Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Star Wars, a Revision

As someone who grew up watching the Original Star Wars Trilogy (I triple underline the word Original, lest you think Iím referring to that lifeless mess Lucas passes off these days, the Special Edition) I canít help but feel a little let down by the prequels. While I realize this is a waste of time, hereís how I would have plotted the story, fixing all the holes and characterization. These are merely suggestions of course. I donít expect anyone to agree with all my changes or any of them. I fully realize that to some Iím tampering with scripture. So put a fatwa on my head and call me Salmon. I simply offer these ideas as an alternative text, maybe one that a filmmaker, fifty years from now will consider when remaking the Star Wars sextology (hopefully taking a cue from Peter Jackson).

Episode I:The Phantom Menace

Qui Gon Jinn and Obiwan Kenobi arrive at the lead Trade Federation ship to negotiate an end to the embargo of Nabu. Who arrives to meet them, not an ambassador but a lowly protocol droid by the name of C3PO. Jinn suspects something is amiss immediately, as does his young Paduwan. But itís too late. 3PO unwittingly leads the Jedi into an ambush! Lightsabers fly, battle droids fall. Haughty Knut Gunray is scared so bad he pisses himself when he sees the door glowing white hot as the Jedi carve through it. Then the Destroyer droids roll in and 3PO is stuck with the Jedi when they escape (maybe his restraining bolt is blasted off?) Anyway, when they sneak on board the transport to Nabu, Obiwan convinces Jinn that a protocol droid might come in handy so they bring him along.

This shows just how keen Obiwanís instincts are as 3PO informs them about the disenfranchised Gungans who live under water. Deciding to enlist their aide, Kenobi and Jinn don their masks and head for the underwater city but not before Jinn sends 3PO ahead to Theed with a coded message for Amidalla, informing her of what has transpired.

Upon entering the underwater city, Jinn and Kenobi are captured by Gungan warriors, led by the noble Son of the Chief, Jar Jar Binks. (The Gungans by the way are a proud race of poets and warriors, more of a cross between Sufi and the newts from Karl Capekís book, War with the Newts). Binks takes them before the council of elders, led by his father who is none too pleased by his sonís refusal to kill these outsiders out right. But Binks argues that they are Jedi and thus are trustworthy and may be able to help the Gungans. Binks is obviously not in line with his fatherís isolationist ideals and is looking for a righteous fight. When The Jedi cannot reason with the council and sway them to their cause, Jinn uses his mind trick on their feeble leader to get transport to the city. Binks volunteers his services to guide them through a shortcut that most other Gungans fear to use because it is guarded by a sea monster. Once reaching the city, Binks says farewell and wishes them luck and maybe a word of folk wisdom as advice.

As the Trade Federation take orders from Darth Sidius, 3PO reaches the gates of Theed and makes it past the battle droids because they recognize him. But 3PO has a momentary crisis of conscious: he has to lie to the droids to get them to let him pass. He makes it into the Queenís room and apprises her of the situation and Master Jinnís eminent arrival. Slightly impatient, Amadalla curses under her breath, something about Jedi always being on their own schedules. Cue loud explosion. Everyone rushes to the window.

Cut to the courtyard where the two Jedi are making scrap out of a garrison of battle droids. They free the pilots and the Queen and escape in her ship, which is damaged by the Trade Federation ships. C3P0 meets R2D2 when he is the only astromech droid to survive the firefight. 3P0 has to suffer the indignity of cleaning him up.

Jinn decides to land on Tatooine and haggle for the necessary parts to fix their engine. There they meet Anakin Skywalker, age 16 and his mother, Schmi who run a family owned salvage shop. Schmi and Jinn seem to recognize one another while they negotiate for parts. Schmi is about to just give them the parts for whatever money they have when in walks Wattu, the landlord. He works for Jabba the Hutt and is here to collect the rent and Schmiís monthly installment of her Fathers extensive gambling debts to Jabba (who we find out killed her father and is extorting the money he owed Jabba at a hundred percent interest, meaning she will never pay it off). Thus, Schmi cannot afford to sell the engine parts for a song and some Jedi proverbs, not that Jinn would let her, seeing what a bind she is in.

