Yes, it's been a while since we got into this; sorry about that. But now we're back, so it's time to return to Naboo and Coruscant for further examination of Attack of the Clones!
When last we left our Star Warring heroes, Obi Wan Kenobi was starting to dig a bit into the mystery of the assassination attempts on Senator Amidala, while Anakin Skywalker had been sent as Padme Amidala's bodyguard back to Naboo for safekeeping. That's where we start!
So Obi Wan Kenobi has learned that the toxic dart originated on a planet called Kamino, a planet whose chief industry is the creation of clones. However, in trying to further investigate this Kamino business, he discovers that the vast Jedi Archive contains nothing at all on Kamino, and what's more, the librarian there is really unhelpful and gets annoyed when Obi Wan suggests that maybe her archive isn't complete.
And that's where we pick up, with one of my favorite scenes in any Star Wars movie: Obi Wan goes to see Yoda about this, interrupting Yoda's session of Lightsaber 101 with a bunch of four-year-old Jedi younglings. Here's the scene as written, which is, aside from a couple of lines of dialogue's difference, pretty much exactly what happens onscreen (RED text indicates stuff not in the movie):
INTERIOR: JEDI TEMPLE, MAIN HALLWAY – DAY
OBI-WAN walks through the main hallway to the training area.
INTERIOR: JEDI TEMPLE, TRAINING VERANDA – DAY
OBI-WAN comes out onto the veranda and stops, watching TWENTY or so FOUR-YEAR-OLDS doing training exercises, supervised by YODA. They wear helmets over their eyes and try to strike little TRAINING DROIDS with their miniature lightsabers. The DROIDS dance in front of them.
YODA: Don't think... feel... be as one with the Force. Help you, it will. (he sees Obi-Wan) Younglings - enough! A visitor we have. Welcome him.
The CHILDREN turn off their lightsabers.
YODA: Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, meet the mighty Bear Clan.
CHILDREN: Welcome, Master Obi-Wan!
OBI-WAN: I am sorry to disturb you, Master.
YODA: What help to you, can I be?
OBI-WAN: I'm looking for a planet described to me by an old friend. I trust him. But the system doesn't show up on the archive maps.
YODA: Lost a planet, Master Obi-Wan has. How embarrassing... how embarrassing. Liam, the shades. An interesting puzzle. Gather, younglings, around the map reader. Clear your minds and find Obi-Wan's wayward planet, we will.
The reader is a small shaft with a hollow opening at the top. The CHILDREN gather around it. OBI-WAN takes out a little glass ball and places it into the bowl. The window shades close, the reader lights up and projects the star map hologram into the room. The CHILDREN laugh. Some of them reach up to try and touch the nebulae and stars. OBI-WAN walks into the display.
OBI-WAN: This is where it ought to be... but it isn't. Gravity is pulling all the stars in this area inward to this spot. There should be a star here... but there isn't.
YODA: Most interesting. Gravity's silhouette remains, but the star and all its planets have disappeared. How can this be? Now, younglings, in your mind, what is the first thing you see? An answer? A thought? Anyone?
There is a brief pause. Then a CHILD puts his hand up. YODA nods.
JEDI CHILD JACK: Master? Because someone erased it from the archive memory.
CHILDREN: That's right! Yes! That's what happened! Someone erased it!
JEDI CHILD MAY: If the planet blew up, the gravity would go away.
OBI-WAN stares; YODA chuckles.
YODA: Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is. The Padawan is right. Go to the center of the gravity's pull, and find your planet you will.
YODA and OBI-WAN move away from the CHILDREN. With a hand movement, OBI-WAN causes the star map to disappear. OBI-WAN uses the Force to call the glass ball back to his hand as
the two walk into an adjoining room.
OBI-WAN: But Master Yoda who could have erased information from the archives? That's impossible, isn't it?
YODA: (frowning) Dangerous and disturbing this puzzle is. Only a Jedi could have erased those files. But who and why, harder to answer. Meditate on this, I will. May the Force be with you.
In the past I've seen some criticism of this scene on the basis that Obi Wan shouldn't need the children to figure out that the Jedi archives have been tampered with, but I don't think that's what's going on here; I think that Obi Wan has clearly already figured that out and is going to bring this matter to Yoda's attention. Yoda simply decides to make it a teaching exercise for the younglings. (Love that word, by the way. "Younglings".) Note that Yoda and Obi Wan move away from the children to further discuss the fact that the erasure of the archive data indicates a deeper problem. (A deeper problem, I might add, that never gets mentioned again. That's an error we'll be correcting at some point.)
