“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is for the Fans!

SPOILER ALERT! Do not read this entry if you haven’t seen the film yet. If you don’t plan on seeing the movie for some odd reason (haha) then feel free to read on!

As the title of this entry says, the new computer-animated “Star Wars” film is definitely for the fans, but I want to share my thoughts in a way that other people can learn to appreciate it as well. After 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith,” George Lucas said there would be no more “Star Wars” films, and only up until recently, he announced that he realized he had more stories to tell. He had to add, however, that there would be no more live-action “Star Wars” films, but there would be a computer animated television show. From what I understand, there will also be a live-action television show (What I would give to direct an episode!) In any case, if it’s “Star Wars,” you can always count on me being there!

“The Clone Wars” takes place between “Attack of the Clones” (Episodes 2) and “Revenge of the Sith” (Episode 3), and explores Anakin Skywalker’s prime years with his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi. Jabba the Hutt’s son is kidnapped by Count Dooku and the separatist forces, and in order to gain the support of the Hutts in the Clone Wars, the Republic needs to rescue Jabba’s son. But while the Jedi are sent on the rescue mission, Count Dooku and the separatists seek to frame the Jedi of kidnapping Jabba’s son. This only results in Jabba becoming very hostile towards the Republic and the Jedi.

The film is a real treat to fans because in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” we hear Anakin and Obi-Wan talking about their other adventures and missions together, and while we see nice moments of them bonding and fighting side-by-side, we can’t help but wonder about those other stories. It’s obvious that Lucas was intending to fill in those gaps through the “Star Wars” Expanded Universe, i.e. novels, comic books, video games, television shows, and now, in a computer-animated film. Two films about Obi-Wan and Anakin doesn’t give us nearly enough time to cover their Master and Apprentice roles, respectively. “Attack of the Clones,” for example, needed to develop Anakin and Padme’s romantic relationship, while “Revenge of the Sith” needed to show his shift to the dark side and transformation into Darth Vader. The new computer-animated feature shows us more of Anakin’s Jedi side, or lighter side, which is very essential to the Star Wars chronology.

“The Clone Wars” is a family-friendly film that not only shows us more of Anakin, but it also introduces us to new characters, particularly a new female Jedi character named Ahsoka Tano (pictured above on left). She is assigned to be trained by Anakin Skywalker, and at first, Anakin doesn’t sit very well with it, but then he realizes that Ahsoka is a mirror to his own experiences as an apprentice. In the films, we have seen Anakin express his frustration under the wing of Obi-Wan, so a character like Ahsoka deepens his character and shows how he can relate to her. After a spectacular battle scene at the Battle at Christophsis, Anakin says to Ahsoka: “You’re reckeless, little one. You never would have made it as Obi-Wan’s Padawan, but you might make it as mine.” This is an encouraging moment for both of them because Anakin has been labeled “reckless” many times by other Jedi Masters, so he knows what it feels like.

“Star Wars” fans will also see how Anakin Skywalker is truly the “best star pilot in the galaxy” as Obi-Wan says in Episode Four. I also liked how Ahsoka battled her way through enemies, especially at the end. As I wrote in my entries on Muslim women in comic books, it’s better for characters to solve things on their own rather than being rescued or dues ex machina. I personally see the character of Ahsoka as a way to invite more young females to the “Star Wars” universe. No doubt, there are a lot of female “Star Wars” fans, thanks to strong and three-dimensional female characters like Mara Jade, Princess Leia, Queen Padme Amidala (who has a nice cameo in “The Clone Wars”), and Jaina Solo (pictured right), but “Star Wars” mostly gets associated with male teenagers. The beauty of the “Star Wars” universe is that it’s so diverse and there are literally thousands of different stories to tell. I think if more well-represented female characters took center stage in the upcoming live-action television show, it will appeal more to the female audience. I emphasize on “well-represented” because simply having female characters doesn’t mean you will attract a female fan base. The characters have to be realistic and three-dimensional. It would be amazing to finally see Mara Jade in a television show because according to many Star Wars polls, she is the most popular character in the “Star Wars” universe who does not appear in the films. And in my opinion, Mara Jade and Jaina Solo, are some of the best examples of non-exploited fictional female characters, right up there with “X-Men’s” Jubilee and Trinity from “The Matrix”.

