matril: (matril)
[personal profile] matril
I have an idea for a series of posts about the prequels. I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. One of the most common complaints detractors tend to obsess over is the notion of clunky dialogue. I don't deny that badly-written lines can make the audience cringe, but honestly, "clunky" is fairly subjective. It's pretty much impossible to create a consensus of what constitutes well-written dialogue. And I'm not going to drive myself crazy with the apologist route. Star Wars has always had cheesy lines, from Luke's Tosche Station whine to Threepio's "Curse my metal body!" and many many more. For me, honestly, the cheesiness is part of its charm. Dialogue is generally just a means to an end for Lucas; writing the script is one of his least favorite parts of the process. He tells the story through visuals, through motion, through strategic editing, through the explosive kinetic quality of cinema.

And yet -- and yet -- Star Wars is still eminently quotable. Not every single line of dialogue, of course not. If every line was a scintillating display of wordplay, it would get fatiguing pretty darn fast. It's the occasional quote that stands out and becomes iconic. "May the Force be with you" "I find your lack of faith disturbing" as well as the more humorous ones like "Let the Wookiee win." The prequels are not an exception. And I'm going to celebrate my favorite lines, in chronological order from Episode I to Episode III, devoting a post to each one.

"I'm not going in there with two Jedi! Send the droid."

The villains of this film are an interesting bunch. We're told in the opening crawl of the "greedy Trade Federation," an entity which uses the excuse of disputed trade routes to put a stranglehold on a defenseless planet. But this line establishes early on that they are defined as much by cowardice as greed. Qui-Gon notes in the next scene that he senses "an unusual amount of fear for something as trivial as this trade dispute." This exchange between the two Federation leaders showcases just how easily they panic, how precarious they feel their situation is in spite of all their confident posturing. This is a far cry from the iron-fisted Empire of Episode IV. And we will quickly discover that the Federation is not the true mastermind behind this plot. We see how the sort of petty, small-minded evil that guides Nute Gunray can be exploited by someone far more malevolent and clever like Sidious. He stirs up their fear and panic to expedite the invasion of Naboo, setting everything in motion for his rise to power.

In addition, we get to see the tremendous respect and awe that Jedi can command in the pre-Empire era. Just two of them, and the Federation leaders are scared silly. What a reputation they must carry, and what a contrast to the discredited and near-extinct Jedi that we see in the original trilogy. Has that reputation made them arrogant, and thus blind to the danger that's coming? Certainly, though I'll explore that more in later installments. Several memorable lines will say much about the current state of the Jedi Order. (Wouldn't it also be interesting to see the other side, to observe a newborn Jedi Order rebuilding from the Empire's destruction, rather than constantly returning over and over and over again to a galaxy with only one or two Jedi? Sigh......)

On a lighter note, this is a funny moment as well. TC-14, like C-3P0, cannot change her facial expression, and yet we can somehow see her startled response to this line. Her masters are terrified to be in the same room as a pair of Jedi Knights, so they force her to go. Such is a droid's lot in life. I could see this becoming a very useful all-purpose line for any situation you'd rather avoid. "I don't want to go to work. Send the droid." "There's no way I'm waiting in line at the DMV again. Send the droid." "Ugh, do I have to tackle that mountain of dirty dishes in the kitchen? Send the droid."

Next time -- a snarky line from Obi-Wan. Which is a rather large category of lines in the prequels....

Date: 2017-03-17 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladylucas.livejournal.com
Excellent.....except...that sounds like Palpatine in the prequels :)

Date: 2017-03-17 01:50 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-17 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pedro felipe (from livejournal.com)
Couldn't agree more. It's horrible how the haters use Lucas's own modesty to bash him. They distort his own words, behind the scenes videos and all sorts of things to support their ridiculous claims. They use one of Lucas's qualities: That he doesn't pretend he is a deity that's perfect at everything and that can do everything easily, against him. The Star Wars Saga dialogue is wonderful, infinetely better than the vast majority of the movies these nerds bow to and in my opinion, second to none. I can quote all the sayings in The Phantom Menace without consulting, all of them. Perhaps I am a bit obsessive, but it goes to show that their claims are ridiculous. Like Attack of The Clones and Revenge of The Sith, The Phantom Menace is incredibly well written and unbelievably executed and acted. Just came out of seeing forest gump, which is widely praised and received 6 academy awards. Sorry, but it just doesn’t compare. From the bottom of my soul, I think movie critics are completely out of their minds and are full of bull&*&*. Roger Egbert highly praised the Phantom Menace, and them AFTER the backlash he comes swinging right back bashing it as well as it’s sequel: Attack of The Clones. Records clearly show everyone dying of joy after seeing the Phantom Menace and saying how awesome it was, and yet every first hand account I see claims everyone in the room was disappointed, that it was horrible, that "George raped my childhood” and things of the genre. Even Ewan McGregor, while giving an interview to a prequel bashing publication of course, said everyone in the room “realized pretty quickly something was wrong”, yet the footage of the event shows a completely opposite reaction. Same for Ian Mcmird, making all sorts of unnecessary excuses for the movie, “the sets were under construction and there was noise all over the place/George doesn’t like to work very closely with the actors and it was hard for the newer actors (Hayden/Natalie) to cope with him”. Sorry, but I have to call them out. I know what this is, and historians call this post-facto revisionism, it happens all the time, especially with people who lack character and personality, wanna be cool and join the groupthink. It’s clearly what’s happening here.

Date: 2017-03-17 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matril.livejournal.com
At the end of it all, I just feel sorry for people who can't derive the sort of joy from the these movies that I can. They're really missing out!

Date: 2017-03-17 07:20 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ebert was a hack so that´s not a surprise. Even his positive reviews on movies I like make me cringe. I´ll never understand how could THAT guy get a Pulitzer prize and become one of the most popular film critics in history but it´s a good reminder of this quote from Lucas:

“If criticism were the kind of analysis it was meant to be in the first place – as it is in other arts, where you have literate, sophisticated people, who are knowledgeable – then it would be worthwhile to listen to it. To have them rant and rave about their personal feelings is a waste of my time,”

Date: 2017-03-17 12:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matril.livejournal.com
When critics have valuable things to say, whether praise or constructive criticism, they're worth listening to the same as anyone. But when someone is focused on bashing, there's no point in giving them attention.

Date: 2017-03-17 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darth-gojira.livejournal.com
That's the funny thing about the prequel-bashers. They praise the OT for the dialogue, but really, it's not less clunky. Why is Star Wars dialogue great? Because it's memorable. And the prequels are endlessly quotable. Even people who hate it can rattle off Anakin's one-liners and Obi-wan's wisecracks. I can't say I can remember a single line from Rey or Finn or Kylo or even Maz Kinata in comparison. While I still quote "Another happy landing", "Shoot her or something!", "We went into aggressive negotiations", "The ability to speak does not make you intelligent", "There's always a bigger fish" etc etc etc,

Date: 2017-03-17 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matril.livejournal.com
I find myself quoting the prequels constantly without even meaning to! They're embedded in my head so deeply, they've become a part of my vocabulary.

Date: 2017-03-18 11:04 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is lovely article, thank you very much!
I recently went through kind of a rough time, many things turned out differently than I would have hoped, and I found myself thinking "I AM trying!" on more than one occasion .. ;)
Anyway, it´s a pleasure to read your thoughtful reflections, and always nice to meet people who love these movies just as much as I do!

Date: 2017-03-18 01:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matril.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Finding fellow fans is great.

Date: 2017-03-19 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pedro felipe (from livejournal.com)
I feel the same way.

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