Meanwhile, Anakin flirts with the Queen. Anakin is a smooth talking, charismatic and impetuous young man, (reminiscent of a young Han Solo) who has made a bit of a name for himself in the pod races. Schmi is afraid heíll end up like his grandfather, falling in with a bad crowd or worse, smelted by a fatal pod race. If only his father hadnít run offÖ

As it turns out, Jinn is Anakinís father. We find this out during the sand storm when they all hide out in the Skywalker house (where Anakin shows off his mechanical dabbling to 3PO and Kenobi while R2 fixes them all dinner). It turns out Jinn met Schmi while on a mission to Tatooine 16 years earlier. They had one passionate night before he had to leave on secret Jedi business. But now that heís back, he wants to help her and teach his long lost and heretofore unknown son how to be a good man, and maybe a Jedi. Obiwan obviously doesnít like this idea claiming that Anakin is too old to start the training. And also because heís jealous.

They decide to help solve all their problems by riding a long shot on Anakin in the Bunta Eve pod race. He of course wins, but only narrowly by using his instincts and some Jedi advice to overcome the cheating of a rival pod racer, Sebulba. Wattu, who was challenged by Jinn on a side bet to drop the debt to Jabba if the kid won, tries to squirm out of the deal. In walks one of Jabbaís henchthings and claps Wattu on the shoulder, whispering in his ear that Jabba wants to have a word with him.

Now that Schmi is free of her fatherís debt and the Jedi have the necessary parts, theyíll leave. Jinn offers to take Anakin with him to Corescant. He jumps at the opportunity, even though he feels bad about leaving his mother. She tells him that he needs to go, to start his own life and fulfill his destiny.

On the way back to the ship Darth Maul engages Jinn and Kenobi in a double duel of both light sabers and words (maybe he could recite a Sith Hymn in praise of the bestial power of rage, and wroth poetic like Ricardo Mauntabanís Kahn).

After narrowly escaping the Sith, they return to Corescant and present their findings before the Jedi Council. Jinn proposes to Yoda that he teach Anakin. Thereís a brief argument between Jinn and Kenobi, left unresolved. Anakin and Amadala have a quiet moment alone, almost but not quite making an emotional connection. Kenobi interrupts them before they can kiss, informing them that they are to return to Nabu. While en route, they discuss possible strategies. Anakin hits on the idea of enlisting the help of the Gungans, whom he heard Jinn Talking to Obiwan about earlier. There is some doubt as to the sense in this but Anakin manages to talk them all into it.

They arrive at the Gungan temple and try to enlist their aide but the elders are still waffling. This is where Jar Jar Binks steps in and passionately argues that they cannot sit by idle while the rest of the planet fights for its safety. His father grudgingly agrees to the pact when Amadala steps forward and on bended knee, asks for their help.

Binks leads the Gungans and the Nabu security guards in a battle against the droid army. The battle begins with just the Nabu security forces facing off against the Droid army. They pretend to fall back, leading the battle droids out of the fields where they have the advantage and into the swamp. There, the Gunagns ambush the battle droids, fighting in their element, Guerilla warfare style. Picture sinewy, black figures rising from the murk of the swamp like an army of Navy seals, only there are thousands of them. They drop bombs from the trees and sneak up behind the droids, severing heads with knives and hanging them from the trees with nooses made from vines. It is a gruesome battle, with swords and energy catapults and droids being mauled by nearly rabid Gungan warriors.

Meanwhile, Anakin leads the pilots on a sneak attack of the Lead Trade Federation ship to capture Knut Gunray. Anakin rushes in with the captured Trade federation leader just in time. The Battle droids, whatís left of them, are called off and so is the blockade.

In the city of Theed, Jinn and Kenobi track down Darth Maul. Maul kills Jinn but escapes, leaving Kenobi frustrated and angry, wanting revenge, despite all his Jedi training.

After this, he agrees to teach Anakin in honor of Jinnís wishes. Yoda gives in but with reservations that he shares with Mace Windu, fearing that Kenobiís unresolved feelings will taint the pupil.

