Nitpick of the Day

Write this stuff, I do not.  Read it only, I do.  Off my case, you should get.

Write this stuff, I do not. Read it only, I do. Off my case, you should get.

“Our own counsel we will keep on who is ready,” says Yoda in The Phantom Menace.

I don’t think George Lucas knows what “keeping one’s own counsel” means. It doesn’t mean “deciding for oneself without taking advice from others.” It means “keeping one’s own plans and opinions secret.” It’s a ban, so to speak, on the exportation of counsel, not on its importation.

There are people who will, y’know, read scripts to catch things like that. But Lucas’s own ban on importation of counsel is far too firmly in place. (A more substantive example: in the original Star Wars, when Luke finds the charred corpses of his aunt and uncle, Lucas wanted Hamill to shake his fist at the sky and shout “Nooooo!” but Hamill convinced him otherwise. Back then Lucas was more open to taking advice generally (from Spielberg and Coppola, for example). Obviously no one was in a position to argue Lucas down from having Vader shout “Nooooo!” at the end of Revenge of the Sith.)


15 Responses to Nitpick of the Day

  1. Anon73 July 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I wonder if his obstinacy played any role in the creative process… what if, for example, he also received bad suggestions that would have made the original Star Wars a flop? We would need to know more information to say for sure if Lucas’s past decisions were justified (of course now he’s completely insane).

    • Nathan Byrd July 12, 2012 at 1:32 am #

      Check out The Secret History of Star Wars for a look at how Lucas changed his mind many many times about the storyline itself, not just how it was ultimately captured on film.

      • Roderick July 12, 2012 at 3:08 am #

        Yeah, Luke was a woman, the Ewoks (Eeiwooks?) were Wookiees ….

  2. Brandon July 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    In Attack of the Clooneys, or whatever it’s called, it always struck me as the wrong choice of words for Dooku — or Tyranus, or whatever his name is, to use the word “treachery” to describe the Republic’s rescue of the Jedi he was about to slaughter. Treachery is a betrayal of trust, a disloyalty. In no sense was Yoda stopping Tyranodook’s evil plans a treachery.

    And then, there’s the memorable scene where Anakin/Vader says to Padme, or whatever her name is, ‘I just wasted a bunch of defenseless women and children, and you should try it, on account of it’s real fun’, and she responds ‘I gave up that habit last year’. I think, if I was trying to write a response to Vader’s confession, it would be something like:

    PADME [Sprinting and screaming at the top of her lungs] HELP! SAVE ME! THIS GUY’S A MASS MURDERER! HE’LL KILL US ALL!

    and then, it follows:

    VADER [Chases her down] Yer Dead! I won’t stand for this treachery! [Cuts off her head]

    This stuff writes itself.

    • Nathan Byrd July 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

      I was thinking more of when she confronts him in RotS and completely fails to mention that she actually saw him killing children. Except, it was hard for her to figure out whether it’s children or younglings, and should it be “I saw you killing children… again,” or just leave off the ‘again’ because it would be confusing whether it applied to ‘saw’ or ‘killing,’ so you know, maybe it’s better to not even bring it up.

      • Anon73 July 13, 2012 at 10:38 am #

        I don’t remember Padme saying anything like that… although obviously her attitude was pretty bizarre considering the circumstances.

        • Brandon July 14, 2012 at 11:19 am #

          The exact quote is:

          Anakin: I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead, every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children, too. They’re like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals. I HATE THEM!

          Padme: To be angry is to be human.

        • Roderick July 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

          She’s never heard of angry birds?

  3. dennis July 14, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    In an IP-less world someone would write a much better prequel trilogy. For one, it wouldn’t begin with Anakin as a kid. Second the Clone Wars would be much different. There would be much less CGI. No Jar Jar. No C3PO or R2D2. Better dialogue, better directing. A better motivation for Anakin becoming Darth Vader. Lots of typed sentence fragments punctuated like sentences. Oh, and in a civilization with interstellar transport the doctors would probably have ultrasound, so whoever Luke and Leia’s mother was would know she was having twins. As such there’s no way Anakin and she could be together in any capacity during the pregnancy. Oh, and there wouldn’t be cheap battle droid violence. The movies should be PG13 or R.

    • Roderick July 15, 2012 at 3:32 am #

      No Jar Jar.

      A friend of mine wrote his own treatment for the prequels. There was a Jar Jar character — but it was played by Angelina Jolie.

      No C3PO or R2D2.

