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Blog // Thoughts
May 31, 2005

Time For My Little Star Wars Rant

Although the fashion in the blogosphere is to shoot from the hip with first impressions, this hasn’t normally been my style with film commentary. Subjective first impressions have their place (and as I learnt from three years of running a faith and film series, can be very insightful), but to consider a movie as a […]

Although the fashion in the blogosphere is to shoot from the hip with first impressions, this hasn’t normally been my style with film commentary. Subjective first impressions have their place (and as I learnt from three years of running a faith and film series, can be very insightful), but to consider a movie as a “work” and to properly locate it within its culture demands some time (this isn’t always obvious when a film is first released). In this regard the original Star Wars’ relationship to the Reagan/Thatcher era comes to mind as does the bizzarely precient way Independence Day forsaw a popularist and unilateral response to violent catastrophe in the US. Moreover, some knowingly philosophical films like The Matrix, Donnie Darko and The Shawshank Redeption require close attention (in the same way we would expect of any great work of art), in order to reveal their layers of meaning. In time I hope to write a considered and extented interaction with the six Star Wars films (particulary looking at the relationship between technology and moral development).

That said, I feel the need to make a subjective, from the hip comment about Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Namely, what the hell was wrong with Padme? In The Phantom Menace, we met her as a feisty, gun-toting, kick-arse young woman, but by the third instalment she is nothing but a wimpering shadow whose affliction looms over the whole plot of the film. But what is this afflcition? Some kind of ominous disease or perhaps a misconstrued political allegiance that has come back to haunt her? No, she is afflicted with, of all things, pregnancy!

That pregnancy could be considered an affliction (and a reason to be locked up in virtual solitude) in the Lucas-Star Wars universe is no surprise when we consider that throughout all six films, female characters are most central to the story precisely when they need to be rescued (which often co-incides with their moments of most obvious sexuality). That Padme finally dies a pathetic “death of the brokenhearted,” makes it impossible to dismiss this as just another appeal to the “damsel in distress” motif. Lucas wants to claim a child-like sense of myth and narrative as well as a prentension to deep critique (“only the sith speak in absolutes” etc), but it doesn’t wash. Surely after six films, Star Wars could have given us a more moments of real female heroism (like a heroine whose love for her children outweighs the disappointment she feels with their father) and a little less of the needy depency that so inflicts both Leia and Padme.

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