Lengthy entry this time, folks!
Jumping back into our exhaustive look at Attack of the Clones, when last we left our Star Warriors in action, Anakin Skywalker was going off to try and rescue his mother from the sandpeople and Obi Wan Kenobi was following leads on Geonosis, having just followed Jango Fett and his little boy Boba there.
As we left off with Anakin, we start with Obi Wan. I noted that the cut from Tatooine to Geonosis is kind of awkwardly done, and it is: it's not clear until we look at the scene we're watching that we've switched planets at all. But anyway, Obi Wan wanders into a cave which turns out to lead to a corridor through which he finds an immense automated factory, building armies of battle droids.
In the script, there's a deleted bit that has Obi Wan picking his way along a cliff when he is attacked by a couple of local creatures (dog-sized lizards); after dispatching these with his lightsaber, he finds himself overlooking the wide plain on which a hundred Federation starships are landed. As he watches through his macrobinoculars, thousands of battle droids are boarding the ships. Would I include this? I'm tempted, but it might not really add much to the proceedings. The subsequent material establishes what's going on in the droid foundries of Geonosis: the construction of armies for a war that hasn't begun yet. Maybe I'd include it, maybe not. It sounds cool, at least.
Next, after seeing the droids being built, Obi Wan happens upon Count Dooku himself, walking with some of his co-conspirators. In the finished film, this is the first time we see Dooku, but remember, in my re-imagining, we've already seen him a couple of times via news reports that showed him inciting star systems to secession from the Republic. I like all of this scene as filmed, except for one little thing: an odd moment when the representative of the "Techno Union" has to stop mid-sentence and adjust his own volume knob. I didn't understand what George Lucas was doing there.
As seems to be the case in nearly every scene in this movie, there's interesting stuff in the original script that wasn't in the movie as released. Here's the conversation that Obi Wan overhears, with the stuff not in the movie in red:
INTERIOR: GEONOSIS, CENTRAL SQUARE – MORNING
OBI-WAN arrives at a vast expanse in the stalagmite interior. Immense pillars, soaring Gaudi-Gothic arches, vaulted roofs. The huge space is deserted – completely silent.
OBI-WAN starts to cross the square. Suddenly he hears voices.
He darts behind a pillar as POGGLE THE LESSER (Archduke of Geonosis), his aide, SUN FAC, COUNT DOOKU and NUTE GUNRAY approach, closely followed by PASSEL ARGENTE and WAT
TAMBOR. COUNT DOOKU is tall, elderly, and saturnine, with beautiful manners. OBI-WAN flattens himself against the pillar as they pass by.
COUNT DOOKU: Now, we must persuade the Commerce Guild and the Corporate Alliance to sign the treaty.
NUTE GUNRAY: What about the Senator from Naboo? Is she dead yet? I'm not signing your treaty until I have her head on my desk.
COUNT DOOKU: I am a man of my word, Viceroy.
POGGLE: With these new Battle Droids we've built for you, Viceroy, you'll have the finest army in the galaxy.
They move out of earshot. OBI-WAN peers around the pillar to see them going through an archway on the far side of the courtyard. There is a flight of stairs beside it.
OBI-WAN arrives at the stairs. He sneaks up them, to arrive at a narrow gothic archway. He looks down through it.
INTERIOR: GEONOSIS, CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY
POGGLE THE LESSER and his TWO AIDES are at one end of a large round conference table.
COUNT DOOKU: Now is the time, my friends. This is the moment when you have to decide between the Republic or the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
COUNT DOOKU is at the head of the table. JANGO FETT stands behind his chair.
In addition to the original group, there are also THREE OPPOSITION SENATORS: PO NUDO, TESSEK and TOONBUCK TOORA, and a COMMERCE GUILD DIGNITARY; SHU MAI and a MEMBER of the INTERGALACTIC BANK CLAN, SAN HILL.
COUNT DOOKU: As I explained to you earlier, I'm quite convinced that ten thousand more systems will rally to our cause with your support, gentlemen. And let me remind you
of our absolute commitment to capitalism... of the lower taxes, the reduced tariffs, and the eventual abolition of all trade barriers. Signing this treaty will bring you profits beyond your wildest imagination. What we are proposing is completely free trade. (looks at Nute) Our
friends in the Trade Federation have pledged their support. When their Battle Droids are combined with yours, we shall have an army greater than anything in the galaxy, The Jedi will be overwhelmed. The Republic will agree to any demands me make.
