A Curmudgeon Seduced by the Dark Side of the Force

Nitpicking A New Hope from 26:30 to 36:57
Twin suns go down, giving Tatooine a respite from the heat (physicists, do not talk to me about binary systems and erratic orbits, it's not that kind of movie!), and Luke discovers R2's run off. Well duh. C-3PO wasn't much use, as he knew all about it, but didn't want to disturb his master's longing for a better world, and instead hid very badly behind a landspeeder. A bit of a yes-man, Threepio makes sure to tell Luke R2's 1) malfunctioning and 2) always been trouble. And Luke doesn't call him out on the fact that HE'S THE ONE WHO RECOMMEND THE LITTLE DROID! It's also revealed that R2 is an "astro-droid" - we'll find out later they're designed to co-pilot space fighters - which I guess makes them invaluable as farmhands (???!!).
What the farm really needs is more of those Nite-Lite droids to keep the "sand people" away. That's racist, Luke.
Next morning, Luke and Threepio are off in a landspeeder to find R2. I never noticed before how little leg room there seems to be in there. Especially when you're trying to sit a stiff droid in there. Wow. They do find the little guy, but as they scold him, he starts shaking. There are armed hostiles approaching, "sand people". So what does Luke do? Take them all to safety? Nope. He grabs a long rifle and goes hunting. Ready, I'm sure, to SHOOT FIRST. Stupid sub-human sand people, amIright? Lord... As he spies on their mounts from afar, neither droid has the wherewithal to warn him that one such sand gentleman has arrived. This guy:
And he's got a name, if you can believe it. The expanded universe stuff has decided that he was basically shouting it here: It's URoRRuR'R'R. Why would I kid you about that? At this point, R2 manages to hide himself, which takes us to once of the stupidest changes wrought by George in the 2011 Blu-Ray release. See here, in order, the original shot, then the Blu-Ray shot, and finally the later shot of R2 out of his hiding spot, again on the Blu-Ray.
See the problems? How the HELL does R2 get into the spot with the CG rock added? And where the DOUBLE-HELL does that CG rock go in the later shot? By then, a Jawa-like figure the height of a man has arrived, scaring the sand people with a weird hooting call (different in any given edition, because MEDDLING).
Oh, he shuts Luke's eyelids or something. Kid must be dead. Ah well... I'm kidding, the movie goes on. Reveal Alex Guiness, and the power of his healing hands and droid whispering. Luke wakes up, and clearly he and this Ben Kenobi know each other. So Uncle Owen just meant "Obi-Wan Kenobi" died along with Luke's dad, no relation. Okay. But Ben says HE'S Obi-Wan, so unless he's just trying to claim a used astro-droid, Uncle Own was full of Bantha crap. Ben doesn't recognize R2, but clearly he's lying because they met in the prequels. Because the prequels are Gospel. Thou shalt not talk bad about the prequels. Thou shalt in particular not reference inconsistencies between the trilogy. Certainly not how George Lucas may or may not have forgotten or ignored this and upcoming Kenobi exposition scenes. But let's move the action on to Ben's house, if only to show the old location and the new matte painting:
That's not a bad change. The old place didn't really match the rocky mountain terrain of that part of Tatooine. They talk inside. This is where we get the really intriguing mention of the Clone Wars (one of the prequels' sins is killing that intrigue by actually showing them) and of the Jedi Knights. Dense old Luke thought his father was a spice runner, but doesn't even raise an eyebrow when Ben tells him his father was a Jedi. I guess it only takes one generation to destroy a religion. Of course, knowing what we know, some of what Ben says has to contain a measure of crap as well. Like the introduction of Anakin's lightsaber, for example...
Ben says Luke's father wanted him to have it, but Uncle Owen forbid it. Episode 3 really doesn't allow for that to happen, since the children are born at the same time as Anakin becomes Vader. Is there are line of dialog somewhere between Anakin and Obi-Wan that realizes this moment? And how forced is it? Please don't make me watch the prequels to review the dialog. Obviously, the story about Vader being a separate pupil of Obi-Wan's is a fabrication to spare Luke, so it's entirely possible it's Ben who wants Luke to become a Jedi and so creates an honorable father killed by Vader (which is true symbolically) who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. This ambiguity only dispelled at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is another reason why the prequels should never be watched BEFORE the original trilogy, as they completely undercut the mystery of Anakin's death. The Old Republic, the Empire, the Force (no midiclorians, thanks), it's all there and I really didn't need those silly prequels to replace my imagination with a lesser version.
Hey Luke, stop pointing that thing at your friends! Well, they play Leia's full message, in which she urges Obi-Wan to bring R2 to Alderaan because the droid's been implanted with the Death Star plans. It might be a little easier to have R2 spit out the data card, no? Whatever. Ben urges Luke to 1) come with him to Alderaan and 2) learn the ways of the Force #BensAgenda. But Luke whines as only Luke can and you can almost see Sir Alec Guiness' bristle at young Mark Hamill's inexperience.

