Why TPM Is Important For Children

Most people of my generation were brought up with the Prequels and most (but not all) find them perfectly okay.  Maybe not as great as the OT, but still worthy of watching.  However, I think the general consensus is that the Prequels should be held off for a while and you should have your children watch the OT for the first few rounds of Star Wars.

I have mentioned before that while I love and enjoy The Phantom Menace, it’s hard for children to watch because of the amount of talking anakin-and-kitsterand politics that are involved.  This came from an experience I had watching it with a 5 year old Star Wars fan.  He enjoyed the movie but got insanely distracted and bored during any of the senate scenes, or really…any scene that had a lot of talking which is quite a lot in TPM.

Yet I was thinking about TPM a few weeks ago and realized something that has been so obvious from the beginning: TPM is the only Star Wars movie that has a child in a leading role. Not only does it have a child in a leading role, it also has a cast of much younger characters than any of the other movies.

TPM boasts a cast of children that we see in multiple scenes, namely Anakin Skywalker.  On top of that, we have all of Anakin’s friends who show up when he is working on his podracer and his best friend Kitster also appears in many scenes, showing us that Anakin is quite a normal young child, despite his abilities.

One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Timothy 4:12,

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Though this was in reference to an early (“young”) church, many people use it when teaching children in Sunday School.  It shows children that they too can be an example to others, even though they are so young.

The importance of children in TPM cannot be overlooked.  It is similar to the Bible verse in that when you show TPM to a child, you are showing that this galaxy far, far away has children who went on to do an extraordinary things.  Not teenagers, not adults, but children.  Of course, I’m talking about TPM only and not the rest of the Prequels/OT because I’m not sure little Ani’s Jedi wipeout is considered “extraordinary”.

padme-tpmThough I would not label Padmé as a child, I think she is still an important figure for children to see in the movie because she is the next step up.  We see such broad age ranges of people in TPM that it doesn’t take much for children to make a leap from Anakin, to Padmé, and then to Obi-Wan.

With Anakin, we see a young boy who can create and repair giant podracers.  He then makes the hard decision to leave his mother, whom he may never see again, to go on a different life path.  At the end of the movie, he saves the day by blowing up the Trade Federation Battleship.

Padmé is fourteen in TPM, a young teenager, and we see that she rules an entire planet as its queen.  She also disguises herself and goes along with the Jedi on Tatootine so that she can know exactly what is going on with the mission.  Towards the end of the movie, she makes the brave decision to return home to her planet against advice and enlist the help of an alienated race.

Obi-Wan is in his twenties in TPM and you get to see how even though he’s in his 20s, he’s not quite old enough to be independent.  He still needs to follow the rules set out for him by older Jedi until he passes his training.  This shows younger children that there are still limits that you have to work around even when you are older.

Realizing this made me rethink my decision on waiting until ARM is older for her to watch the Prequels.  Perhaps it would be smarter to introduce TPM when she is younger, maybe as soon as she can understand plot flows and larger concepts.  I don’t think the ages of characters is something that will be obvious to her, but perhaps subliminally it will be a good message.

tpm-anakin-skywalker

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.

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.

Taken From Birth

A lot of my thoughts have lately been around my child (obviously) who is now three months old and how much they really do take over your life.  While the first eight weeks felt stagnant and like I was pouring in energy and getting nothing back, I now see changes each and every day and feel like she is growing so fast.

The first eight weeks was tough.  Yeah, it was really tough.  I began to think about how they did it in a galaxy far, far away.  Did they have droids to help them?  Like, babysitting droids?  Droids that somehow knew the magic touch to calm the baby?

All these meandering thoughts led me to think about the Jedi and the First Order Stormtroopers.

Qui Gon says to Shmi (in regards to Anakin):

Had he been born in the Republic, we would have identified him early, and he would have become Jedi…

General Hux counters Kylo:

My men are exceptionally trained — programmed from birth.

I’ve always admired the Jedi, though as I have gotten older I have seen their many flaws as an organization.  But all this thinking led me to wonder: how different are the Stormtroopers from the Jedi?

jedi younglingsWith the Jedi, I found some information online that says the parent’s permission was always asked, but once the child’s mind was opened to the Force, the parent could not take them back.  However, all this was wiped out with the new Disney canon so we essentially don’t know much about the subject of how the young were actually initiated into becoming a Jedi.

