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

part six
part five
part four
part three
part two
part one

I suppose I should try to make some effort to update this series more often, huh? One entry a month isn’t getting it done. I’m only now approaching the halfway point in Attack of the Clones.

Anyhow, Anakin and Padme have arrived on Naboo, met with the Queen and spent a night with Padme’s family (remember, I restored all of that material to the film). Next we turn our attention back to Obi Wan Kenobi, who is now arriving on the oceanic world of Kamino to investigate the source of the toxic dart. I’m not going to quote all of this from the screenplay, because frankly, there’s virtually nothing from this scene that I would change. It’s one of the best bits in the entire PT. Why? Well, I love the way the mystery unfolds: we’re probably expecting Obi Wan to receive a less-than-enthusiastic welcome, but as soon as gets off his ship, the somewhat elegantly beautiful Kaminoan Taun We greets him with: “We’ve been expecting you. We were beginning to fear you weren’t coming.”

The Kaminoans are, for me, the best aliens in the entire PT, with their long bodies and nearly indistinguishable features; and yet, there is something undeniably feminine about Taun We versus Lama Su, the Prime Minister who gives Obi Wan his tour of the cloning facility. I also love the whole design of the Kamino cloning facility in the first place, with its gleaming white walls and floors and that teardrop-shaped chair that drops down out of the ceiling for Obi Wan to sit in. And I love when the mystery deepens at the mention of Jedi Master Syfo Dyas, who has apparently been dead for ten years. (Right around the Trade Federation blockade and invasion of Naboo, interestingly enough – what Lucas has done here is to subtly indicate that the invasion of Naboo wasn’t the only thing the mysterious Darth Sidious had going on back then.)

So anyway, as Lama Su begins to show Obi Wan around the cloning facility, we return to Naboo as Anakin and Padme arrive at the resort in “the lake country”. Here is where, for most fans, so far as I can tell, the very worst material in the movie resides. I don’t hate it as much as most – hell, I don’t really hate it at all – but the Naboo Lake Country scenes do need some revision. So, for the rest of this post, we’ll be doing that.

In the movie, we see the boat pulling up to the resort. I’d actually start a bit earlier, and actually show the boat moving across the surface of the water:

EXTERIOR: NABOO – LAKE – BOAT.

An elegant-looking speedboat cruises across the surface of a spectacular lake, vast and deep, set amidst very high mountains on all sides. The boat is piloted by a Naboo commoner; sitting in the rear are ANAKIN and PADME. PADME looks very happy to be here; ANAKIN looks very ill-at-ease.

PADME: I think that my soul comes from here. (looks at Anakin) Annie, you look awful. Are you afraid?

ANAKIN: There’s more water in this lake than on my entire planet.

PADME: Your planet has a lot of water. It’s all in the atmosphere or trapped so far underground. If Tatooine were closer to the industrial worlds of the Republic, perhaps–

She trails off, seeing his discomfort.

PADME: You can swim, can’t you?

ANAKIN: Of course I can swim. All Jedi are taught to swim. I just don’t like to.

PADME: We’ll have to see if we can change that!

He looks at her, and she smiles. He looks marginally more happy.

Then, the arrival, and they walk across the veranda to look over the panorama of the lake. This leads us up to what I suspect is the most loathed line of dialogue in Star Wars history:

ANAKIN and PADMÉ stop at the balustrade. PADMÉ looks out across the garden to the shimmering lake and the mountains rising beyond. ANAKIN looks at her.

PADMÉ: When I was in Level Three, we used to come here for school retreat. See that island? We used to swim there every day. I love the water.

ANAKIN: I do too. I guess it comes from growing up on a desert planet.

[Obviously I’d leave this out, as it would clash with what Anakin just said on the boat about being uncomfortable around this much water.]

PADMÉ becomes aware that ANAKIN is looking at her.

PADMÉ: …We used to lie on the sand and let the sun dry us… and try to guess the names of the birds singing.

ANAKIN: I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything’s soft… and smooth…

He touches her arm. PADMÉ has become receptive to the way he looks at her but is nervous.

Ah, yes: the infamous “I don’t like sand” pickup line. Interestingly, though, we can contrast the movie versus the script. Here he says that here, everything is soft, while in the movie, he addresses Padme: “Not like you. You’re everything soft.” The line is obviously quite a bit less creepy in the original wording.

Now, I’ve never objected to this line, as I’ve indicated in previous posts on this movie. I’ve always seen it for what it is: an attempt by an awkward young adult who is trying, without a great deal of self-confidence, to win over the girl he’s desperately in love with. I simply have never had a problem with the idea of Anakin saying something like this. I’ve always figured that the awkwardness of this line was intentional, because when you really look at this script, it stands out that every single awkward line of dialogue is given to Anakin. He sounds awkward by design.