And aside from all that, this is just a lovely scene to behold. The music for this scene is gentle and wonderful, and I've long believed that if I could own one non-weapon gizmo from the Star Wars movies, Obi Wan's pocket holographic planetarium would be the one. Who wouldn't want to be able to walk through a room full of stars? I would have liked to see the kids responds more; Lucas scripted it that way, so why didn't he film it?
So, Obi Wan's next move is plain: he has to actually go to Kamino. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme have arrived on Naboo and are proceeding to the Palace to meet with the current Queen.
There is a lot of material from the Naboo arrival sequence of the film that didn't make it into the final cut. It's all available on the extra material on the DVDs, and in every single case, producer Rick McCallum says the same thing: these scenes, while nice, were all cut because they didn't move the action along. Once again, I can sympathize with this somewhat, but again, I think that mistakes were made here. There are times when moving things along is called for, and there are times when you need more time for things to unfold. Specifically, the major fault I find with AOTC is that Padme falls in love with Anakin too quickly. She seems to go very quickly from seeing him as the child she once knew to the man she loves. Preserving some of this material would help that along, I think; it would show her coming to see him in a new light. (Plus a couple of other changes I would make along the way.)
Additionally, I think these scenes were well done; the acting's good, and maybe the general perception of Anakin would be different had these scenes been preserved, since he's not terribly whiny in them. Yes, once again I'm lobbying for a significantly longer movie, but once again, I think that George Lucas simply got too attached to the idea of a specific running time.
So here are the scenes as in the script, with occasional comment scattered within:
EXTERIOR: NABOO PALACE, GRAND COURTYARD – AFTERNOON
The speeder bus pulls up and stops. PADMÉ, ANAKIN, and ARTOO get out. The great courtyard stretches before them, and they see the rose-colored domes of the palace on the far side. ARTOO WHISTLES. They pick up their gear and start to cross the courtyard. ARTOO trundles behind them.
ANAKIN: If I grew up here, I don't think I'd ever leave.
PADMÉ: (laughing) I doubt that.
ANAKIN: No, really. When I started my training, I was very homesick and very lonely. This city and my Mom were the only pleasant things I had to think about... The problem was, the more I thought about my Mom, the worse I felt. But I would feel better if I thought about the palace - the way it shimmers in the sunlight - the way the air always smells of flowers...
PADMÉ: ...and the soft sound of the distant waterfalls. The first time I saw the Capital, I was very young... I'd never seen a waterfall before. I thought they were so beautiful... I never dreamed one day I'd live in the palace.
ANAKIN: Well, tell me, did you dream of power and politics when you were a little girl?
PADMÉ: (laughing) No! That was the last thing I thought of, but the more history I studied, the more I realized how much good politicians could do. After school, I became a Senatorial advisor with such a passion that, before I knew it, I was elected Queen. For the most part it was because of my conviction that reform was possible. I wasn't the youngest Queen ever elected, but now that I think back on it, I'm not sure I was old enough. I'm not sure I was ready.
[See, I like this whole conversation. Does it whisk the plot along? No, but a lot of this fleshes out what's gone on since TPM, and it fleshes out Padme's character quite a lot. I would like a bit of exploration into a society that actually has children capable of governing an entire planet, but I never had much problem with that notion to begin with, so....]
ANAKIN: The people you served thought you did a good job. I heard they tried to amend the Constitution so you could stay in office.
PADMÉ: Popular rule is not democracy, Annie. It gives the people what they want, not what they need. And, truthfully, I was relieved when my two terms were up. So were my parents. They worried about me during the blockade and couldn't wait for it all to be over. Actually, I was hoping to have a family by now... My sisters have the most amazing, wonderful kids... So when the Queen asked me to serve as Senator, I couldn't refuse her.
ANAKIN: I agree! I think the Republic needs you... I'm glad you chose to serve. I feel things are going to happen in our generation that will change the galaxy in profound ways.
PADMÉ: I think so too.
ANAKIN and PADMÉ walk toward the palace. ARTOO continues to follow.