Speaking of Death Star, we're about to Kurosawipe to it, so let's leave things as they are - Luke's indecision and all - until next week. See you then!


snell said...

In fairness, in a galaxy where droid are treated (by everyone except Luke) as slaves/appliances, it's really not surprising that Obi-Wan wouldn't recognize one particular droid from two decades earlier, anymore than he'd recognize a toaster.

Plus, every inconsistency in OWK between the prequels and the original movies is easily explained by acknowledging the fact that by A New Hope, Ben is completely senile. There's not much that he tells Luke that's either true, or makes sense...

Unknown said...

You know what... THIS IS AWESOME! Dont get me wrong... I love Star Wars. But it is very far from being a perfect movie or even a good story.

It's just fun.

I love the nit picking. It makes me smile even more during the movie.

Good job Siskoid! If you do this for the prequals... I might even enjoy some of them.

Siskoid said...

Bass: The prequels would take forever and really be a frame by frame tear-down.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Can't agree with you more, about the idiocy of the added rock (common complaint in fandom, especially by podcaster Nathan Butler, who will rant about the pointlessness and bad contiuity of that change at any opportunity).

Fun fact: Not only are my wife I united in annoyance over the meddling you call out on the Krayt Dragon Howl that Kenobi imitates... it was hearing her comment on it in a podcast that led to the start of our friendship (and eventually, marriage). So that weird, hooting call brought us together. :-)

'Though shalt in particular not reference inconsistencies between the trilogy. Certainly not how George Lucas may or may not have forgotten or ignored this and upcoming Kenobi exposition scenes.'
Preach it, brother. I dunno; I like this movie (and the next two) where you apparently don't, but... I am apparently 95% on the curmodgeon side myself. :-)

'This is where we get the really intriguing mention of the Clone Wars (one of the prequels' sins is killing that intrigue by actually showing them)'
Not to mention deciding against the concepts Lucas (and all of fandom) had at the time, and making the Clones ON THE GOOD GUYS SIDE. If you aren't fighting clones, or pitting two hordes of clones agaisnt each other, why call it 'The Clone Wars'? That's like calling World War II 'The US Army War' in this country; why label it with the name of your own soldiers, which doesn't even describe the entire conflict?

'Is there are line of dialog somewhere between Anakin and Obi-Wan that realizes this moment? And how forced is it?'
There is not. A wise man once said 'Though shalt in particular not reference inconsistencies between the trilogy. Certainly not how George Lucas may or may not have forgotten or ignored this and upcoming Kenobi exposition scenes.' ;-) This is why OT purists hate the prequels. Anyway, yes- as per the prequels, this is a COMPLETE fabrication on Obi-wan's part.

Legacy characters are always the hardest-hit by prequels; because any inconsistencies by the filmmakers ret-con them unintentionally into liars. And don't even get me STARTED on the responsibility of Prequel makers to research and slavishly adhere to the continuity of the original product that they're leaching audience and popularity off of like a parasite (I'm looking at you, Enterprise, Star Wars Prequels, Prometheus...)

'The prequels would take forever and really be a frame by frame tear-down'
Yes, but it would be SO entertaining! :-) (For us, at least; it might not be as fun to write when it isn't taking on a sacred cow, and it definitely isn't as fun when it means you have to actually WATCH the prequels). ;-)

Siskoid said...

I like to be a booster, not a Negative Nelly! So I'm not sure I'd want to take up so much of this blog on something like that.

And let's be clear, it's not that I don't like Star Wars, it's just that I don't think it's all that special, especially in its current tweaked-to-hell form. I tend to think of its ardent fans as sports fans, if you know what I mean.

That's awesome story about how you met your wife, by the way!

LiamKav said...

