Rethinking the prequels

I like the way John Seavey of Mighty God King thinks in this essay titled "A Half-Hearted Defense of the 'Star Wars' Prequels":

On the one hand, I’m not crazy enough to say that the “Star Wars” prequels are good. There’s some rough sailing there, for a variety of reasons: Lucas hadn’t directed a film in a long time, his scripts were less polished due to a lack of a strong editor…and the less said about Jar-Jar, the better. But there’s a very strong theme that tends to get lost or misinterpreted, and it’s actually pretty impressively clever–but it requires letting go of one of the big assumptions the classic trilogy gave us. You have to be willing to understand that while the Sith are the villains of the series, the Jedi are the other villains of the series.

That sounds about right to me. I got the feeling throughout the various "Star Wars" properties that the actual people of the realm were all viewed basically as cardboard pawns for the mighty to manipulate, whether Sith or Jedi. Re-watching the original film the other day, I was struck by how distant Obi-Wan was, how emotionally detached. Granted, that was likely equal parts poor direction from Lucas and disinterest from a slumming Alec Guiness, but he still never seemed to care all that much about the beings around him except as they fit into his conception of destiny.

Think about it, what is Obi-Wan's final act? To disappear.

I know, that's not perfectly fair, he did stick around as sort of super-powered Caspar the Friendly Ghost, but the principle is the same -- the Jedi spend all of their training trying to learn how not to have emotions. And that's just as scary in its way as the Sith learning to revel in their darkest ones.

In any event, give MGK a read when you have a minute, I definitely liked this article. And let us know what you think about the issues it raises.

8 Responses to Rethinking the prequels

  1. dementedtheclown says:

    I don’t agree that the Jedi’s are that detached from emotion in the prequels. Yoda seemed sad at the deaths of his fellow Jedi, and angry during his light saber battle. Look at Mace Windu, he has a very different personality then the other Jedi. I think the no attachments, and no feeling is more of a guideline. n I wouldn’t believe much of anything Yoda says in the old movies, he went crazy…

  2. Jake says:

    @dementedtheclown: I disagree. While the jedi might care for what happens to other jedi, there is a definite distance between the jedi and those they are meant to protect. The only one that is really shown to care about his fellow man is Anakin through his involvement with Padme.

  3. Bael says:

    The Jedi were obviously arrogant and complacent.

    For your consideration. Look at the politically and militarily powerful Jedi Order, and then at the basic one Sith master and One Sith apprentice construct. Meditate upon this.

    Now, I give you a prophecy about one being destined to bring “balance” to the force.

    Now, I ask you: just how smug and self satisfied does a Jedi have to be to think that this could, in any way, be a good thing?

  4. Mr. Q says:

    I really don’t see the Jedi as evil. To me, their path is more in lines of the samurai and of religious faith. Murc brought up some good points countering Mightgodking’s argument on the comment board below. He was also able to see Star Wars more deeply because he focused on other parts of the story (IE Clone Wars animated series) rather than the 6 movies alone.

    In his first post, Yoda’s explanation of how to tell the difference between the dark side of the force and the good part has the ear markings of Buddhism. When one is “calm” and “at peace”, all the answers become clear. I will say that the Jedi order, much like any order made by human beings or other life forms, has its flaws. Some people tend to believe in it to an extreme while others have the ability to twist its teachings for their own selfish reasons.

    Anakin’s problem was that he could not fully let go of his emotions. There is nothing wrong with having friends or caring for those around you. But when you allow those feelings to blind you completely, that’s when you go down the dark path. Anakin could not properly mourn the loss of his mother and move forward. He was basically stuck in second to third stages of grief (Anger, Bargaining, and Depression) throughout most of the films. It was only at the end of Return of the Jedi when Vader/Anakin realized he had overcome his dark side and accept the fact he had made the wrong choices in life. At the final moments of his life, he finally moved onto the last stage… acceptance.

    Luke is much like his father, mainly his emotional problems. He almost turned to the dark side, but at the last moment he saw that he was falling into the same trappings that cost his father everything. Luke learned from the mistakes of the past (his own and his father’s) to overcome the Emperor and become a Jedi. Perhaps not as perfect as the order would like it but one in Luke’s own way.

    As great an argument as MGK made, I feel he couldn’t see the forest from beyond the trees.

    Mr. Q

  5. Reader Kate says:

    I agree with the Seavey’s assessment of the Jedi. The thing is, I don’t think Lucas himself was aware of the implications of what he was writing. I don’t see any evidence that the surviving Jedi ever acknowledged their culpability in their own downfall.
    I think the problem was that Lucas made the prequels for seven-to-ten-year olds, whereas he’s made the origional films for everybody.

  6. William A. Peterson says:

    Now, look at Obi-Wan when he HASN’T spent 30+ years as a Hermit!
    He’s really an affable sort of guy, rubbing shoulders with the common folk, and such like…
    (Remember the scene in the Diner, when he’s asking for information on Kamino?)
    Yes, they’ve tried to make this argument in several of the books, notably those by Karen Traviss…
    I don’t buy it, though!

  7. The creator says:

    I agree with most of what MGK is writing, but calling the jedi villains is going a bit to far. Their ridgid conservatism, manipulation and their refusal to admit their mistakes weren’t their best qualities, but they did it for the right reasons while the Sith only wanted revenge and absolute power.
    In my humble opinion the jedi’s biggest mistake was not trusting Anakin. They prefered scheming and talking behind his back than actually talking with him.

  8. William A. Peterson says:

    Not quite that simple…
    Really, the problem is that someone with an Alien metabolism (Yoda) is leading a group that is predominantly Human, and that leader is unwilling to make any exceptions to his rigid dogma, perhaps because he is unable to understand the need…
    Thus, you get children being removed from their parents at an early age, not for religious reasons (as claimed), but for political ones.
    By raising Anakin in a sheltered environment (even though he had previous experience in the ‘big bad real world’, they made it easier, not harder, for him to fall prey to Palpatine’s (rather obvious) lies…
    The Jedi Order, as it had been established, had to go, but the Sith were not an acceptable substitute…