Space-Dursleys, except like 1000% better humans

owen-beru-banner

M: Owen and Beru Lars are very quickly forgotten by Star Wars fans, just as they very quickly burn up into some rather disturbing skeletons in ANH.

K: Both of those circumstances are a shame. Because, honestly, they deserve better.

M: They are seriously delightful humans, and more than simple plot devices killed off to call Luke to adventure and kick him across the threshold. This is especially true when you add in the prequels. In AotC and RotS, they’re such a cute little couple, very much in love.

K: In a shockingly stable, calm way that contrasts wildly with the passionate, overly dramatic upheaval of emotions Anakin and Padme are going through in that movie.

M: A mature relationship! And then, in ANH Uncle Owen is basically your crabby but endearing uncle, and Aunt Beru is that neighbor lady who buys all her clothes at K-Mart and makes cookies for all the neighborhood kids during the summer. People that aren’t the center of the story, but certainly ones you’d be glad to meet.

K: Also, look at the child they raised: Luke is polite, sweet, and always ready to help his friends/slight acquaintances. You don’t get that kind of kid with just any surrogate parents. Speaking of them being surrogate parents, do you think that means Beru couldn’t have children? Or that they chose not to because it would be too dangerous, what with Luke’s dad being the secondary Big Bad in the galaxy at this point?

M: I have always wondered about that, and have always assumed that they couldn’t have children of their own.

K: That’s what I figured too. Beru just looks so delighted when Obi-Wan hands her baby Luke at the end of RotS, and considering the circumstances that led up to that event (*chokes back sobs*), I find her uncomplicated happiness adorable.

M: Well, and then they look off into the suns a la ANH, so it sort of suggests that Luke is their  hope as well.

K: Ooh, yes, I like that. The AotC novelization (which is actually pretty good) gives the Lars family a lot more “screentime” than the movie does, and Beru is so cute.

M: I think she’s *darling.* She seems to be that person who is always willing to help. I love that she helps out with the dishes and with the injured Cliegg Lars after Shmi is gone. She seems to be a permanent fixture in their home, even when she’s just dating Owen.

K: There’s a lot of commentary from Shmi’s point of view in the novelization about how Beru is exactly the kind of woman who is going to do well on Tatooine. She is, as you say, always willing to help, and she doesn’t need much to make her happy. She’s steady, and isn’t going to be beaten down by life on a dustball of a planet.beru-and-owen-300x177

M: Valuable praise coming from the amazing Shmi. And then, in ANH
, she’s sort of this quiet smiling force behind everything. Owen and Luke are bickering and she gently gives them advice while wearing her K-mart mom clothes and pushing space vegetables into a gurgling machine. You get the sense that she’s one of those people who makes the most sensible idea feel like it was *your* idea, and so can wield a soft but potent power. She’s not pushy, but manages to push a person in the right direction anyway.

K: Yes! Also in the novelization, there’s a brief moment where Padme and Beru make awkward small talk while Anakin’s off in the desert taking his first step to the Dark Side. Mostly it’s there to show how different the two of them are, but it also further underscores that Beru, although she’s not as conspicuous as Padme, has just as much inner strength. And I love that. More appreciation for all of our Star Wars ladies, please.

M: Louder for the people in the back! Also, for as much crap as Obi-Wan (and George Lucas, really) gets for dropping Luke off with these unknown relatives, it really says a lot about those relatives that they’ll welcome a child into their home with s
little notice.

K: The Dursleys, they are not. (But Obi-Wan is totally Space-Dumbledore.) Owen and Beru aren’t even Luke’s blood relatives, but they’re willing to take the enormous risk of raising him anyway. And they do it with so much love. Luke clearly loves his aunt and uncle right back, even when he whines. His face when he makes the realization that the stormtroopers are headed for his home is heartbreaking, as is his reaction to seeing Owen and Beru dead.

M: (Space-Dumbledore, I love it) Yes, that scene where he says “that would lead them back… home” is exactly what I was thinking of too. He doesn’t even think– he immediately hops into his speeder to go and check on them. I love how normal his relationship with them is, and it really punctuates the fact that Luke comes from rather humble beginnings. He squabbles with his acting parents and they squabble back. He simply wants to have more free time and fewer chores like any other normal kid… and it’s because of Owen and Beru that he was given such a stable, loving upbringing. And that’s what sets him up to be stable and loving!