INTERIOR: NABOO PALACE, THRONE ROOM – AFTERNOON
QUEEN JAMILLIA is seated on the throne, flanked by SIO BIBBLE and a COUPLE OF ADVISORS. FOUR HANDMAIDENS stand close by, and GUARDS are at the doors.
QUEEN JAMILLIA: We've been worried about you. (takes her hand) I'm so glad you're safe, Padmé.
PADMÉ: Thank you, Your Highness. I only wish I could have served you better by staying on Coruscant for the vote.
SIO BIBBLE: Given the circumstances, Senator, you know it was the only decision Her Highness could have made.
QUEEN JAMILLIA: How many systems have joined Count Dooku and the separatists?
PADMÉ: Thousands. And more are leaving the Republic everyday. If the Senate votes to create an army, I'm sure it's going to push us into a civil war.
SIO BIBBLE: It's unthinkable! There hasn't been a full scale war since the formation of the Republic!
QUEEN JAMILLIA: Do you see any way, through negotiations, to bring the separatists back into the Republic?
PADMÉ: Not if they feel threatened. The separatists don't have an army, but if they are provoked, they will move to defend themselves. I'm sure of that. And with no time or money to build an army, my guess is they will turn to the Commerce Guilds or the Trade Federation for help.
[Some of this is in the movie, and some of it isn't. I can't recall exactly, so I'm not color-coding everything. Suffice it to say that this discussion of the political situation in the Republic is truncated a bit in the movie.]
QUEEN JAMILLIA: The armies of commerce! Why has nothing been done in the Senate to restrain them?
PADMÉ: I'm afraid that, despite the Chancellor's best efforts, there are still many bureaucrats, judges, and even Senators on the payrolls of the Guilds.
SIO BIBBLE: It's outrageous that, after all of those hearings, and four trials in the Supreme Court, Nute Gunray is still the Viceroy of the Trade Federation. I fear the Senate is powerless to resolve this crisis. Do those money mongers control everything?
QUEEN JAMILLIA: Remember, Counselor, the courts were able to reduce the Federation's armies. That's a move in the right direction.
PADMÉ: There are rumors, Your Highness, that the Trade Federation Army was not reduced as they were ordered.
QUEEN JAMILLIA: We must keep our faith in the Republic. The day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.
PADMÉ: Let's pray that day never comes.
QUEEN JAMILLIA: In the meantime, we must consider your own safety.
SIO BIBBLE signals. All the OTHER ADVISORS and ATTENDANTS bow and leave the room.
SIO BIBBLE: (to Anakin) What is your suggestion, Master Jedi?
PADMÉ: Anakin's not a Jedi yet, Counselor. He's still a Padawan learner. I was thinking...
ANAKIN: (nettled) Hey, hold on a minute!
PADMÉ: Excuse me! I was thinking I would stay in the Lake Country. There are some places up there that are very isolated.
ANAKIN: Excuse me?! I am in charge of security here, M'Lady.
SIO BIBBLE and QUEEN JAMILLIA exchange a look. Something is going on here.
PADMÉ: Annie, my life is at risk, and this is my home. I know it very well... that is why we're here. I think it would be wise for you to take advantage of my knowledge in this instance.
ANAKIN: (takes a deep breath) Sorry, M'Lady.
QUEEN JAMILLIA: Perfect. It's settled then.
[This is one of my favorite "character" moments in AotC. I love the little seed of conflict planted here, borne of the fact that Padme still refuses to see Anakin as something more than the resourceful little kid she had known years before. I also think that this exchange could have set up a more effect event later on. That's something I'll get to in due course. I'll also note that the actress playing Queen Jammillia, Ayesha Dharker, is very beautiful and does a great job in her brief screen time in creating a Queen who, despite the funky makeup, is distinct from the former Queen Amidala.]
ANAKIN glares at PADMÉ. Then QUEEN JAMILLIA gets up, and they all start to leave.
QUEEN JAMILLIA: Padmé, I had an audience with your father yesterday. I told him what was happening. He hopes you will visit your mother before you leave... your family's very worried about you.
PADMÉ: Thank you, your Highness.
PADMÉ looks worried. They ALL exit down the main staircase.
One might be tempted to wonder why they bothered traveling as refugees if they were simply going to make contact with the Queen when they arrived on Naboo; that's not much of a way to maintain cover if they're trying to avoid being found by whomever is behind the assassination attempts. I assume, then, that the "traveling as refugees" bit was just to keep them safe while they were on their journey, and was always intended to be dropped as soon as they arrived on Naboo.
