Did George Lucas change cinema with ‘Star Wars’ prequels?

Dec. 26, 2010 | 12:56 p.m.

GUEST ESSAY

George Lucas should have stopped after three original “Star Wars” films — that’s a common sentiment among Jedi fans of a certain age and disposition, and they passionately point to Jar Jar Binks, an over-reliance on CG effects and numbing dialogue as the unforgivable sins of the second live-action trilogy, which began with “The Phantom Menace” in 1999 and closed out with “Revenge of the Sith” in 2005. But are old-school fans missing the true value and actual innovation represented by the prequel trilogy? Yes, they are, says Kevin McLeod, who has made online games for productions in other media, including those for”A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” and the television show “Jericho.” Here, in a guest essay for Hero Complex, he makes a case for the idea that the prequel trilogy was in fact a landmark moment in cinema.

star wars menace1 Did George Lucas change cinema with Star Wars prequels?

Ewan McGregor and Ray Park as Darth Maul in “The Phantom Menace.” (Lucasfilm)

George Lucas pushed all of film into the 21st century when he made his “Star Wars” prequel trilogy. And like a magician, he used mirrors.

Remember that mirrors do not duplicate images — the way a copier does — they reverse them. Although mirroring has been around for a long time in art, Lucas took it much farther. His most basic mirror, the through-line of the trilogy, simply inverts the power structures of his original trilogy, reversing who discovers the flaws of those in power (in the original trilogy, it is the rebels; in the prequels, the Sith do it).  And why would Lucas do this? Why would he sacrifice much of the excited feeling that audiences had in rooting for the “good” guys? He did it to show you that power does not align with good or evil, or with lightness or darkness, and that power itself can be evil. To shade his stories beyond black-and-white extremes, he uses colors and forms that, under his abilities, transform into patterns.

These patterns tell stories of which you likely are not aware.  By reversing the story and focal points, he engages the audience in a search for patterns they normally would not be looking for and what they mean. And his primary target audiences are always kids and the youthful, whose minds are still flexible and whose brains are malleable and growing. Viewing motion, form and color above and beyond speech is fundamentally linked to cognition.

anakin Did George Lucas change cinema with Star Wars prequels?

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. (Lucasfilm)

Welcome to the age of pattern recognition, better called pattern cognition, and it’s an age Lucas has been elemental in creating and reflecting. Still in its infancy, pattern cognition is one of the key tools of future media (including future languages).  Appearing in 1977, “Star Wars” was an evolutionary leap in pattern cognition.  Notably, the first film arrived alongside household Pong and arcade Space Invaders. Video games, like “Star Wars,” are rife with patterns and forms at war with one another. Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Charlie Chaplin,  Stanley Kubrick and a few others have worked at the highest levels of pattern cognition, as have others — some of whom you’d expect and others you wouldn’t: John McTiernan, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron and McG (who all offer pattern cognition with bullets).

Also notably, “The Matrix” (itself an evolutionary step in patterning) appeared the same year as “Phantom Menace.” Like many other viewers, I initially rejected “Menace” as a simplification of “Return of the Jedi”; it seemed childish and chilling. Much later, as I began to consider certain very strange scenes in the new trilogy, I realized that they were all elements of a hidden story, adding up to a precise opposite of the original trilogy. This story is both satiric and visionary. As I mentioned above, for example, there’s an intentional self-assuredness to the heroes’ characters that the original trilogy lacked, which dulls them and subtracts a nuance we’re expecting. Characters you thought you would love you actually hate or dislike. Their sense of discovery too is gone; now it resides with the Sith, aiding their quest to topple the current order — not until later in the original-trilogy Empire’s cold efficiency do they lose this sense. This is what draws Anakin to the Sith: They make him run; they challenge him. I can’t possibly review or analyze the whole story here, but below are three examples of concepts that ingeniously appear solely in the imagery.

amidala Did George Lucas change cinema with Star Wars prequels?

Natalie Portman as Amidala. (Lucasfilm)

1) Gesture mirrors: “Star Wars: Episode IV” begins with a Blockade Runner that has obviously just escaped a blockade, and “Phantom Menace” begins with a (too) similar ship approaching a blockade, willingly entering it. Mirroring begins the trilogy. Even basic plot gestures are mirrored. Vader wants her alive; Sidious wants them dead. And subtly there is a doubling of doom; we meet the trilogy’s central conflict: hooded humans who want to kill one another within the film’s opening seconds (the Jedi and Sidious).

2) Character mirrors: “Phantom Menace” is saturated with strangely similar bipeds that are overt mirrors: Jar Jar Binks and the Droid Troopers present living versus mechanical beings that nevertheless have similar coloring, shape and form and are equally awkward; Lucas even introduces them in mirrored framings and movements, and ultimately they go to war with each other on a massive scale. Also, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul (under all the makeup) are dead ringers, as are Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley (also under the makeup), who alternate roles. There are even subtle mirroring devices: Upon meeting Trade Federationists, Portman wears a gemstone that behaves as their third eye. The “phantom menace” of the film is this mirroring — it’s everywhere. Some mirrors we don’t recognize, and some we do (or are shown). The height, of course, is the Sidious-Palpatine “mirror,” which the audience sees but the Jedi do not — they can’t see his mirror simply because they can’t recognize their own.

george lucas in desert Did George Lucas change cinema with Star Wars prequels?

George Lucas. (Lucasfilm)

3) Location mirrors: In “Attack of the Clones,” the planet Kamino mirrors Bespin of the original trilogy. These planets have opposing color formats (gray versus colorful) yet each possesses an  atmosphere made up primarily of moisture. Both are where the Slave I is encountered, and, as essentially the center of the trilogy, we see the Fetts, father and clone, play mirrored roles, the lure of Skywalker to Bespin and the lure of Obi-Wan to Kamino. And on both planets we have heroes — Luke and Obi-Wan — falling to near peril.  The result of the lures also have similarly mirrored outcomes: Vader tells Luke the truth, and Dooku tells the truth to Obi-Wan. Both trilogies end by revealing what those truths mean.

Consider this: With all these mirrors, a form takes shape — it’s a sphere. It’s a mass that Lucas slowly animates into a behemoth. The prequel trilogy might accurately be called the hidden story of the Death Star since he animates large spheres of all kinds in reference to this weapon: the Federation Droid Control ship (a ring that surrounds a sphere means many of these ring a planet for its control), the Congress of the Republic, Coruscant as the planet that is one city. Consider the vast, curved landing bay of the Droid Control ship and Death Star’s trench as subtle mirrors of each other; Anakin even mirrors Luke’s last battle accomplishment when he destroys the Droid ship. Finally, even more wickedly, we see the water-opera sphere in “Revenge of the Sith,” which appears to be reenacting the last battle of the next film, while Palpatine explains Anakin’s origin without directly telling him. Look carefully and follow the patterns: Overall, there is a transforming flow of identities that take spherical form, a path from nature into the mechanical.

darth maul Did George Lucas change cinema with Star Wars prequels?

Darth Maul, played by Ray Park. (Lucasfilm)

Now the whole enchilada: Since you have these basic examples, look around and you’ll see hundreds of these patterns between and within the trilogies. Want some more? OK: Two asteroid chases in the middle films, with Obi-Wan imitating the Millennium Falcon’s hiding style in “Empire”; the Jedi’s temple tower resembles the Emperor’s tower; Geonosis, hot and arid, is the exact opposite of Kamino, yet each planet is the source of the war’s troops. Still want more? Notice Luke is suspended upside down both in the beginning and the end in “Empire Strikes Back”; the Lars homestead entrance is a dead-on mirror of Artoo. Luke kneels while he gazes at a loop of Leia kneeling. Watch Luke duel the remote device in “Star Wars” wearing a type of helmet he also wears while destroying the Death Star; he duels both successfully in similar states of limited vision yet at wildly different scales. As Leia’s torture approaches, watch the TIE Fighter’s hexagonal wings wipe frames with the cell block’s hexagonal corridor. Check out the cantina scene in Star Wars: It is carefully rescaled as the holographic game played aboard the Falcon.

Now take a look and see for yourself. Not only are these patterns not random, but they also intentionally and artfully tell a story outside (and inside) the surface drama that unfolds among the protagonists. Lucas’ visual ingenuity is relentless; he offers us a strikingly revolutionary level of storytelling. I agree that no one can make you like films you simply don’t like, but look deeper and go back and watch a film you’ve actually never seen before. Welcome to the future, where George Lucas already is. Take a look around…

— Kevin McLeod

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Comments


219 Responses to Did George Lucas change cinema with ‘Star Wars’ prequels?

  1. Stephen Monteith says:

    I'd say the nature of the Star Wars continuity means, if he did change cinema with the prequels, he did so accidentally. Also … you thought Anakin blowing up the Trade Federation blockade station was a "subtle" mirror of Luke's blowing up the Death Star?

    Here's another interpretation: Lucas, afflicted with Sequel Syndrome, decided he'd take the most iconic images and sequences from the first trilogy and retread them. In some cases, as in Queen Amidala's assertion that she will not let her people suffer and die while the Senate discusses the invasion "in a committee", it's quite powerful; in others, such as many of the examples you list here, it just doesn't quite work. As for examples such as Luke kneeling while watching Leia kneel in the recording, that's a complete stretch of the imagination, especially since she never actually kneeled; at most, she leaned forward to shut off the recorder.

    • Charley Patton says:

      He said he objects are subtle mirrors, not the act itself, did you read the piece, or skim it?

    • Laer Carroll says:

      Thanks, Kevin. Very interesting. But I still cannot re-watch the prequels because of the bad dialogue. Maybe I should just turn off the sound when someone speaks?

      • Kevin McLeod says:

        You can, of course, but I think you’re missing the point, Lucas cares little about how adults feel about the prequels. He knows nostalgia has a firm grip on their minds, the dialogue is ancillary, yet it has some very twisted paradoxes for kids to ruminate on. It is an application of Kubricks dialogue sensibilities though not directly his technique (he makes English unresolveable). You may hate it but try and resolve the “what I meant was” lovey dovey scene in Sith, of course adults will cringe, Lucas is clearly aware he’s sacrificing their attention, but kids are not cringing, since they’re role-playing.

      • Stephen Monteith says:

        Soooooooo … the entire prequel trilogy was made for kids?

        Listen, I know storytelling is a subtle art, and no one is more of a fixture in modern-day storytelling than George Lucas. That being the case, he could easily have written GOOD stories for Episodes I, II, and III. You don't have to accomodate the nostalgia crowd in order to not tick them off. No one expected retreads of the original trilogy; they (we) just wanted good movies.

      • Ryan Kuczynski says:

        Hrmm, then how come as children, and entire generation was captivated by the original trilogy? Sure, in retrospect, some of the dialogue was at times a little hokey, but the films as a whole were well done. No, Lucas made a decision not to care a whit what fanboys/girls wanted, or even that adults with the ability to appreciate a good movie would be watching his films. He decided childish, with horribly directed actors was what he wanted, and so he made it happen. You give the man far too much credit than he deserves with the prequels.

      • Dave says:

        You’re comparing the dialogue of the Prequels to Kubrick? That’s a stretch!

        But as to your point that the Prequels were intended more so for kids – this is the same prequels were one villain gets cut completely in half, another gets behead, and another gets his hands cut off then beheaded, right? Couple with a series of stories revolving around tax disputes, corrupt politics, and manipulation. Yeah, for kids alright!

      • Boba says:

        Does any of you realize the OT were kids movies too? But that doesn't stop any one from liking them!

  2. Ford says:

    He might have indeed done all you said above, but it was done in a shoddy manner with cringy dialog. No matter how hard you try, you can’t theorize yourself out of that.

    • andy says:

      Exactly. Anything novel in the "mirroring" of concepts was accidental. If you pour over a pile of excrement long enough, you will undoubtedly find patterns in the clumps. The last three Star Wars movies were drivel written for 11 year olds and video game sales, by your dorky dad who's still trying to adjust the tv properly. The original 3 movies were epic, although Jedi is beginning to succumb to all that is not cool. The last three movies were boring car chases with really, really, really horribly-delivered dialog. Ask Portman what it was like acting at 5am in Tunisia. I think it shows.

  3. Narukami says:

    There are some interesting points in this essay, and I think that perhaps we underestimate lucas the storyteller by ignoring or overlooking some of these patterns or mirrors as you call them. However…

    Leia is not kneeling in the hologram message to Obi wan. Watch the film again — she does bend down to insert the plans into R2 but she delivers the message standing up.

    JarJar Binks and the basic Battle Droids do not have the same color scheme at all. The droids are a monochromatic beige while Binks is varied shades of red-orange.

    Vader may have told Luke the truth after luring him to Bespin, but Dooku did not tell Obi wan anything because he was not on Kamino. Nor can you make the case, based upon the information in the film, the Obi wan was "lured" to Geonosis as it seems clear that Jango Fett believes he has destroyed his pursuer.

    That Lucas has changed the face of Hollywood and film production is, I think, without question. That he is a Master Storyteller of Subtle Art, is still open to debate. For this I would site just two examples.

    The first his his judgement in cutting a scene from Episode II of Anakin and Amidala having lunch with her family and the discussion the ensues among Amidala and her sisters afterwards. More useful information about both Anakin and Amidala is revealed in these two deleted scenes than in most of the rest of the film. Lucas and his producer claim they cut the scenes for reasons of pacing. Perhaps so. It is often the cased that when viewing deleted scenes on the DVD it is clear the director made the correct choice. However, in this case it is equally as clear that Lucas was wrong.

    Likewise, his decision to change his story and make Darth Vader Luke's father was a move that succeeded only in limiting his options and his vision. It seems that Lucas was attempting some sort of Shakespearean turn, a Sci-Fi Hamlet, but how pedestrian compared to what he had set out in the first film.

    To not kill one’s own father despite his crimes is no great struggle. The children of the Nazi leaders still loved their fathers even as they abhorred and repudiated the crimes they had committed. Indeed it would have been more significant had Luke actually killed his father because of his crimes, Luke’s sense of justice overriding his love of and longing for a father to be proud of.

