resulted the seismic charge, a cool new addition to the Star Wars universe.  My favorite part is the silence when it’s released, followed by the explosive electric sound and the flat horizontal destruction it creates.  According to the Wookiepedia page, the reason I love this so much is actually because it defies science:

The sound from an explosion of this weapon is an interesting take on the Star Wars “ignorance” of the fact that there is no sound in a vacuum. There is no sound at the start of a blast, but there is still the impossible phenomenon of sound in space afterward. The idea during the production of Episode II was that the charge would suck in and absorb all the sound around it (such as the sounds of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jango Fett’s ships during their fight in the Geonosis asteroid belt), and then release them in a sonic explosion, resulting in the shockwave effect heard in the explosion sound.

Maybe that’s why I love Star Wars so much…it’s always defying science and reality.

5. The 2nd to last scene. When the Imperial March starts playing and you all the ships are starting to look like Imperial Star Destroyers…I get chills.  Then you see some of the senate members staring out and Palpatine is looking out at everything and you know he’s just maniacally laughing in his head.  Then you see Organa’s head bow down with one hand in a fist.  His misgiving is clear.  And those rows upon rows of clone troopers – amazing.  Begun the Clone Wars has.

AOTC 2nd to last scene

4. Imaginative planets. There’s no denying that the locations and scenery on Naboo are stunning.  Geonosis had the interesting hive of swarming bugs as a planet, and most of the scenes took place within the hive of the Geonosians, with the exception of final battle.    I felt like we really got to dive into Coruscant with the Zam Wesell chase scene that culminated in the underground nightclub.  We got to see the life of an average civilian with the Dexter Jettster diner scene.  As a whole, the film brought us to new planets that were multi-layered and showed us more depth than we had seen before.

3. Sound effects. This plays into my #6 reason, but at a larger level.  You could argue that the sound effects in every Star Wars movie are amazing, and they are, but I’m not a big sound gal.  Yet every time I watch AOTC, I notice the details of sounds and the minute way the play into the scene at a brilliant level.  Some of my favorites include when Padmé’s ship first flies into the scene (I feel like it sounds different than the other ships), the seismic charge, the sounds of Coruscant in the Zam Wesell chase scene, the Obi-wan/Jango fight, and the final battle.  In this movie, I think the sounds play as an important a role as the visual element. 

2. Padmé’s costumes. Beautiful, so beautiful. I would like to put in a caveat that I am not referring to her stupid white costume during the latter part of the movie that was strategically ripped right at her abs.  The rest of them are stunning though.  Not just the lakeside dress, but her sexy leather dress, her picnic dress, even the ones she wears on Coruscant when Anakin is pouting.  I love her nightgown and scoured the internet until I found one somewhat similar and bought it (note: it’s not very comfortable to sleep in, but I don’t care).  I even like the one on Tatooine that we see so little of that also strategically shows her abs…it has a nice feminine flow to it.  Trisha Beggar should have gotten an Oscar instead of Colleen Atwood for Chicago.  Unfortunately, she didn’t even get nominated for this film which I see as a real shame because it wasn’t just Padmé who had beautiful costumes, the others had a lot of detail in them as well.

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1. Across the Stars. Oh man, oh man, this was really close with #2 but I just couldn’t deny putting it at number one. This is one of the greatest tracks John Williams has ever created and it kills me that it’s not more recognized.  It’s beautiful but tragic all at once – which sums up Padmé and Anakin’s relationship.  Even though logically, if you don’t know the story of Star Wars, the ending of AOTC should be happy (a wedding! True love! Yay!)…from the music you can tell it’s doomed.  There are notes of triumph but it’s so overshadowed by the lower notes of heartbreak.  The harp at the end is just a cherry on top.  The music is poignant, it’s crucial, and it evokes so much emotion from me even when I listen to it 13 years later.  Sometimes I feel like this track makes the whole movie worth it. Bravo, John Williams, bravo.

 

What are your top moments from Attack of the Clones?

I Tip My Hat to You, Joel Edgerton

I thought it would be nice to pay special attention to Joel Edgerton, if only because out of all the Star Wars actors, I think he’s had the most interesting rise.

