Fixing the Prequels: Attack of the Clones (part ten)

part nine
part eight
part seven
part six
part five
part four
part three
part two
part one

OK, Star Warriors, we’re back into Attack of the Clones. After the Naboo sequences, which needed quite a bit of fixing, we’re into the sections of the film that I consider the strongest; thus, we should be able to quicken the pace somewhat.

When last we left our adventurers in space, Anakin had (in my version) just thwarted another attack on Padme and made the Executive Jedi Decision to take her away from Naboo, since the assassins know she’s there. Remember, though: he hasn’t mentioned to her, yet, his fears about his mother. Plus, back on Kamino, Obi Wan has been ordered by Yoda to bring Jango Fett in for questioning.

That’s where we start: with Obi Wan on his way to arrest Jango Fett. In the film, we cut right to Obi Wan charging onto the landing platform as the Fetts are about to leave, but in the script, there’s a bit where Obi Wan goes back to the Fett’s apartment and finds the place empty and looking like the Fetts have left in a hurry. I would have left that in, but I don’t think the film suffers without it. And for all that, the fight scene between Obi Wan and Jango Fett is one of my favorite parts of the film; it’s exciting and well-staged, and I like how evenly-matched Obi Wan and Jango are, even though Jango’s is more a function of his having the niftiest utility belt since Batman and having his kid at the firing controls of his spaceship on the same platform. I can’t think of a single thing I’d change in this sequence.

What’s so nice about this is the fact that it illustrates anew that Jedi aren’t superhuman warriors who can’t be defeated. It further illustrates a fact that will later come back to haunt the Jedi badly: that while they can slice their way through armies of battle droids (unless they are undone by sheer numbers), fighting against humans is far less of a given.

After Slave I flies off, with Obi Wan’s homing beacon secure about its hull, we cut to Tatooine, where a chrome-hulled Naboo ship is landing. Anakin and Padme venture out to find Watto, in order to seek out Shmi Skywalker. When they find Watto, he’s not in his shop but just sitting in a little stall on the street of Mos Espa. He looks like hard times have befallen him. I actually like this little scene, and after a bit of consideration, I really wouldn’t change it, except for a couple of tiny things:

ANAKIN and PADMÉ get down. Sitting on a stool in front of the shop is WATTO. He is using a small electronic screwdriver on a fiddly DROID. THREE PIT DROIDS are chattering away and are trying to help him, but they seem only to make him madder.

WATTO: (yelling, in Huttese) No, not that one – that one!

ANAKIN: (in Huttese) Excuse me, Watto.

WATTO: (in Huttese) What?

ANAKIN: (in Huttese) I said excuse me.

WATTO turns to the chattering PIT DROIDS.

WATTO: (in Huttese) Shut down.

The PIT DROIDS snap into their storage position.

ANAKIN: Let me help you with that.

ANAKIN takes the fiddly piece of equipment and starts to play with it. WATTO blinks in surprise.

WATTO: (continuing, in Huttese) What? I don’t know you…What can I do for you? You look like a Jedi. Whatever it is… I didn’t do it.

WATTO drops the screwdriver and curses loudly in Huttese.

ANAKIN: I’m looking for Shmi Skywalker.

WATTO looks at him suspiciously. He stares at PADMÉ, then back to ANAKIN.

WATTO: Annie?? Little Annie?? Naaah!!

Suddenly, the fiddly piece of equipment in Anakin’s hands WHIRS into life. WATTO blinks at it.

See, in the movie, this doesn’t happen! The thing that Anakin fixes just sits there, doing nothing. It’s a very weird detail for George Lucas and company to have completely missed. Something needs to happen there! (I’m indebted to D. Trull for pointing this out.)

WATTO: You are Annie! It is you! Ya sure sprouted! Weehoo! A Jedi! Waddya know? Hey, maybe you couldda help wit some deadbeats who owe me a lot of money…

ANAKIN: My mother…

WATTO: Oh, yeah. Shmi… she’s not mine no more. I sold her.

ANAKIN: Sold her?

WATTO: Years ago. Sorry, Annie, but you know, business is business. Sold her to a moisture farmer named Lars. Least I think it was Lars. Believe it or not, I heard he freed her and married her. Can ya beat that? Always wondered where he got the money for her….

That last bit is something I threw in there, in order to highlight something that will come in to play later on.

ANAKIN: Do you know where they are?

WATTO: Long way from here… someplace over on the other side of Mos Eisley, I think…

ANAKIN: I’d like to know.