K: Yay for stable Skywalkers! We get far too few of them. But, I feel bad that we skipped over Owen back when we were talking about Beru. He’s a pretty stand up guy. There’s a really lovely section of the novelization (I know I keep bringing it up, but it really informed my opinion of AotC so…) where he comes out to talk to Shmi while she’s looking up at the stars and thinking about Anakin. It’s sweet because he’s there to comfort her and even though he knows he can’t replace her biological son, he wants her to know that she’s loved. He really cared about his stepmom and is very protective of his family in general.

M: Protective, yes. That’s why he wants to keep Luke around the moisture farm, and is afraid of how much of his father he has in him. In the EU, Owen is known as a rather cranky guy, particularly to Obi-Wan. But the thing is, we usually take that from Obi-Wan’s point of view… and Owen has all the reasons in the world to be wary of Crazy Ben and his influence.

K: Yeah, for real! I find it interesting that Luke is even aware of Obi-Wan in ANH because Owen (and Obi-Wan) make it clear that he has done his utmost to keep that “crazy old wizard” away from his nephew/adopted son. He wants Luke safe and not going out into the galaxy getting into dangerous situations with an aging Jedi.

M: An aging Jedi who, as innocent as he is, has a habit of getting into trouble. I mean, we mentioned the normality of Luke’s rural childhood, and I think that’s exactly what Owen and Beru wanted to make for him. We saw what being “the Chosen One” did to Anakin, and there’s no way they’re going to do that to Luke.

K: I find it slightly hilarious that their one interaction with Anakin was enough for them to be like “Ok, yep, this kid is a mess.” And then they do their best to make sure Luke doesn’t end up that way. (And succeed, for the most part.)

M: Haha, Anakin is definitely the opposite of stable. And he certainly didn’t hide how miserable he was from them. Not at all.

K: (Anakin: *dramatically collapses to the sand by his mother’s grave* Owen and Beru: “Ok then.”) I just had a really amazing thought though. Owen and Beru probably told Luke about his grandmother!!!

M: OMG of course they did! Shmi Skywalker, one of the most underappreciated Star Wars characters.

K: As with any of the information Luke and Leia received about their biological parents growing up, I’m sure it was incomplete and littered with half-truths and omissions, but STILL. He probably got to hear about how loving and strong and amazing she was.

M: Given how much lineage matters in Star Wars, I absolutely love this idea, and I love that Owen and Beru would be able to provide that for Luke.

K: They also told him something about his father clearly, but Luke’s still on the lookout for any crumb of information they’ll drop, so they probably had a harder time with that (understandably).

M: Again, they don’t want Luke to grow up with a shadow hanging over him… and honestly we see how miserable learning Vader is his father makes him, so it’s probably best he was an adult when he found out. Shifting gears, I also think it’s fascinating that Owen and Beru are really the blue-collar, “all-American” types of Star Wars. If we read Star Wars from an auteur/biographical perspective, I think that Tatooine and the Larses are similar to Modesto and the Lucases. Like George, Luke wanted to get out and do more and be something more , and yes, any parent/guardian-child relationship is complicated. But it’s obvious that this sort of upbringing is a positive for Luke. A good foundation, just as it was for George.

K: Relative to the short amount of time they are in the picture, Owen and Beru probably have the greatest impact on Star Wars as a whole. They keep the “new hope” safe, cared for, and alive for almost twenty years, and in doing so promote the values that lead to Luke saving the galaxy (with help, of course).

M: Yes, they have an enormous impact! And while it’s true that they come to an abrupt and rather smoky end, that tragic demise is symbolic for why Luke needs to get off of Tatooine and get started on his heroic journey. Owen and Beru are exactly the type of innocent, honest people that the Empire is betraying. They’re the every-people, and I appreciate them!

Advertisements

The Actual Queen of RotS

555229_1286486401907_full

M: Padme, my queen! And today: why she’s a severely underrated character, specifically in RotS.

K: Few things make me more angry than hearing people say things like “Ugh, all Padme does in RotS is cry, she’s such a stereotypical pregnant lady, George Lucas totally ruined her character.” NONE of those things are true.

M: This, like we often say, is a result of people only thinking about the prequels in terms of memes or their skewed memories from when they saw the films 10 years ago. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a choke pun about Padme the same as the next Star Wars nerd. But the fact is, Padme is incredibly valuable through the entire prequels trilogy, especially in RotS.