In the film, we now cut to Obi Wan landing on Kamino, but in the original script there are several scenes following the reception with the Queen, still on Naboo, in which we meet Padme's family. It's fairly unremarkable stuff, but frankly, that's why I like it. These scenes are available on the DVD's special features, along with the reason for their cutting from the film: that old bagaboo, running time and the desire to keep the action moving. The problem here is that while yes, the scenes would lengthen the movie a bit and slow down the pace, I think they would also serve several pretty useful purposes. First, it would allow the fleshing out of Padme a bit, and second, the scenes give Anakin a chance to do something aside from appearing stalkerishly attached to Padme or teetering on the edge of Vaderhood.
Ultimately, I think that the Anakin-Padme love story needed more time to unfold. Padme seems to go from rejecting Anakin's advances to accepting them fairly quickly; in these scenes, we are allowed to see that the seeds of her attraction to him are already well in flower, probably before she has even had a chance to realize this herself. The love story actually unfolds when this material is included, as opposed to simply happening when Lucas adheres rigidly to his internal demands for a specific running time.
I like these scenes quite a bit, and I'd restore them, since I don't think they add much more then seven or eight minutes total to the movie, and sometimes that makes a ton of difference. Here are the scenes, as taken from the script:
EXTERIOR: THEED, RESIDENTIAL AREA, SIDE STREET – AFTERNOON
PEOPLE are passing through the little street, OLD MEN are sunning themselves, WOMEN are gossiping, KIDS are playing. ANAKIN, PADMÉ and ARTOO turn onto a side street. ANAKIN is back in his Jedi robes. PADMÉ wear a beautiful simple dress. She stops, beaming.
PADMÉ: There's my house!
PADMÉ starts forward; ANAKIN hangs back.
PADMÉ: What? Don't say you're shy!
ANAKIN: (untruthfully) No, but I...
Suddenly, there are shouts from two little girls, RYOO (age 6) and POOJA (age 4). They come running toward PADMÉ.
PADMÉ: Ryoo!! Pooja!!
PADMÉ scoops up RYOO and POOJA and hugs them.
PADMÉ: Go wake up Artoo.
RYOO & POOJA: Artoo!!!
As they see the droid, they hug him. ARTOO WHISTLES and BEEPS. PADMÉ laughs. ANAKIN and PADMÉ go on toward the house. The GIRLS stay and play with ARTOO.
INTERIOR: PADMÉ'S PARENTS' HOUSE, MAIN ROOM – AFTERNOON
SOLA, PADMÉ'S beautiful older sister, comes in from the kitchen carrying a big bowl of food.
SOLA: (over her shoulder) They're eating over at Jev Narran's later, Mom. They just had a snack. They'll be fine.
SOLA puts the bowl down on the table, where ANAKIN, PADMÉ and RUWEE NABERRIE (Padme's father) are coming into the room.
SOLA: Padmé! (hugging her) You're late. Mom was worried.
PADMÉ: We walked. Anakin, this is my sister, Sola.
SOLA: Hello, Anakin.
SOLA sits, as JOBAL NABERRIE (Padme's mother) comes in with a heaped bowl of steaming food.
PADMÉ: ...and this is my mother.
JOBAL: You're just in time for dinner. I hope you're hungry, Anakin.
ANAKIN: A little.
PADMÉ: He's being polite, Mom. We're starving.
RUWEE: (grinning) You came to the right place at the right time.
EVERYONE sits and starts passing food.
JOBAL: (to Padmé) Honey, it's so good to see you safe. We were so worried.
PADMÉ gives JOBAL a dirty look. RUWEE smiles as he watches.
JOBAL: I know, I know... but I had to say it. Now it's done.
SOLA: Well, this is exciting! Do you know, Anakin, you're the first boyfriend my sister's ever brought home?
PADMÉ: (rolls her eyes) Sola!! He isn't my boyfriend! He's a Jedi assigned by the Senate to protect me.
[If preserving this, I'd put in a reaction shot here from Anakin. Something subtle – maybe he hesitates in taking a bite of food or glances at Padme quickly or something like that. But no man who is genuinely interested in a woman enjoys hearing her say that they're just friends or whatever.]
JOVAL: A bodyguard?! Oh, Padme! They didn't tell us it was that serious!
