Hey everyone and welcome to The Sarlacc Pit! Last week I compared the two candidates for the 2016 American Presidential Election to Darth Sidious and Darth Tyranus. This week, I plan to get even more controversial as I attempt to defend the prequel trilogy (PT). This post will have mostly content from Episodes I-III, as well as some content from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and “Star Wars: Rebels.”
The PT is widely dismissed by many fans of the Star Wars franchise. From the overuse of CGI to the acting and script there are many flaws in the PT, that I will not deny. However, I still believe that there are still some redeeming qualities in the prequels, and that they are essential to watch to appreciate the entirety of the Star Wars franchise. So I am going to hit a few points to try to convince you that while the original trilogy (OT) is definitely superior, there is still some merit to be found in Episodes I-III.
While watching the OT (which should always be viewed before watching the PT), you get the very distinct feeling that you are watching the story of Luke Skywalker. However, George Lucas’ intentions were always to tell the story of Luke’s father, Anakin. When viewed this way, the seven Star Wars movies released so far all tell the story of Anakin: the PT gives his backstory and his fall to the dark side, the OT shows the story of his redemption and death, and through Kylo Ren in the sequel trilogy (ST) we see the story of the legacy Anakin left behind. Without the prequel trilogy we do not get the full narrative that was originally intended.
The Jedi and the Sith
In the OT there are only two Jedi who were around while the Jedi Order operated (Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda). While we learn about who the Jedi were alongside Luke Skywalker, the PT allows us to actually see the Jedi in action. We end up seeing large numbers of Jedi of all sorts of different species, learning about the traditions of the Jedi, and seeing the Jedi Council in action, resulting in a completely different look at the Jedi than we get in the OT.
Also, we get a closer view of the Sith in the PT. While the original script of “A New Hope” contains the phrase “Dark Lord of the Sith” in reference to Darth Vader, neither this phrase nor the word “Sith” made it on screen in the OT. However, in the PT we learn a good bit more about the Sith and the Jedi’s history, especially when you include the TV show “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” which brings me to my next point:
Leads Into Some Great Television
Without the PT, the series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and subsequently “Star Wars: Rebels” would probably not exist. Whenever I talk about the PT with others, I often use this as my main focus. While the PT gives us quick snapshots of the Clone Wars, “The Clone Wars” series gives us an even more in-depth look at the war itself, the Jedi Order, and the workings of the Sith. In a way, the PT is not a complete story without watching “The Clone Wars,” and “The Clone Wars” is almost not a complete story without “Rebels,” which follows up on the consequences of the Imperial takeover and Order 66 at the end of “Revenge of the Sith.” These TV shows also add more depth to the PT. Throughout the course of “The Clone Wars,” viewers become attached to the Jedi and the clones that fought alongside them, making the Order 66 scene in “Revenge of the Sith” that much more heartbreaking. In “Rebels” we see just how complete the Empire’s plot to destroy the Jedi was and how its impacts reverbrated throughout the galaxy.
In the OT there are three lightsaber fights (Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader in “A New Hope,” Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader in “The Empire Strikes Back,” and Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader in “Return of the Jedi”), and while the scenes may be important and good scenes, the combat itself is much simpler than the lightsaber fights in the PT. Since the PT focuses more on the battle between the Jedi and the Sith (while the OT focuses more on the war between the Rebels and the Empire), the use of lightsabers is much more prevalent, and much more stylized. Intense acrobatics play a big role in different fights, as well as a little trash-talking in some instances. While many people fault the PT for over-stylizing some of the lightsaber battles (in one case Anakin and Obi-Wan just angrily twirl their lightsabers around without actually trying to attack), no one can say that Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan’s fight against Darth Maul isn’t one of the coolest scenes in the Star Wars franchise.
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Okay, so I love Sir Alec Guinness’ portrayal of the desert-dwelling Jedi exile version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s the original and he did an excellent job. But, Ewan McGregor killed it as a younger Obi-Wan rising through the ranks of the Jedi Order. McGregor has stated that he did try to base how he portrayed Kenobi off of Alec Guinness’ original performance, so that probably helped, as well as the fact that McGregor got a lot more screen time as Obi-Wan than Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi is my favorite part of the PT and it is definitely due to McGregor’s skills as an actor. Also, the scene at the end of Kenobi’s and Anakin’s lightsaber fight makes me cry every time.
Seriously though, McGregor delivers this scene so beautifully it almost makes you forget that it was Anakin who was actually on fire.
On a side note, rumors have circulated about the possibility of McGregor reprising his role as Obi-Wan, as he has said numerous times that he would be willing to play the Jedi Master again. These are just rumors, however, and should be taken as such.
“Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”
My final point in defense of the PT is the entirety of “Revenge of the Sith.” Is it a perfect movie? No. But this movie is still fantastic. Right off the bat we get one of the most incredible space battles seen in the entire franchise as Republic starfighters face off against the Separatists in an attempt to save Chancellor Palpatine.
Then, we have a lightsaber grudge match between Anakin and Count Dooku that ends with Palpatine (Darth Sidious) ordering Anakin (future Darth Vader) to kill Count Dooku (Sidious’ then-current apprentice, Darth Tyranus).
We see the Jedi Order, exhausted from years of war attempt to finish up the Clone Wars, only to be mercilessly executed by soldiers that had fought side-by-side with for years.
We see Anakin learn the truth about Darth Sidious, and betray his friends in the Jedi Order to save his wife and unborn children.
We see Obi-Wan and Anakin, best friends and brothers, fight to the death on a planet covered in lava.
We see the birth of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Darth Vader.
“Revenge of the Sith” is a great movie and almost makes Jar-Jar Binks worth it (almost).
I am not trying to say that the PT is as good as the OT, because that just is not true. However, to dismiss the PT altogether is silly. There are some good reasons to watch the PT, even if you only watch it once. Obviously mistakes were made making this trilogy. The overuse of CGI, the introduction of certain unnecessary or obnoxious characters (*ahem* Jar-Jar Binks), somewhat stiff acting by some actors, and scenes with poor directing all are major detractors from this trilogy. But the story itself is good, and the moments that allude to the OT or shed some light on a character makes the PT worth watching.
So that’s it for this week. Next week I will be doing my first update post! With the conclusion of Marvel’s Darth Vader, I will finally be able to write about the final outcomes from Darth Vader’s shenanigans that I discussed two of my first posts “Darth Vader: Strong in the Shady Side,” and “A Bruised Empire.” So before next week, if you have not read the original posts or need a refresher, you will want to go read it. As always, thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you.