    Of course that is not what happens – Luke spares his father, offering himself as a sacrifice to the Emperor and in doing so shows his father the path to redemption

    However…

    Let us suppose for a moment that Darth Vader was not Anakin but rather, as originally envisioned, his betrayer and murderer.

    Imagine now Luke’s dilemma as he hovers over a prostrate and defeated Vader in the throne room of the Death Star. With one stroke of his light saber Luke can avenge his father and free the galaxy. With one simple strike…and yet Luke choose not to strike.

    To not kill the murderer of your father when you have both the means and the rights to do so — now that takes discipline.

    A classic theme in literature is that of the child seeking to avenge the untimely and unjust death of their parent.

    But in telling the story this way, where Luke at last, after three films has Vader at his mercy yet shows him mercy, is that not more poignant? He does not exact a pound of flesh, does not avenge his father with blood but instead honors his father by adhering to the highest values and discipline of the Jedi order. Thus does Luke not only “out Jedi” Darth Vader, but also his father and Ben as well. And in that moment Vader has a flash of realization, a true moment of Zen satori. Now he sees clearly a path to redemption for himself, by siding with the son of the man he betrayed and against the Emperor who seduced him.

    Be that as it may, Star Wars is George Lucas' story to tell and he may tell it in anyway he sees fit. Lucas has changed Hollywood, and his artistry is on display in all six films, but what might have been ….

  4. Andy says:

    I agree with Stephen Monteith. I buy that there's mirroring, but Lucas – who was undone long ago by his smug hubris – just wanted to convey some hokey sense of fate or destiny by drawing similarities, like the ones you point out, between the trilogies.

  5. lazypadawan says:

    You'll never convince those who don't want to be convinced; the internet is teeming with people who make it their mission in life to find any reference to Lucas or his films and to viciously attack them.

    I thank you though for taking a fresh look at a series of greatly misunderstood films. I've been a Star Wars fan since the beginning and the prequels gave us more to play with and think about.

  6. The Tupper says:

    What on EARTH are you talking about?

    To base an entire article on something as dubious as "pattern recognition, better called pattern cognition" psycho-babble is bad enough, but to not even explain what this questionable concept is within the article itself?

    And then to use it for an entire (spurious) dissertation concerning how some bits of the Star Wars prequels kinda-seem-a-bit-like-theoriginal-films…

    Is this really the L.A. Times? Or is it some kinda George Lucas Special Edition ™?

  7. Kenny Kraly Jr. says:

    Great article. I still don't understand why some fans hate the star wars prequels and the Special Editions of the original trilogy some fans say it destroyed the star wars series and their memories of star wars. It did'nt for me their some changes I don't like like greedo shooting 1st and the 1st CGI Jabba in 97 but it did'nt take away from my enjoyment of the films.

  8. Venkman says:

    All of this still doesn't take away from the fact that the prequels were boring movies that felt dull and sterile from the overuse of green screen and the lack of any meaningful dialogue. All he managed to do was create a trilogy full of characters you cared little about .

  9. Dean says:

    Finally. Someone who gets it and can put into words.

  10. mike says:

    You have to watch the prequel reviews on red letter media on YouTube or the site of the same name. Not for children. If you get past the fact the reviewer is a maniac with a woman tied up in the basement and has killed his previous wives, his reviews are right on the money, and funny as hell.

  11. gabriel says:

    oh please…all the armchair critics take a seat…Star Wars is the grandest of science fantasy operas ever created and will most likely never be topped…if you didn't like them fine stop whining about it now…if you did continue enjoying

  12. oakmonster says:

    What are these "prequels" you speak of? There are only 3 Star Wars films.

    /sticks fingers in her ears / lalalalalalalaIcan'thearyoulalalalalalalalala

    • bry says:

      What? I am aware of but two!

      Unfortunately, by the time ANH first aired on TV in the 80s, Lucas had already tinkered with it in very material ways. I was immediately outraged and my parents said I was crazy. I am convinced that I have never again seen, nor will I ever see the film that I saw in the theater in 1977 when I was three years old.

  13. Brett says:

    I don't look for excuses to bash Lucas. I have enjoyed some of his movies. The quality of them began its downward spiral with "Return of the Jedi," however, and continued descending throughout the trilogy of Chapters 1 through 3. The biggest problem with the first trilogy lies with the casting of its central character, however.

    • Alec says:

      Was there something wrong with Luke's casting? I don't recall ever hearing of this in the past on any place in the internet, or are we just starting on something fresh and untouched to attack because we are tired of attacking Jar-Jar?

      • Jeff Bowles says:

        If you look at the most significant scene for Luke Skywalker, you’ll find it in the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, when Darth Vader tells him the big news.

        The actor playing Luke was stuck in a very bad situation. He needed to show substantial emotional depth, and for some reason, it’s just not there.

        worse, the looping fails the film. At the most important moment, the visuals and the voice for Luke do not match up, and the most important reaction shot of the series is discarded.

      • Pedro says:

        When shooting that scene, Lucas informed Mark Hammil that Vader is Luke's father, and to react accordingly. No one else knew about this, not even the actor playing Vader who's line was "I killed your father", later changed in post production. So yes, there's emotional depth because he reacted properly

    • S.A. Small says:

      Um, I think Brett's referring to the casting of Anakin, not Luke. (And I agree wholeheartedly in the case of Episode I, if that's the case. I'm kind of on the fence for II and III, though.

  14. Jon says:

    Ha ha, nice try. The prequels suck, save for the actor playing Palpatine/The Emperor.

    The "mirrors" you see are simply Lucas running out of storytelling ideas (as was already evident in Jedi).

    These are not the films you are looking for.

    • Ryan says:

      But he looked completely different from the original emperor.. looked like a crotchety old man.. In the originals he looked evil! this the prequels he just looked stupid.. did nobody else notice that? Seriously I love Star Wars but the prequels just plain sucked.

  15. Sophie says:

    Well, of course a game producer is going to love the prequels. The experience of watching them is like witnessing (not playing) a video game. All that you've said about "reversing mirrors" is a fancy way of stating that the rebels were completely justified in destroying the order of the Jedis. The prequels made me hate all Jedis and the "good guys" with a passion with the exception of Obi Wan, of course. And we have Sir Alec Guinness to thank for that.

    • Pedro says:

      Oh really?? The rebels destroyed the Jedi? from aboard the USS Enterprise launched from Babylon 5, no doubt.
      And the actor that played Obi Wan in the prequels was Ewan Mcgregor, not Alec Guiness. Go see the movies again, dear.

  16. David Gregg says:

    Kevin,
    Love the article, brilliant insights and a fresh perspective. Do you write the inputs on the site mstrmnd.com?
    Thanks
    Dave Gregg

    • Kevin McLeod says:

      Yes. How'd you come across the site? Thanks for reading.

      • Scott says:

        I recognized this analysis right away. Enjoyed your Kubrick pieces on mstrmnd.com a while back.

      • David Gregg says:

        Kevin
        I cannot remember how I came across mstrmnd. I think I had just gone to see a screening of The Shining last Summer. I was struck by how intricate and complex the film was and how it seemed to be working way beyond the surface text. I must have searched online for articles about The Shining and found mstrmnd.com and the "Physical Cosmologies" article. I read The Shining and also the Star Wars Physical Cosmologies articles. Eye opening analysis. They were riveting to read.
        Thanks

  17. Ben says:

    I like the prequels I think they are good, but you are so full of it! The only way he redefined cinema was to make using CGI the norm in the 21st century. Frankly I don't think you are giving George Lucas too much credit in your article.

    • Pedro says:

      Are you saying that in the first trilogy (before CGI) he didn't redefine cinema, nor was a pre and post Star Wars time?, Nor that he revolutionized shooting , props, computer controled cameras? Uau, you must be the first…

  18. Jessi says:

    Lovely entry! Really wish you could make a list of all the mirrors within the trilogies. It would make for an interesting read. The only one that jumps out at me is an obvious one, of course: in A New Hope, Vader kills Obi-Wan. In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan muses, "Why do I get the feeling you'll be the death of me?" Oh, and within Clones, in the beginning, Anakin loses his lightsaber only to have Obi-Wan return. Later in the movie, his lightsaber does get destroyed and he mutters that Obi-Wan will kill him for it! Also, in Empire, Luke loses his lightsaber in the duel with Vader, one that did belong to Anakin. I guess the middle films contain lots of lost lightsabers!

  19. Jessi says:

    Lovely entry! Really wish you could make a list of all the mirrors within the trilogies. It would make for an interesting read. The only one that jumps out at me is an obvious one, of course: in A New Hope, Vader kills Obi-Wan. In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan muses, "Why do I get the feeling you'll be the death of me?" Oh, and within Clones, in the beginning, Anakin loses his lightsaber only to have Obi-Wan return. Later in the movie, his lightsaber does get destroyed and he mutters that Obi-Wan will kill him for it! Also, in Empire, Luke loses his lightsaber in the duel with Vader, one that did belong to Anakin. I guess the middle films contain lots of lost lightsabers!

    I've always loved the Star Wars movies, all six of them. If you go around looking for flaws, you're bound to find some. However, if you try to enjoy something, then you're going to enjoy it. Maybe Lucas makes mistakes; he's only human, of course. But honestly, I could care less and wouldn't purposely go looking for mistakes and flaws in any film. I find Lucas to be an amazing storyteller who can create universes and characters for everyone to enjoy (Hey, I love Jar Jar!). And I enjoy the Star Wars movies every time I watch them.

    Thank you for writing this article. I hope you don't get too much negativity over this. You make a great point about these movies. It's things like this that make me want to watch them over and over again. You are always finding something new within them. Maybe that is Lucas' intention from the beginning…

    • Lizana says:

      I agree with you, but I want to point out that at least the first of the two examples you pointed out ('death of me') are more examples of foreshadowing than mirroring. All the same, this is a good note on the article.

  20. AmbroseKalifornia says:

    One of the best things about Star Wars is that we all project part of ourselves into our viewing experience. We all have our own opinions, prejudices and theories. Which is why this article reminded me of this:

    http://www.cracked.com/article/18367_6-insane-fan

    Beware, spoilers, and less than family friendly language.

  21. bubba4 says:

    I don't think George understands or can remember what "evil" is really like and why it would be appealing, especially how powerlust and desire can corrupt the spirit of men. Anakin's journey could have been the journey of the anti-hero but George is too ham-handed and child friendly to really give us a taste of it. Bad casting and terriblle scripts didn't help. Then there is the entire "little creatures in your cells' business…where he completely lost me. Lucas is a genius and innovator and no one can take his accomplishments away from him, but his best movies are the ones where someone helps him write the script and someone else directs it.

  22. Amarestat says:

    There is not one revealing or insightful thing here. It's pseudo-intellectual b.s. that makes no sense whatsoever. Example: "Overall, there is a transforming flow of identities that take spherical form, a path from nature into the mechanical." Are you kidding me!!??

  23. johnny g says:

    please. the prequels are horrible movies and the only reason they get any love is because they are star wars and i think lucas gets way too much of a pass on them. they are deeply flawed stories with poor characters and motivation problems. you could forgive the bad dialogue if the stories were clear and characters were likable (like the original movie), but instead lucas tries to distract you with too much CGI and frames so busy they are as convoluted as the plot.

    for more info, see what mike commented on above – the red letter media phantom menace review on you tube. the guy did a 70 MINUTE breakdown of what's wrong with the prequel. It is so on point it is worthy of a masters thesis.

  24. Steve says:

    The author of this article has WAY too much time on his hands…

  25. Oxiborick says:

    People are actually still spamming discussions of Star Wars with references to those whiny Red Letter Media reviews so people can suffer through failed filmmaker Mike Stokalasa's pathetically shallow insights? Hilarious. That loser is like some kind of messiah for angry aging nerds. He's damn lucky he has Lucas to be his host as a parasite, otherwise people would pay no attention to him. I wonder if he'll still be milking the Star Wars review thing for all it's worth, say, 10 years from now? Judging from that laughably bad Gremlins "homage" he spewed up, I guess it's probably his only viable option. :D

    • Michael says:

      It's too bad you don't get the point of his parody/analysis of the Star Wars prequels. His persona of that of a moron/kidnapper/serial murderer is a riff on the whole fanboy world and also a slap (or two) at Lucas' prequels. Here's a fool who offers a sound argument against Lucas' big-budget movies made with the talents of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. And what do those talents combine to make? Some seriously undercooked, overwrought and pedestrian pieces of junk masquerading as Star Wars films.
      He's pointing out just how absurd the Star Wars prequels are, offering absurdities of his own in the process. That shouldn't be hard to see.

    • Jerome Bunga-Bean says:

      The Red Letter Media reviews are a riot and are ANYTHING BUT shallow. They contain a treasure trove of insight on why the prequels failed: expository dialogue instead of visual storytelling, lack of a central protagonist, most scenes shot with characters sitting or strolling, unimaginative framing and cuts, etc. The guy doesn't pretend to be Ingmar Bergman, but he does sound a lot like Gene Simmons!

    • Lordthree says:

      Roger Ebert linked to his last review on his own website… Recommending it… despite the fact that mike took shots at him getting payed off in the first 5 minutes. No, Mike has a true talent for picking through things like this… Not that his reviews mention anything that wasn’t obvious, but because he had the patience to actually articulate his seething hatred of this crap in an original and amusing way. Most of the rest of us just thought the movies were too horrible to watch ever again. Mike is easily the greatest film critic of his generation and your love of starwars is clouding your judgement if you can’t appreciate his talent.

    • Duder NME says:

      Completely agreed! RLM whines more than Anakin, Luke, Ben, Kol, and Cade Skywalker combined, and is the prototypical example of the alpha snob that has sought to overwhelm difference in opinion the net over for a ceaseless decade, compelled by a geas of entitlement. It's as if fanboys' opinions were gestating in unfocused flux until Stokalasa "divined" them with such fervent insight, laced with smug conjecture and a glaring lack of common sense , all posing as fact. But once more, they toss his slurred lecture as indisputable gospel. All hail the spoon feeder! Death to the "apologists"! Us vs. Them!