PADMÉ: It's not, Mom, I promise. (glances at Jobal) Anyway, Anakin's a friend. I've known him for years. Remember that little boy who was with the Jedi during the blockade crisis?
PADMÉ: He grew up.
JOBAL: Honey, when are you going to settle down? Haven't you had enough of that life? I certainly have!
PADMÉ: Mom, I'm not in any danger.
RUWEE: (to Anakin) Is she?
ANAKIN: ...Yes ...I'm afraid she is.
[As they filmed this, in the deleted scenes on the DVD, Hayden Christensen delivers this line softly and a little sadly. It's nicely done, and it's the kind of moment that might have helped the general perception of Anakin.]
PADMÉ: (quickly) But not much.
EXTERIOR: PADMÉ'S PARENTS' GARDEN – AFTERNOON
ANAKIN and RUWEE are walking.
RUWEE: Sometimes I wish I'd traveled more... but I must say, I'm happy here.
ANAKIN: Padmé tells me you teach at the university?
RUWEE: (nodding) Yes, and before that, I was a builder. I also worked for the refugee relief movement when I was very young.
INTERIOR: PADMÉ'S PARENTS' HOUSE, MAIN ROOM – AFTERNOON
PADMÉ, SOLA and JOBAL are clearing the table.
SOLA: Why haven't you told us about him?
PADMÉ: What's there to talk about? He's just a boy.
SOLA: A boy? Have you seen the way he looks at you?
PADMÉ: Sola - stop it!
SOLA: It's obvious he has feelings for you. Are you saying, little baby sister, that you haven't noticed?
PADMÉ: I'm not your baby sister, Sola. Anakin and I are friends... our relationship is strictly professional. (to Jobal) Mom, would you tell her to stop it?
SOLA: (laughing) Well, maybe you haven't noticed the way he looks at you. I think you're afraid to.
PADMÉ: Cut it out.
JOBAL: Sola's just concerned... we all are.
PADMÉ: Oh, Mom, you're impossible. What I'm doing is important.
JOBAL: You've done your service, Padmé. It's time you had a life of your own. You're missing so much!
EXTERIOR: PADMÉ'S PARENTS' GARDEN - AFTERNOON
ANAKIN and RUWEE are walking in the garden. RUWEE stops and faces ANAKIN directly.
RUWEE: Now tell me, son. How serious is this thing? How much danger is my daughter really in?
ANAKIN: There have been two attempts on her life. Chances are there'll be more. My Master is tracking down the assassins. I'm sure he'll find out who they are. This situation, won't last long.
RUWEE: I don't want anything to happen to her.
ANAKIN: I don't either.
INTERIOR: PADMÉ'S PARENTS' HOUSE, PADMÉ'S ROOM – AFTERNOON
PADMÉ throws some things into a bag.
PADMÉ: Don't worry, this won't take long.
ANAKIN: I just want to get there before dark.
PADMÉ goes on packing. ANAKIN looks around the room.
ANAKIN: You still live at home.
PADMÉ: I move around so much, I've never had a place of my own. Official residences have no warmth. I feel good here. I feel at home.
ANAKIN: I never had a real home. Home was always where my Mom was.
ANAKIN picks up a framed hologram.
ANAKIN: Is this you?
The hologram shows PADMÉ at age seven or eight surrounded by forty or fifty little green creatures. She is holding one in her arms. They are all smiling hugely.
PADMÉ: That was when I went with the relief group to Shadda-Bi-Boran. Their sun was imploding, and the planet was dying. I was helping to relocate the children. See that little one I'm holding? His name was N'a-kee-tula, which means sweetheart. He was so full of life. All those kids were. They were never able to adapt... to live off their native planet.
ANAKIN picks up another hologram. It shows PADMÉ at age ten or eleven. She is wearing official robes and standing between two robed legislators. Her expression is severe.
PADMÉ: My first day as an Apprentice Legislator. Notice the difference?
PADMÉ pulls a face. ANAKIN grins. She continues packing.
ANAKIN sets the two holograms down side by side - the
beaming little girl, and the stern, unsmiling adolescent.
And with that, I'll wrap up this installment. Next time we'll look into Obi Wan Holmes and the Hound of the Kaminovilles, and at the further exploits of a lovelorn Jedi and his older object of affection. Tune in, Star Warriors!