And if we see more of Ahsoka Tano, she will quickly become one of my favorites because what’s interesting about her is that she is not just female, but she is also of the Togruta species. There was part in “The Clone Wars” that I really liked when one of the characters looked at Ahsoka and called her a “slave dancer” since Jabba the Hutt has slave dancers who are Twi’leks, a similar-looking species to Togrutas. Ahsoka gets offended by this slur in the movie, and it’s interesting because Togrutas and Twi’leks are not the same, and not all Twi’leks are slave dancers. This is an aspect of “Star Wars” that I have always appreciated: Diversity. One of the most memorable scenes in the history of film was in the very first “Star Wars” film (“A New Hope”) in 1977, where Luke Skywalker enters a cantina filled with a large variety of creatures, and they were all enjoying drinks, eating, conversing, and playing music. In one of the “Star Wars” novels, the Jedi Code states that the Jedi must respect all forms of life. When I was a teenager, and being a minority myself, that really meant a lot to me when I read that. It allowed me to apply those teachings to the real world and learn how to accept everyone for who they are, regardless of their skin color, ethnicity, and religious background. It also introduced me to showing respect and Love to animals and flowers and insects. Even today, I don’t like killing insects and just let them out of the house or classroom whenever I see them. Anyway, when Ahsoka is misjudged because of her appearance, I couldn’t help but think how ignorant people group Arabs, Iranians, South Asians, and Muslims all one category. Like Twi’leks and Togratus, Arabs and South Asians are not the same!

Speaking of the Middle-East, I must say that “The Clone Wars” has a very Middle-Eastern quality to it, especially in the music which features some nice ethnic female vocals! After all, much of the film takes place on the desert planet of Tatooine (the birthplace of Anakin Skywalker). I caught some interesting political and anti-war messages, including one comical moment with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Lucas emphasizes a lot on negotiations and diplomacy (as he did in “Revenge of the Sith” which has some very obvious anti-Bush messages), and it makes me only anticipate his upcoming art films even more (Lucas has announced that he wants to make more personal and arthouse films like his brilliant first film “THX 1138″).

Watching a new “Star Wars” film was a really special moment for me (even if it’s “just a computer-animated” film). I went with my friends, who all dressed up in “Star Wars” costumes with me during the opening nights of Episode 1 (1999), Episode 2 (2002), and Episode 3 (2005), and it felt like I was going back in time. The fact that this film takes place between Episode 2 and 3 meant that it took my friends and I back to the year 2002. I remember that was a very important and special year for me. I was not only hyped about the new “Star Wars” movie coming out, but I was also going through my own spiritual development. I was learning more about Islam and Sufism, and I started to look at the world much differently than before, and for the better. And by the time Episode 2 was released, I didn’t see “Star Wars” as just a spectacle of visual effects and amazing characters, I also saw it as a deeply spiritual and mystical story. Anyone who knows me knows that 2002 was a turning point in my life. A year that I will never forget. So when I saw “The Clone Wars” it reminded me of those moments. It reminded me that “Star Wars” has a special place in my heart too, and always will.

One quick final note on critics: I cannot believe Roger Ebert gave this film a star and a half. He lists “Star Wars” in his “Great Films” list and has written positive reviews for all the films, except for “Attack of the Clones” and now “The Clone Wars.” What critics don’t understand is that Lucas is all about visual storytelling, and many of them don’t appreciate the vast universe he has created with his gifted imagination. “The Clone Wars,” just like all the other “Star Wars” films, is essential to the “Star Wars” saga. It’s all part of a bigger picture, and so, to judge the film on it’s own is to misunderstand what the “Star Wars” universe is all about. Episodes 1 to 6 are ultimately about the tragedy and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, a character who is incredibly gifted with the Force, but then gets tempted by the Dark Side when he is tormented by nightmares of his wife, Padme, dying. A Sith Lord tells him that the only way to save his wife is through using the Dark Side of the Force, but Anakin gets consumed by it and falls too deep. He transforms into an entirely different being and becomes the most destructive force in the galaxy. We don’t believe there is any good left in him until his son, Luke, comes along. It’s really a beautiful story with so many important messages, especially for young people, and it’s a shame that critics don’t see how “The Clone Wars” fills in gaps of Anakin’s prime years. We need to see more of Anakin as a Jedi, otherwise the epic saga of “Star Wars” cannot be complete.

Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!

~ Broken Mystic ~

Sister

She was dragged out into the street
An angry mob shouting words they didn’t understand
Tearing her clothes off shamelessly
Spitting in her face and beating her with brutal hands

She was seventeen – beautiful and innocent
A radiant smile that became trembling lips
What was my crime, she cannot even ask
What have I done to deserve this torment?

A distant Lover, a young man from a different part of town
Just an innocent pair of Lovers
They pull her hair and call her a disgrace
“Infidel!” “Slut!” “Whore!”

