Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why I Love the Prequels - Part I

Why I Love the Prequels
In honor of the Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society contest that ends May 18th.  I figured I would write a few lines about Why Strwrsgrl loves, the Prequels!

      1.       Obi-Wan Kenobi
I have always been a fan of Sir Alex Guinness. His performance and mere presence as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original trilogy lent an immediate sense of honor and nobility to the character as well as to the Jedi order. He is, in fact the first Jedi we ever met.  However, Ewan McGregor stepped into the daunting role of playing not only a much beloved character in the most known franchise in the world, but also the boots of Sir Alex Guinness and did so to great success. Ewan McGregor and the Prequel storyline did something I never thought possible. Both revealed new dimensions to Obi-Wan Kenobi, someone I thought I knew so well.

It’s like the day when you grow up and realize that your parents aren’t just your mom and dad, but that they had a life before you and are actually their own, individual people. Obi-Wan had a Master who he questioned, who he respected and loved, dearly.  Ewan McGregor brought sex appeal to a character that was a father figure for decades and made him a man. Obi-Wan was a young, powerful and fervent Jedi before he fulfilled his final destiny of mentor to Luke. He had a passionate and tenacious spirit that enabled him to defeat Anakin, a much more powerful Jedi. Obi-Wan was able to defeat Anakin because he was on the side of what was right. His humble, selfless surrendering of himself to that end, the defeat of evil, gave him the fortitude to be victorious. In every battle that Obi-Wan faces he is not arrogant, does not gloat, but he does not stop until he succeeds.  Even his surrender of himself to Darth Vader’s Sword was to this end, the ultimate success of Luke. When Obi-Wan meets Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Cantina, his almost blas√© demeanor makes perfect sense after seeing the prequels. Obi-Wan after all fought in the Clone Wars, defeated many foes like General Grievous and lived to fight another day after facing Lord Vader. He was there when “dinosaurs” walked the earth. Jedi like Yoda, Mace, Qui-Gon, etc. So the fact that he is not impressed by Han Solo is no big deal. The prequel just makes Obi-Wan make even more sense to me.


      2.       Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
As with any character in the original trilogy that also appears in the prequels, more of who that character is is revealed.  We only know Anakin by name in the original trilogy or by Obi-Wan’s recollections of him.  The prequels give us a chance to finally know this man, father, husband and Jedi who would eventually turn his back on everything he knows and loves.  Without the prequels his ultimate betrayals in the original trilogy— the most stellar of which is revealed after removing Luke’s hand, “Luke, I am your father!” — have no meaning.  How could you take vows as a Jedi, turn your back on them and aid the execution of their order. How could you betray the only father you have ever known? How could anyone torture and hunt down their son and daughter? All these things are revealed in the prequels.  Not only are they revealed but they make them believable, maybe even inevitable. The most iconic cinematic villain of modern times becomes pitiable.  More miraculous than this, his journey becomes one that is a map of redemption for us all.  If Darth Vader can turn his back on good, do the evil things that he has done—which seem unforgiveable—and yet have the very object of that betrayal, Luke, enable his return to the light, then maybe all of us can slough off the shame of past acts that stop us from reaching our ultimate potential. We learn from the Saga ultimately that it ain’t over until it’s over.  You can always choose to do the right thing and redeem yourself no matter how badly you have messed up.

      3.       Shmi Skywalker
I think that Shmi Skywalker is my favorite unsung hero in the prequels. What a formidable woman! Shmi is not formidable because she is physically imposing or a good fighter. She comes from the most humble beginnings. She is a poor, single mother who doesn’t even possess her own freedom. Yet, from this lowly beginning it is she and not the Jedi who truly begins Anakin’s training. Anakin knows nothing of greed; he is selfless and has been taught to listen to his heart. Aren’t these ultimately the things that Yoda teaches Luke? It is Shmi’s teachings that allow Anakin to tap into the power that is within him. Shmi is a selfless mother. Willing to give him up so that he can have a better life. Allowing him to pursue his passion, being a pilot, even though it “kills [her] when he does it”.  The way she holds on, just so she can see Anakin again. The torture she must have endured for that meeting; yet, somehow I know she would not wish on the Sand People the fate that Anakin gave them.  Shmi Skywalker is a Jedi Master.

      4.      The Emperor
Darth Vader is still the coolest villain ever to hit the silver screen. He is as aesthetically beautiful as he is flawed. But, for every Frankenstein’s monster that exists there is the brilliant, mad scientist who created him. And Senator Palpatine, the Emperor, is that man. In the original trilogy, Lord Vader was the icon that I learned to fear. There was a glimpse of the evil, disfigured Emperor, but what could possibly be worse than finding out that it is your father who has betrayed you? (I was the poster child for Daddy’s Girl.) Possibly, being an orphan who wants to do the right thing and being lead down a road by someone you trust and admire who enables you to destroy and betray everything you have ever loved. If someone had told me before seeing the prequels that there could be a more perfect villain than Darth Vader and that I would learn to pity Vader, I would have told them that they were crazy. Palpatine is not only the most cunning politician and masterful manipulator, but he has absolutely no conscience. Even Vader, shows remorse. In the original trilogy Vader explains that he ‘must’ obey his Master and the dark side of the Force. You can see that Lord Vader has been blinded by the drug, Power, that Palpatine has given him a taste of. Though Lord Vader willfully chooses the dark path over good in the prequel, his sadness, pain and shame are evident. While Palpatine sits quietly, coolly as he tells the story of murdering his mentor in his sleep. He isn’t sorry, he revels in the fact that he stole his mentor’s like while he was none the wiser of the danger. Palpatine is so charming that you completely understand and accept why Vader made the choice that he did. You can’t watch the prequels without saying, darn; I wish he was on my side. He is that good at being bad. I’ve said it once and I will say it again; I have no idea why Ian McDiarmid was not nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar!


5.   The Star Wars Saga
I could go on and on about why I love the prequels.  I could mention the action sequences. Finally seeing the Jedi Order, the Clones in action, the battles, the planets, etc. It is all miraculous. The main reason that I love the prequels is that it makes the Star Wars mythology more complete.  We not only have the Hero’s Journey, the Ultimate Redemption,  a more complete view of the Force, the birth and death of a government but many other mythologies that you can find to be entertained and educated by.  The layers of the original trilogy that I loved because of all that was to be learned in each viewing has now been increased exponentially.  I have learned insights that I never thought I would and the potential to learn more is there. It is just a matter of opening your eyes to see what you have not seen. The best advice I can give anyone who thinks that there isn’t much to love about the prequels is to do what you have done with the originals: watch them, again and again. Every viewing reveals more and more.

May the Force Be With You, Always!


  1. I have no problem with the prequels except for The Phantom Menace! It's too slow but I also understand that this is where it's all starting from and the story needs to be a foundation for all that comes after. I should probably give it another try.

  2. Thanks for being open minded Jefaircan. I did update this post title. I think it was a little unclear. I was referring to this as Episode I only because this is the first of many posts about why I love the prequels. I agree that Episode I isn't as action packed as some other films in the Star Wars Saga, but you could say the same about A New Hope. I also agree that some of those parts of the film do set a foundation. I don't need speed or action, just quality - MTFBWY!


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