PASSEL ARGENTE, the Corporate Alliance Representative.
PASSEL ARGENTE: I am authorized by the Corporate Alliance to sign the treaty.
COUNT DOOKU: We are most grateful for your cooperation, Chairman.
SHU MAI, the Commerce Guild Representative.
SHU MAI: The Commerce Guilds do not at this time wish to become openly involved, But we shall support you in secret - and look forward to doing business with you.
There are chuckles around the table. COUNT DOOKU smiles.
COUNT DOOKU: That is all we ask.
SAN HILL, the banker.
SAN HILL: The Intergalactic Banking Clan will support you wholeheartedly, but only in a non-exclusive arrangement.
WAT TAMBOR, the Techno Union representative.
WAT TAMBOR: The Techno Unions are at your disposal, Count.
That stuff about capitalism is pretty interesting. This could be read as George Lucas associating capitalism with evil, or a more nuanced view might suggest that it's not unusual for capitalists to be used as tools for warmongers. "Come with us and you'll make tons of money!" is a refrain you'll see throughout virtually all of history.
Interestingly, the promise of free trade actually has some precedent in Star Wars, in a pretty cool way. Obviously we know that Sith promises aren't to be trusted. Maybe they'll have "completely free trade", maybe they won't – but way back in A New Hope, there were some scenes famously deleted from the final cut of the film involving Luke Skywalker's daily life on Tatooine. His buddy Biggs has come back to visit, and tells him that he's actually going to be joining the Rebellion. One of the reasons he cites is that the Empire "is already starting to nationalize commerce in the central systems". Maybe the promise of free trade was made, and only broken twenty years later once the Emperor felt that his power was consolidated enough? The Original Trilogy abounds in little details that suggest that the Empire isn't the all-encompassing, all-powerful entity that some seem to assume it is.
Anyway, in this scene Obi Wan realizes that Count Dooku is not some idealistic politician leading a separatist movement; he's a schemer who is planning a war. He hasn't connected all the dots yet, though, and discovered that Dooku is now a Sith.
At this point we cut back to Anakin, who has found the Tusken Raider encampment. He looks over the camp from a high rise in a shot that is a direct homage to The Searchers, the obvious inspiration for this entire storyline. Anakin drops off the cliff, down to the village, in a shot that openly suggests that Anakin's fall from grace is now in progress. Anakin makes his way through the sleepy Tusken Raider encampment until he finds the tent his mother is in. This is all done...well, I hate to say it because for the most part this part of the movie is really well-done, but this little but is done with almost no attention to detail. We don't see Anakin actually looking for his mother in various tents; we don't see him reaching out with The Force to see if he can sense her presence. No, Anakin just walks up to a particular tent and then uses his lightsaber to cut his way in. (Bringing up another question: why didn't he just go in the front? Is it a tent with multiple chambers, one of which is full of Sandpeople? I'm reminded of the scene in Superman II when the supervillains make their way into the Daily Planet building by smashing their way in and leaving destruction in their wake, when lex Luthor follows them by walking through doors and commenting, "All those powers and they can't use a doorknob.") And it always seems weird that most times, lightsabers make that wonderful loud hum when they're in use – except in this scene, when the blade is almost totally silent so as to avoid waking up the Sandpeople.
I don't want to make a huge deal of all this, but again it shows what I think tends to work against George Lucas: his unflagging desire to get on with it, keep things moving, et cetera. Motion doesn't always equal mood, but to Lucas, often it does.
But anyway, Anakin finds his mother. She's in rough shape, tied to a beam and looking very out of it. Anakin unties her and cradles her, but it's pretty clear on his face that he already sees that he's too late. Hayden Christensen did a really good job with this scene, as did Pernilla August as Shmi. The little touch that stands out is when Anakin starts to say something like "Everything's going to be all right", but he can only stammer out the first couple of words before he stops and makes a face that shows that he knows it's not. Shmi tries to tell him that she loves him, but she dies before she can get the words out. Anakin closes his mother's dead eyes, and then...Anakin starts to get angry. Really angry. A slow closeup on Anakin shows his eyes burning as the music starts to get frantic. The next thing we see is Anakin in the middle of the camp, igniting his lightsaber and killing two Tuskens before they know what hits them. Another charges him and Anakin steps up and swings his lightsaber as we do a cinematic wipe to Yoda in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, where he's meditating. We hear a voice we haven't heard in a long time, that of Qui Gon Jinn, shouting "Anakin! Anakin! Noooo!"