K: Let’s take stock: when, exactly, does Padme cry in RotS? When do tears actually fall? I can think of…three times. Number 1: She’s watching the Jedi Temple burn from her apartment in Coruscant. It’s the middle of the night. Her husband is supposed to be in that Temple. She has no way to get news. Number 2 is on Mustafar, where she WATCHES HER HUSBAND TURN TO THE DARK SIDE, an event that practically makes Obi-Wan, king of repressed emotions, start sobbing. And Padme is PREGNANT.

M: (king of repressed emotions) She cries when she’s giving birth. You try to give birth without crying!!!

K: Yes, that’s number three. And if she DIDN’T cry then, it would be dumb.

M: So, WE HAVE ESTABLISHED that Padme crying is a completely justified reaction to the situations she finds herself in. But I have to back up– when is crying a negative thing to begin with?!

K: TRUE!

M: The implications behind saying “crying is bad and stereotypically female” is that it is bad to have feminine qualities. That statement is in and of itself incredibly sexist. Female qualities are not inherently weak or lesser.

K: Yes. And, the thing is, George Lucas knows this. The men in RotS have their fair share of weeping. It’s a HUMAN thing, not a “female” thing, and it’s not a sign of weakness.

M: SO, Padme can cry. Stop being crybabies about someone being human. Now, let’s also take into account that Padme is plenty busy in RotS. It’s not like she’s just waiting around for Anakin to come back.

K: She’s still a freaking Senator, people. And an INVOLVED senator. She’s pushing back against Palpatine, a little hesitantly it’s true, but she is. And she’s hesitant because she thought she knew Palpatine. They were both from Naboo and he was her mentor. Going against him at all takes a lot of guts. Something Padme is never short of.

M: Yes, I’d like to emphasize just how gutsy it is to speak up against Palpatine’s acquisition of power. The people, and the Senate, LOVE Palpatine. They think he’s the best thing to happen to the Republic. He has everyone wrapped around his finger. Speaking against Palpatine, at this point, is basically treason, given that emotions and politics are so hyped up due to the war.

K: And let us not forget that Padme’s husband is one of Palpatine’s strongest supporters.

M: This is when I really wish that the deleted scenes from RotS made it into the film. Granted, I completely understand why George Lucas decided to cut them– after all, the film is primarily about Anakin. But there was a whole subplot he wrote for Padme that shows 1) how much George cared about the character and respected her in terms of the universe, and 2) how much Padme was doing, independent from Anakin. This side plot basically has her (along with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma) CREATING the rebel alliance within the midst of the republic. Padme consistently stands for principle, throughout the entirety of the films.

K: It’s what drives her enemies crazy! It’s what makes her so hard to control, because she won’t compromise on things she feels are important. It’s why the Trade Federation wants her gone badly enough to hire bounty hunters and then just straight up send her into a death arena. Honestly, Obi-Wan and Anakin are just a bonus in AotC.

M: OMG,  good point! The entirety of AotC is incited due to Padme’s political, principle-filled stance. The whole story is the consequence of her refusal to back down from something she believes in, even when it puts her life in danger. If that’s not brave, admirable, and downright BADASS I don’t know what is.

K: I know this was supposed to be about RotS, but let’s talk AotC for a minute. Here’s Padme– she’s only what, 25? 24? And she’s already been Queen of Naboo for two terms. She’s served in the Senate for about 3 years and has established herself as a powerful enough threat that enemies are BLOWING UP SHIPS to try and stop her from attending a vote.

M: Padme is far more powerful than Anakin and Obi-Wan are, if we’re being honest. She has more of a direct influence on the world than most of the other characters do.

K: Especially in AotC, because there’s no war on yet and the Jedi haven’t become leaders of the Grand Army of the Republic. I honestly love that there are people trying to kill Padme in AotC, and that none of them are like “oh it’s so dishonorable to try and kill a girl, and she’s so young and pretty too!” Nah, she’s just a threat.

M: Her gender has absolutely nothing to do with it. Which is one of the best things about Star Wars and its treatment of women in general– they aren’t treated according to their gender, but according to who they are and what their abilities are.

K: Exactly! Which is why you have the Trade Federation creeps in the arena being like “Wait, no, she’s supposed to be DEAD not picking locks, climbing poles, and kicking some Nexu ass!”