  26. Steve says:

    Oh my God, L.A. Times. To what is this relevant in nearly 2011? Slow news day this Christmas? No tsunamis or terrorist attacks, so you dust off a treatise on the merits of the Star Wars prequels and run it as filler? Who, exactly, has been languishing out there, waiting for someone like Kevin McLeod to come along and finally defend the merits of the prequels with a rambling, pseudo-intellectual film-theory manifesto? This issue has been more or less settled since 2005 (or 1999, if you ask me): The new Star Wars films absolutely stunk, most of us were bitterly disappointed, and any hidden brilliance that may or may not exist within these works has no bearing on fans' willingness to embrace them.

    They're quite simply NO FUN. They're CONFUSING. They're DEPRESSING. They were hated when they were released, and they remain so to this day. Time has not softened the intensity of the MAJORITY of Star Wars fans' PROFOUND DISAPPOINTMENT at these putrid, boring, mind-numbing toy commercials. (And btw, I honestly don't mind being sold toys, so long as I'm given characters and adventures that are so strong they still resonate over three decades later.) The new Star Wars "films" are little more than cures for insomnia. And I agree one hundred percent with the earlier post which referenced Red Letter Media. I'd love to read a Kevin McLeod rebuttal to Harry S. Plinkett's epic TPM and AOTC reviews. I've seen them multiple times, and my hat is off to him for actually managing to make something TRULY ENTERTAINING out of those otherwise completely useless films.

    As for Mr. McLeod's argument: anyone so desperate to see value in something WILL eventually see it, if he looks long and hard enough. His analysis is tortured and incoherent. It reminds me of Calvinball, the made-up sport played by Calvin and Hobbes, where they basically made up the rules (and the consequences of those rules) as they played. Mirroring? Pattern Recognition? Opposites? To what end, I ask? This inflates the value of these movies HOW, exactly? At the end of the day, we're still left with three movies that are inane, laughable, dull, forgettable, over-saturated with computer imagery, and completely incapable of transporting an audience away from the real world and to a place of endless mystery and wonder (as the original trilogy did).

    So now you're telling me that George Lucas is some kind of savant, some unsung psychoanalytical genius on the level of Hitchcock, for burying all this symbolism and meaning in what appears on the surface to be a boring, completely unsatisfying and unentertaining film cycle? This is like saying "So-and-so's music may sound atonal and arhythmic, with incomprehensible or outright lousy lyrics, but if you really analyze it, it's chock full of meaning, patterns, satire, hidden allegories, etc…therefore, I argue that you should DANCE to it — even though you can barely recognize it as music and quite clearly HATE it." Oh, I get it. It's like experimental jazz, right? Or maybe performance art. That's it. The Star Wars prequels are performance art, and George Lucas is like Andy Kaufman, pulling an elaborate stunt…going out of his way to make three of the worst films in the history of cinema, laughing all the while at how we're MISSING how much of a genius he is for loading in all these patterns and mirroring devices and cognition whatchamacallits.

    It's like arguing why a soap that doesn't actually get you clean still has value as soap. Star Wars is like Calgon…we want it to take us away. The prequels DON'T.

  27. Angel Roman-Franco says:

    Lucas did to us what John Milton did in Paradise Lost: the Devil as hero so as to challenge us with our own ambivalence. We like to root for the "good guys", but we are, decidedly, not the good guys.

  28. Patrick says:

    Ditto on that one. Would have been a much powerful story, and a lesson we need to be reminded of in these dark times.

  29. Andrew says:

    I found this an interesting and fresh take on the films and the much misunderstood George Lucas. The prequels are not without their faults, the afore mentioned clunky dialogue being paramount to me however they tell a fascinating story that gives extra depth to the original trilogy setting up the fall of the republic in ROTS perfectly.

  30. mark says:

    all this analysis is very nice and well thought out. but it can't change 2 facts: the writing in the prequel was absolutely horrid, and the acting, especially by whoever it is that played anakin skywalker–may he never act again, for his sake and the world's–was among the absolutely worst examples of the profession that have ever been captured on celluloid.

    but other than that, sure, the prequel is surely the stuff of many a jungian-inspired term paper, or even academic article.

  31. nikki says:

    One of the most important mirrors is that of Amidala and Palpatine. The Angel and the Devil. Palpatine is cast out of the symbol of heaven (Naboo) and Amidala is effectively killed trying to recover Anakin from the Hell (Mustafar) Palpatine has called him to. They are both similar and strikingly different. Palpatine persades Anakin that everyone is reaching for power and will not let go, Amidala lets go of her power between Episodes 1 and 2 despite her people wanting otherwise. Episode one ends with Amidala giving the light orb, a symbol of her power to the gungan leader showing a shared world. Episoode 6 ends with a statue of Palpatine holding the same orb getting ripped down. In episode one Amidala is on her throne frames by windows of bright light when she speaks to Palpatine's hologram. She has a circle of advisors, a shared power. In Episode 6 the Emperor sits exactly the same way backed by the black emptiness of space as Luke comes before him. The emporer has his armoured red guard, Padme has her handmaidens also dressed in long flowing red robes. In episode 2 Amidala wears a light blue hood and stands behind Anakin supporting him as he looks for his mother, Palpatine wears his black robes as he stands in front of Vader as he tortures Luke. This is Anakin's conscience. I can think of at least 6 times when the set or costume has shown Amidala to have a halo. Lucas is a visual film maker but not in the way people think. The meaning comes from the composition like a painting rather than the narrative alone. The CGI is just a different style of making the image. These mirrors and echoes run throughout. They are also used to show how Anakin and Luke are put in the same positions with different outcomes/decisions.

    • Steve says:

      Meaning, schmeaning. The prequels are ALMOST unanimously disliked.

      Not all movies are meant to be liked immediately upon the initial viewing…but Star Wars (the original) was such a massive, unqualified hit because WAS…it went right to the core. It delivered on every level, AS it was being watched. You didn't have to think about it afterward with tortured rationalizations…in fact, most people probably didn't even know where to begin when explaining just why they liked Star Wars so much. They were simply swept away.

      In 1977, how many people, when asked, "Did you like it", said "No"?

      • nikki says:

        I don't see how this is relevant to the topic at hand at all. The essay is clearly about cinematic technique irrelevant of superficial opinions that can't be verbalised. This essay is just a culmination of what fans have been looking at since 1999. There are many mirrors not even touched on here. Star Wars was always in need of outside thinking, its incorporation of religious and mythical iconography has been discussed since '77. This isn't mindless entertainment like Transformers, its always had an ethical message that goes beyond the screen based on philosophy.

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Nice observation, and certainly a better and more consistent finding than anything the article has to offer.
        Had the actual acting and characterization of the main characters been done well, and the rest of the story well written, too, it'd be really neat.

  32. Dave says:



    Btw, Episode 1 is not Last Year at Marienbad. Your argument about the complexity of the prequels is really contrived.

  33. Natty says:

    Thanks for being a part of my life George Lucas!

  34. Coal says:

    Steve, just curious.. what do you consider "experimental jazz?"

    Sounds like you're throwing comparisons around that don't fit at all.

  35. scot says:

    out of the six movies i have think return of the jedi is the worst, totally unwatchable and almost embarrassing and has been for decades… the fact that it is the last one is just bad

  36. Harry TheBodyBuilder says:

    What a crock of $hit. Go watch RedLetterMedia's reviews, man. And then ConfusedMatthew's.
    The prequel trilogy – story wise – is terrible. You have got to be kidding or fvckign stupid to deny that.

    • Oxiborick says:

      Mike Stoklasa of RedLetterMedia is an embittered unsuccessful filmmaker whose only claim to fame is whining about another person's work. And virtually everything he says can be easily shot down. That's going to be the zenith of his career as a filmmaker. How sad is that?

      And by the way, why is it so hard for prequel haters simply say "Oh, I didn't care for the new movies and here's why" instead of cussing you out like HarryTheBodyBuilder here? Granted, some of them seem to be mentally stable, but it seems as if the majority of them fall into the latter category. They are space wizard movies meant for kids and teenagers. Calm down.

  37. Joe says:

    I've never understood how these and all the other motifs in the new movies went completely unacknowledged, misunderstood or completely unappreciated by an army of people that claim to have this stuff in their lifeblood. This essay only scratches the surface and doesn't even begin to discuss how John Williams' scores do the same things. It (prequel hate) quickly became a willful meme and it's frankly in the DNA of the internet at this point having originated basically at its inception.

    Amazing too that the premise of the headline here could also lead to a lengthy discussion of still barely appreciated modern production and exhibition advances these movies gave the industry and audiences as well. On that side of things the prequels are no less influential than the originals were. Probably moreso.

  38. Jack Carter says:

    I have followed McLeod's "log" on mstrmnd.com for over a year now and it has changed the way I think about film, language, and visual media, and I have used the log with astounding results to teach university classes on culture, media, and language. I encourage the naysayers here to tap the log, including McLeod's film reviews/analyses. This guy is giving us free decoder for all current major visual media, film, tv internet advertising, gaming. Literature classes in high school and college are required, but almost nowhere do we find mandatory courses in visual and media literacy even though we spend 8 hours each day in front of luminous screens. Result? We are easily hoodwinked by the simplest minds and "coerced" into buying, emotion, and mass fear by the more clever among media propagandists. Check out McLeod's piece on the Shining. Kubrick was mastering pattern cognition 30 and 40 years ago, relaying stories and messages way beyond surface content. Lucas has taken it to new levels with cutting edge technologies and meanings (and paradoxes and nuance) that reveal our dire time. Thank you, Hero Complex. You made my Monday.

  39. Clint says:

    it's interesting how polarizing this article, and the topic of the prequels themselves, continue to be. people either love them or hate them. as far as my two cents, none of the prequels are good movies. these 'patterns' that the author discusses are just a way to try and eke something, anything, positive out of these three failures. they're just bad movies, and no amount of searching for subtext will make them good. george lucas, r.i.p.

  40. Thomas Field says:

    What Mcleod is totally missing is the obvious allusions to The Three Stooges. Most notably in episode IV when Obi Wan, Luke and Han pretend to be plumbers and wreak havoc on the Death Star by reversing their pipes and knocking holes in all the sheet rock. After they were done there was water coming out of the light fixtures, stoves and monitors!

    Or how about the time in episode ..whatever, when Yoda invites Vader, Prince Dookie, and Boba Fet to a parlay and proceeds to conk their heads together and and poke them in the eyes. The final battle in the Revenge of the Sith very closely resembles the famous pie-fight melee the boys staged in Hoi-Poloi. The central struggle of the films mirrors Larry's desire to overthrow Moe and take his rightful place as the head Stooge. Chewbacca was obviously a Shemp symbol.

    This all makes about as much sense as the pseudo-intellectual malarky in this essay. Talk about tortured, ex-post-facto logic and, contrived meaning. A good movie doesn't need this kind of atomization. The fact that the hard -core fan base of this franchise hated the prequels says all you need to know. Those people desperately wanted to love these flicks, but they didn't, and all the pretentious navel-gazing in the universe or even an expedition up Jabba the Hut's Enderon won't change that.

  41. Shannon says:

    I'd also like to point out that the mirror effect of the two Trilogies result in a convergence in the middle. Episode 1 is a structural mirror to Episode 6. In Episode 6, our heroes "invade" Endor to destroy the shield generator protecting the second Death Star. In Episode 1, the villains invade Naboo in order to take over and control that planets economic structure. Both films result in a simultaneous battle in space and on the ground. Both end with a cremation scene. Both end with celebration of victory, but one with ominous tones and one with a promise of hope.

    Episode 2, as the article points out, is a direct mirror of Episode 5. The only other example I'd like to point out is that Episode 2 ends with a ground battle in a desert with mechanical walkers (for the good guys) and Episode 5 begins with a ground battle in the snow against mechanical walkers (for the bad guys). I don't think I need to explain any further similarities. The article does it just fine.

    Episode 3 mirrors Episode 4 in opposite structural patterns as the two converge from end to beginning. Episode 3 begins with a large scale space battle over a technological sphere (Coruscant). Episode 4 ends with a large scale space battle over the Death Star. Episode 3 ends with the last line of dialogue in the prequel trilogy by C-3P0 on the Tantive IV (blockade runner). Episode 4 begins with the first bit of spoken dialogue by, you guessed it, C-3P0 on the Tantive IV.

    I could point out more similarities, but I think I've made an adequate point. Great article. It confirms what I've been pointing out for years.

    • biggusrickus says:

      The parallels are obvious, sometimes painfully so. That doesn't add any artistic merit to the prequels. You still need a well-constructed story and compelling characters for anyone to care.

      • Jade says:

        What you and the writer call 'Mirror's', Lucas calls 'Echoes' or 'Tone poems'. The rest of us call it 'Plagiarism' of one's own work. He simply took ideas from the O.T. and painted them green.

  42. Michael says:

    While this made for an interesting read for a big Star Wars fan such as myself, the movies themselves are not as interesting, or as deep the points you raise.
    Maybe they do lurk somewhere in the prequels, beneath all the clustered CGI battle scenes, the pedestrian dialogue, wooden acting and silly shenanigans aimed toward children, but they definitely weren't the focus of the movies.
    If someone paid me to go dig deep into the Star Wars prequels, I could easily do the same, and make the same connections. As at least one other person said here, there's nothing subtle about the prequels and their connections to the original trilogy. Those "mirrors" are quite obvious, and most are about as subtle as a hammer to the temples. They're feel like they're delivered in more for a "A ha, that's fun!" way than anything deep or resonant.
    It's mirror-creation by checklist. Takes notes on the original trilogy and just mirror the scene or elements in the new movies. These are simple film techniques, such as foreshadowing, that just about all directors can pull off.

    • E CHU TA! says:

      As McLeod has pointed out, the parallels in the PT are not performed exclusively for fun and are not simple. The concept itself requires the viewer to compare and contrast the mirrored conventions to examine how and why characters respond differently to similar situations. (For example, how and why do Obi-wan, Padme, Anakin, and Luke react when certain terrible truths are revealed?) Lucas wants viewers to examine the story in a thoughtful manner.