Harrison Ford is the only other actor who has had a similar rise to fame situation that Edgerton has had, but with Ford, he shot up fast with leading roles in Indy and Star Wars and has never turned back.

joel edgerton

He’s actually kind of cute…

Edgerton, on the other hand, has had a slow and methodical rise in Hollywood since Attack of the Clones.  He’s worked hard to build his reputation in the film industry and I’ve begun to see him in more critically acclaimed films and stronger roles.

Now, I’m not a big movie watcher but I have definitely seen Joel Edgerton in more movies than anyone else in the Prequels, including Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman.  Note that I have seen him in more movies, not that he’s necessarily been in more movies than those three.

For instance, looking at his acting history on IMDB, here are the films I’ve seen him in (chronological order based on when they were released):

  • Ned Kelly
  • King Arthur
  • Smokin’ Aces
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Exodus: Gods and Kings
  • Black Mass

Look at the rise of the movies, the directors, and their reputation.  When glancing at IMDB, he is in an average of 3-4 movies a year.  3-4 movies A YEAR!  Do you know how tiring that must be?  Plus he recently directed a movie as well.

What got me thinking about Edgerton was how he completely transformed in Black Mass.  Being from Boston, it was a

Joel Edgerton playing opposite Johnny Depp in Black Mass

Joel Edgerton playing opposite Johnny Depp in Black Mass

must-see for me, but I was so surprised at how transformed Edgerton was.  In most of the movies I have seen with him, I have had a flicker of recognition, thinking, “Hey, there’s young Uncle Owen.”  But with Black Mass, I couldn’t figure out if that was him.  Every once and a while, I’d think, “But is it?  Is it young Uncle Owen?  Nah, maybe it’s just someone who looks a lot like him.”   It really bothered me.  When I saw his name in the credits, I began thinking about writing this blog post and tipping my hat in his direction to say, “Hey dude, I’ve noticed how far you’ve come from your AOTC days and that is awesome.”

Think about how small a part he played in AOTC.  He was hardly in it and barely talked.  Most of his work prior to Star Wars had been in single episodes for TV shows, made-for-TV movies, or shorts.  After Star Wars, he did another movie, a few episodes in TV series and then – bam – Ned Kelly.  (For those that don’t know about Ned Kelly and who aren’t Australian like Yours Truly, it’s an Australian movie with all the big named Hollywood accented (English or Australian, mostly Aussie though) actors like Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, etc. It’s a fun watch, if only to learn about the most notorious Australian gangster of all time – Ned Kelly.)

I’d like to see Edgerton in more leading roles, but he seems unconcerned about that.

I think part of my obsession is, “How far is the spectrum of what you can play?” Looking for the edges of that spectrum. Not to be stuck playing a hero all the time. I don’t feel comfortable in that role, so much. Looking for those weirder, quirkier, edgier parts. They just become more fun. Often times, they’re not the leading role. I think it’s good to be able to not be the star of the movie. The upside of that is getting to play really interesting questions.

The few movies where he does play a leading role have not done too well box-office wise, but I think his acting has still been stupendous.  It may just be more about getting his name out there and getting it recognized…though again, he doesn’t seem to care about the leading role as much as I do, haha.

Finally, what made me really want to write this quick post, was when I read an article that Jane Got a Gun is finally getting released this upcoming February.  The movie has been plagued with quite a few difficulties and though I love the premise, I had kind of written it off as a never-going-to-happen.  Well, it sounds like it will be!  And guess who stars in it?

Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, and Ewan McGregor.

You’re making the connection right?  All three of these people have met up separately in the Prequel Trilogy.  Portman interacted with Edgerton when she goes home with Anakin to Tatooine to find Shmi.  Portman and McGregor obviously have a lot of interaction from TPM through ROTS.  And Edgerton and McGregor meet up at the very end of ROTS (kind of) when he gives them Luke to take care of.  I fully acknowledge Edgerton and McGregor may not have actually met up and it could have been filmed separately, but I like to believe they were all there at the same time.

How about them apples?

So even if the movie isn’t very good, I’m still going to see it if only for the fact that it’s got 3 Star Wars PT actors back in the same arena.

I’m sure Edgerton will shine as he always does and I just hope I see him in many more movies to come.