matril: (matril)
[personal profile] matril
One of my favorite themes woven throughout the story of Episode I is duality. True, it wasn't an entirely new concept for the Star Wars saga, as we had seen contrasts of light and dark, good and evil, and so forth in the original trilogy, but it becomes truly prominent in this episode. Most of all, the point is made over and over again that duality is not just a simplistic division between bad and good. More often it involves two halves of a whole that could not exist apart from each other, and must act in balance if they are to function effectively. I'll get into this more in future entries as I explore the concept of symbionts, but right now I'm referring to Amidala and Padmé.

"I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war."

Queen Amidala's first appearance comes via a commanding, authoritative transmission to the Trade Federation. She speaks with full confidence that the Chancellor's ambassadors have forced them to a settlement. Her appearance matches her tone -- stark face paint, an elaborate headdress and gown, an expression like obdurate granite. She betrays no sign of uncertainty or fear in spite of all the Viceroy's sneering replies.

Then we see her in person as her conversation with Senator Palpatine is cut short, and catch just a little glimpse of vulnerability beneath her imposing exterior. "What's happening?" she asks, her first sign of uncertainty. She turns to her advisors for help, who can offer very little reassurance. An invasion seems inevitable. They'll have no way to fight them. She insists that they continue to negotiate. This is met with more doubts and worries.

But the scene ends with her firm declaration, the encapsulation of Amidala's ideals and of the Naboo in general. War is unthinkable. It must be avoided at all costs. This is both admirable and hopelessly naïve, as we learn immediately after these words pass her lips. You see, this is an example of a quote that is made far more memorable by the context of the scene, the editing, the rising crescendo of music leading up to --


It's already too late. Amidala's words are all very well as a pacifist ideal, but in the face of an actual invasion, they can't do a bit of good. Whether she wanted to lead her people to war or not, war has come. And whether it's her fault or not, she must deal with the consequences.

Amidala's inner life remains fairly enigmatic throughout the film. She provides the stoic face of a leader, never wavering, never falling prey to intense emotion (unless you count the righteous fury directed at the ineffectual Senate), never backing down from her purpose and ideals. Her manner of speech is highly formalized, her mannerisms fraught with ritual and stiff dignity. These are essential qualities to the role she must play as leader of her people. The Federation needs to see that their enemy is not a weak, easily manipulated child, and Amidala is someone who can match their bravado without blinking. Yes, she is young; she may even be naïve as Darth Sidious claims, but controlling her will not be as easy as he believes.

Yet it is not enough. The other side; the softer, emotive, expressive side, will prove just as crucial in her ultimate quest to regain control of Naboo. We'll see far more openness and vulnerability when she takes on the role of an unassuming handmaiden. Ultimately those qualities must be joined with Amidala's strength and authority. Only together can Padmé and Amidala form the alliance with the Gungans that will save her people. Two essential parts of a whole, working together to bring back balance and peace. This concept provides the backbone of the film and, in many ways, the entire saga.

Next time, the first of Qui-Gon's many memorable lines....
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