      While some parallels are obvious, some are more subtle or have multiple layers. For example, the character of Boba Fett is set up to be parallel of both Anakin and Luke. He is a parallel to Anakin in that he only has one sibling and becomes orphaned through violence. He is parallel to Luke in that he follows the path of his armored father. (In the OT, there is the danger that Luke will follow the path of his armored father.)

      I agree that there is a certain checklist approach to this concept. However, once someone starts down this path, it’s inevitable that this would be the case. ;)

      The fact that the parallel motif (usually called juxtaposition) is a common literary device doesn’t devalue its use.

      • Lordthree says:

        “He is a parallel to Anakin in that he only has one sibling and becomes orphaned through violence.”

        Did you even SEE the movies? He is a CLONE. He either has NO siblings, or you could consider ALL of the other clones his siblings. Gibberish

      • E CHU TA! says:

        I mistyped. I meant parent and not sibling:

        "He is a parallel to Anakin in that he only has one parent and becomes orphaned through violence."

  43. Peter Briggs says:

    I hate these kind of academic exercises. They're the same "impose an intellectual algorithm" snake oil salesmanship that how-to screenwriting books have espoused since the late 1980s, when in reality a story is frequently hammered out by a series of lucky coincidences, not by paradigm manipulation. In truth, if screenwriting were that simple, there would be *no* bad screenplays. And I'd argue that because of the application of screenwriting rules by Truby, Field, and the others, quite the reverse is now true.

    Saying that "spheres" exist as visual story motifs is ridiculous. They're just there because, one afternoon, George was in the art department, and they looked cool.

    There is no "inversion of rules" as they apply to the "OT", here. Much of what appeared in "Phantom Menace" was simply regurgitation of ideas that George had rejected from the early drafts of "Star Wars", back in the early '70s. Whole scenes and situations were copied almost verbatim from these early drafts.

    Why? Because Lucas was making a political analogy back then. It was his science-fiction knee-jerk reaction to the politics of Nixon et-al, at the time. It's already acknowledged in books charting the history of the genesis of the script that George was plundering left and right for the original "Star Wars". The name "Palpatine" was his lift of "Palatine" from Scorsese's "Taxi Driver", for example.

    "Star Wars" was battered into shape from frustration, the snipping of hair into a wastebasket, and the notes and assistance of others. "The Phantom Menace" and its sequels is cobbled together from unused ideas, and similar "sampling" of culture since then. Nothing more.

    These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

    • E CHU TA! says:

      I hate these type of rambling comments.

      Given that the concept of parallels is so pervasive in the films, it’s unlikely that they were developed in a single day. Besides, if it was, it’s makes no difference to their value.

      The Phantom Menace was not mostly written from old Star Wars drafts. While it does borrow a few ideas and names from older drafts and contain allusions to the Flash Gordon serials, The Hidden Fortress, Ben Hur, and E.T., it is largely original.

      The politics of Star Wars don’t deal exclusively with Nixon. The main inspirations are the democracies of Rome and Pre-World War 2 Germany.

      The screenplay for Star Wars was not an amalgamation of other screenplays. A character sharing a similar name to another is not proof that it was pasted together.

    • nikki says:

      It seems like a mish mash because Lucas was using basic mythic archetypes seen throughout our culture. He never claimed to be the first to use them.

      I don't understand your hatred of 'academic' interpretation. Why study plays if it is so useless? I don't see Shakespeare getting used as a guidebook to how the perfect play works. When you interpret Romeo and Juliet you are seeing how R&J works, not how Hamlet or Othello works in turn. The same with Star Wars.

  44. E CHU TA! says:

    I’m not sure why the term “pseudo-intellectual” is being used as Mr. McLeod is attempting actual intellectualism. I’m going to guess that those commentators using this term have little experience with legitimate academic analysis.

    In regard to the main point of the essay, I don’t believe that Lucas’ use of “mirrors” changed cinema. After all, Lucas didn’t invent this concept. I think a better point-of-view is to simply state that the Saga’s use of the “mirror”/parallel/dualism/juxtaposition motif is one of the most thought-out and pervasive examples in film.

    As a whole, this essay shouldn’t come as news to anyone who has viewed all six films. The fact that the first chapter is named The Phantom Menace should clue most viewers into the concept. After all, the title points to a larger-view approach to the story. Moreover, if you listen to the audio commentary of TPM DVD, Lucas specifically states that he is using a “rhyming” approach to the story. He equates the concept to music being played in varying ways.

    The reoccurring themes and sequences in the Saga are really an extension of the mythological and historical iconography. Lucas intentionally borrows themes and symbols from various cultures. These ideas are often passed down from generation to generation through re-telling. Moreover, many mythological themes and symbols crosscut societies and are repeated throughout various cultures. The parallels within the Star Wars storyline provide the Saga with it’s own kind of repetition.

    • Kevin McLeod says:

      The reason it’s revolutionary is that previous inversions (Lang’s Mabuse films or Scarlett Street/woman in the window, Hitch’s Suspicion/notorious, Kubrick’s 2001/Shining) aren’t contained in a fluid tale like these are. Lucas references it all. Sure it’s been done before, but never like this.

  45. E CHU TA! says:

    Here in the US, this essay is relevant because Spike replays the six films around the Christmas.

  46. Michael says:

    Let's not forget. One contribution that he also made to cinema was the Jar Jar Binks character, raising the role of the buffoon to a whole new (and low) level.
    Jar Jar helped open the door for the likes of Mudflap and Skids — the two atrociously bad and racist caricatures in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." They made Jar Jar seem completely innocent and harmless.

  47. Jack Carter says:

    If the piece by McLeod poses some problems for readers, then examine the very succinct comment above by "Shannon." These patterns are obvious after relatively brief scrutiny, and they were created intentionally. If you loved the original trilogy, and wanted the prequels to surpass it, then you might employ insights from McLeod, Shannon, and others (like Nikki) to take you back to these "hated" films. You may discover you can appreciate them at long last and that the entire set of 6 has more meaning (for you) than you might have imagined. You are not "wrong" if you hated the prequel trilogy; your response is logical on many levels and was likely anticipated. Examining the possibility that there is elaborate structure and patterning among forms and between episodes can be a provocative exercise and also may serve as a striking means of linking generations and viewpoints. Shannon, are you a writer, or do you have a website? It was great to see your comments.

  48. Tray C. says:

    I highly suggest that Hero Complex does NOT allow Kevin McLeod to waste cyber space with this drivel again. I want my 10 minutes back. HC, please think before allowing just any nutcase to do a Guest Essay next time!

  49. Tom says:

    It sounds like the film is filled with clever techniques to tie it to the original trilogy. But they lack any form of basic narrative structure or any compelling characters. You can try to explain those flaws however you want, but the product is still a flawed and joyless film.

  50. Mark says:

    What Joe, Jack Carter and Shannon said. And I have to laugh at Michael's derisory comment about "the pedestrian dialogue, wooden acting and silly shenanigans aimed toward children" – these are all things the original trilogy had in spades too. The Star Wars movies were always aimed at and made for children. As Lucas himself said: "The fans grow up, the films don't." When I was 9 years old Return of the Jedi was the greatest film i'd ever seen. If I watch it now with the mind of a grown up then its almost embarrassing. Happily I can remember what it feels like to be 9 and can easily slip into that mode to watch it. The original Star Wars fans can never do that with the prequels. Ultimately Lucas will be forever mocked by a vocal minority who feel offended that the prequels were not aimed at their 25 – 30 year old selves, instead of the 10 year old selves Lucas did aim the films at.

  51. darthmeat says:

    I find that most people who hate the prequels are above 30. Recently I had a talk with my 13 yr. old niece's boyfriend. He is a bigger fan of the prequels. So maybe it's all about a certain point of view. Having a 2 yr. old now reminds me what a childs eyes see or don't see, mainly they see the good and ignore the flaws. As we grow older some of us start to see the flaws and overlook the good. I think thats what happens alot with star wars. I know it's alot more complex than that. but thats basically it.

    • Brandon R says:

      That's the difference between the prequels and the originals, though. It's really the young kids who like the prequels, and ultimately grow out of them and start to see the flaws. With the originals, though, that doesn't really happen. People may nitpick here and there, but kids and adults alike have loved and continued to love the original films, whereas they grow out of the prequels.

  52. darthmeat says:

    wow dude. anger management. goosfrabba

  53. Jay says:

    Much more of the Star Wars universe has been WRITTEN IN BOOKS where dialogue and idea-milling has thrived. Simply put, Lucas "set the table" for audiences but fell short of filling our plates. The smart move on his part would've been to turn to some of these BRILLIANT Star Wars science fiction writers and match their stories to his technical showmanship. His ego got in the way and in fact continues to do so. Why won't he release the Star Wars movie rights and allow another studio/producer/director a crack at taking “Star Wars” to better heights? He won't, which is just asinine. Star Wars is Lucas' master creation but it will not achieve greatness with his "I am King" attitude. Lucas has enriched himself with billions in merchandising but the storylines and cheesy dialogue in his movies will never match the scope of his earnings. In the end, Star Wars fans are better off setting their sights on lower ground and letting their own imaginations build what Lucas could not.

  54. Bah says:

    It's cool to notice these patterns in the film–some of which I would say are unintentional projection on the part of the writer (Darth Maul=Obi Wan, Bespin=Kamino, what the hell?)–but really: a trio of sequels to a previous trio of originals uses the same character types, themes, situations and images. Wow. In the real world that's just called a franchise, and geniuses like Michael Bay and Sylvester Stallone have been doing it for years. Also, I guess the title of this is meant to get people interested, but anyone who would ever believe that, especially for the utterly MUNDANE reasons discussed in this article, has no sense of cinema history and probably doesn't have very good taste in films either.

  55. Brandon R says:

    Lucas may have done very well in the symbolism department, but that doesn't make the prequel stories brilliant. The love story of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Anakin the so-called Jedi hero, and Anakin's fall to the dark side were so poorly conceived and executed that it's not even justifiable. Wrapping it in symbolism doesn't change the fact that the prequels are just bad storytelling. Things happened because the writer knew they were supposed to happen. There was no logical flow.

  56. Wayne Smith says:

    After watching all six Star Wars this past holiday weekend on Spike TV, the thought came to mind after reading this article on mirroring about who the actual father of Anakin Skywalker was. According to "Phantom Menace" Anakin didn't have a father. Was he concieved spontaneously by his mother? Of course not. The only conclusion I have now is that Palpatine/Sidious/theEmperor is the father of Anakin Skywalker! Why would Anakin's mom be on such a far-flung planet as Tatooine if she wasn't hiding out from the powerful politician with whom she shared a night of passion?

    • darthmeat says:

      she tells qui-gon that the kid was a virginal (or at least non sexual, she was a slave) birth in ep. 1. then in ep.3 sidious claims that his master knew the dark side so well that he could create life using just the force. so in a way maybe he or his master did make her pregnant. besides the chick was on tattoine which is pretty damn close to naboo apparently since they could fly there using just regular engines. so maybe he was either an accident made practicing this technique or a deliberate experiment. besides i think the sidious character just like lucas just knows how to use happy accidents to his advantage anyways.

  57. DampeS8N says:

    Lucas is a hack screenwriter, a stilted director, and a fabulous world builder. When you put him in the right mix of other people, you get genius. But put him in a group of yesmen and you get pedantic, overblown, masturbatory, drivel.

    He knows how to make a universe exciting. And how to make interesting characters seem boring.

  58. grant says:

    waste of my tiem reading this

  59. Vendorx says:

    These "patterns" that McLeod claims to see are nothing more than a demonstration of the inability of Lucas to BE innovative, not a glorious exploration of "pattern recognition." The Red Letter Media review of Attack of the Clones does an excellent job of explaining how Lucas is really just ripping off his own work (along with that of many others, as we see dozens of shots virtually identical to scenes from, say, Blade Runner.)

    I'm also sorry to say that this is not a "strikingly revolutionary method of storytelling." Repeating metaphoric and thematic elements are as old as storytelling itself. In addition, McLeod doesn't give any examples of how this is intentional or artistic, he just insists that it must be. I think McLeod needs to take his own advice and consider this from another angle, the probability that Lucas was just lazily mimicking prior behavior in order to intentionally and artistically make more money off of fan boys.

    The trouble with pattern recognition is that when someone desperately wants something, they'll scrounge for patterns where none exist. The classic examples are the skinner box and basic, human superstition. I suspect that that's what McLeod is guilty of here. He wants a prequel trilogy he can respect, so he is looking for patterns in hopes of getting what he wants. And like anyone who's managed to rationalize a correlation between broken mirrors and bad luck, he's found one.

  60. Dan Someone says:

    It's very convenient that you can call something a mirror if it matches another image/scene/concept, but you can also call it a mirror when it *doesn't* match. I'm not buying it. At best, you've shown that it is possible for the human propensity for pareidolia allows for people to see grand schemes in bad movies as well as the Virgin Mary on a slice of toast.

  61. Michael says:

    This is an interesting was of looking at the films, but it doesn't make the acting any less wooden, it doesn't make the cg backgrounds any less artificial, it doesn't make the dialogue any less ridiculous, and it doesn't do anything to make the films more enjoyable to watch.

  62. Spookyjesus says:

    On every DVD Lucas talks about mirroring the other movies. He compares this mirroring to the structure of an opera.

    So… since we're not living in the 16th Century ol' Georgey ain't inventing the future.

    Silly nerd.

  63. concord says:

    I quite agree with the author. What I dislike about the prequels are the annoying performances and overall goofy nature of alien characters and poorly written dialogue. What I love about the prequels are the mirroring devices. Like Qui Gon Jinn at his funeral being burned look at how he is laying- exactly opposite Vader in Jedi- Qui Gon is the one who set Anakin on his path and Luke is the one who ends it. The colors of the lightsaber are mirrored too Luke's is blue the one Obi-Wan picks up that he loses in his first duel with Vader- then he forges a new green one the color of Qui Gons- but the design is like Obi-Wan's in Episode III.