M: One of my favorite parts of the arena scene is when she climbs the pole and Obi-Wan’s like “She seems to be on top of things” cause PUN from Obi-Wan and also she’s so much more savvy than both of them it’s amazing.

K: Also, when Anakin is expressing his concern for Padme in that scene it doesn’t seem to be because of her gender. They’re all disarmed, and while Jedi have the Force at all times, that would still leave Padme unprotected. So he asks “What about Padme?” not to say “She’s helpless and useless”–because he SAW her taking down droids in the battle on Naboo, he knows she’s a capable fighter–but because she doesn’t have a blaster and can’t protect herself with the Force. It’s strategic thinking, figuring out a plan. He just doesn’t know she’s sneakier than both of them and carries lock-picking equipment at all times.

M: I agree! Because she’s flipping amazing and can handle herself. But, let’s get back to RotS.

K: Let’s talk about pregnancy for a moment. As much as people claim they want strong females of all kinds in their media, pregnant women seem shockingly underrepresented. Like, statistically speaking, if the human race in these fictional universes is going to continue, someone’s got to get pregnant.

M: True! Females are strong as hell– and giving birth certainly proves that. Let’s validate that part of womanhood with representation of it in stories. Like with Padme!

K: Yes. So I LOVE that Padme is pregnant. And that she is happy to be pregnant (well, when she’s not freaking out that this child is going to get Anakin kicked out of the Jedi Order and cost her her position as Senator). And yes, it does mean she’s not going to swing around on a chain and fight a Nexu in RotS–pregnancy IS a very physically and emotionally involved process. But that’s not a bad thing (although I’m sure it’s not always pleasant). And it does NOT mean Padme’s any less important or strong than she is in the rest of the prequel trilogy.

M: YESSSS. She’s not any less important or strong for doing something intrinsically female. What it really comes down to, for me, is that Padme is a very nuanced and interesting character. She’s soft-spoken, yes, and wears GORGEOUS clothing and looks attractive– which, yes, are typically feminine qualities but not bad ones for a character to have. She’s strong in the best way– in principle, intelligence, and determination. She fights for her beliefs more than most Jedi do at this point. And it’s an absolute tragedy that people only remember her for saying “Anakin, you’re breaking my heart” and dying while giving birth. I mean, dying while giving birth does NOT make you “weak.” Like, are you really saying that the millions of women who have died in order to continue the human race are weak and not worthy of your respect? If so, shame on you. But also, there is so much else going on in that scene!

K: Seriously! People get so hung up on the droid saying “there’s nothing wrong with her.” And, I just had this thought now, it’s a freaking DROID saying that. Droids understand numbers, data. Not humans. Not really. So yeah, maybe her vitals are all fine, but that doesn’t mean she’s doing well.

M: It’s not like Obi-Wan, Yoda, or Bail Organa know how to deliver children or understand how to help a dying woman.

K: She’s just been Force-choked by the person she loves most in the world for pity’s sake. And Padme’s at least a little Force sensitive (see: she and Anakin stare across Coruscant in a moment of heightened melodrama) and her unborn children are much more than a little Force-sensitive so I’m sure all of the Dark Side energy exploding around Anakin wasn’t helping. There’s *something* wrong with her. It’s just not quantifiable.

M: Also, I take issue with comparing saving Vader’s life with saving Padme’s. Yes, Palpatine and his medical droids “save” Anakin by turning him into Vader when he is a burnt crisp with no limbs, and Padme does die. But the editing in that sequence juxtaposes the two for a reason. We see the dark room where Anakin is writhing on a table, droids hacking away at him, compared to the serene and calm place where Obi-Wan is trying to comfort Padme. I really feel that the reason these two are compared the way they are is to make it clear that Anakin’s treatment isn’t ethical or kind in the least. He’s being tortured back into a half-life, one that is likely worse than death. I think it’s clear that it was the humane thing to let Padme die (even though this gets into all sorts of medical ethics I’m not equipped to discuss).

K: Ooh, I like that. I mean, no I don’t like it, Padme dying is awful, but it’s true that, all things considered, that was almost best. (Gosh what a horrible thing to say). What if she’d lived? She’d be hunted? At the very least, they’d try to take her babies away from her. And if she went into hiding, she probably wouldn’t get to keep both of her children with her, and how do you choose which baby to stay with without dying of guilt? Not a pleasant fate, any way you look at it.