In the film, when Anakin says “I don’t like sand”, Padme has a very subtle reaction: she shifts, ever so slightly, and her face kind of freezes in the way women tend to freeze up a bit when the guy they’re with has said something that they’re not sure whether to ignore or acknowledge. Lucas might have drawn the contrast a bit more strongly by encouraging a stronger reaction from Natalie Portman, but it’s there anyway. In any event, you know what? I would not cut that line – especially in light of the fact that the line is followed by some material that, in what is emerging as a real pattern with AotC, isn’t in the finished film! According to the script, Padme notes Anakin’s attempts at poetic seduction and continues trying to make conversation:

PADMÉ: There was a very old man who lived on the island. He used to make glass out of sand – and vases and necklaces out of the glass. They were magical.

ANAKIN: (looks into her eyes) Everything here is magical.

PADMÉ: You could look into the glass and see the water. The way it ripples and moves. It looked so real… but it wasn’t.

ANAKIN: Sometimes, when you believe something to be real, it becomes real.

They look into each other’s eyes.

PADMÉ: I used to think if you looked too deeply into glass, you would lose yourself.

ANAKIN: I think it’s true…

ANAKIN kisses PADMÉ. She doesn’t resist. She comes to her senses and pulls away.

PADMÉ: No, I shouldn’t have done that.

ANAKIN: I’m sorry. When I’m around you, my mind is no longer my own.

He looks at her.

The scene would have worked a lot better this way, I think, although I’d cut out the stuff about losing yourself when you look into glass. I’d have had Padme’s voice trail off after “It looks so real…but it wasn’t….” Anakin would hold her eyes, and then draw her in for the kiss.

The kiss itself and the aftermath are actually perfectly done in the movie; I like how she walks away, leaving Anakin to awkwardly apologize and just stand there, wondering what the heck he’s done wrong. Here’s one instance where I wouldn’t follow the script. He certainly wouldn’t say, “When I’m around you my mind is no longer my own.” I’m glad that line didn’t make it into the movie.

After this scene, we cut back to Kamino, for more of Obi Wan’s tour of the cloning facility. Still nothing for me to say, since I like this sequence a lot too, although here we have something of a difficulty that also afflicts The Empire Strikes Back: events on two different worlds are intercut, seeming to imply that they’re happening simultaneously, but the stuff happening to one character or set of characters seems to imply a longer period of time than the stuff being depicted at the same time happening to the other character(s). In TESB, logic would suggest that Luke has to be on Dagobah for quite a while, right? Maybe even a few months? But it doesn’t really seem that Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO spend that same amount of time stuck on board the Millennium Falcon trying to fix the ship. But we know that they do, right? They have to, in order for everything to work out right.

Here, the same kind of thing happens. The stuff with Padme and Anakin at the lake house doesn’t seem to take a single afternoon; rather, a few days at the least. But Obi Wan’s exploration of Kamino doesn’t seem to take days at all, does it? But maybe it does. Anyway, the investigation on Kamino continues, with Obi Wan learning interesting things about the cloning process itself (such as the fact that the development process is accelerated), and about the clones themselves (that the seed person for all this cloning is a bounty hunter named Jango Fett). We also learn that Fett wanted a son, a clone of himself who isn’t accelerated; thus we learn the origin of Boba Fett. He’s a stormtrooper who never became a stormtrooper. I actually like this, although it would have been nice to learn a bit more about Jango himself: what made him the ideal person on whom to base an entire army of clones? What qualities does he bring? Something like this:

OBI WAN: Why was a bounty hunter used as the basis for an army?

LAMA SU: We conducted a great deal of testing on a number of suspects over several years before beginning the cloning process, I can assure you. Jango Fett’s testing was the best we found. He is extremely skillful with arms of all sorts, as well as a superlative pilot. He is also single-minded in pursuit of a job he has been appointed to do. What he does not have is an inquisitive nature; he does not seek to understand why he is asked to do the things his employers request of him. These traits make him an ideal soldier, wouldn’t you say?

OBI WAN: I suppose. I should very much like to meet Jango Fett.

LAMA SU: We shall arrange it.

In the script, it is mentioned that the Kaminoans thought a Jedi would be the logical choice for a clone army, but Jango Fett was hand-picked by Master Syfo-dyas. I don’t remember if that line made it into the film, but it’s an interesting facet of what’s going on: clearly someone was acting as Syfo-dyas after Syfo-dyas was killed.