  64. DisappointedSWFan says:

    Mirroring, smirroring… I seriously doubt that half of the overly-convoluted claims in this article were pre-determined by it's director when he wrote/made his 3 prequels. Some of the notions suggested in the article are a stretch to say the least, while some are just the result of mere coincidence. As for the rest, I'd say they are more likely to be just a rehash of ideas done slightly differently from previous ones that were done better originally.

    Full marks for trying to find the good in these major disappointments though.

    However, even if half of the claims in this article were indeed correct, which I seriously doubt, the fact remains that that the prequels are an uneven mess that will never match the sheer overall fun of the original trilogy. George Lucas had an opportunity to turn his saga into something greater than the sum of his already-revered trilogy…but ended up diminishing it with an uneven mix of taxation routes…politics…a whooping, whining Vaderling,,,farting creatures…ridiculous-sounding alien buffoons…and many other examples of mediocrity, compared to how things could have turned out.

    Bottom line, the prequels could and should have been great…but weren't. And as for any assertions that they were aimed at a younger audience to begin with, it's just a pity 'Phantom Menace' ended up starting things off so childishly, rather than 'mirroring' some of the magical child-'like' feel that the originals had. Even making Jar Jar Binks a 'silent' guide would have improved things!

  65. xenia says:

    Wow- I haven't read such a forced pseudo-intellectual wank since I taught freshman Shakespeare. Yeah, doppelgangers… yawn.

  66. SFB says:

    I guess you could call "The Phantom Menace" a landmark film, but in the same way you could cause George W. Bush a landmark president. Sure they were historic, but are we better off because of them? The Phantom Menace might have began the whole early-century obsession with the series reboot, the remake, the frivolous sequel. It is also one of the prime examples of absolutely soulless special effects, a movie that is visually stunning, but ultimately hallow. When and if film historians look back on the general tilt cinema has been taking, I think that many of them would point to "The Phantom Menace" as a kind of patient zero.

    • Lordthree says:

      Very well put. Definately a patient zero. Now people like Cameron can get away with crap lousy one-dimensional, special effect laden, 3d, avatar cartoon crap. People are so numb now they simply can’t tell good from poor any more

  67. Baron L says:

    Remember in MOONRAKER, Jaws saved Bond instead of trying to kill him? Whoa, topsy turvy! Mirroring!

  68. Louis says:

    This may be one of the dumbest things I've read in a while. Kudos, man.

  69. Liam says:

    Yeah, I get it. Mirrors reverse things, right?
    Well, 4, 5, and 6 were brilliant masterpieces, so I would say that 1, 2, and 3 'mirrored' that perfectly.

    Kevin Mcleod – you seem like a pretty intelligent person, but here's a tip: no matter how hard you try (nor how well), if you dig for gold in piles of $h*t, all you get is dirty…

  70. Christopher says:

    Well, given that this article was as much fun to read as those movies were to watch, maybe the author really did get it. But I prefer to be wrong.

  71. Aaron says:

    Sylvester Stalone pushed all of film into the 21st century when he made Rocky III. And like a magician, he used mirrors.

    Remember that mirrors do not duplicate images — the way a copier does — they reverse them. Although mirroring has been around for a long time in art, Stallone took it much farther. His most basic mirror, the through-line of the films, simply inverts the power structures of his original trilogy. Instead of rooting for the scrappy underdog, Rocky, he spherically recreates the pattern by creating the scrappy underdog villain, Clubber Lang (Mr. T).

    The third Rocky film invents spherically, in much the same way as Lucas later reinvented the wheel of his own narrative.

  72. Omm says:

    This essay is laughable. Regardless of Lucas' questionably 'brilliant' attempt at constructing some sort of color/image based psycho-narrative using mirroring, the end result is a crappy film. I don't hate the characters, I don't care about them there are no characters. They are constructs that existing only to push forward the shaky plot. I don't see reflections of the other starwars, I see constant movement and action with no time taken to actually develop characters, a believable world or interest in whatever is going on. The Phantom Menace and its sequel are all crap, with the following too being almost completely unwatchable. If one of them, just one, had actually succeeded as worthwhile cinema even for 20 minutes, your ideas could be useful. But they don't, they are just 2 hours of pure anguish.

    I liked Red Letter Media. Yes it is insanely nerdy, but it is hilarious. It is also a good crash course in the basics of film making theory using the Phantom Menace as an example of what not to do. Of course I have no idea if that was intentional or not and whether it was or not remains completely irrelevant.

  73. johnw / twooffour says:

    I've looked at the points listed in this article, and broken them down in a post on the RedLetter Media forum. Basically, some of the ideas / parallels are there, but just like the plot themselves had good ideas and potential in them but ended up a horribly flawed incoherent mess, the "mirrorings" listed here are extremely contrived and don't hold up to scrutiny.
    The one's that were intended, where executed rather randomly and sloppily (e.g. Kamino/Geonosis might've had a hero and Fett on them, but Bespin was the emotional low point of the hero who went through a miserable failure and earth-shattering revelation there; …

  74. johnw / twooffour says:

    Obi-Wan wasn't all that affected by Dooku's words, the scene was completely devoid of emotion, and the events on both planets were intermediate plot stations without any special dramatic emphasis save for "final battle" and "war starts with lots of jedi redshirts alledgedly dead"; if all the shout-outs and symbolism are completely disconnected from characters, drama and emotion, are they still so brilliant, even if perfectly adding up with each other [they don't]?), so basically, the prequels failed at both plot AND self-reference. That's two big minuses right there.

    At any rate, I can bring up lots of moments / sequences / aspects I liked about the prequels, being lots of the designs and effect shots (and almost all of the score),

  75. johnw / twooffour says:

    some good, chilling atmosphere here and there, glorious dynamics and sound editing during action sequences, flashy choreography, Ian McDiarmid, some well-acting CG animations (Yoda's was a bit hamfisted and disney-like, but expressive nonetheless), some bits of cheap and childish but still pretty funny pieces of humor, some delicious Ham and Cheese (mainly Grievous and Sidious), and some singular really well-done intense emotional / foreshadowing shots, and none of those will in the slightest make up for the hole-ladden, lazy horrendous scripts.

  76. john says:

    I was very interested in what you had to say here, but it is utterly unconvincing. See top comment about Lucas re-treading old shots into the new film. There's no theoretical planning or mirroring in the prequels; you're tilting at windmills.

  77. Pagan says:

    Hoo boy! What a can of worms has been opened up – so I'll throw in my two cents worth. To mirror your use of the term "Pattern cognition" I''ll give you "Pareidolia" which means (thank you Wikipedia :-): "a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant." And I'll admit that to me, The Phantom Menace certainly fits the description of a "vague and random stimulus."
    Methinks that if you search hard for meaning or significance you are certain to find it, whether it actually exists or not. (A great example is William S Burroughs and the "significance" of the number 23 – start looking for it and you will notice it everywhere!!)

    And another vote from me for the RedLetterMedia review of the Phantom Menace:


    funny and very thought-provoking.

    In the end this article is very interesting, made me question and rethink my ideas, but ultimately changed and convinced me of nothing…. it's a fail.

  78. chudez says:

    nice try, but no … the prequels are too far down the hole to redeem.

    take ST:TPM. it’s not like the basic story isn’t intriguing and subtle (a phony war to further the political position of a secret sith). but it was a subtle story where the story telling was clumsy. the characters were caricatures. the events felt contrived. the ultimate heroic act was reduced to slapstick. if Lucas wanted to tell a subtle and nuanced story, then he should have made the storytelling more nuanced and sophisticated. but ultimately good storytelling took a backseat to coming out with cool visuals.

  79. Tom says:

    the basic story and concept of the prequels is not awful, it's more the little things that ruined the prequels. A story may be decent but if the acting, dialogue, and general tone of the story is bad, noone will care. Lucas can come up with good characters, general ideas, and plot elements, but he could not pull off, or he simply ignored the nuances, character development, and dialogue in the prequels to focus on special effects, and the finished product suffered. If he was executive producer and wrote a first draft, and left the finished dialogue and directing to others and allowed people to edit the inconsistencies of the story without changing too much of what he wanted, the prequels would be so much better. He simply tried to do too much at once. To write, direct, supervise special effects, and produce a film of this scale is nearly impossible for anyone to do.

  80. Mark Appleby says:

    It's just a movie!! Just enjoy it, and get a life!!!!!

  81. jellolover says:

    Female kangaroos have two vaginas.

  82. TickTockFourOClock says:

    Say what you will, it's a great article. It has generated a lot of debate. I enjoyed all the examples and if Mr. Lucas put all that thought into his craft, then bully for him…but…for my me and those I hang with we could have done with less politics and much more Jedi dueling. Let's face it, we weren't paying to see Citizen Kane (but Orson Welles as the Emperor…if only!). The argument for and against the prequels will eventually be overshadowed as fans create their own movies which tell a more fan-oriented tale. The technology is here and getting cheaper and easier, and judging by the energy in some of these posts, I'd say it is only a matter of time. Mr. Lucas, for your next effort (I believe recently he announced he was making more) get Jackie Chan and Ray Park to choreograph all the fight scenes, don't skimp on displaying Jedi powers, cut back a little on character sophistication and maybe let your video game designers assist with the story. A single promo for The Force Unleashed II is more exciting than most of the prequels I saw.

  83. foog says:

    So when someone is so bankrupt of ideas that they poach their own work they are actually doing something or another with mirrors now? (smoke and mirrors, surely). If only you had written this about, say, Tim Burton, it might be believable. At least he still has a molecule of talent.

  84. michaelc says:

    The biggest mirror of all is that the original 3 films were awesome and the prequels were the opposite of awesome.

  85. ladylavinia1932 says:

    Good article, but a waste of time. The Darth Media and the one-minded fanboys refuse to accept the Prequel Trilogy as artistically worthy. They're still blinded by the past and their own fears of how Lucas viewed society in those three movies.

  86. duderino says:

    I think you need to write essays like this for Hero Complex. Way better than the BS spewed by this guy.

  87. nikki says:

    First- Its 'science-fiction'. Then they need a way for the jedi to measure force sensitivity beyond 'the force is strong in this one'
    Second- Mythological imperative. There are plenty of virgin births in myth, like Jesus. Zeus fathered Perseus that way too I think. Read some Joseph Campbell for more on that.
    Four- 'Slave' Leia! The Jedi act under the Senate and if the planet is not part of the senate they can do nothing. They are confined by the law.

  88. Steve says:

    I wish I could thumbs-up this comment more than once. Well played.

  89. nikki says:

    5) The clone wars takes place between episodes 2 and 3. Shmi is already dead by then. Anakin can't go back and free her because he's under the supervision of Obi Wan who enforced the rule of no attachments as seen in episode 2.
    6) Hence the big theme of nature over technology. Clone beat machines. Ewoks beat machines in ROTJ.
    7) Episode One ends with a gungan army, naboo security unit and a unit of starfighters. Episode two ends with more jedi than ever before and clones, episode 3 has the clone army. The one on one battles are no different than in the OT, all three of those end with luke vs vader.

    • johnw / twooffour says:

      Actually, it's nowhere to be "seen" in II that Obiwan enforced some kind of "no attachment rule" on Anakin that forbade him or anyone else to go down and free his Mom.

  90. The three most recent Star Wars movies are terrible terrible movies. I figure that to change cinema, people who like cinema have to agree you’re doing something worthwhile. Nobody who likes elements of these films does so without a caveat.

  91. johnw / twooffour says:

    "The Darth Media and the one-minded fanboys refuse to accept the Prequel Trilogy as artistically worthy."
    Just like Atheists refuse to accept Jesus and rebel against God.

    "They're still blinded by the past and their own fears of how Lucas viewed society in those three movies."
    Palpatine is Space Hitler and government is weak/corrupt. We get it.

    There are COUNTLESS stories about that, both past and recent (Harry Potter being another highly famous example, and a better one because it actually depicted the SOCIETY part in it), and the prequels' scripts still suck.

  92. superville says:

    when you say "mirror" do you mean pump out obnoxious crap? he changed the future of cinema by proving that you can still make a billion dollars with a horrible movies.

  93. Christopher says:

    Gosh, I loved the original trilogy, but it was more because of the ground-breaking technology of the time. The story became progressively poorer, although I was fine with the camp aspect. All in all, they were innovative for their time, and fun to watch. Were they great cinema, or will they be remembered in 100 years as among the greatest films? Of course not. To be a great film, you have to have great acting, a great script, great & appropriate cinematography, great everything, in short, and this is a rare and difficult feat, even for a great director, which Lucas is not. As for the prequels… no, I have to agree with several commentators, they were crap. By then, Lucas had become his father… a teddy-bear salesman, and no pun intended there, really. As Ford commented earlier, "you can't theorize yourself out of that [a stupid story, dumb cutesey characters, really awful sophmoric acting, and a ton of inappropriately used cgi].

  94. Shumway says:

    Oh dear, for a English Major with a degree in literature, and a poet who has been writing/reading/analyzing poetry and dense prose for 30+ years, you aren't terribly perceptive are you?
    Midi-Chlorians are NOT the Force (say it out loud now) "Midi-Chlorians are NOT the Force"
    It was never suggested in the movie that they were, but many people seem to have missed the point.
    Midi-Chlorians are a CONDUIT to the Force and are a separate thing all together. The reason why they are part of the narrative, is to help explain why some beings, are able to use the Force and others are not. Jedi (and Sith) have an abnormally high concentration of these in their cells, whereas the average galactic citizens is very, very low.

    Anakin's Mother and the virgin birth idea is borrowed from ancient myths, just like a lot of the ideas in the Star Wars films. Heroes & Deities are born in unusual ways; check out characters from Greek Mythology like Hercules or research Ancient Egyptian myths and if you want to blame someone for 'confusing' you – blame the scribes from antiquity.

    Slavery exists where the Republic does not. The Jedi serve the Republic and CANNOT interfere where the Republics laws are NOT in place. This is mentioned in the script, but apparently, you didn't hear that part.

