matril: (matril)
[personal profile] matril
I could select a number of wise, pithy quotes from the maverick Jedi hero of Episode I, but I'm starting with this because of its marvelous acerbic edge.

"The ability to speak does not make you intelligent."

Even out of context this line is great. It's one of those quotes that could come in handy in so many situations. Feel free to apply it to your despised politician of choice. And I'm quite fond of the dialogue in this scene as a whole. Obi-Wan's "What's this?" and Qui-Gon's curt answer, "A local", Obi-Wan's persuasive "blast us into oblivion" speech that gets Jar Jar to help them, and the wry "This hasn't been our day for warm welcomes." But let's dig deeper and examine the quote as an insight into Qui-Gon's characterization and the overall themes of the film, because of course I'm going to do that.

This scene also includes our introduction to Jar Jar Binks, of whom, you'll know from past posts, I am an unabashed fan. He doesn't exactly make an impressive entrance. Scared silly by the invading droid army, he flails and yelps and nearly gets himself and Qui-Gon killed. Understandably, Qui-Gon has little patience with him. In addition to the above quote, he wonders if Jar Jar is brainless, tells him to go away, and denies the validity of his life debt.

But wait! Isn't Qui-Gon supposed to be the compassionate one, kind to all creatures great and small? Well, yes and no. Qui-Gon follows the gentle ways of the living Force, but he's also very pragmatic. He ultimately accepts Jar Jar's dubious offers of help because he realizes the Gungan can lead them to a safe hiding place. Later, he lets Jar Jar tag along because he senses that he may eventually be of some use. Perhaps he also pities him and feels it is the right, moral choice to rescue him from the brutal punishment of the Gungan bosses...but that appears to be secondary to accomplishing a larger mission. As the film continues, we can see that Qui-Gon's confident single-mindedness can be very abrasive. He butts heads with a number of characters because of it, including Obi-Wan, Padmé, and the entire Jedi council. He doesn't go out of his way to be mean, but he's just not concerned with being well-liked.

On the other hand, his annoyance with Jar Jar indicates something else of particular importance to Qui-Gon's character. He's one of the few people who advocates for Jar Jar. And this introductory scene proves that it's not because he doesn't find him irritating or frustrating. Being kind to someone isn't all that impressive if that someone is likable and easy to get along with. But if that someone is grating, exhausting, always causing trouble? Then your compassion really means something. Qui-Gon has the same initial reaction to Jar Jar that most people would, but he allows himself to rise above it, to not overlook anyone's worth just because of an unpromising appearance. And that ability to see potential beyond the unlikely outward appearance is precisely what allows him to find the Chosen One on an unassuming, dusty Outer Rim planet.

Next time, a few words from Palpatine's hooded alter ego....
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