Anakin holds out a small bag of coins, which Watto takes and examines.

WATTO: Republic credits? Annie, you know these aren’t no good out here–

He stops when he sees that ANAKIN’S grim look means business, and gets the hint quickly.

WATTO: Yeah… sure… absolutely. Republic credits will be fine. Let’s go look in my records. Too bad you can’t stay, eh? I just got in a YT-1300 freighter that needs some engine work….

PADME follows as ANAKIN and WATTO go into the shop.

I have to confess that Watto has always been one of my favorite supporting characters in the Prequel Trilogy. He’s not mean or sadistic, but he’s greedy enough to make him willing to make himself a pain in the ass on occasion, even if his greed never leads him to anything more than being a dealer in junk. (Of course, those of us out there who are self-programmed to find offensive things wherever we go might see Watto’s big nose and his obvious monetary greed and assume therefore that George Lucas is making a statement about Jews. I’m not willing to see things that way and am uninterested in discussing that line of thought.)

Immediately after this, we cut to the planet Geonosis, where Slave I comes out of hyperspace and heads down toward the planet. (Geonosis is, by the way, beautiful from space: a red, ringed world.) Behind him, Obi Wan arrives in his own ship. Jango’s scanners pick up Obi Wan’s ship, and Jango decides to try to lose Obi Wan in the asteroid field (the rings). What ensues is a fairly brief action sequence that obviously has some echoes of the asteroid field chase in The Empire Strikes Back, but this one is briefer and more of a high-speed cat-and-mouse game. Also interestingly, the first two-thirds of the scene is unscored; no music at all. I wondered at this when I first saw it, until I heard the sound produced by the “seismic charges”, which are for my money one of the coolest weapons ever unleashed in Star Wars.

Moments like this are why my general response to people who utter the constant refrain of SF whiners the world over, “There’s no sound in space!”, is basically “Oh, suck it.”

(By the way, I love the way Boba Fett laughs evilly and plays “backseat driver” as his Dad tries to fight off a Jedi knight.)

Anyway, I love this action sequence, which ends quickly with Obi Wan making Jango believe he’s been blown to bits and then hiding on an asteroid as Jango goes down to the planet surface. Obi Wan follows, and I like what follows here, as Obi Wan discovers during his flyover that Jango Fett has come to a planet where a lot of Trade Federation (the bad guys from The Phantom Menace) ships are landed. Then Obi Wan lands and proceeds to explore the happenings on Geonosis on foot.

We cut back to Tatooine, where Anakin and Padme arrive at the Lars homestead to learn that Shmi Skywalker has been abducted by Sandpeople. This all works very well for me; I love how the whole scene is shot near sunset, imbuing the scene with a sense that something is ending here on Tatooine. I also like the actor who plays Cliegg Lars, Shmi’s husband; he’s got this great grizzled and weary air about him. This whole sequence plays very well, with a sense of foreboding and impending doom. This whole subplot (an homage to the classic Western The Searchers) is very well done.

Anyway, Anakin decides that he’s going after the Sandpeople who kidnapped Shmi, which leads to this brief scene of farewell between Anakin and Padme:


ANAKIN stands looking across the desert. PADMÉ comes running out of the homestead after him. ANAKIN turns to PADMÉ.

ANAKIN: You are going to have to stay here. These are good people, Padmé. You’ll be safe.

PADMÉ: Anakin…

PADMÉ hugs him. ANAKIN walks over to OWEN’S speeder bike, which is standing close by.

ANAKIN: I won’t be long.

ANAKIN swings onto the bike. The engine fires. He takes off across the desert. PADMÉ watches him go.

Again, in the context of the actual film, this is a very nice little scene. Visually it’s inventive: Lucas doesn’t show Anakin and Padme hugging, but rather he shows only their shadows, cast by the setting suns on the side of the white-domed Lars homestead farm building, as they embrace. I do need to make a change, though, owing to the fact that in my version of the film, Anakin has never actually told Padme that he’s been dreaming about his mother.


ANAKIN stands looking across the desert. PADMÉ comes running out of the homestead after him. ANAKIN turns to PADMÉ.

ANAKIN: You are going to have to stay here. These are good people, Padmé. You’ll be safe.

PADME: You know something like this was happening, didn’t you?

ANAKIN: I…I feared it.

PADME: You saw it, didn’t you? You saw it through the Force. Those dreams you’ve been having…that’s why you brought me here.

ANAKIN: I brought you here to protect you.