M: Exactly! And putting her death against Anakin’s horrific writhing as he’s being kept alive even though his life from now on will be terribly miserable, not to mention painful (bacta tank and meditation egg, anyone?)… It’s a great contrast, one used to illustrate that they are letting her go because it’s her time. Just like the Jedi say.

K: It’s what Anakin couldn’t do.

M: OUCH my heart, you wounded me.

K: But in the end, Padme’s final words, her undying belief that there is still good in Anakin, are what the Star Wars saga is all about. It’s a foreshadowing of her son, of her husband’s eventual redemption. And through that, the restoration of democracy and balance to the galaxy.

M: Padme literally gives herself up in order to provide hope for the future. Without her, there likely wouldn’t have been a Rebel Alliance, and there certainly wouldn’t have been the hope of Luke and Leia. She’s the hope that the rebellion is built on.

K: A moment of silence for all of the poor misguided souls who are missing out on Actual Queen Padme Amidala.

 

May the 4th Be With You

0e504acf6f060cb34ecede6818174ebd

It’s Star Wars Day! To celebrate, we have each made lists of moments that make us happy from each of the Star Wars movies. May the 4th be with you!

K

TPM: I love Obi-Wan’s face at the end because everyone else is smiling and triumphant while Obi-Wan is finishing the movie the way he started it—with a bad feeling about this.

AotC: I love the scene in the droid foundry when Anakin’s arm is stuck and there are blades chopping all around him because it seems like he’s going to lose his hand a la Luke in ESB, but that doesn’t actually happen until later.

RotS: I love the way the music goes away and it’s completely silent right as the mask goes over Anakin’s terrified face and then…the first Vader breath. Chills.

RO: I love the sight and sound of Vader’s lightsaber igniting in the black hallway. I think I stopped breathing in the theater.

ANH: I love Leia saying “Somebody’s got to save our skins,” because she’s supposedly the one being rescued and then she rescues her rescue party. Anyone who says Leia is a damsel in distress is just so, so wrong.

ESB: I love the tiny moment when Lando has to physically drag Leia away from shooting stormtroopers during the escape from Cloud City. She is going to make the Empire pay for taking her boyfriend, so help her Force.

RotJ: I love when Luke does a flip off the execution plank, catches his lightsaber, and just kriffing wrecks Jabba’s henchmen. It’s his biggest Jedi moment in the original trilogy and I cheer through the whole thing.

TFA: I love the way the Force theme swells when the lightsaber goes shooting into Rey’s hand. I about stood up and clapped the first time I saw this scene.

 

M

TPM: Padme: “The Queen will not approve.” Qui-Gon: “The Queen doesn’t need to know.” Padme: “Well I don’t approve.” He’s a troll, she’s a queen, it’s a great moment. Bonus points: the knowing look Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan share just after Padme reveals her identity.

AotC: Obi-Wan getting a drink after the chase on Coruscant. Never fails. I laugh every time.

RotS: So many feels in this movie, almost chose “You were my brother Anakin, I loved you.”  but we’re celebrating so I’m going to go with the moment when Obi-Wan wakes up to find he’s hanging from Anakin in an elevator shaft. I just love how big his eyes get and how he bear hugs Anakin.

RO: UH WHAT ELSE I love Vader igniting his lightsaber in the dark hallway. But, since K already chose that… I’ll have to go with just a few seconds later when Vader force slams the rebel soldier into the ceiling. It’s the most Anakin we’ve seen Vader and it’s beautiful.

ANH: Luke standing beneath the twin suns, the force theme playing… just the most Star Wars Star Wars moment, and a kriffing beautiful shot to boot. It’s where it all began.

ESB: YODA. YODA. YODA. More specifically, Yoda’s Theme is my favorite piece of Star Wars music.

RotJ: This film has the best dolly-in in cinema history. It happens when the Emperor is electrocuting Luke– he’s obviously going to lose or die if something doesn’t happen soon– and it cuts to Vader– and there’s this little dolly in. It’s this perfect moment that, because of the camera movement, projects so much emotion onto Vader’s mask. It’s the moment he returns to the light. The moment he decides to become Anakin again, and do the right thing– save his son! The whole series leads up to this moment, and it’s served, perfectly, by a dolly in.

TFA: Rey adding “and you will drop your weapon!” when she first does a Jedi Mind Trick.