    Some of these arguments are REDUNDANT and hold no water. If you want to argue about the Prequels, at least get your facts straight. "Imperial Credits" were never mentioned in Phantom Menace; it was "Republic Credits" So go choke on your fucking credentials, you toothless and psychotic old coot.

  95. mark georgeff says:

    Obviously…the people who are denouncing this essay to such an extreme don' know jack about film criticism. On a critically appreciative level. Which happens at a lot of insightful levels, based on factual information in comparisons. As in visual metaphors and symbolism used to bring afront subtextual contexts to the story textual plot narratives. You see…it's really simple: the author explains the use of Luca's visual "mirroring" devices to let the cat out of the bag — to explain the connect between the subtext and text.

    If you're a fan of the original 3 movies? fine. They're great.
    Don't like the prequels? Fine. Whatever.
    And you're all entitled to your opinions. Purely fan – based or otherwise.

    But the author was specific on his points and brought out more than enough to justify his pov in the essay.

    But to bring out such a rabid denunciation of this specific essay with specific facts for his specific POV?

    Detractors…just go dress up in your STAR WARS 4-6 costumes; head to San Diego
    and wait in line 5 months or so ahead of the rest of us. Unless you have something better to do with your time.

    • foog says:

      "Obviously…the people who are denouncing this essay to such an extreme don' know jack about film criticism."

      Not really. But the author's contention that the prequel's "pushed all of film into the 21st century" does make it obvious that at least one film critic don't know jack about films.

      Seriously though, dude. The central thesis is how important and revolutionary the prequels were, when in reality they were monkey-poop flung on the screen: crap writing, crap acting, crap editing, crap CGI, crap direction. Not to put too fine a point on it or anything, but they were crap.

  96. johnw / twooffour says:

    "But the author was specific on his points and brought out more than enough to justify his pov in the essay."

    And those points were convoluted, logically flawed and treated the reiterative patterns / "symbolical subtext" in relation to the plot's cliff notes in a vacuum without relating it all to the actual storytelling quality and execution.
    No one would have problems with that if the article's attitude was just like "hey, found some cool details there", but no, it had to be "Lucas hid his genius from the eyes of the ordinary viewer, engraving profound genius details in subtext; he's a genius!"

  97. Vendorx says:

    RE : Mark Georgeff

    Sorry, but the point that many "detractors" are making is that no, McLeod didn't explain the device at all. He pointed out where he saw similar themes, then simply declared, sans any demonstration or argument at all, that this was proof positive of high literary merit. In fact, he claimed that it was groundbreaking!

    First off, its not groundbreaking at all. An almost rhythmic exploration of underlying metaphors to nod at the fate-based element of any story is part of traditional storytelling. The question is why, and how, is it used? In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dante reiterates, "I'm not even supposed to BE HERE today!" (omg MIRRORING!) So is this done because Kevin Smith has envisioned some groundbreaking new method of storytelling, or is it done because he's tossing out hooks to the fans so that they can bounce in their seats and say, "Oh, that's Dante! I saw the movie where he said that!"? (Hint : its the latter.)

    We all recognize that these patterns, revisitations and homages occur. McLeod is the only one who insists they're something special when Lucas does them. Alas contrary to your claims, he never actually explains WHY they're special. He just insists that they must be. This is the review I would expect from a very stoned friend, noticing for the first time that a scene he's watching looks like another scene he remembers from a prior movie, "Oh my god….this….this MEANS something!" It doesn't mean anything besides that Lucas can't write a movie anymore, McLeod can't write a review, and most of us can't be tricked into thinking something sloppy was something profound.

  98. Lin says:

    LOVE the concept of the midichlorians. It's there surrounding the universe, including us, just like Obi Wan explained it. Will always love all 6 films but I relish the Jedi in their glory years when there were more than just one evil and one good. I love Anakin at his beginning – always doing good, generous, unselfish and what evolved…. a great lesson that will never lose its impact and relevancy. The prequels explained so much – how innocence can be lost, how power corrupts, how fear to lose love controls so much. Again so many wonderful lessons that can apply to all people, all cultures.

  99. cancangamevideos says:

    Well there's 5 minutes of my life I'm never getting back. A guy made allusions to his own work and played with similar themes. That's not new to storytelling, and certainly isn't changing the face of cinema.

    This is why philosophy majors should never get a gig in writing.

  100. Wyn says:

    I agree with McLeod, and here's the biggest mirror of all. Maybe it's so obvious that no one finds it even worth discussing, but it's the heart of the whole thing and it is a direct message and challenge to those who saw it for the first time while still very young. We oldsters (especially those who are nostalgic for the first series) are irrelevant. We already made our choices.

    Episodes 1-3 show the slow seduction of the dark side – how very easy it is to go there, one small step at a time. Each decision seems right at the time but in the end they lead to an outcome the protagonist would never have chosen at the start. Finally at the end for the sake of raw power he finds himself cut off completely from the world of the senses, encased in a hard-shell prison, never again able to feel human flesh in an act of love. Would any young man step up and volunteer for that? Power in and of itself is simply sterile and has no point.

    (More but too long for one post)

    • johnw / twooffour says:

      Actually, that's how a good "fall from grace" story would look like. That's not the scenario in the prequels, though.

      In the prequels, Anakin:
      1) wants power, has hidden thoughts about controlling the government towards a "good" end
      2) also wants power to save his loved ones from death
      3) is angry, discontent and hotheaded, and is aggravated into revenge by a bunch of sand people, ehh, I mean Arabs.

      When seeing the first opportunity to achieve 2, he quickly embraces 1 as a positive side-effect, and his traits in 3 help him on the road.
      That and
      4) He's pretty fucking dumb and believes anything Palpatine tells him. That, or he let himself be fooled because Palpatine's scenario plays well into his desires and ambitons, so he just keeps lying to himself from there on.

      At any rate, he's brainwashed and tricked into becoming evil. Nothing in the prequels has anything to do with an idealistic person slowly descending into evil step by step, you imagined that for the movie.

  101. Wyn says:

    (Rest of comment)
    Anakin and Luke both start out talented but completely unformed. They both yearn for something, a manhood they can't yet envision. They each go through a series of punishing challenges on the way to greatness. To me, the two series show that the two paths are exactly equivalent in process. The outcomes, however, are mirror opposites — life-giving or life-destroying. Warm vs. cold. The strength of community vs. the strength of dominance.

    I was young when the first series came out, and it mirrored the general attitude of that time — hopefulness and a belief that we could change the world, make it a better place. I always wondered why Lucas waited so long to make the next series, but once I saw it I understood. It mirrors the world at this time, where "greed is good" and those who are the most successful exploiters and thieves who rob on a global scale are richly rewarded and envied. Somehow the idealistic young of my generation turned into those people. We thought we were going to be Lukes but we're Anakins after all. Will be interesting to see how the young of this generation turn out. Is there a choice, really?

  102. Wesley69 says:

    Granted, Star Wars 4-6 were the better trilogy with 6 being the weakest. Give me Wookies instead of Ewoks. Star Wars 1-3 suffer from stiff dialogue and not so hot acting. However, by 3, the journey to the Dark Side by Anakin and the near extinction of the Jedi are handled quite well. The age difference between Anakin and Padme was a problem. Lucas, for all his faults, is a visionary that has opened the way for the movies we have today. When the technology developed, he produced to Star War 1-3. Now that Tron Legacy has taken the human form to new levels, maybe Lucas will give us Star Wars 7-9 following Leia, Luke and Hans, using the computer to capture the images of the actors. I'd rather see that, then 3D movies of the sixology.

    • JustSomeGuy says:

      So rather than see George Lucas pretty much ruin the legacy of the Original trilogy by sullying it with the entire Prequel trilogy, you want him to actively ruin it by taking digital versions of the characters that are beloved by generations and ham-fistedly throwing them into 3 more movies?
      Wesley69, I think you are crazy.

  103. Paddy O says:

    This article reminds me of my college days sitting around high and way over-analyzing things. The prequels were nothing more than a money grab by Lucas Corp, Inc LLC. They are shallow and unimpressive in virtually all aspects. What next, an intense new look at the that unappreciated genius of the "Friends" spin-off "Joey?" The author and Freud could have a field day with just the first episode alone!

    PS The author, for the moment, makes me ashamed to be Irish. We're better than this!

  104. Shumway says:

    Excellent and well thought out article. For a follow up, I would like to see you tackle the theme of 'Symbiosis' in "The Phantom Menace"
    Forget about the detractors; they're so busy spouting off inane diatribe and posting links to Plinkett's nonsensical 'review', that if they closed their mouths for a just a moment, they might begin to see what lies beneath. Sadly, because they're so caught up with what the media tells them and reading crap posted by jaded 'know-it-alls' on the web, they've missed the point!

    For a bunch of films that are apparently so bad, they did monumentally at the international box office, earning 2.4 billion dollars globally; so Lucas must have done something right? And don't tell me they did well, simply because they're "Star Wars" – if they were that bad, people wouldn't have gone to see them, more than once and they would not be talked about, ten years later.

    • johnw / twooffour says:

      Does the part abou "symbiosis" serve as a hint that your whole post is a joke?

      Basically, applying to financial success and popularity as a defense against criticism, is to expose you have no arguments yourself that could serve as a defense, or proof of those movies' quality.
      I mean… do you even realize how little sense you make? "Those know-it-alls missed the point! The movies did monumentally at he box office!!" Really, that's it? Do you even realize how laughable that sounds?

      And how are RLM's reviews "nonsensical"? Apart from being really popular themselves (heh), they do make mistakes or poor argumentation tactics at times, but most of the time, they make perfect sense and have very valid analysis to offer.

      I hope you're joking?

      • Shumway says:

        JohnW – If you can't see that "Symbiosis" is a constant theme throughout "The Phantom Menace" then you really should have been paying more attention to the film. I'm not going to sit here and type it all out to you. Illumination is such a wonderful thing. You'll understand what I mean one day.

        Do you honestly believe that if the prequels had done poorly at the box office, detractors wouldn't use that in their arguments, as part of the reason why these films were such failures? Sorry pal, but it works both ways. Movie goers voted with their wallets.

  105. Raff says:

    George has said all along that the films repeat themes like an opera. By the 5th time we hear "I've got a bad feeling about this" or blow up the 2nd Death star it lets the air out of the creativity & drama. It becomes boring and awkward to see the lack of new story development. Saying that these "Mirrors" are at the forefront of new movie making shows the sad state of the film business. Silent up to the movies of the '60s had subtext and symbolism because there were subjects too you could not show literally. Revenge of the Sith has some dramatic moments such as the Opera where sperm enter an egg as Palpatine tells Anakin at about the Sith's ability to creating life. Get it? It isn't a mirror of the death star scene. Seeing every sphere or octagon as a deeper meaning is a stretch. Your schizophrenic symptoms begin to show when you "Force" meaning into the first 2 bland prequels.

    • Kevin McLeod says:

      Some of you prove the essay through disagreement. Of course the water-sphere opera references life- creation AS WELL as the last battle of A New Hope. That's why there's a mention of Palpatine's hint at Anakin's origin in the essay. Likewise, the first Death Star is destroyed through competition between X and Y ships, a previous (and yet later) reference to creation, this one satirically ends in massive destruction. The subtext you speak of, "silent through 60's," DOES migrate into new forms in the hands of aggressive thinkers like Kubrick and Lucas, you just have to realize the metaphors, symbols, signs are compressing and leaving behind both values we needlessly still operate with and text language's flawed labeling. Remember, your disgust at the prequels does not invalidate Lucas' resolute complexity, in fact, it may be the blinder that prevents you from witnessing it.

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Just to be clear, I have absolutely nothing against finding fun little parallels, references and "rhymings" inbetween the Star War films, or other film series (such as Back to the Future ;p), or inbetween films. In fact, I agree it's fun, and can be insightful – but if you want to draw any conclusions from that, you need closer analysis of all the implications, and of the relations to other aspects of filmmaking such as, dunno, THE ACTUAL PLOT, or how those similarities are implemented.

        For example, something I just noticed a couple days ago – do you remember that echoing, percussive whispering sound effect accompanying Darth Maul in I? A very similar sound effect can be heard when Palpatine carries the wounded Anakin on rainy Coruscant, until, seconds later, it's revealed that the sounds come from the lightning.
        So, that inexplicable Darth Maul "motif" can be traced back to lightning thunder, the cliché of mysterious and evil! A nice touch, sure – and beyond that?

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        In fact, it's the REBEL SHIPS that look like an X from behind, and (kind of) like an Y from above, so there isn't any competition between X and Y ships to begin with.
        And, X and Y are chromosomes the combination of which determines gender (X is the default female one, an Y makes it male), not two different types of spermatozoons in a "competition" around the spherical egg. The majority of speramatozoons dies off before reaching its goal because of the acidic fluid in the environment, not antibodies that look like hexagons (I think?).

        So… the only parallel left is that Palpatine fertilizes Shmi's egg with artificial/magical spermatozoons, producing an XY off-spring, while XY-shaped ships destroy a giant egg in space that indirectly has to do with Vader.
        One is a possible prehistory of the Emperor's super minion, the other a definite, but temporary rebel victory. Is there ANY real parallel or resemblance between those two?

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Is there any indication of this, even if intended, being anything more than "oh let's make XY ships attack giant egg ship and then reference stuff in an opera house without any relation, that'd be fun lol"?!

        Analysis like that helps determine whether the findings amount to some larger, encoded artistic picture that is both interesting, has something to say about the story, and makes sense, or just a random gimmick easter egg without any further significance, that falls apart under the slightest scrutiny. Almost every example you cited falls into the latter category.
        The SW movies are full of visual gimmicks. Also, plot elements visibly resemble each other like in Back to the Future. That's common knowledge.

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Hey, have you seen the latest Star Trek movie?
        It has a bunch of references to the original show / earlier movies. As demonstrated in the RedLetter Media review of that film.

        It also has a huge number of imagery closely resembling Star Wars – as seen in this video:


        A related one shows the same kind of resemblances with Starship Troopers.

