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 ~