There’s a bit more talk of clones, and then Obi Wan looks on the finished article: platoons of clone troopers boarding ships. It’s a nice culmination to the scene, and what’s all the better is that we don’t know what’s going on with these clones. Who are they going to be attacking? What side will they be on, if anyone’s? What is going on here? John Williams does something interesting with the music here, in scoring the shots of the clone army with the same theme he had used in TPM to underscore the droid armies. Who is the enemy here, and why?

We then cut back to Naboo. Anakin and Padme are having a picnic and talking politics. I’m not sure what the general consensus on this scene is, but I’ve always liked it. Here’s how it goes:

EXTERIOR: NABOO, MOUNTAIN MEADOW – LATE AFTERNOON

PADMÉ and ANAKIN are in the middle of an idyllic hilly meadow, its lush grasses sprinkled with flowers. At a distance, a herd of SHAAKS graze contentedly. Beyond is the shimmering expanse of the lake. Several other lakes stretch to the horizon. The warm air is full of little floating puffballs. They sit on the grass, in a playful, coy mood, talking. PADMÉ is picking flowers.

PADMÉ: I don’t know…

ANAKIN: Sure you do… you just don’t want to tell me.

PADMÉ: Are you going to use one of your Jedi mind tricks on me?

ANAKIN: They only work on the weak-minded. You are anything but weak- minded.

PADMÉ: All right… I was twelve. His name was Palo. We were both in the Legislative Youth Program. He was a few years older then I… very cute… dark curly hair… dreamy eyes.

ANAKIN: All right, I get the picture… whatever happened to him?

PADMÉ: I went into public service. He went on to become an artist.

ANAKIN: Maybe he was the smart one.

PADMÉ: You really don’t like politicians, do you?

ANAKIN: I like two or three, but I’m not really sure about one of them. (smiling) I don’t think the system works.

PADMÉ: How would you have it work?

ANAKIN: We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problem, agree what’s in the best interests of all the people, and then do it.

PADMÉ: That is exactly what we do. The trouble is that people don’t always agree. In fact, they hardly ever do.

ANAKIN: Then they should be made to.

PADMÉ: By whom? Who’s going to make them?

ANAKIN: I don’t know. Someone.

PADMÉ: You?

ANAKIN: Of course not me.

PADMÉ: But someone.

ANAKIN: Someone wise.

PADMÉ: That sounds an awful lot like a dictatorship to me.

A mischievous little grin creeps across his face.

ANAKIN: Well, if it works…

PADMÉ stares at ANAKIN. He looks back at her, straight faced, but can’t hold back a smile.

PADMÉ: You’re making fun of me!

ANAKIN: (sarcastic) Oh no, I’d be much too frightened to tease a Senator.

PADMÉ: You’re so bad!

PADMÉ picks up a piece of fruit and throws it at him. He catches it. PADMÉ throws two more pieces of fruit, and ANAKIN catches them.

ANAKIN: You’re always so serious.

PADMÉ: I’m so serious?!

ANAKIN then starts to juggle the fruit. PADMÉ laughs and throws more fruit at him. He manages to juggle them too until there are too many, and he loses control and ducks, letting food fall on his head. They both laugh.

ANAKIN stands in front of a SHAAK, yelling at it and waving his arms. PADMÉ starts laughing as ANAKIN runs in circles, chased by the SHAAK.

I’m glad this last bit didn’t appear in the movie. It just reads silly, doesn’t it? Instead we cut to the two of them frolicking in the meadow, with Anakin showing off by trying to ride some kind of large beastie that looks like a six-legged cow with a wildly distended arse. He falls down and appears to be trampled, but he fakes unconsciousness until a scared Padme rushes to his side. I like this little bit as well, and the only change I’d make would be to make the cow-beasties look a little less ridiculous. All I could think, first time I saw the movie, was, “How can that thing’s tiny little legs hold up that gigantic arse?”

But the thing is, I like all of these scenes, really; especially the scene with Anakin and Padme chatting in the grass. Sure, they’re talking politics, but what else are they going to talk about? That’s what Padme’s all about, really, and it’s important that we hear her talking about herself at some point (especially with the earlier scenes in her family’s home cut from the movie). I like how the scene establishes Padme as intelligent and quick to disagree when she sees fit; I also like how it shows Anakin starting to regain some confidence around her, even to the point of grinning bashfully when she realizes he’s teasing her. (Kind of, anyway.) I consider this another entry in the surprisingly long list of well-done character scenes in the Prequels, considering that the general wisdom is that George Lucas can’t direct actors to save his life. If anything, this scene is worthy because we get to see this smile from Padme:

And right after that, we’re back to Kamino, where we have one of my favorite scenes in any Star Wars movie: Obi Wan’s meeting with Jango Fett.