Many yeares ago, I would have joined in with the prequel bashing. I saw Episode 1 in the cinema 3 times before I suddenly went "hmm, this isn't actually much good, is it?" Now though, I find it a bit tiresom. Yes, they're not as good as the originals, which themselves have a variety of flaws. But you know what? I'm going through the films with my nephews, and the 5 year old loved Jar Jar. Both of them enjoyed Yoda's mad fighting skills. Palpatine is awesome in basically every movie he's in. And for all of Lucus's flaws as a director involving humans, he really knows how to frame a shot. You could freeze so many frames in the PT and get a beautiful image.

(There was an awkward part where we were 30 minutes into episode 3, and I suddenly realised that I was sat next to 6 year old and that we were watching a film where his hero brutally kills a load of children, has a big fight with his other hero, then gets his legs chopped off before being burned alive. Oh, and the female hero also dies giving birth. Kid friendly!)

We actually watched ANH at the weekend with them and some other relatives. Aged 6-11. None had seen ANH, although they all knew lots of Star Wars from the cartoon, the Lego Games, and general cultural osmosis. I was worried that it would look a bit old fashioned and be a bit slow. And one of them did say of the Vada/Obi-Wan battle "this looks like a really easy fight". The prequels really did ruin that lightsabre fight. The ones in Empire and Jedi are fine, but that one just looks bad. Still, for Luke's trench run not a single one of them spoke, and I saw that my niece had crossed her fingers. I guess there is still some magic there.

Brendoon said...

I'm in full agreement about the clone wars comments.
Also Anakin's character and personality is radically different from Vader's... physical trauma notwithstanding.
I love this cartoon on the subject:

If the link doesn't work, essentially Vader in Cloud City says to Luke "Did Obi Wan tell you about your father?" Luke says "He told me enough! He said he was a selfish egocentric crybaby, and if I start acting like him he'll cut my legs off and set me on fire."
Strong, authoritarian and silent is impossible to keep up for long if you're whining and repulsive. I can't do it... how did "Ani"??
if anything, the vaderised Anakin ought to go on and on and on about "how some b***ard Jedi cut off my legs and buggered my poor lungs, and it STILL hurts to go to the shops" through the whole Death Star bit... yet he barely even monologued!

To me the MOST fatal flaw with the prequels was the actors being far too dang reverent of Star Wars and forgetting to have fun, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford made Star Wars and Empire funny simply because of their strong personalities.

The bit I am absolutely WOWED by though, is seeing what the Fetts can REALLY do, when Jango whupped Ben in the rain. MAGIC!! That made everything else easier to forget.

Brendoon said...

I just read yesterday's comments about the Expanded Universe and realise that what made the original two movies so magical was the fact they sparked ALL of our imaginations, leaving a lot of spaces for us to wonder about and even fill in.
The "hate" which we're perceived to have for the Lucasverse may in fact be our seemingly unrequited love for it: someone ELSE has gone and filled in the dots and produced a completely different picture from the one we'd filled out over the last 30 years, George and us, the poeple who took the film personally as their own. Talk about a betrayal! It's a kind of imaginary divorce.

And boy, what an influence: I remember a story I wrote at 12 was a direct ripoff of Splinter of the Mind's eye. Alan Dean Foster can be magic!!

Siskoid said...

Liam: Dead horses and all that. That's another good reason.

Brendoon: My own history with Star Wars goes a little like this: Empire in theaters with a parent recaping the first one and translating for my still French ears. Then the Star Wars novelization (in French translation). Then probably Jedi, though it's possible I only saw it when it was released in '86 (I'm not wrong about that am I?). So either after that or just before, I read the Han Solo and Lando books and Splinter of the Mind's Eye. No idea when I first saw ep.4! So the early EU is definitely part of my Wars experience. No idea about the rest.

But I'd say it's George's own retcons I find the most annoying and unnecessary. He betrays himself as well as our imaginations.

Green Luthor said...

In regards to Anakin never actually telling Obi-Wan that he wanted Luke to have his lightsaber: not only does that conversation never happen, according to the prequels, it never *could* have happened, even off-screen. The Jedi Council teach that Jedi aren't supposed to have any emotional attachments; consequently, Anakin has to hide his marriage to Padme from everyone, including Obi-Wan. (And when Luke and Leia are born, Anakin/Vader was told he killed Padme, and for her funeral she appears to have still been pregnant when she died. So as far as Anakin/Vader knew (until some time between Star Wars and Empire), he never had any children at all!)

"Hey, Obi-Wan, in case I ever violate the Council's teachings and have a child, could you make sure they get my lightsaber? Thanks." -Not a conversation Anakin was likely going to have... :)

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Brendoon- very insightful! And an excellent point!

