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

part one
part two
part three

Okeyday, wesa back!

Continuing with our script-doctoring of Attack of the Clones, Obi Wan and Anakin have just apprehended the assassin who was trying to kill Padme, only to have that assassin killed by the toxic dart possibly fired by someone wearing a rocket jet pack. After that sequence is done, we cut to the next morning, when Obi Wan and Anakin report to the Jedi Council on what’s been going on:

INTERIOR: JEDI TEMPLE, COUNCIL CHAMBER – DAY

OBI-WAN and ANAKIN stand in the center of the Council Chamber. The members of the Jedi Council are seated in a circle surrounding the two Jedi.

YODA: Track down this bounty hunter, you must, Obi-Wan.

MACE WINDU: Most importantly, find out who he’s working for.

OBI-WAN: What about Senator Amidala? She will still need protecting.

YODA: Handle that, your Padawan will.

MACE WINDU: Whoever hired the assassin you caught last night will certainly hire another and another until the job is done, so until Obi Wan can get to the bottom of this plot, you, Anakin, will escort the Senator back to her home planet of Naboo. She’ll be safer there. And don’t use registered transport. Travel as refugees.
Anakin tries to conceal his eagerness at this assignment.

ANAKIN: As the leader of the opposition, it will be very difficult to get Senator Amidala to leave the Capital.

YODA: Until caught this killer is, our judgment she must respect.

ANAKIN: She may need more convincing than the judgment of the Jedi Council.

MACE WINDU: Anakin, go to the Senate and ask Chancellor Palpatine to speak with her.

The two Jedi exit the Council Chamber.

Here’s where I’d make an addition. There was an exchange between Yoda and Mace Windu that happened earlier in the script, but didn’t happen in the film. I mentioned it in the last installment, and here’s where I’d put it. After Obi Wan and Anakin leave the Council Chamber:

MACE WINDU: Two attacks on the Senator, and we still cannot see who is behind this?

YODA: Masking the future, is this disturbance in the Force.

MACE WINDU: The prophecy is coming true, and the Dark Side is growing. It’s been ten years, and the Sith still have yet to show themselves.

YODA: …Out there, they are. A certainty that is.

This scene, and several that follow, are basically scene-setting talking scenes, without much to really address in terms of outright “fixes”. In the scene above, I only add a couple of lines to clear up the nature of the danger Padme still faces.

Next, Anakin goes to Palpatine to ask him to basically order Padme to go home incognito. I like this scene a great deal and wouldn’t change it at all. Here’s the scene:

INTERIOR: SENATE BUILDING, PALPATINE’S OFFICE – DAY

ANAKIN and PALPATINE stand at the window of PALPATINE’S office and look out over the vast city.

PALPATINE: I will talk to her. Senator Amidala will not refuse an executive order. I know her well enough to assure you of that.

ANAKIN: Thank you, your Excellency.

PALPATINE: And so, my young Padawan, they have finally given you an assignment. Your patience has paid off.

ANAKIN: Your guidance more that my patience.

PALPATINE: You don’t need guidance, Anakin. In time you will learn to trust your feelings. Then you will be invincible. I have said it many times, you are the most gifted Jedi I have ever met.

PALPATINE and ANAKIN turn away from the window and walk through PALPATINE’S office towards the door.

ANAKIN: Thank you, your Excellency.

PALPATINE: I see you becoming the greatest of all the Jedi, Anakin. Even more powerful than Master Yoda.

What’s good here is how much is established in a very brief conversation. Anakin has a relationship with Palpatine that has clearly been blossoming for some time; clearly Palpatine wasn’t just gilding the lily at the end of TPM when he told young Anakin that he’d be following Anakin’s career with “great interest”. This establishes that Palpatine has taken a hands-on approach with Anakin, even as Anakin has been learning of the Force.

Also, this exchange establishes that Anakin, the once fatherless boy, now has not one but two father figures in his life, Obi Wan and Palpatine, who are deeply divergent figures to begin with (even before it turns out that Palpatine is a Sith Lord). Anakin is constantly being pulled in two directions, which is what ultimately creates the conflict within him that first leads him to embrace the Dark Side and, much later, to reject it. There’s a lot of this kind of subtlety woven throughout the Prequel Trilogy; it’s too bad that Lucas never gets credit for it.

This exchange doesn’t just establish that Anakin has two father figures, but also establishes the different approaches those two father figures take in Anakin’s upbringing. Obi Wan is the stern taskmaster much of the time, constantly focusing on Anakin’s errors and his need for control, while Palpatine is all about enabling Anakin, praising him, feeding his ego. Palpatine knows what he’s doing, after all. He’s planting the seeds in Anakin’s eventual fall from grace.

After this scene, we cut back to the Jedi temple, where Obi Wan is conferring with Yoda and Mace Windu:

INTERIOR: JEDI TEMPLE, ATRIUM – DAY

MACE WINDU and OBI-WAN walk along the Temple corridors. YODA accompanies them, riding in a small floating chair.

OBI-WAN: I am concerned for my Padawan. He is not ready to be given this assignment on his own yet.

YODA: The Council is confident in this decision, Obi-Wan.