The Jedi Order is supposed to be good and uphold justice in the galaxy.  Yet they had a way of identifying young babies, or children, and taking them from their parents to become a Jedi.  I feel conflicted about this.  It seems almost selfish for a parent to refuse to give up their child to become a Jedi since it’s for the greater good of the galaxy.  When you think of how large the Star Wars galaxy is and how few Jedi there are in relation to the number of sentient beings – there aren’t that many Jedi.  At the same time – it’s your child.  How could you be expected to give it up?  Ever?  I look at ARM and I sometimes wonder to myself if I would be able to give her up if Jedi came knocking on my door.  I understand Shmi’s pain a lot better now when she said, “Don’t look back.”

It’s not just your child you’re giving up, you’re giving up your future.  Dreams and plans you had for them.  Little moments that you’ll never get to see.  You’re not allowed to visit them and they will never know who you are.

Then I began to think…is that more or less cruel than General Hux and his stormtroopers?

I’m assuming that Hux doesn’t give a choice to the parents and he wrenches the babies from them.  Then those children are spoon fed First Order young stormtrooperspropaganda day in and day out to make them completely loyal to the First Order.  Their whole life, all they know is the First Order and they live, breathe, and die for the First Order.

Is that really so different from the Jedi?  There are nuances but I find that they feel eerily similar to me.

Both are taken from birth to serve a higher order and both are entrenched in the doctrine of what they serve.  Creepy, right?

In the end, what slightly mollified me was remembering Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order at the end of The Clone Wars.  I realized that despite the similarities, the Jedi offered something the First Order did not: a choice.  As a Jedi, you had the option to leave the Jedi Order.  If you wanted to give up your life as a Jedi when you got old enough, you were allowed to leave.

I have now begun to wonder if the Jedi who left ever went back to find their family.  If they found them, would they ask why they made the decision to let them go?  Or how hard it was?

The more I think about the Jedi Order, the more jaded I become with them at times.  But did the Jedi do what was right for them as an organization?  Had this been tried and tested many times over the years and they realized that younger children were better to train than older?  Yet, couldn’t there have been a balance between allowing them to know and love their parents while also training to be a Jedi?  Though attachment was forbidden, could it possibly have made them better Jedi in the end (an argument I strongly stand by)?

I don’t have any answers but I do realize now how hard it would be to let my child be taken by strangers, even if they were Jedi.  I’m not sure I could do it, even with how much I love Jedi.  Perhaps that’s the real reason why they had such small numbers – maybe more people had the Force than we know, it’s just that their parents didn’t want to give them up.  😉

The Most Pointless Scenes in the Star Wars Saga

The end of pregnancy does weird things to you…for instance – everyone is telling you to “get your sleep” while you can, but yet, you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, uncomfortable, and unable to fall asleep again for at least an hour.

And what do I do during that hour+? Obsess about the weirdest stuff.  Not stuff that makes sense like, “Will I be a good mom? Will I bring my child up safely and politely? Will my relationship survive the strain?”

Oh no.  I obsess about stuff like, “I wonder if I’ll remember to take the trash out when I have the baby,” or “Why is my dog making those weird sounds?  Did he throw up?” in which I promptly jump up, shine a light on him, wake my husband up, and see my dog is just in a funny sleeping position so semi-snoring.  Yes, this happened once.

Last night I woke up and obsessed about my  ideas for Star Wars blog posts and how I haven’t written any yet.  Then it evolved into how I could expand on one of my ideas and write an entire blog post about pointless scenes in the saga.

So here we are!  The fruits of last night’s pregnancy insomnia.

I define scenes as “pointless” if it could have been cut entirely and/or gotten to the point of the scene a lot faster.

 

The Phantom Menace

I think the most pointless scene in TPM would be the bongo scene.  After arriving in Otoh Gunga with Jar Jar who was exiled, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon bongo phantom menaceJedi mind trick Boss Nass into giving them a transport out of there.  He gives them a tribubble bongo and they head off to Theed through the planet core.

What ensues is basically a fish chase.  They almost get eaten multiple times, Jar Jar freaks out too many times and everyone has some pretty dumb lines (“There’s always a bigger fish”).

This entire scene could have been cut.  Instead, we could have seen them get on the bongo then appear in Theed.  Funnily – it’s the scene right after this one that Lucas decides to keep when they arrive above water and have to escape being almost pulled down a waterfall.

If you want to add a little tension and excitement to the movie, that cut scene would have done a better job than the exceedingly drawn out bongo trip.

 

Attack of the Clones

Two scenes come to mind here: 1) the droid factory scene where Padmé and Anakin are on some kind of weird obstacle course and Anakin’s lightsaber dies, and 2) the gladiator arena scene at the end.