      And if you’re going to have one of the two come from a royal court and the other one be assembled out of junk on Tatooine, wouldn’t it make sense to reverse them? A protocol droid would make more sense on Naboo.

      in a civilization with interstellar transport the doctors would probably have ultrasound

      Oh no, that’s way too futuristic!

      Actually, I suspect Anakin’s expecting one child and not foreseeing twins was a nod to Dune Messiah, albeit not very well handled.

    • Brandon July 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      I don’t see anything wrong with starting with Anakin as a kid. The problems were with the handling of the character’s moral and ethical lapses. There’s no difference between Anakin and Vader. As Anakin, he bitched out his friends, expressed an admiration for authoritarian government, and committed numerous atrocities (rubber-stamped by the supposedly flawlessly moral Jedi Council). As Vader, he does the same things, but is now working for an ideological opponent of the Jedi, which is the only difference I can see. I cannot cheer for the Jedi because I see no difference in their behaviour and that of the Sith. For example, the paragon of virtue Qui-Gon, attempts to steal engine parts from Watto, and failing that, cheats Watto out of Anakin’s services. And rather than freeing Anakin out of a concern for the immorality of slavery, he does so only because he identifies the kid as an important resource the Jedi can use. Palpatine does exactly the same thing, and that’s just the problem.

      • Roderick July 16, 2012 at 4:45 am #

        I think Lucas was genuinely trying to raise questions about the moral greyness of the Jedi (most notably in the scene in RotS where the Jedi discuss seizing power), but he just didn’t do a very good job of it.

        Likewise, he wanted us to think there were “heroes on both sides” in the Clone Wars (so at least the title crawl tells us), but we never met a single plausible candidate for deluded-good-guy on the secessionist side.

        It would be great to see a Star Wars prequel reboot written by someone who can actually handle a) moral and political complexity, and b) character and dialogue. (Oh, and directed by someone who can communicate with actors, not just with special effects technicians.)

        Lucas would have been great as a story consultant. Many of his basic ideas for the prequels (e.g., the whole “left cop, right cop” dynamic between statists and corporatists) were excellent. He’s just not the guy to have bring them to execution. He should have paused to reflect that the Star Wars movie most people think is the best one is one of the two that he neither wrote (apart from the basic storyline) nor directed.

        • Brandon July 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

          He wants to tell us lots of things. Jar-Jar is funny, Anakin and Padme are in love, Anakin and Kenobi are friends, et al.

          The movies consist of 1) brief spurts of dull exposition, followed by 2) long periods of dull special effects (computer animation). Exposition is not by itself enough to convince an audience that something is true. He’s telling us instead of showing us.

          And then there’s material that makes no sense at all, like the scene where Dooku tells the captured and helpless Obi-Wan that 1) the republic is ruled by a Sith lord, 2) the Jedi are blind to this, 3) he must be stopped, 4) the two of them can join forces to do so. As far as I can tell, all of this is true. Obi-Wan does nothing with this information, or the Jedi council would have arrested (or killed?) Palpatine right then and there. I remember watching this dreadful thing in the theatres and wondering why Dooku bothered to tell Obi-Wan anything. Why not just kill him? Later in the flick, Dooku has to fight Obi-Wan. He would have been quite a bit easier to fight if he was dead.

          Then there’s this stuff: how does one go about arresting and imprisoning a creature like Dooku or Palpatine? Forgetting the idea of punishment/rehabilitation, how would such creatures even be warehoused? Why does Windu try to arrest Palpatine and then suddenly decide to murder him? What was the “lie” that tricked Dooku into joining Palpatine? Why would someone with Dooku’s aristocratic bloodline and upbringing, with that strict, uncompromising moral and ethical code, too strict for the Jedi, agree to follow Palpatine? If Anakin can foresee the future, why can’t he see that it is his own betrayal of the Jedi that causes Padme’s death? If Anakin turned to the dark side to save Padme’s life, why does he then force-choke her half to death?

  4. TomG July 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Let’s not even mention the scene after the climactic battle in RotS, where Obi-Wan leaves a former ally, now an enemy, dying in the most painful way possible. If the Jedi are supposed to be considered the good guys, why isn’t Anakin given the respect of a quick clean kill? That was one of the things that bugged me the most about the last movie.

    • Roderick July 16, 2012 at 4:49 am #

      Agreed. Leaving Anakin there is both cruel (to Anakin) and imprudent (since he can hardly be certain Anakin won’t survive to cause more trouble). It would be much better on both counts for Obi-wan to leave believing Anakin has been killed.

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