Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Video Games!

Something a bit more light-hearted now.

Remember that to some degree, Episode 2 is a reaction to the criticism of Episode 1, particularly of Jar Jar Binks’ uncomfortableness. We’re given a huge amount of movie chock full of mindless action. Pretty much from when Anakin and Padme land on Geonosis and visit the droid factory, to the end of the movie.

But meaningfully mindless.

The factory scene is so rube-goldbergian and arbitrary that it evokes a video game level. Our heroes have to run on conveyer belts and avoid rotating platforms and fight off trivial enemies and… do you really think this wasn’t on purpose? Of course it’s a game.

The best line of this scene is by C-3PO when he first sees the factory: “Machines making machines!”

Remember that this is the same C-3PO who starts A New Hope, while wandering in the desert, by complaining “We seem to be made to suffer.” This robot is constantly spouting theological profundities, masked as wimpy whining. But in fact the universe under Darth Sidious is made to suffer, and it’s a philosophical truth many have wrestled with.

C-3PO is seeing the system they face (of artificial conflict ginned up by Sidious) as a constant cycle of endless war. You kill my father, I become full of revenge and kill you, your son kills me, etc etc. We are mindless machines and we make more machines.

It’s just one line, but remember that false, self-perpetuating conflict is the entire point of everything on Geonosis.

(For another good discussion of "real internal self" vs action, watch C-3PO when his head is on a droid body and his body has a droid head, and both go haywire. Which one is the "real" C-3PO?)

Which brings us to the arena scene. The heroes are chained to pillars while Count Dooku and his allies and a stadium full of fans watch.

We’re bored. The scene isn’t done with any sense of drama (we know all three will escape) and the characters are mostly exchanging annoyed quips. There’s no dramatic musical score - which is a thing Lucas usually uses to great effect (or well, John Williams at least.)

Dooku looks bored, and even has to explain to his ally why they aren’t shooting. It’s all a setup.

Dooku knows about the Clone Army, and Yoda’s imminent invasion. This is just the opening act before the main event. The boredom of the “game” is meant to make the attack of the clones look more exciting and “real” by contrast.

Similarly, the CGI-looking Prequel Trilogy is meant to make the genuine journey in the Original Trilogy look “more real”.

Machines making machines.

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