The droid factory scene is more pointless than the gladiator scene.  I think this entire segment could have been cut out and replaced with something a padme droid factorylot more interesting.  The point of this scene was to catch Anakin and Padmé somewhere they weren’t supposed to be, therefore giving an excuse to have them in the gladiator scene with Obi-Wan.  Well, why not pick something that made the two main characters look a whole lot less foolish?  Maybe spying on Count Dooku, or, even trying to rescue Obi-Wan right away and failing.  And the whole thing with the lightsaber dying in the droid factory really rubbed me the wrong way.  It took the mystique out of lightsabers that there is a possibility it could fail like anything else mechanical.  Let’s not even go into Threepio in this scene and how must stupider it made the scene look with his horrible puns.

The gladiator scene is a harder to argue against but in this case, I think it was drawn out a little too long, similar to the bongo scene.  I understand it was a convenient setup to have Obi-Wan, Padmé, and Anakin in one place for when the Jedi and clone troopers save the day.  But it was unnecessary to have it be so dramatic when we had both the battle between the Separatists/Clones and Yoda/Count Dooku on the horizon.  I think we could have cut out the entire part with the animals and got rid of the similarities to Gladiator (the blockbuster and Oscar winner that came out around the same time as AOTC) and been a lot better for it.

 

Revenge of the Sith

The General Grievous versus Obi-Wan lightsaber fight.  Way too long and how in the world was General Grievous good enough to last as long as he did?  Again, this is one of the areas where Obi-Wan is so awesome that the fact that he had to keep chasing Grievous and have a weird showdown in order to kill him was yawn-worthy.

general grievous vs obi wan

We all knew that Grievous was not the main nemesis of the movie and there were so many other interesting aspect to get to that the corny lines (“Army or not, you must realize you are doomed.” “Oh, I don’t think so.”) and constant cat and mouse chase got to be too much.  Obi-Wan is one of the best Jedi Masters out there so just kill him already.

It would have been SO much cooler if it was like an Indiana Jones scene where the guy is doing all the tricks with the whip and Indy just takes out his gun and shoots him.  Something like that would have been way better for the Obi-Wan vs. Grievous show down.

 

A New Hope

Surprisingly – I can’t think of any pointless scenes in ANH.  This is one of the things that kept me awake longer than it should have last night because I think every scene in ANH is there for a reason, makes sense, and none of them are pointless.  This could be why I enjoy ANH more and more as I get older.

 

The Empire Strikes Back

This may be a little controversial, but I think one of the most pointless scenes in ESB is the cave scene where Luke sees his face in the mask of luke-dark-side-caveVader.  It’s not that I don’t understand what Lucas and Kershner are trying to do and say.  However, I think it could have been brought up totally differently if they wanted to make that point.  Or, do we even need it?  Was our Star Wars viewing experience enriched by that scene?  Isn’t it something that if you know Luke and see the training he is going through with Yoda, you can kind of figure it out on your own?  It’s a pointless bit of fake foreshadowing that leads the audience to believe and think something else.  Star Wars is also not known for its symbolism, even if it’s blatantly slapped in your face like this scene.  So why pull it in now?

 

Return of the Jedi

Honestly, I had a few scenes in my mind but then when I started to write about them, I realized that they didn’t quite hit “pointless” on my radar.  They did, in the end, have a point and they didn’t need to be cut either.

Therefore, I’m leaving ROTJ as another movie that was pretty well done and not too many scenes that I thought could have been left out.

 

The Force Awakens

Oh c’mon, do I even need to go here?  We all know the scene that should have been cut.

rathtar tfaThe freaking Rathtar scene.

Whhhhy is it in the movie?  As I thought about this, the only reasons I could think of was to a) alert Han that the First Order was looking for two fugitives and a BB droid, and b) to show that Han Solo still has trouble talking his way out of things, albeit in a funny way in that he thinks he can talk himself out of dire situations.

This could have definitely been done differently.  Being a smuggler again, Han probably would have known the First Order was looking for two fugitives and a BB unit…he probably would have had that come in on a priority signal or something.

As for the second part, we didn’t need it.  Han had plenty of time in the movie to show that he was still the same guy.

This scene is up there with the droid factory scene in AOTC as something that could have been completely cut.  It was childish, out-of-place in the Star Wars universe and was thrown in only for the action element.

 

I love Star Wars, as you all know.  But there are some parts of it that drag on too long or don’t seem to have a reason as to why they are in the movie.  More of the fault lied with the Prequel Trilogy than the Original Trilogy as I feel that gratuitous action scenes were thrown in to keep up with other summer blockbusters, when they really just made the movie look a little silly.

 

Let me know if you guys think of some pointless scenes in ANH and ROTJ…or if you disagree with my assessment!