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Star Wars Episode II

Star Wars Episode II

By Arpad Lukacs • January 12th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
20th Century Fox

Original release: May 16th, 2002
Running time: 142 minutes

Director: George Lucas
Writers: Jonathan Hales, George Lucas
Composer: John Williams

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Like many Star Wars fans, I watched the original films as a kid, admiring Jedi Knights and dreaming to become one along with all the other kids. This admiration being almost hard-wired, it took me a while, but I eventually started to raise my eyebrows at the ease with which members of the Jedi Council interact with politicians in the prequel trilogy. The Council is an integral part of various political processes and their authority is especially strong when armed conflicts might be around the corner. If we keep an eye on this particular aspect of the films, a fascinating story will reveal itself.

Watching the story of Luke Skywalker, we had a very narrow view about how someone becomes a Jedi Knight – based on the experience of a single character. We naturally assumed that people who had abilities with the Force ‘made a choice’ to join the Jedi Order. Although Yoda did say that Luke was too old for training in The Empire Strikes Back, we couldn’t have been sure what he really meant by that. Anakin Skywalker is 9 years old at the time of Episode I and later we see many more children in the Jedi Temple, some of whom appear even younger than him already in the midst of their training. In spite of Anakin’s situation being unique as he’s believed to be the subject of a prophecy, his training begins with what seems to be routine practice for the Jedi. He’s discovered to have the required abilities and is taken right away, separated from his mother and home. Ten years later in Attack Of The Clones, Anakin’s still not been able to visit his mother let alone free her from slavery, while also struggling with the Order’s prohibition on love and marriage. Strict rules and isolation of this kind to transform the identity of members are common practise in religious sects.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

This indoctrination has consequences as we follow Anakin’s development. When Obi-Wan tells of his troubling observations regarding his young apprentice, Yoda’s quick to point out that these problems are becoming widespread within the Jedi Order:

His abilities made him, well, arrogant.

Yes, Yes. A flaw more and more common among Jedi. Too sure of themselves, they are. Even the older, more experienced ones.

But instead of following up on this train of thought, a third Jedi Knight Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), who’s also present at this conversation jumps in with what I think is the primary reason for the Galactic Republic descending into dictatorship:

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

Mace Windu, with this one sentence gives an apt summary of the true cause of the eventual disaster in the prequel trilogy when we look at the chain of events carefully. The Jedi’s belief in an ancient prophecy is a recurring point in the films and it consistently drifts the believers towards making bad decisions. Anakin’s frequently put under pressure for which he isn’t ready – even by Obi-Wan’s and the Council’s admission – because they believe that he’s some sort of a saviour whose arrival has been prophesised.

While such belief can be sinister, it’s also largely harmless as long as we keep it away from loaded guns. But the Jedi Council’s actions guided by belief in a prophecy coupled with their authority over the planning and execution of armed conflicts on behalf of the Galactic Republic is the perfect recipe for disaster. Meanwhile Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the ClonesChancellor Palpatine – who’s actually the leader of a rival religious sect in disguise – continues to use Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine principle to get the public and the Senate to give him vast emergency powers to keep the ongoing crisis under control.

When the creation of a massive clone army is revealed, the Jedi Council naturally takes charge due to its jurisdiction over the security of the Republic. This is the crucial moment, in Attack Of The Clones, when we see a religious group effectively becoming a military branch of government. Their actions have massive implications now that they’re leading a formidable army – but still guided by the same ancient prophecy as they were before.

There is of course the argument that the Sith; a rival religious sect is an enemy of an inferior moral code and therefore the Jedi are justified to fight by any means necessary. This is also shown to be a questionable point in the prequels. Abiding by a moral code is most important when it’s difficult to do so, not when it’s easy. As the Jedi Council is losing its grip on power, it also loses its grip on its own principles.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Arpad Lukacs

Arpad Lukacs

Arpad is a Film Studies graduate and passionate photographer (he picked up the camera and started taking stills just as he began his studies of moving pictures). He admires directors that can tell a story first of all in images. More or less inevitably, Brian De Palma has become Aprad’s favourite filmmaker.

Then there’s Arpad’s interest in anime. He was just a boy when he saw Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on an old VHS and was hypnotised by the story of friendship, devotion and sacrifice. He still marvels at the uncompromising and courageous storytelling in Japanese anime, and wonders about the western audience with its ever growing appetite for “Japanemation”.

Have a look at Arpad's photography site, and you can follow him on Twitter @arpadlukacs.

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