EXTERIOR: TIPOCA CITY (RAINSTORM) – DAY

Rain lashes the city. Below, mighty waves pound the stilts, breaking almost to the height of the platforms. A large AVIAN carrying a RAIN-SOAKED RIDER flies above the water toward a floating city.

INTERIOR: TIPOCA CITY, CORRIDOR – DAY

TAUN WE and OBI-WAN stand in front of the door of Jango Fett’s apartment. TAUN WE waves his hand, and a muted bell RINGS. As they wait, OBI-WAN notes the door lock entry mechanism. Then the door opens, and a ten-year-old boy, BOBA FETT, looks at them. He is identical to the boys in the classroom.

TAUN WE: Boba, is your father here?

There is a brief pause.

BOBA FETT: Yep.

TAUN WE: May we see him?

BOBA FETT: Sure.

Another brief pause, then BOBA FETT steps aside, and TAUN WE and OBI-WAN go through.

INTERIOR: TIPOCA CITY, FETT APARTMENT – DAY

OBI-WAN, TAUN WE, and BOBA FETT enter the apartment. OBI WAN looks around the room.

BOBA FETT: Dad! Taun We’s here!

JANGO FETT comes in from the bedroom. He wears a jumpsuit. He is unshaven and mean looking, his face pitted with scars of old wounds. There are a couple of weird tattoos on his muscular forearms. He eyes OBI-WAN with suspicion.

TAUN WE: Jango, welcome back. Was your trip productive?

JANGO FETT: Fairly.

OBI-WAN and JANGO FETT size each other up. BOBA FETT studies both of them.

TAUN WE: This is Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. He’s come tocheck on our progress.

JANGO FETT: That right?

JANGO FETT’S eyes fix OBI-WAN coldly.

OBI-WAN: Your clones are very impressive. You must be veryproud.

JANGO FETT: I’m just a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe, Master Jedi.

OBI-WAN: Aren’t we all?

OBI-WAN eyes the half-open bedroom door, through which a couple of pieces of body armor can be seen on the floor. JANGO FETT registers OBI-WAN’S look. He moves in front of him, blocking the view.

OBI-WAN: Ever make your way as far into the interior as Coruscant?

JANGO FETT: Once or twice.

OBI-WAN: Recently?

JANGO FETT: (eyes Obi-Wan carefully) Possibly…

OBI-WAN: Then you must know Master Sifo-Dyas?

JANGO FETT: (in Huttese) Boba, close the door.

BOBA FETT moves to close the bedroom door. JANGO FETT smiles thinly at OBI-WAN.

JANGO FETT: Master who?

OBI-WAN: Sifo-Dyas. Is he not the Jedi who hired you for this job?

JANGO FETT: Never heard of him.

OBI-WAN: Really.

JANGO FETT: I was recruited by a man called Darth Tyranus on one of the moons of Bogden.

OBI-WAN: No? I thought…

TAUN WE: Sifo-Dyas told us to expect him. And he showed up just when your Jedi Master said he would. We have kept the Jedi’s involvement a secret until your arrival, just as your Master requested.

OBI-WAN: Curious…

JANGO FETT: Do you like your army?

OBI-WAN: I look forward to seeing them in action.

JANGO FETT: (grinning) They’ll do their job well, I’ll guarantee that.

OBI-WAN: Thanks for your time, Jango.

JANGO FETT: Always a pleasure to meet a Jedi.

OBI-WAN and TAUN WE go out. The door slides closed. JANGO FETT turns to his son. He is deep in thought.

BOBA FETT: What is it, Dad?

JANGO FETT: Pack your things. We’re leaving.

As I noted, one of my favorite scenes in the entire Star Wars saga. It’s very well acted, between Ewan McGregor and Temuera Morrison, and there’s real tension there as Obi Wan is realizing that something is very amiss here, even if he can’t tell exactly what. I also like the chemistry between Morrison and the kid who plays young Boba Fett; they have a comfort level with each other that nicely conveys father-and-son.

After that scene, we cut back to Naboo for some more of Anakin and Padme, passing the time. We’ll do that next time, though, because we’re coming up on what I consider to be the most damaging scene in the entire PT, as far as Anakin’s relationship with Padme goes, and I want to devote some time to discussing it and proposing my fix. So that’s where we’ll start next time. Tune in!

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