A celebratory party is held at the palace in Theed. Amadala is too busy for Anakin as she is being shuffled around to shake hands with ambassadors. Heís miffed. A hand falls reassuringly on his shoulder. Anakin turns around to find that it is not Kenobi as he expected but Senator Palpitane, who introduces himself to Anakin and leaves off with an ominous remark about how much potential he shows as a Jedi.

Episode II: The Clone Wars

Ten years later. After an attempt on Senator Amadalaís life, The Jedi council assigns Master Kenobi and his Paduwan, Anakin to protect her. When Anakin shows up, he blows Amadala away. No longer is he just a brash kid but a smooth, cool-as-a-Summer-on-Hoth stud. But he does have a brooding aura about him, sort of like a Goth Jedi. Right away heís working the Force on Amadala, much to Kenobiís disappointment. Several times the Master has to break the two of them apart.

This is Anakin as a young man: a total Jedi bad ass, capable of doing what other Jedi do, without breaking a sweet. His superpower, besides being handy with anything mechanical is the fact that he can talk anybody into doing anything he wants. Anything.

Kenobi chides his young apprentice that night for his forward actions while they keep a watch on Amadalaís door, reminding him that a Jedi is stayed, calm, and collected. Anakin, instead of throwing a hissy fit for being chewed out by his master, spins Kenobiís words and with a slightly ironic twist, turns them back on him. The argument is left unfinished when they both feel that something is wrong and rush into Amadalaís room in time to squish the giant centipedes and jump out the window after the bounty hunter.

Cue car chase through Corescant by night.

They trail the shape shifting bounty hunter to a bar. Obiwan buys Anakin a drink to calm him down. They catch the bounty hunter off guard, drag her outside only to have her killed by poison dart before she can give up the goods. Back at his hideout, Jango Fett reports to Darth Maul that there has been a slight snag in their plans.

Looking for clues, Kenobi visits his friend and finds out that the poisonous dart could only have come from one place, a little known world out beyond the rim. Kenobi goes to the Library but he canít find the holocron heís looking for and visits master Yoda whose pupils help him find the missing planet.

Obiwan sets off to visit the clone factory and fight Jango Fett.

Meanwhile Anakin escorts Amadala back to Nabu (with a stern warning from Kenobi to behave himself). Anakin plays it smooth on Nabu, turning Amadalaís summer palace into their own little love nest, much to 3PO and R2ís dismay and against their warnings. After seducing Amadala into bed, Anakin wakes from a nightmare about his mother. He then convinces Amadala to go with him to Tatooine.

Meanwhile, on Corescant, Ambassador Jar Jar Binks who has taken over for Amadalla while she is away, is strong armed into giving up the republic by a selection of Dark Side-friendly senators. Palpatine shakes his hand with a smile.

As soon as Anakin and Amadalla arrive on Tatooine, they rush to the family store to find Wattu (minus a few fingers) as the new proprietor. Anakin browbeats him into giving up Schmiís last known whereabouts (he was going to charge them but Anakin gets it out of him for free): after Anakin left, Schmi met a moisture farmer named Lars and sold Wattu the shop. Wattu then makes a vague apology, saying that Schmi was really a good woman and that it was a shame what happened to her. Neither Amadala nor Anakin know just what he is getting at.

At the Lars family farm they meet Anakinís new stepfather and his step- brother, Owen (and his girlfriend Baru) and learn of his mothers capture by the Sand people. Baru and Owen welcome Amadala in while Anakin goes off to find his mom. His new stepfather warns him not to get his hopes up and at the first sign of sand people, to hurry back.

When Anakin finds his Mother in the hut, tortured and bleeding to death he looses it. But he doesnít explode with rage. Anakin is detached from his emotions. Always calm and collected. This is where we get the first hint of Darth Vadar, the man who chokeís admirals from a distance while casually planning a ground invasion. You see it in Anakinís eyes, this is the guy who will one day boss Boba Fett around, reminding him not to disintegrate his prey this time.