I'm of two minds on this sequence. I like the way Lucas edits it and gets us out of there as we know that Anakin is going berserk and cuts to Yoda as he sense that something awful is happening, but I'm not sure if we shouldn't have maybe seen a little more of Anakin's actions. Not a lot, mind you – we don't need to see a whole lot of carnage, but something to make very clear that Anakin is now channeling the Dark Side of the Force. Maybe a mass Force-choke of a bunch of Tuskens at once, or something like that.
(By the way, ever since Revenge of the Sith came out, I've seen lots of commentary expressing anger or dismay at George Lucas in allowing something like Anakin's killing of the Jedi younglings to make the screen. Well, the implication is pretty strongly there from the mere existence of the younglings, and yet, some folks are shocked about it – I remember one person writing about how stunned they were that Anakin would stoop that low, and it made it "impossible to root for Anakin". And I'm thinking, "Wow, you couldn't possibly have missed the point more widely than that." For one thing, we're not watching some nice kid become a juvenile delinquent; we're not watching the nice young boy from the next block join the Crips. We're watching the genesis of one of the evilest individuals in Galactic history. That's got to mean something; that's got to imply that we're going to see Anakin do some very dark things. And anyway, when I've seen comments like this, I always want to ask: "Did you even see Attack of the Clones?" I mean, it's not like the slaying of the younglings isn't foreshadowed about as strongly as George Lucas foreshadows anything.)
I also really wish that Lucas had retained the services of Liam Neeson for some "disembodied Jedi" acting in AotC and RotS. I've always wondered if Neeson was asked and refused? Anybody know?
After Yoda tells Mace Windu that he's felt Young Skywalker's "terrible pain", we cut back to Geonosis, where Obi Wan is trying to make his report. He's too far from Coruscant to contact the Jedi directly, so he tries contacting Anakin on Naboo...but Anakin isn't there. Scanning about, Obi Wan discovers that, contrary to his orders, Anakin is on Tatooine, so he contacts him there. (Meanwhile, Obi Wan is being observed by a Geonosan. His cover is about to be blown.)
Back to Tatooine we go, where R2-D2 receives Obi Wan's message. The timing isn't very good, though, because right now Anakin's returning to the Lars homestead with his mother's dead body in his arms. Sadness pervades the homestead. (John Williams's scoring of this entire sequence really stands out, by the way.)
Later on, Anakin is tinkering around in the Lars garage. It's a garage we've seen before (or will see again, much later on, in A New Hope -- it's where Luke first sees the hologram of Princess Leia). In the script, there's a brief scene between Padme and Beru in the kitchen, but it's not in the film, and it's nothing special, so I wouldn't bother much with it. Instead, in the garage, Padme comes to Anakin, and Anakin isn't doing very well at all:
INTERIOR: TATOOINE, HOMESTEAD, GARAGE – DAY
PADMÉ comes in with a tray of food. ANAKIN is standing at a workbench, repairing a part of the speeder bike.
PADMÉ: I brought you something. Are you hungry?
PADMÉ puts the tray down.
ANAKIN: The shifter broke. Life seems so much simpler when you're fixing things. I'm good at fixing things... always was. But I couldn't... (stops working, tears in his eyes) Why did she have to die? Why couldn't I save her? I know I could have!
PADMÉ: Sometimes there are things no one can fix. You're not all-powerful, Annie.
ANAKIN turns and walks away from the bench.
ANAKIN: (angry) I should be! Someday I will be... I will be the most powerful Jedi ever! I promise you, I will even learn to stop people from dying.
ANAKIN: (furious) It's all Obi-Wan's fault. He's jealous! He knows I'm already more powerful than he is. He's holding me back!
ANAKIN hurls the wrench across the garage. It CLATTERS to the floor. He looks at his trembling hands. PADMÉ stares at him, shocked.
PADMÉ: Annie, what's wrong?