        So, would you be someone to say there's some kind of hidden meaning / profound subtext behind all of that? Is it anything more than borrowing imagery and plot devices in the same way as all cinema, literature and music borrows from and references / rips off its environment all the time?

        You really, REALLY need to delve into all these questions if you want to make any kind of point that that gimmicks found in the Star Wars series amount to something larger and brilliant enough to redeeem the quality of the movies.

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Having that said, I think you referenced the Matrix series in your article.

        Now THAT'S a franchise with some subtext! Non-stop, heavyhanded / hidden references to philosophy and mythology to the point where one has a better chance to explain the ending by citing the symbolical imagery (like "the Machines' golden light stands for their spirits") than the actual plot.

        For every "meaningful reference" you'll find in a Star Wars movie, you'll probably find 20 in the Matrix series, backed up by 100 angry, "literate" nerds who'll defend each single of those as a proof of the series' hidden brilliance and profundity to the death.

        The ultimate irony being that none of that has even a chance to conceal the horribly sloppy storywriting and frequent cliché storms the whole series, but especially so the sequels, of course, suffers from IMMENSELY.

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        And you'll need to do much more than just cite random allusions and bend over backwards to put them in some kind of context, to prove that the subtext has a chance of redeeming the "seemingly" poor scriptwork.

        What if the script is really just sloppy and pretentious and all that stuff is a bunch of gimmicks for nerds to find?

        Now let's get back to Star Wars, and how its threadbare self-reference stand any chance in that light.

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Um, why was my comment about podrace vs. speederbike chase deleted?!

        So, yea, basically, the podrace stylistically resembles the Endor chase sequence, and there are almost no similarities between them in structure, and zero in terms of plot function and story context.

        Point made.

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Ah, yea, there's, like, a distant similarity between the TIE fighters' [ – ] shape and an X, because of the center and four corners, but, um, they don't look like an X and there's more similarity between the Christian cross and the Swastika.

        Yea, that's what I had said… that's it, I think.

  106. another_comment says:

    "To shade his stories beyond black-and-white extremes, he uses colors and forms that, under his abilities, transform into patterns."

    This statement is beyond non-sensical.

  107. ladylavinia1932 says:

    I disagree with johnw. He reminds me of a lot STAR WARS fans who prefer the idealized portrait of human nature presented in the Original Trilogy, than the more mature and honest portrait, which scares the shit out of a lot of people. But, I'm not surprised. Humans are very good at wallowing in illusions about themselves. And they use movies like the Original Trilogy to wallow in these illusions on a grand scale.

    • johnw / twooffour says:

      And I remind you of "those star wars fans who prefer the idealized portrait of human nature" by… which comment exactly that makes me look like I'm preferring the idealized portrait of human nature?

      Yes, the prequels portray a less idealized portrait of human nature (like that Han Solo bloke who didn't care whether Leia died or not and just wanted his money…. but nvm him, he was just a supporting role, and Lucas did his best to idealize him even further by making him defend himself against Greedo in an awkward, creepy head tilt that doesn't even avoid the blaster that hits like 5 cm left to his head, instead of just shooting him) – the corrupt politicians, and the awkward Anakin.

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Oh wait, that's it. Everyone else is either completely good and idealistic (Padme, Jimmy Smits, Obi-Wan… even the Jedi show little moral ambiguity, because neither the moral dilemma of using a clone army, nor the tolerance / impotence against slavery on distant crapsack planets are really addressed in the films, so we just assume they had to do it / were currently powerless to change things – so all we get is Sam Jackson acting a bit "stern", and Qui-Gon cheating his way through minor bets… wait, Obi Wan brain-manipulated troopers, too, in the original film), or bad and manipulative (either that, or bumbling, but still mal-intentioned and cruel idiots, i.e. the Neimoidians).

        Yes, so Anakin is awkward and sociall inept, huh? The guy who's supposed to turn into Vader is "morally ambiguous" in a "mature way", huh? Wow, that's a feat. I guess Hayden Christensen does a really believable impression of an awkward teenager without social experience or control over his nerves, by laying down an awkward, inept performance (in II).

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        So, um, yea, anything else you want to teach me about "mature and honest portrayal of human nauture in the prequels"?

        They don't address any of the moral ambiguities that happen in the plot. And aside of that, the characters there act either witty and slapsticky, or plain boring.

        Oh wait, maybe it's the BORING portrayal of human nature that no one likes? Yea, yea, that's it, the acting and characters in the prequels are plain boring and soulless, with a few exceptions. That's why "those star wars fans" hate the prequels, because the older ones had more personality

        I think you've failed. kthnxbai

  108. mr_teaspoon says:

    The author is assuming that mirroring is meaningful in and of itself. It isn't.

    I'm sure that, for example, Obi-Wan hiding on an asteroid is a conscious nod to Empire. And? Does it make Clones a better movie? No, it doesn't.

    The rest of the examples are just nonsense.

    "Geonosis, hot and arid, is the exact opposite of Kamino, yet each planet is the source of the war’s troops."

    Yeah, so? Desert planet, water planet. Without a good movie taking place in these locales it's meaningless.

    My favorite, though, has to be "the Lars homestead entrance is a dead-on mirror of Artoo."

  109. Ihadabadfeeling says:

    "Look carefully and follow the patterns: Overall, there is a transforming flow of identities that take spherical form, a path from nature into the mechanical."

    Aha. Here is a movie that actually warrants and fits your theories: 2001 by Kubrick. Welcome to the future indeed…

  110. Bigger Brother says:

    What a load of waffle. There's no way to legitimately use film theory (or in this case pseudo film theory) to make the prequels look like good films, because they simply aren't. You're crediting Lucas with more talent, awareness and ability than he actually possesses. As numerous people have pointed out, Lucas has lazily recycled iconic sequences from the original films because he is utterly devoid of ideas and cannot remember how to write scripts or direct exciting scenes.

    The prequels are badly-paced, badly-plotted CGI fests with terrible dialogue and appalling direction. The only interesting thing about them is that they show how badly the art of blockbuster filmmaking has deteriorated, and perhaps how brand loyalty can cloud the critical thinking of fans.

  111. Brad says:

    This essay is really unfortunate – I say this because Kevin McLeod’s analysis of The Shining on his website was pretty damn incredible (if sometimes a bit vague). It seriously opened my eyes. I consider myself a fan of Kevin’s work. But this essay really does showcase the “pseudo-intellectual waffle” people above me have already addressed.

    So there’s “mirrorings” in the prequels. So what? This doesn’t change the fact that they are reprehensible films without any interesting or memorable characters, performances, dialogue, action sequences…and above all, the films just aren’t any FUN. And how much money went into these again? Lucas lost his hunger a long time ago.

    But that’s old news. You’re suggesting Lucas is advancing the artform or something, so entertainment (for adults) be-damned and all that. Well, if “pattern cognition” was such a major factor in these films (a fact I believe is dubious), it would help if you explained a little more for us mere mortals what Lucas is actually attempting to achieve with this over-arching phantom patterning system. Like, what secret is grand-master Lucas keeping so mum about? The idea of patterns is basically Film 101, anyway: if one wants to decode the meaning of a film, it’s important to look for patterns. I’m sure Lucas knows this – but so does every other filmmaker.

    For the best analysis of the prequels check out Mr. Plinkett’s reviews on Red Letter Media where he shows you exactly how they went wrong – these video reviews are ten times more entertaining than the films themselves, which says something.

    I look forward to your piece on Eyes Wide Shut, Kevin, but the intellectual vagueness of your writing brings it down a little – I say this as a fan, by the way.

  112. Lordthree says:

    Damn dude… you’re seeing patterns and mirrors here and you’re reading way more into it than is healthy (or logical). This writeup was such terrible gibberish it was hard to get thru but I read the whole thing… Utter gibberish. It’s like you dropped a book of LSD and watched the movies on a 7 hour binge and then wrote up this nonsense before you sobered up and came to your senses. I believe giving credit where credit is due, and none is due here. Thanks for stealing a couple minutes of my life with this ‘time-vampire’ of a article! If you haven’t yet- watch the redlettermedia review that everyone has been saying you should watch. You can’t refute Matt… These movies fucking sucked… hard

  113. skyjedi says:

    I think its a far more honest assessment that not only did he destroy star wars, but he also destroyed Indiana jones. In less than ten years he ruined two classic film series with bad Kiddy humor and cgi.

  114. ASeely says:

    Bravo, Mr. McLeod! Pay the naysayers of previous comments no mind. The Force is with you, because you truly get the genius of George Lucas’ saga, “Star Wars”. I can’t tell you how refreshing a read this was to counter all the misguided criticism of the prequels. George Lucas created a cinematic symphony with the prequels, and they add even more dimension to the original trilogy. The mirror theory is brilliant, and ever so intended by Mr. Lucas. In fact, it’s absolute genius storytelling. There are hundreds of examples of this mirrored imagery, gesture and character motive throughout the saga. A couple more examples: Luke’s backwards somersault in Ep. VI’s lightsaber duel vs. Vader, just before he says, “Your thoughts betray you, father. I feel the conflict.” mirrors Obi-Wan’s somersault on Mustafar against the same adversary, where Obi-Wan says, “It’s over, Anakin. I have the high ground!”. How about Luke’s comments on Dagobah, saying the planet feels like “a dream” and “something familiar” about it? He sees things before they happen, as Qui-Gob recognized this ability in Anakin. Luke later sensing Han and Leia in pain also mirrors Anakin’s premonitions of Padme dying in childbirth. How about Episode I and VI both ending with the funeral pyre of a Jedi who both died at the hands of a Sith? The list goes on and proves the genius in George Lucas’ storytelling over six films. The bottom line is, Star Wars is a story for the ages, and the prequels deepened that story by making you watch and appreciate the original three in a completely different light. Long Live George Lucas. Star Wars is Forever.

    • johnw / twooffour says:

      Are you even serious?
      Yes, the films reference themselves. Nice job pointing out.
      The Jedi were established as being capable of premonition, so after Luke showed his skills, now Lucas makes Anakin have the same, too. Wow, genius.

      Funeral scene, funeral scene. Celebration parade, celebration parade. Uhh… Jabba is on Tattoine in both trilogies.

      Point is, you can find lots of cinematic and self-references in all SW movies. Do you think it compensates for the horrifically sloppy SCRIPT and boring, artificial acting / wooden dialogue? Because all of that sucks big time.

      The lightning bolts at the end of Sith, where Sidious moves Anakin to the medical station, sound like the Darth Maul theme from Menace. Nice detail. Still bad scriptwriting.

  115. Helio Wakasugui says:

    Wow. A post-modernist take on TPM.

  116. johnw / twooffour says:

    You know, "atonal" has stopped being a pejorative term for atonal music pretty much 100 years ago :D

  117. john says:

    Listen, I understand the people who bash the acting in the prequel trilogy and the general gripes about jar jar and whatnot. I guess i just had fun watching packs of wookies, dozens of lightsabers during the Geonosis battle, watching Jango Fett in action (since we saw limited Bobs Fett action in Jedi)…I could go on and on with things that were visually exciting to see. I also know that when the original trilogy came out, i was 4 years old. Nothing will ever compare to that feeling i had hearing that music and seeing those spaceships fly over the screen! Nothing! In '77 we were seeing things we'd never imagined. Many years passed and many innovations (that spoiled us) came to fruition in the film industry before Lucas made the prequel. People, in general, are chasing a high that will never be matched to that feeling in '77!!! It's stupid to try….it's like trying to bring 2 Beatles back to life, get them together, and force them to top Abbey road or Sgt. Pepper….ain't happening!. Get over it, enjoy the visuals, and laugh at the bad acting!….ps. I laugh especially hard at the horrible acting done at the home of Anakin (Ep.1) as they all sit at the table discussing whatever. It's as bad as porn acting.

    • Brad says:

      Hate to break it to ya: the visuals in the prequels are AWFUL. A soulless CGI extravaganza with no coherence – Lucas merely crammed as many "cool" artificial backdrops and creatures and lightsabers into each frame as possible. Yet there is nothing memorable – no image lingers in my mind, whereas countless images are unforgettable in the original films. Imagine if some of the "effort" that went into those "visuals" in the prequels went instead towards a story we actually cared about! One can dream!

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Actually, apart from the sucky, plastic looking Jedi Temple textures and some other details (Yoda looks less real than Gollum, the monsters in the arena can be identified as CGI despite being real enough), the visuals, indeed, were "awesome", or at least very good and impressive.

        The pacing, sound, editing and tension of most of the action sequences, whether relying on multitudes of "cool backdrops and lightsabers", were actually highly intense, slick and memorable as far as I'm concerned.

  118. skyjedi says:

    In the old days when Marcia and Kurtz were around someone would take Lucas aside and say this idea is crap George. The prequels are what happens when you have too much success and you surround yourself with yes men, and toy marketers instead of filmakers.

  119. Percy Applebottom says:

    There are two sides to this debate; the Star Wars fans, and the George Lucas fans.

    The Star Wars fans are trying to hold onto some semblance of the magic that "the trilogy" showed us way back when.

    I don't know what the Lucas fans are doing; they're too far up George's back door to make anything out.

    Of course the Lucas fans will play all hurt; and insist that there just as much Star Wars fans as the rest of us. But they're liars; and if it were up to me, they'd be drug out into the street and struck upside the head with those ridiculous toy light-sabers.

    • johnw / twooffour says:

      I think the dichotomy you're using is pretty nonsensical.

      So Star Wars fans are defined by only liking the good Star Wars films, while the George Lucas fans are defined by worshippig everything Lucas says?
      How about Star Wars fans being dudes who love everything that is Star Wars by definition, and Lucas fans being fans of the work and ideas by Lucas that were actually good?

      Being a "fan" of something is quite a problematic framework to work in, anyway. If you like Star Wars, but are critical about it and only like the things that were done well, then you're not a Star Wars fan, you're a critical movie viewer.

  120. johnw / twooffour says:

    Hey, another "mirroring" I found between the two trilogies!