PADME: But also to protect her.

She steps closer to him and takes his hand.

PADME: You know you can trust me, Anakin. You could have told me why you wanted to come here, of all the worlds you could have taken me to. I’d have come.

ANAKIN struggles for words, but finds he has none.

ANAKIN: I have to go. While it’s still light.

PADMÉ nods and hugs him. ANAKIN walks over to OWEN’S speeder bike, which is standing close by.

ANAKIN: I won’t be long.

ANAKIN swings onto the bike. The engine fires. He takes off across the desert. PADMÉ watches him go.

PADME: May the Force be with you.

I’ve always thought that a big part of Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side stems from his desire to do the right thing coupled with his confusion about what the right thing actually is. He’s in love with Padme, but he’s not entirely trusting with her, either; he doesn’t always let her in, until things have turned disastrous in the end. It would be entirely in keeping with his character to not tell her his underlying motivation for bringing her to Tatooine.

So Anakin speeds off on the speeder bike, whipping across the sands of Tatooine in search of the sandpeople who took his mother. This is very brief in the movie: a couple of shots of Anakin on the speeder bike, then Anakin conferring with some Jawas, and then we cut back to Obi Wan. In the script, however, there’s a little more: Anakin comes across a campsite where three moisture farmers have been slaughtered by Sandpeople. Not surprisingly, I’d have left this in.

Also in the script is a brief scene where a worried Padme talks to C-3PO about her growing confusion over her feelings for Anakin. I wouldn’t restore this, actually – it’s a pretty clunkily-written scene, after all – but I would show Padme at night, gazing in the direction Anakin has gone, maybe again holding that little pendant he’d carved for her in TPM. For purposes of information, though, here’s the scene as written:


PADMÉ enters the garage where C-3PO sits working.

C-3PO: Hello, Miss Padmé.

PADMÉ: Hello, Threepio.

C-3PO: You can’t sleep?

PADMÉ: No, I have too many things on my mind, I guess.

C-3PO: Are you worried about your work in the Senate?

PADMÉ: No, I’m just concerned about Anakin. I saidthings… I’m afraid I may have hurt him. I don’t know. Maybe I only hurt myself. For the first time in my life, I’m confused.

C-3PO: I’m not sure it will make you feel any better Miss Padmé, but I don’t think there’s been a time in my life when I haven’t been confused.

PADMÉ: I want him to know I care about him. I do care about him.

C-3PO: Don’t worry about Master Annie. He can take care of himself. Even in this awful place.

Yeah, not the best thing in the world. As noted, I wouldn’t have included this entire thing — a nicely shot scene with no dialogue at all would have served fine — but its existence in the original script indicates that originally, Padme’s feelings for Anakin didn’t progress as quickly as they seem to in the finished film. Again I find myself wishing that George Lucas had realized that story should determine a film’s running time, and not the other way around.

One last quibble: in the film, we cut from Anakin conferring with the Jawas back to Obi Wan on Geonosis. The problem here is that the Tatooine landscape and the Geonosis landscapes are pretty similar, so it takes a few seconds before we realize we’re looking at Obi Wan and not Anakin (he’s shown from a distance). I think that cutting back there after showing a worried Padme would help the transition a bit, making it less confusing.

And that’s where we’ll leave things for this time. Next time, the Sandpeople discover that if you kidnap a human woman, you’d best make sure her son isn’t a Jedi Knight with a hair-trigger temper. Ah, the wisdom of Star Wars!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fixing the Prequels: Attack of the Clones (part ten)

  1. Jason says:

    I'm with you all the way on this segment…

    I like Watto, too, and have always thought those who see him as some kind of anti-semitic stereotype are full of it. Honestly, the bit where he recognizes "little Annie" and seems to feel some genuine pride that his little slave has grown up and fulfilled his dream brought a small lump to my throat the first time I saw AOTC. It's one of the most "real" moments in the prequel trilogy, and I'm surprised so few people seemed to respond to it as I did.

    The asteroid sequence — again, I like it too. The "electric guitar bombs," as I like to call them, were just plain cool. (I sometimes think the use of such a strong sound effect for these weapons was George's way of telling all those "no sound in space" pedants to suck it.)

    Finally, Anakin racing across the desert with the double sunset and the reprise of "Duel of the Fates" was — still is — simply awesome. This is the moment when you believe this kid really does grow up to be Darth Vader, and we realize with sinking hearts that it didn't have to go that way…

Comments are closed.