Anakin steps out of the hut and methodically slaughters every living thing that comes within reach of his lightsaber. He betrays no emotion on his face as he goes about his gruesome business and when heís done he simply walks away. He doesnít go home and bawl his eyes out to Amadala. He never says a word.

Cut to Mace Windu waking from his meditation with the cold sweets. He runs out to find Yoda and they say nothing, merely exchange sad looks.

After burying Schmi on the farm, Anakin and Amadala set off for Nabu. Anakin calmly and almost lightheartedly broaches the subject of marriage. Amadala is unsure of the prospect as his duty to the Jedi forbids love and her responsibilities, as an ambassador requires her to maintain a professional sense of respectability. Everything they are working for would be undermined if she were to just run off and marry a Jedi. But Anakin almost has her convinced when they get the garbled message from Kenobi for help. They relay the message back to the Jedi council and set off to rescue Kenobi who in the meantime has been captured by Count Dooku.

Kenobi is startled to discover that Dooku, former Jedi and leader of the Separatists has as his right hand man none other then Darth Maul. Kenobi tries to reason with Count Dooku but the Count is clouded by idealism and Darth Sidiousís influence. He thinks the Jedi have been led astray and are in cahoots with the Sith. Heís all turned around and confused, and Kenobi realizes this is Maulís doing.

Anakin, Amadala and the droids arrive and fight gallantly to free Kenobi but are captured and sentenced to the Ring of Death by the Insect King. As they are chained to the pillars, Amadala agrees to marry Anakin (she simply tells him the answer is yes, so Kenobi wonít know). Cue Jedi in the stands. Battle royal with droids, monsters and insects. The clone soldiers arrive, with Yoda at the lead in time to route the battle. Mace Windu takes of Jango Fettís head. It is retrieved by a young and very pissed off Boba Fett.

Darth Maul battles Anakin and Kenobi. Kenobi is about to give into his desire for revenge but stops just short of killing Darth Maul. Anakin steps in and does it, almost as an after thought. Dooku then steps in and takes on both Jedi single handedly, taking off Anakinís arm in the process. Yoda arrives and much ass is kicked. Dooku escapes to deliver the plans for the Death Star to Sidious and begins to realize that Maul and Sidius have been leading him to the Dark Side.

Yoda and Windu discuss briefly how the Dark side is growing as the clone soldiers board the star ships and take off. The rest of the Jedi are morose, except for Anakin who tells Kenobi about how he thinks Palpitane will be just what the Galaxy needs to restore order. They exchange cold words and Anakin walks away from the Jedi. Amadala, wearing a hood and robe to conceal her identity, meets him and together they run off, hand in mechanical hand to their secret wedding.

Episode III: Fall of the Jedi

Five years later. The clone wars are coming to a close. With Count Dooku dead, the separatists have splintered into numerous factions, most of which have already been wrangled back into the republic. Only a few remain but they are scattered and disorganized. The Jedi have been reluctantly leading the battles but there is disunity among the Jedi Knights for the first time in a thousand years.

At the coronation of Emperor Palpitane, word reaches the Jedi council that a number of Jedi Knights have turned up dead. This is part of a disturbing trend of Jedi deaths, many of which leave little evidence behind as their bodies are often disintegrated. Kenobi and Windu are assigned by Yoda to undertake a secret mission of the utmost importance: find the Sith who are killing the Jedi.

Palpitane makes several sweeping decrees during his coronation speech, the most shocking of which is to appoint Anakin Skywalker as supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces, over many older and more respected Jedi. Anakin is of course pleased and a little smug. Later he throws it in Kenobiís face. Anakin accuses his former master of being a traitor, saying that he has grown soft and maybe secretly sympathizes with these rebellious splinter groups. Kenobi tries to reason with Anakin but realizes, to his horror that Anakin has taken on many of the same personality traits that he spotted in Count Dooku: paranoia, distrust and a confused sense of loyalty.

Amadala is very pregnant. Ambassador Binks visits her chambers but she senses that he is there for more then simply a visit, that he feels very much responsible for the state of the Galaxy. She tells him that no one person can bear the weight of the entire Galaxy on their shoulders but Binks, ever the proud Gungan, says that yes, one-person can and will. He leaves, fingering a knife thoughtfully.