    In the old one, the 2nd was the best one, the 1st kinda in the middle, and the 3rd was the weakest!
    In the new one, the 2nd is the worst, the 1st less unbearable and the 3rd the strongest and most relatable in comparison!

    Another one, in tone:
    In the old, the 1st was the lightest, simplest and campiest, the 2nd the darkest and most serious, and the 3rd the most childish and comedic.
    In the prequels, the 1st is the lightest, simplest and most childish one, the 2nd the most serious and dull, and the 3rd the darkest and campiest!

    • johnw / twooffour says:

      Hey, found my next gem in Lucas' brilliant meta-storytelling masterwork!!

      Ready? Episode I ends with a celebration, like Eps IV and VI did! Being the most lighthearted and non-serious one (like IV in the original trilogy) and the most childish one as well, with a bunch of hilarious aliens fighting the evil army (like VI) [note how in the more childish of the two, Lucas makes the primitive aliens lose as opposed to the Ewoks, to balance out the tone; also, them being technologically equipped and still losing is a step towards realism from ill-equipped primitives winning the battle despite the lack of technology, or maybe because of it, the realism stemming from the fact that the prequels tried to capture a more realistic real-life depiction of the rise of a dictatorship from within a democracy; to balance out this realism, Lucas makes the Gungans dumber by using the same kind of weaponry against the droids that those are well-equipped against, without any trace of strategy, while the Ewoks used guerilla tactics and exploited weaknesses in the enemies' defenses those hadn't accounted for, i.e. non-laser weapons; the prequels are COMPLEX!!], it only makes sense that it would combine the traits of both by making it a parade, like IV, but give it a sappy, childish feel and funny score with children using some stupid song, like in VI!

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Another reason for the combination of these stylistic traits is the fact that only one prequel ends with a celebration, while the OT has two! Why is that? Well, with the OT being the first trilogy and the PT the second, the numbers of ending celebrations are simply swapped out to provide a numerical counterweight! Also giving the whole thing an additional level of irony, since the "original" trilogy really didn't come up with ending celebrations, they only ended up reusing it twice while the EpI was the first to do it! LOL!!
        Also, the PT chronologically being the first one, only makes sense for the number of ending celebrations to increase in time. That, again, addresses the dichotomy between the two trilogies having a different succession of time of origin and chronology!

      • johnw / twooffour says:

        Then, since numerology plays such an important role in this, take a look at the episode numbers:
        IV and VI: I constituting the "ends" (i.e. endings) of both, only makes sense it borrow the celebration motif from the two! In case of IV, it's inverted by making it more… childisher.
        V represents the combination of two things in one.
        Then, swap around, and you get: VI – IV. I is in the middle of both, and I is also how it all started, where all the threads are brought together!

  121. stormy rockweather says:

    Thank you Mr. McLeod for trying to make me see the prequels in a more positive light. It had never occurred to me that instead of going to see unique and well-written characters using interesting and believable dialogue and acting realistically to make me care about them, I should have been focused on imagining tenuous links to characters that did all these things in movies 20 years old with no computer effects. By this line of thinking, I can't wait to go down to the local multiplex and pay money to see the next series of patterns that will stimulate me emotionally. I want to see vague, boring characters who I won't care to remember do something arbitrary that mirrors what some characters from better movies already did. Brilliant! I'm sure Kevin's position in promotions for other high-concept, low brow movies of this type in NO WAY influenced his opinion.

  122. Conor says:

    It's obvious that Lucas went for pattern recognition, this article tries to make that come across as clever.
    What would have been clever would have been a good story and not an entire 3 films chalked full of countless moments to reference the first

  123. Dave says:

    Did he change cinema with the Prequels? Yes, he showed those directors with a clue not to let the Special Effects and blue screen dominate the movie like they did in his films. Peter Jackson certainly seemed to take that to heart with his LOTR trilogy which focused more on the characters than the effects and he had whole sets built like the one for Rohan. Without Lucas’ mistake as a guide, Jackson might have made that mistake and we would have a poor LOTR trilogy.

    I think these also had an impact on audiences who realized they prefer less sterile blue screen and prefer to go back to the human warmth of real locations and sets.

  124. dave says:

    Sorry not very convincing and grasping at straws. What prequel fans have to realize is that the overwhelming majority of us who don't like the prequels did not set out to hate these films. Most of us went to all 3 films hoping each one would be good and later hoping each one would be better than the previous film. It was the films themselves that failed at winning over those who were willing to be won over.

    The 2 main reasons for disliking the prequels is:

    1) Their storyline, overall style, and tone don't mesh with that of the Original Trilogy.

    2) as films themselves they don't work because the plot is incomprehensible and improbable at many points and the characters are often flat and uninteresting with little development. Anakin didn't develop in the first film and in the second he had a pretty lousy attitude. In the third film he was whiny and just developed into a child-killing murderer because he had bad dreams of his wife dying – huh?

    And there were the Clone Wars which were so pointless. 2 armies of clones and robots fighting over some vague cause because they are programmed to fight. And we're suppose to care? Neither side is really alive and both are in effect working for the Emperor, one group will turn on their Allies and slaughter them and the other group is led by a Sith lord. Ummm… who are the good guys? And the Jedi are a bunch of cold emotionless ultimately unsympathetic characters who are being manipulated by the Emperor and who were too stupid to question the fact that the clones were cloned under highly suspicious circumstances from a questionable mercenary whom they found working for the enemy! How stupid can you be? Why should I care about stupid people I barely get to know anyway?

    Even if these films were not Star Wars films and didn't damage the continuity of the originals (which they do), their plots and characters are so stupid and riddled with glaring plot holes coupled with some boring tensionless scenes.

    So these patterns are pointless because ultimately they are attached to a storyline that is unconvincing filled with uninteresting characters.

  125. dave says:

    "Consider this: With all these mirrors, a form takes shape — it’s a sphere. It’s a mass that Lucas slowly animates into a behemoth. The prequel trilogy might accurately be called the hidden story of the Death Star "

    Who the hell cares about the Death Star? It's a prop for our heroes to struggle against. It's not important. What people liked and cared about in the original trilogy was the characters, their struggles, and their ultimate success against seemingly insurmountable odds like the Death Star. The Death Star is a just a bit cool frosting on the cake. It was only in one film and partially constructed in another. The best film of the series doesn't have it all.

  126. Michael Greenberg says:

    Hey, it's been almost 6 years since Ep. III came out, and people are still debating the prequels. I personally LOVED them. I loved all six films, and I ain't no kid. I'm 42 and am an OT fan from the beginning. THe prequels were great films. I can't say anything + or – about them that hasen't already been said a million times or more. I will say I think it's funny how all the haters spit forth their venom over the movies. If your not a fan then move on you don't need to keep talking about it. It's like they have this need to say their right in their opinion, and they won't give up until everyone completely agrees with them. If you disagree with them then you're wrong. No matter your thoughts or feelings, if you disagree with them then, you're wrong. I only have to say, if people like certain movies, that is their right. No matter what somebody's opinion is, it is just that an opinion. and It can't be right or wrong. It is just that, an opinion.

    • twooffour / johnw says:

      Oh, sorry, I'm kinda outta control now… substance…. I give me permission to edit out the cuss word, thank you very much :D

  127. drush76 says:

    I think the reason why I love the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy as much as I do the old trilogy, is that it’s a perfect vehicle of showing how the good guys or "the people" allowed themselves into being manipulated into becoming the oppressed. In a way, it's a perfect reflection of today's politics. And to think that Lucas had written all of this about a decade ago.

  128. Ron Schneider says:

    The Star Wars films do not belong to the fans, much as they like to think so. Your analysis is right on. There is SO much there that the passionate haters will never see. Sad.

  129. i think that lucas is much more talented than spielberg. vote for lucas http://coolometer.org/george-lucas-vs-steven-spie

  130. Roger says:

    I really don't understand when some people say the dialog in the prequels were bad but don't criticise the originals? What's the difference? In respect to the originals Carrie Fisher's been noted as saying the dialogue was something you can type but can't say; and Mark Hamill is noted as thinking "Who talks like this?" Lucas is inventing a fantasy culture. With cultures comes different languages and expressions. This I think is based on his influence of Akira Kurosawa's films; in which Lucas says was able to understand the human story but not the culture (Japanese).

    • twooffour / johnw says:

      Well, the actors actually changed the dialogue from super corny to pretty decent, at least in most instances.

      At any rate, yet, come on, let's see you try and argue that the dialogue in the originals was anywhere as bad as in the prequels. Yea, let's see you do that honestly. You can't.

  131. Pedro says:

    Jar Jar's head is beige like the Battle Droids; and it's shape (without the ears) resemble very much the droids heads.

    As either Jango thought he has destroyed Obi Wan or not, the fact is Obi Wan left (I think it was Coruscant) to go to Geonosis. So you can say he *was* lured, by the events (or some dark forces manipulating them, GNHA-HA-HA-HA!!)

    And Im' sorry, but Vader being Luke's father added a new unexpected twist *and* makes a better story. Being only his father assassin is simple in comparison. Vader telling Luke "I killed you father" wouldn't add anything new, because Ben Kenobi already told that to Luke, so that great climax lightsaber battle scene in Bespin would be pointless and hollow.

    • Guest says:

      I guess I mis-read the comment, but I thought the idea was that Vader still says, "Luke, I am your father!" in Empire, but that the prequels reveal that he actually WASN'T his father, but his father's assassin. It's probably a bad idea in the long run, but I kind of like the idea of a double-twist like that, especially when society has accepted the idea of Vader as Luke's father for the past 20 years.

  132. Craig says:

    Stop trying to save the prequels. They were crap.

  133. Jeff says:

    Narukami, I enjoyed your comments more than the main article. Thank you.

  134. shemales videos says:

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  135. Harry says:

    Thanks, I really enjoyed this article. It has helped open some new doors for me when I watch Star Wars. And this article really only scratches the surface.

  136. cinebug says:

    I think he changed the way we see sci fi movies and over all, the little bastard invented merchandising…

    Hey!
    Check the AT-AT in the streets of Bogota:
    http://cinebug.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/la-anatom

  137. UndoUndoUndo says:

    I know this is article is a year old, but I just wanted to add my support to the authors idea of Lucas using the concept of a mirror when creating the prequels – if you take a fantastic story, look at it through a mirror, you get the reverse – a not so fantastic story. Right?

  138. Franklin says:

    The most obvious mirror: the original movies were awesome, while the prequels stunk.

  139. Jon says:

    (sigh) I don’t know how I made it through all those comments…lol…so much bile! I worked at a movie theater for the first two prequels, and there was none of this talk. People looooved the movies. It’s the generation just below me, the Gen Y “hipsters” who seem to hate everything, that have littered the internet with their hatred of the prequels. I’m sorry that you were a twelve year old, prequel haters, going through those awkward years when The Phantom Menace came out. I know, you wanted it to be cooler, like The Matrix (which hipster dorks also love to beat up on). Or have a better plot, like LOTR (which were based on books from an Oxford educated lingust, by the way–and again, I worked at the damn movies, all the little kids who watched it thought Sam and Frodo were gay for each other because they were…friends?). Maybe TPM should have been awesome, like the 1st and 2nd Harry Potter movies, that were really bad and made for children who read at a 2nd grade level. All you kids are cynical little bastards who have just grown up to be worse as ‘adults,’ and you like things when they’re popular and turn on them when they’re as equally unpopular. Just an unfriendly mob of trolling wannabe’s, scared to have an opinion that doesn’ t echo the geek herd around you. I like the prequels because they’re good mindless fun, learn to take a deep breath and enjoy life. I pity the day when you guys run the world, thank god you only have power over the internet. Oh, and Lucas has more talent in his chubby little pinky than any of you haters, whether you like it or not. Post your negativity all you like, the man’s the most influential filmmaker of our generation. Love it or hate it, it’s the truth. But I’m sure you little trolls will hate it…it’s the only thing you’re good at. :P

  140. Bill Rutherford says:

    Some people will grasp at any straws to convince themselves Lucas is a genious rather than a guy who just rehashes the same tired drek in a myriad of packages. If you want to call "not having another original idea left" something like "ingenious mirroring," be my guest. Most of us know better.

    • KMc says:

      Bill, I don't go and lob stink bombs on LOTR, which I think is a junky, propagandistic holdover of WWI's fantasmal fear of the east. You and all the Lucas whiners must have an enormous collective chip on your shoulders. To come here, waste what little precious time you have and mouth off, it must drive you all batty to see this debate emerge. You all sound like the brats in class denouncing other's joy. Too bad. Lucas pulled it off and he didn't need your blessing, and he surely will survive your hatred.

  141. jeremy says:

    when i went to watch the phantom menace in 3d i loved it, it was more engaging to me good or bad i love george he has given me more memories then i a guy could have, thanks. what got me was the fact i have watched all of the films in the theatre and this particular time i noticed that the kids really enjoyed the parts that i didnt appreciate. and with that i think george hit the right mark as this is really a kids movie right. me im a 35 year old kid and i wouldnt have it any other way

  142. ladylavinia1932 says:

    What I really liked about the Prequel Trilogy is that its story and characters struck me as a reflection of what life and people in general are really like. The Original Trilogy is a story of how people like to believe what they are like . . . especially when it came to characters like Luke, Leia and Han. We like to believe that we're capable of rising to occasion to do the right thing. And yes, humans are capable of this. But I believe that humanity is even more like the characters from the Prequel Trilogy . . . you know, people who have an arrogant perception of their goodness; but when push comes to shove, are willing to sacrifice their intelligence or moral compass to achieve what they desire.

  143. Janho says:

    I love the 6 star wars movies, and cherish my memories of watching the story unfold. I saw them all in theater in their original run! Throughout the 80s, I was not very popular for liking Star Wars! Looks like things haven't changed with the prequels! Now, hipsters pretend they didn't hate the originals too! And they use that as a way to bash the new ones!

  144. poonaa says:

    I like Lucas' films more than Hitchcock's, personally. And I love Hitchcock! Hitch was more about suspense and id than real meaty psychological underpinnings.

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