Green Luthor- Ugh, the dreaded non-attachment. One of the other reasons I love the EU; I will often cite this as proof of the imbecility of the 'forbidden to marry' concept... because not only are married Jedi portrayed in all other eras (and heck, in the OT, Leia the potential Jedi doesn't have any attachment issues)... but the tie-in comics to the Phantom Menace released before AOTC even portrayed some of the prequel-era Jedi as married with families, which they then had to scramble to retcon after AOTC comes out. All of which, to me, demonstrates that the non-attachment idea is something so counter-intuitive to everything we'd seen and out of left field that no other writer in their right minds even considered it to be a possibility, out of the dozens that had worked on the franchise.

(And really, it is a terrible idea- coupled with Anakin's existent psychological trauma, it is pretty much the reason for the Jedi's downfall in the prequels; they creeate their own defeat conditions with their silly and inconsistent (because the father-son master-padawan relationships are totally *not* attachment, somehow?) rule).

Siskoid said...

If midiclorian count is genetic, and it appears to be, why WOULDN'T the Jedi be allowed to breed?

Or is that the real reason?

Green Luthor said...

Technically, the reason is "Lucas couldn't think of a better reason to turn Anakin against the Jedi", but I'm sure you already guessed that. :)

I actually could believe that genetic Force abilities are the in-universe reason, truthfully, though no canonical explanation was given. The Jedi operate on their own, independent of the Senate (as Chancellor, Palpatine was able to grant Anakin a seat on the Council, but that appears to be the extent of the Senate's power over the Jedi, and the Jedi aren't even allowed to address the Senate), so it's possible the Jedi enacted (or were pressured to enact) edicts to control/limit the number of Force-sensitives born. (Probably somewhat like how Psi-Corp was a quasi-independent part of EarthGov in Babylon 5, only the Jedi seemed to prohibit breeding, whereas Psi-Corp was overly controlling.) But this is complete fan speculation on my part.

So, yeah, there's nothing really in the prequels beyond "that's just how it is". (But why explain something that's fairly directly responsible for Anakin's turn to the Dark Side and subsequent annihilation of the Jedi Order; it's not like that's the main point of the prequels, right?) :)

Brendoon said...

Midichlorid... 80's Keyboard players who spent a lot of time in the public swimming pool probably measured high in the force (and in boofy hair) because as we know MIDI has always stood for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and Chlorid is a misspelling of a negatively charged ion of Chlorine. It's an electrolyte which helps keep the proper balance of body fluids and maintain the body's acid-base balance.
Of course, the Boofy hair could lead to Midiammoniadism, because ammonium thioglycolate, used to perm hair has a lot of free Ammonium. This is why the hair dressing floor at any community college smells so bad. It's also why hairdressers aren't generally high in the force, they just appear to be high, or at least bubbly.

GeneralNerd said...

Okay, people always talk about how Obi-Wan saying he never owned a droid before is an inconsistency, but by the third film it should be obvious that a lot of what he says here is either bent truth or straight up lies. So you can't really trust any of it. And he's not really lying with that line; he certainly didn't own either R2 or C3PO, and while we do see him paired up with a droid in his starfighter in the prequels, there's nothing saying that was his droid and not one that belonged in a more general sense to the Jedi order. He doesn't acknowledge that he knows these droids because he's purposely being vague about Luke's dad, and saying "Sure, I know these droids, they belonged to your parents" is a sure way to invite a bunch of unwelcome questions from Luke.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I think the explanation is tied to Yoda's Episode III speech about how attachment is the shadow of greed. Because, you know, loving someone basically makes you a possessive monster prone of evil? (In a classic Straw Man maneuver, Anakin of course goes and proves this right- even though that's due to his own pre-existing issues).

Basically, the philosophy seems to be love/attachment to other people and being unable to let them go brings you closer to the Dark Side. Which is poppycock in my book (and most of the books in the EU, and presumably in Episode VII unless they're going to have Leia go to the Dark Side, or have left Han)- but that seems to be the prequel movie rationale. Mistaking actual love (selfless care for another above yourself) with the warped, possessive version that Anakin showcases. (Unless the way the Jedi are raised causes ALL of them to warp in the same way?)

Brendoon said...

Ach! Not wuv, twue wuv? So you're saying that in a scrap between The Phantom Menace and The Princess Bride that Wesley would come out mostly dead?

LiamKav said...

On this conversation, I believe this comic is relevent:



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