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....
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