ANAKIN: I... I killed them. I killed them all. They're dead, every single one of them...
ANAKIN focuses on her like someone returning from far away.
ANAKIN: Not just the men, but the women and the children too. They're like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals... I hate them!
There is silence for a moment, then ANAKIN breaks down, sobbing. PADMÉ takes him into her arms.
ANAKIN: Why do I hate them? I didn't... I couldn't... I couldn't control myself. I... I don't want to hate them... But I just can't forgive them.
PADMÉ: To be angry is to be human.
ANAKIN: To control your anger is to be a Jedi.
PADMÉ: Ssshhh... you're human.
ANAKIN: No, I'm a Jedi. I know I'm better than this. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!
PADMÉ: You're like everyone else...
PADMÉ rocks him, and ANAKIN weeps.
I've always liked this scene a lot. Anakin pours out a lot of anger and frustration, some of it real and some of it his own imaginary baggage that nevertheless seems real to him because he's really only a kid still, after all. He feels a desperate need to blame someone for what's happened – himself, Obi Wan, the Sandpeople. And when he tells Padme that he killed them all, that he executed the entire encampment, he is shamed at first, and then he finds his anger again, and then almost as quickly he goes back to shame. Anakin is quick to anger and rage, quick to hatred, but he is resisting them. Not only are the seeds of his fall to the Dark Side now starting to blossom, but so are the seeds of his eventual redemption. That fascinates me.
I also note, again, that in my opinion, Hayden Christensen did a fine job in this scene. When he starts to tell Padme what he did to the Sandpeople, the look on his face isn't even one of shame: it's disbelief. Part of him can't believe he just did those things last night. His disbelief becomes the shame, and then the shame the hatred. Christensen runs a fascinating emotional gambit in this scene that a lot of people like to denigrate because "Oh he's just being a whiny teenager", but I found it scarily convincing. And again, the music greatly helps the cause by quoting not just the Darth Vader theme, but also the Emperor's theme (or the "Dark Side" Theme), showing how intertwined everything is becoming.
The next scene after this is another good one: Shmi's funeral. Anakin's farewell to his mother is very touching, particularly his vow that he "won't fail again". After they say their farewells to Shmi, C3PO comes bustling up to tell them that R2 has received a transmission from "an Obi Wan Kenobi". They retransmit the signal to Coruscant, so the Jedi and the Chancellor are watching the transmission while Anakin and Padme do as well. Obi Wan has discovered the battle army being built on Geonosis and that the Trade Federation is behind the assassination attempts on Padme, but before he can say more, the hologram shows him reacting to being attacked by a destroyer droid. Mace Windu orders Anakin to stay where he is and protect the Senator, but Padme says, "Your orders are to protect me and I'm going to help Obi Wan." So off they go.
This whole sequence works very well, except there's one thing that's always bugged me: Padme and Anakin jet off without so much as a word to the Lars family, taking C3PO with them! There should have been something like this:
EXTERIOR: Tatooine – Lars homestead – Day.
ANAKIN and PADME are ready to board their ship; the Lars family gathers before them.
CLIEGG: Thank you for coming, son. And for bringing Shmi home.
ANAKIN: Thank you for loving her.
The shake hands.
CLIEGG: You know, she never stopped talking about you and she never once stopped believing she'd see you again. She was proud of you. Never doubt that.
ANAKIN: I won't.
Anakin turns to go, but Cliegg speaks again.
CLIEGG: One last thing...she said you built that protocol droid. Well, he does pretty well here, but really, we're just moisture farmers. We don't really need a protocol droid. You should take him. He's yours, anyway.
ANAKIN: Thank you.
He turns to board the ship, after taking one last look around. Then he disappears onto the ship, which lifts off.
INTERIOR: Naboo ship – cockpit.
ANAKIN looks out the window as the planet surface drops away below them.
PADME: Are you all right?
ANAKIN: Fine. I just don't think I ever want to see this planet again.
Behind them, C3PO looks around nervously.
C3PO: This is space travel? I knew I wouldn't like it.
R2-D2 beeps in sympathy.
And that's where we'll stop for now. When we return, the Chancellor and the Senate have some choices to make, Obi Wan Kenobi meets Dooku for the first time, and a rescue attempt goes awry. Tune in!