Tears streaming down her face – I’m sorry, she whimpers
Heavy rocks and stones slamming against her body
Blood dripping, bones crushing, such fragile beings we are
Why hurt so much beauty?

You stand in the crowd
Surrounded by a chaotic storm of violence
Unable to hold back your tears
Wanting to bring an end to this madness

I know, me too…

With each violent strike
You watch her life bleed away
Her broken fingers reaching for help, just someone to hold
Just someone to tell her it’s going to be okay

You’re haunted by her helpless eastern eyes
Watching the brutality ensue
One rock thrown at a time like some demonic game
While police officers just stand as spectators
Unyielding to her desperate and painful cries

You want to charge through the crowd
And take the rocks like bullets
You want to bleed and lessen her pain
You want to scream into the sky
And punch the earth until your hand breaks

I know, me too…

Sister, what we would do to help you
If we weren’t so afraid
I’m standing here, bleeding from the inside
Suffocating and blind from all this hatred

Sister, I cannot live like this
Or laugh or sing or dance or smile
I cannot breathe like this
Or talk or eat or walk or sleep

Thinking of all the pain you endured
Of all those years you missed
Those precious days stolen from you
In the early bloom of your being

You want to believe in the Unseen Beauty
Heaven’s Chariot charging through the fields
Divine Light resurrecting her lifeless body
And a warm hand healing her wounds

Fear nothing, says a gentle voice
For Beautiful Muhammad has come
To lead you out of darkness and into Light
To bring you out of sorrow and into rejoice

Ali and Fatima wait at the Gate
Come, Sister
To the Eternal Sky
To the Garden of Souls
To the Love that belongs to you

You want to believe this is how it ended

I know, me too…

~ Broken Mystic ~

Heal

Lost in the mystic garden
You listen to the wounded flowers
And mourn with the song of separation
Arcane violins lamenting the conference of sad Souls

Teardrops in the earth, daggers in the sky
The rain is bleeding your name in each drop
Weak blossoms weep for Beloved
Trembling vines kiss moonlight a painful goodbye

A thousand fallen rose petals for heartbreak
Seven hundred for misery
One million for exile
Sorrow immortalized on a Persian tapestry

Watching from the terrace
You see memories scattered like pearls
Across the silent ocean
Sailing quietly to their black abyss

Your fortress burned to the ground
And you walked away from the ruins – why?
Back to your library, you went
In pursuit of words and the wise

A flute player comes knocking the next day
You have been up all night, shattered from the inside
“Go away!” you shout
“I’m Reading!”

“O Seeker!” he says,
“Like a blind fugitive, you were chased back into your prison
If only you understood the words you read
You would have never closed this door again!”

Tribal nomads arrive with their instruments
And play a melody of sorrow and beauty
With poetry like an Urdu Ghazal
And music like the ethereal

The flute player explains
“Joy and Sorrow are mirrors to each other
Beneath Sorrow, treasures of Joy is what you will always find
When you were in ruins, you left these behind:”

A paintbrush and a bowl of colors

It is the only way out – paint on the prison wall
The vision of your heart – walk into it!
Pass through the Portal of Experience
Be drawn to Love’s sacred call

Tear through the cloak of Reason and step into the Unseen
You have the flame of Zarathustra burning with the soul of the world
You have the staff of Moses transforming all illusion into reality
You have the light of Muhammad shining upon all creation

Keep painting, Soul Painter!
Merge the Visible with the Invisible
Defy the odds like Imam Husayn and ‘Ali
Spears and daggers are no obstacle
In the face of this hidden wonder’s unity

Listen:
The wild dance of the santur
Rhythmic tabla, the strike of the sitar
The cinematic overture

Dance in the Eternal King’s courtyard
Escape the man-made rules and laws of control
Dance! You are a planet orbiting His Beauty
Only He can look into the window of your Soul

Creator says:
You have nothing to fear
I am with you
Show Me your wounds
And I will heal them
Tell Me your sorrows
And I will show you that I am near
Tell Me your hardships
And I will show you the blessed path you travel
Tell Me of those endless halls you wander
And I will guide you through
Hand Me your tears
And I will show you the ocean they belong to

Open your hands
And reach into the sky if you want to be lifted
Let your feet bid farewell to the earth
If you want to soar to infinity

Close your eyes
Breathe – arms out, heart open
Receive the wind, the sea, the spirit of all creation
Embrace this Love that cannot be named

Now open your eyes
Here is the Garden, here is the Sun
To the Fields of Fortune you must go
Leap, with all of your Being

Elysium awaits you, Brave one.

~ Broken Mystic~

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