Anakin is secretly organizing the hunting of Jedi that he and the Emperor deem traitorous. To keep their hands clean, the actual killing is done by an assortment of the most vile bounty hunters that Anakin can find. The star of this Jedi hunting squad is none other then a young Bobba Fett. This fact is discovered by Jar Jar Binks when he comes to confront Anakin. Enraged, he attacks Anakin but of curse heís no match for him. Before Binks can even raise his knife, Anakin chokes him with his force power. Binks drops the knife and falls dead.

Count Dooku, present through this whole display is suddenly jarred to his senses. Everything becomes clear to him now and he makes a vane attempt to alert the Jedi Counsel of Anakinís trickery. But Anakin catches him before he reaches Yodaís chambers and takes him before Darth sidious. Dooku finally realizes he has been duped by Sidious and led to the Dark side. While the Emperor watches on, laughing, Count Dooku allows himself to be killed by Anakin (in the same manner that Kenobi does in A New Hope).

Amadalla gives birth to twins. Kenobi and Yoda arrive just in time to witness the event. But mother and babies have little time together. At a gesture from Yoda, Obiwan takes baby Luke and runs off. Amadala knew this would happen and Yoda tries to comfort her as best as he can. She tells Obiwan not to tell her ever where the boy is so that she cannot lie to Anakin.

Just as Kenobi leaves by a secret exit, Anakin arrives. He is overjoyed to see his new daughter but senses something is amiss. Yoda plays with the baby and dismisses Anakinís suspicions. Anakin gives Yoda a dirty look and rushes out to satisfy his curiosity.

Yoda and Senator Bale Organa have a secret meeting to discuss the fate of the twins and the rumors of this new weapon that the Emperor is devising. Organa rushes off to alert his secret contacts on the remaining Separatist worlds of their new plans. The Rebellion is born.

Kenobi and Windu are ambushed at the space port on Corescant by bounty hunters but manage to narrowly escape with baby Luke. The hunters donít know about the baby. They are simply there to kill the Jedi, a point noted to Windu by Kenobi as they blast their way out of Corescant orbit. Fast on their trail is a brand spanking new Star Destroyer and unbeknownst to anyone, Bobba Fett in Slave I. They manage to elude the star Destroyer but not Fett.

Bobba Fett confronts Windu in a cantina in Mos Iesley. While he acts as a diversion, Kenobi delivers baby Luke to the Lars farm. Owen and his wife Baru agree to raise the child but Owen has some choice words for Kenobi about the recklessness of Jedi and their dangerous lifestyle. Kenobi instead of putting up a fight, agrees.

Meanwhile, Fett and Windu are dueling and through dirty pool, Fett strikes down Windu with a Jedi Lightsaber. Fett surmises that Kenobi must have already skipped out, as he saw him climb aboard a transport earlier. He did not see Kenobi sneak off the ship though. Fett leaves Tatooine to report back to Anakin. In rushes Kenobi in time to find out from Winduís dying words what has happened. Kenobi rushes off, trailing Fett to the volcanic world where the Death Star is under construction.

Amadala and Senetor Organa, on their way to Alderan with baby Leia are harassed by the Emperorís newly appointed secret police, the Storm Troopers as they try to board the senatorís ship. Yoda shows up just in the nick of time to cloud the storm Trooperís minds and let them pass. Yoda gives them some words of advice and encouragement. Amadala wishes that she could have seen Anakin one last time as she wants to say goodbye. Bale Organa tells her that Anakin is no longer the man she loved, heís been changed by the emperor and that there are others who will help her now. You can tell that Bale genuinely cares for Amadala, maybe even loves her but she canít deal with this now and instead, quietly boards the ship with her infant daughter.

As Yoda is leaving, Anakin steps out of the shadows and the two have words. Yoda gives Anakin one last chance to turn back from the Dark side but Anakin wonít hear it. He informs Master Yoda that the Jedi are dead and he is just a ghost now and then, mysteriously leaves without another word.