MACE WINDU: The boy has exceptional skills.

OBI-WAN: But he still has much to learn, Master. His abilities have made him… well, arrogant.

YODA: Yes, yes. It’s a flaw more and more common among Jedi. Too sure of themselves they are. Even the older, more experienced ones.

MACE WINDU: Remember, Obi-Wan. If the prophecy is true, your apprentice is the only one who can bring the Force back into balance.

OBI-WAN: If he follows the right path.

While this scene is always cool to watch, what with the giant atrium of the Temple and Yoda hanging out on his floating chair, the scene doesn’t really accomplish anything. Obi Wan’s misgivings should be addressed, but not here, I don’t think. I would actually cut this entirely, and instead cut from Anakin’s meeting with Palpatine to his scene with Padme in the apartment. Here’s that scene, as written by Lucas and Hales, with a few notations of mine scattered within:

INTERIOR: APARTMENT BUILDING, AMIDALA’S APARTMENT – DAY

ANAKIN looks as PADMÉ and JAR JAR talk, standing near the door of the anteroom to PADMÉ’S bedroom. DORMÉ moves about packing luggage.

PADMÉ: I’m taking an extended leave of absence. It will be your responsibility to take my place in the Senate. Representative Binks, I know I can count on you.

JAR JAR: Mesa honored to be taken on dissa heavy burden. (pompously) Mesa accept this with muy muy humility and da…

PADMÉ: Jar Jar. I don’t wish to hold you up. I’m sure you have a great deal to do.

JAR JAR: Of course, M’Lady.

JAR JAR bows and goes out. PADMÉ walks briskly to ANAKIN. She is in a very bad mood.

ANAKIN: I’m sure that he’ll do fine–

PADMÉ: (cutting him off) I do not like this idea of hiding. Had I known it would have come to this, I would never have agreed to Jedi protection.

Anakin tries not to look stung by this.

ANAKIN: Don’t worry, now that the Council has ordered an investigation, it won’t take Master Obi-Wan long to find this bounty hunter.

PADMÉ: (frustrated) I haven’t worked for a year to defeat the Military Creation Act not to be here when its fate is decided!

ANAKIN: Sometimes we have to let go of our pride and do what is requested of us.

PADMÉ: Pride?!? Annie, you’re young, and you don’t have a very firm grip on politics. I suggest you reserve your opinions for some other time.

[NOTE: I like this reaction of Padme’s. It wasn’t in the movie, but I like that she’s willing to bite back at Anakin, and it further shows that she’s not seeing him as a grown-up yet.]

ANAKIN: Sorry, M’Lady. I was only trying to…

PADMÉ: (trying to shut him up) Annie, please–

ANAKIN: (suddenly angry) Don’t call me that.

PADMÉ: What?

ANAKIN: “Annie.”

PADMÉ: I’ve always called you that… it is your name, isn’t it?

ANAKIN: It’s Anakin. When you say Annie it’s like I’m still a little boy… and I’m not.

[NOTE: I like this bit, too. Padme does, over the course of the movie, stop calling Anakin “Annie”, and this gives that a bit of context. I like that he’s basically asking her to see him as more than the little boy from ten years before. That’s how it should be.]

PADMÉ: I’m sorry, Anakin. It’s impossible to deny you’ve…(looks him over) …that you’ve grown up.

PADMÉ smiles at ANAKIN. He becomes a little shy.

ANAKIN: Well…Master Obi-Wan manages not to see it…

PADMÉ: Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s the only way we grow.

ANAKIN: Don’t get me wrong… Obi-Wan is a great mentor, as wise as Master Yoda and as powerful as Master Windu. I am truly thankful to be his apprentice. Only… although I’m a Padawan learner, in some ways… a lot of ways… I’m ahead of him. I’m ready for the trials. I know I am! He knows it too. But he feels I’m too unpredictable… Other Jedi my age have gone through the trials and made it… I know I
started my training late… but he won’t let me move on.

PADMÉ: That must be frustrating.

ANAKIN: It’s worse… he’s overly critical! He never listens! He just doesn’t understand. It’s not fair!

PADMÉ cannot suppress a laugh. She shakes her head.

PADMÉ: I’m sorry… You sounded exactly like that little boy I once knew, when he didn’t get his way.

ANAKIN: I’m not whining! I’m not.

[NOTE: I’d ditch this last line, just have him glare at her.]

PADMÉ just smiles at him. DORMÉ laughs in the background.

PADMÉ: I didn’t say it to hurt you.

ANAKIN: I know…

There is a brief silence, then PADMÉ comes over to ANAKIN.

PADMÉ: Anakin…

They look into each other’s eyes for the first time.

PADMÉ: Don’t try to grow up too fast.

ANAKIN: I am grown up. You said it yourself.

ANAKIN looks deep into PADMÉ’S eyes.

PADMÉ: Please don’t look at me like that.

ANAKIN: Why not?

PADMÉ: Because I can see what you’re thinking.

ANAKIN: (laughing) Ahh… So, you have Jedi powers too?

DORMÉ is watching with concern.

PADMÉ: It makes me feel uncomfortable.

