Monday, June 06, 2005
Star Wars, Yet Again...

So while I was digging out some sod in the garden, I got to thinking about the new Star Wars movie. When you've got several square feet of sod to tear out, you mind has time to dwell on these things.

There's been a lot of talk in media about the possible political analogies in the new film. It occurred to me as I was ripping out grass that this is just one way to view the film. The film can also be viewed as an analogy for domestic abuse.

Or at least it could have been, if the filmmaker had been a little more courageous. Case in point--Padme's death. First, she swoons after her disastrous encounter with Anakin. She swoons, how is that for realistic? Then, during her delivery, the medical droid says something about there being "nothing medically wrong with her" but that they "can't do anything for her." A few scenes later, Padme dies of a "broken heart." This sounds rather romantic--Victorian even. It's the stuff of romance novels and quasi-historical pot-boilers.

But it just ain't likely. Padme is not the only woman to realize her partner is a monster during a pregnancy. A healthy young person with no history of medical problems will make it through childbirth, whether she's married to Darth Vadar or no. In my mind, this is the big cop-out of the movie.

What is clear is that Anakin showed his violent side during "Attack of the Clones" when he slaughters the Sand People after his mother dies. Padme is aware of this, but stays by his side, apparently to try to help him. This sets up the kind of relationship that is prone for domestic violence. The guy who lashes out when provoked, and the woman who lets it slide because she thinks she can make a fix-up project of the guy.

During the latest film, when Padme and Anakin have their final encounter, Anakin uses his Jedi mind tricks to choke Padme when he believes she's been unfaithful to him. He CHOKES his pregnant wife. Then he flings her aside so he can clash light sabers with Obi Wan over an erupting volcano. This is as clear a picture of the jealous, violent husband as any I've seen in a sci-fi blockbuster.

After the death-match with Obi Wan, Anakin is reconstructed by the Emperor. Now half-machine, Anakin asks the Emperor about his wife. The Emperor says something along the lines of "You killed her. Your anger was too great." At this, Anakin staggers about on his cybernetic legs and lets out a tribal yell. (A good English major would say this is reminiscent of Stanley Kowalski's cathartic"Stella!" from The Street Car Named Desire.)

So there you have it. The Emperor says Anakin killed his wife, but the medical droid says Padme died of a broken heart. In my mind, the medical droid lacked the guts to name the real cause of death--having a violent, abusive, Darth Vadar for a husband. Naming this as the cause of death would have made the movie all the more realistic and powerful.

Yes, I said it. It would have made the sci-fi flick more realistic and powerful. I'm that kind of nerd. Enough sci-fi talk. I better get back to the garden...

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