Kenobi tracks Fett to the control center of the construction facility, high atop an active volcano only to discover that it is a trap set by Anakin. Anakin dismisses Fett who doesnít like being dismissed and comments to this effect but steps aside anyway. Kenobi and Anakin face off over the volcanic crater, which is being used as a foundry to build the Death Star. They finally air all their grievances. Kenobi manages to do so without giving into his anger. He lets it wash over him and offers Anakin one last chance to save himself. Anakin does not see that he needs saving and accuses Kenobi of being the one led astray by archaic traditions and an unfortunate sense of nostalgia for the now deceased Republic. Kenobi tells him he is no longer a Jedi but is now a Sith and they duel.

This is the duel to end them all. Force tricks, blazing sabers, all over a smoldering pit of lava and molten steal. Just as Kenobi is about to fall to Anakin, he delves into the last reserves of his strength, fends off Anakinís saber attack and severs Anakinís hand. Anakin looses his balance and topples over the edge but manages to grab a hold of a rock ledge with his cyborg hand. Kenobi reaches out to save him but instead Anakin lets himself fall into the volcano foundry. He is rescued from the slag pit by storm troopers who rush him to the infirmary.

Obiwan and Yoda meet on a Rebellion ship and Obiwan tells him what happened with Anakin. They make their final arrangements and then Yoda is dropped off on Degobah by Kenobi who then returns to Tatooine to watch over Luke from a distance.

Anakin, now mostly cyborg appears before the Emperor as the Darth Vader we have all come to know and love. He tells him that all the Jedi are at last finally dead. The Emperor gives a little speech about the cycle of the Force, how all things corrupt will fall before the grandeur of perfect order and that finally the corrupt Republic will give way to an eternal Empire.


A few other suggestions:

Names. Iím a big fan of Appellation symbolism; where characterís names represent their personality traits. Judging from the first three Star Wars films, one would get the impression that George Lucas wass too at one time. (come on, a loner with the name Solo?) but whatís with all these characters with sci-fi gibberish names like Jar Jar and Dooku? Did Lucus hire kindergarteners as his consulting staff? And why is Dooku a Count? How does this further the story at all? It doesnít. The fact that heís a rogue Jedi is enough and he should have a name that reflects that. Maybe something along the lines of Devo Drak. As for Jar Jar Binks, any name would be better. Following the above revision of his character from bumbling, kid friendly fool to tragic noble martyr, Iíd call him Ibn Kalil, to reflect the Muslim poet. But thatís just me. Iím all about allusion to source material. And while weíre talking about allusions, Schmi Skywalker is obviously a mother archetype, just go for the gold; Miriam Skywalker sounds better anyway.

Casting. When it comes to movies, the actors really need to fit their parts. Hayden Christenson, as far as I can tell, couldnít act his way out of a Death star Detention Block. Heís just not Anakin. Jude Law is Anakin. Any other young actor could be as well. And while I admire Liam Neason as an actor, he never really gave much life to Jinnís character. This is a radical departure here but given the fact that his name is obviously derived from Chinese, why not go that route? Thatís right. Jacki Chan as Qui Gon Jinn. Tell me you donít want to see him flipping around the screen with a lightsaber in one hand and a folding chair in the other. I dare you. If thereís any man on earth who actually has force powers itís Mr. Chan. Just picture him and Ray Parksí as Darth Maul, dueling with lightsabers.

Dialogue. Some of the dialogue in these films could only be more stiff if it were carved out of wood. I know, Lucus took the old Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon Serials as his inspiration. I too love those serials and yes, some of the dialogue in them sounds like a four-fingered baboon wrote it with a broken typewriter. But come on! Audiences expect a little more naturalistic dialogue then some of the stiff little gems in Star Wars. Power converters be damned!

So thereís my Star Wars Revision. Pedantic? Yes. Fan boyish? Oh, you betcha. You see, I grew up watching Star Wars. I love science Fiction and it simply pains me to see something with such potential go to waste. Plus, for any of those would be writers out there, replotting a poorly conceived movie or book is a good exercise in stretching the imagination and working on those plotting skills.


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