ANAKIN: Sorry, M’Lady.

ANAKIN backs away as PADMÉ turns and goes back to her packing.

Once again I wonder if some stuff got edited out after filming, or if the scene was filmed the way it showed up in the film. Some stuff just isn’t in the movie, and reading this over, I think that the scene works better as written rather than as shot. For one thing, Anakin’s sudden complaint about Obi Wan’s tutelage has a bit better context, in terms of the scene; he’s confident at first, but the conversation quickly goes into areas he’s not nearly as confident about, so he blunders a bit. His defenses down and his feigned confidence shaken, he slips into complaining about his feelings about his lack of progress as a Jedi (or what he sees as a lack of progress), then he can’t help but tip his hand about his attraction to Padme, and that line of Anakin’s in which he tries to recover some control my making light of what’s happening (“So, you have Jedi powers too?”). It feels more like a conversation here.

But I like how she points out that he sounds like the boy she knew, and I like how the script has Dorme hanging in the background, hearing what’s going on. Basically, though, I’m finding as I proceed in detail through these movies that a lot of these scenes actually work better as written than they did as eventually filmed or edited in the final movie, which leads me again to wonder if George Lucas’s drive to bring each movie in under a certain time limit (as far as running time) was his undoing when the films aren’t quite as successful as they could be.

(By the way: I love the visual with which this scene opens: hovering worker droids replacing the window that Obi Wan had jumped through the night before.)

Next we cut to one of Coruscant’s spaceports, where Padme and Anakin are about to leave for Naboo:

EXTERIOR: CORUSCANT, SPACEPORT FREIGHTER DOCKS, TRANSPORT
BUS – DAY

A small bus speeds toward the massive freighter docks of Coruscant’s industrial area. The spaceport is bustling with activity. Transports of various sizes move supplies and passengers as giant floating cranes lift cargo out of the starships. The bus stops before a huge, intergalactic freighter starship. It parks in the shadows of an overhang.

INTERIOR: CORUSCANT, SPACEPORT FREIGHTER DOCKS, TRANSPORT
BUS – DAY

ANAKIN and PADMÉ, dressed in Outland peasant outfits, get up and head for the door where CAPTAIN TYPHO, DORMÉ and OBI-WAN are waiting to hand them their luggage.

CAPTAIN TYPHO: Be safe, M’Lady.

PADMÉ: Thank you, Captain. Take good care of Dormé… The threat’s on you two now.

DORMÉ: He’ll be safe with me.

They laugh, and PADMÉ embraces her faithful handmaiden. DORMÉ starts to weep.

PADMÉ: You’ll be fine.

DORMÉ: It’s not me, M’Lady. I worry about you. What if they realize you’ve left the Capital?

PADMÉ: (looks to Anakin) Then my Jedi protector will have to prove how good he is.

DORMÉ and PADMÉ smile. ANAKIN frowns as OBI-WAN pulls him aside.

[NOTE: I like this last line. It should have been in the movie. Also, I should note that I like the actress who plays Dorme. She’s pretty and in this brief scene she does some nice things with facial expressions.]

OBI-WAN: Anakin. Don’t do anything without first consulting either myself or the Council.

ANAKIN: Yes, Master.

OBI-WAN: (to Padmé) I will get to the bottom of this plot quickly, M’Lady. You’ll be back here in no time.

PADMÉ: I will be most grateful for your speed, Master Jedi.

ANAKIN: Time to go.

PADMÉ: I know.

PADMÉ gives DORMÉ a last hug. ANAKIN picks up the luggage, and the TWO PEASANTS exit the speeder bus, where ARTOO is waiting for them.

OBI-WAN: Anakin, may the Force be with you.

ANAKIN: May the Force be with you, Master.

They head off toward the giant Starfreighter.

PADMÉ: Suddenly, I’m afraid…

ANAKIN: This is my first assignment on my own. I am too. (looking at Artoo) But don’t worry. We’ve got Artoo with us.

They laugh. OBI-WAN and CAPTAIN TYPHO watch ANAKIN and PADMÉ disappear into the vastness of the spaceport with ARTOO trundling along behind them.

OBI-WAN: I hope he doesn’t try anything foolish.

CAPTAIN TYPHO: I’d be more concerned about her doing something, than him.

EXTERIOR: FREIGHTER DOCKS – CORUSCANT – DAY

The freighter slowly takes off from the huge docks area of Coruscant. It soon moves into the crowded skies.

Two final notes here: I’ve always liked Anakin’s line “Don’t worry, we’ve got Artoo with us.” That’s a good line; after all, nothing’s ever as bad if you’ve got R2-D2 with you, right? And visually, the freighter that Padme and Anakin take from Coruscant to Naboo is one of my favorite starships in the entire PT. I love its dull exterior and the fact that it looks exactly like what it is: a big ship that takes stuff from one place to another. And John Williams’s scoring of the departure is a wonderful little cue.

That’s where we’ll leave off for now. In the next installment, we’ll look at the arrival on Naboo, as well as the adventures of Obi Wan Kenobi, Private Eye!

Excelsior, Star Warriors!!

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