Archive for Obi-Wan Kenobi

Favorite Jedi

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 30 January 2014 by Megan

Last week I told you about how much I love the Empire. While this doesn’t necessarily mean I would hate the Jedi, unfortunately, the Jedi have very little to recommend themselves. Back in the day, sure, they were a wholesome organization, but like the Republic, the Order grew musty and stale and ineffective. The bureaucratic council, ineffectively led by a couple of “lifers” who let egotism get in the way of the Jedi mission, pretty much bogs them down into uselessness. Yoda, the most venerated Jedi ever, is short-tempered, derisive of his pupils, and allows Palpatine to take control out of sheer stubborn pride. But the Order is more than just the sum of its parts, and some of those parts are awesome. Yes, Qui-Gon Jinn is my favorite male character, but if we’re narrowing the field to Jedi . . .

Young Obi-Wan

Young Obi-Wan

Not only is Obi-Wan my favorite Jedi, he was arguably the greatest Jedi in the order. Matthew Stover has some pretty cheap prose, but he hits on Obi-Wan’s personality very neatly in the novelization of Episode III — a warrior who hates to fight, an expert pilot who doesn’t like flying — he is attuned to the Force, the right mix of politic and stubborn. Truly greater than all his teachers combined, all of his experiences have led to him becoming the real last of the Jedi.

Obi-Wan was nowhere near being a favorite of mine until I started reading the Jedi Apprentice series. Now, these are heavily formulaic kids’ books (how formulaic? In each book, Obi-Wan loses his lightsaber and Qui-Gon hurts his shoulder), but the events they cover are canonical enough. He started off as a 13-year-old approaching the cut off date for apprenticeship. Qui-Gon, deeply burned by his last apprentice who went dark, is extremely reluctant to train anybody, but gradually he and Obi-Wan form a tight bond, very father-son. (I can give you conspiracy theories where Qui-Gon is Obi-Wan’s father. Seriously, two names of that formula, and they’re not related? *eyebrow*)

By Episode I, he’s clearly late for his knighthood, almost as if Qui-Gon is stalling for some reason. (Yes, late: he’s 25, but Anakin is champing at the bit to be made master when he’s 22? Anakin’s no prodigy. Even using SWL’s Expanded Fix-It-All Timeline™, Anakin’s 25 in E3 and there’s no reason Obi-Wan should be blasé about continuing as a Padawan at 25 where Anakin is literally hysterical at not being made a master.) He demonstrates stubbornness, some headstrong impatience, but mostly, Obi-Wan shows his trademark clear logic and intelligent strategy at a situation. He gives in to his anger to slaughter Maul, but I’m not convinced that’s truly “dark side.” Another story for another day.

I can't find my hairdresser's

I can’t find my hairdresser’s

13 years later (as per SWLEFIATL™), Obi-Wan is a mature Jedi master with a “big Jedi mullet,” as Ewan would say. Working on his own more while his Padawan plays husband-and-wife games with his protection detail, Obi-Wan spends less time fighting and more time trying to analyze what is going on behind the situation. When confronted with Dooku, for example, you can almost see the gears working in his mind. The disappointments of E2 are so truly disappointing because it was worked up to be quite a decent mystery, but the lack of round ups in E3 really killed the whole thing. You can see how attuned to the Force his by how he jumps out the window to catch the tracker droid, but George Lucas’ fan-wank insistence on having Yoda fight really destroyed any chance of Obi-Wan’s sword skills coming into play. Sadness.

Mature master

Mature master

And now the galaxy has fallen into civil war. Obi-Wan, a mature master at 41 years of age, has become a general, though once again most of his fighting genius takes place off screen and Lucas’ inconvenient plot has him impotently falling over in the first duel so Anakin can dispatch Dooku unchallenged. But that’s not the point. The point is Obi-Wan is one bad . . . What? Just talking about Obi-Wan!

Ewan even gets to bring some of his proper acting skill to light in his “You were my brother!” speech at the end. If that doesn’t make you cry . . . ! I’ve analyzed this deeply over the years and found that 1) Anakin never escaped the slave mindset of wanting someone to command him. Palpatine commanded him, therefore Palpatine got his loyalty. 2) Obi-Wan “failed” Anakin in that he never realized Anakin was looking for a superior. Anakin says Obi-Wan is like a father to him, but Obi-Wan thinks of him as a brother. This unequal relationship never gives Anakin the grounding he needs to break the dark lord’s grip.

Still, how about that lava battle! And while some could identify a weakness in Obi-Wan’s reasoning for walking away and leaving Anakin to certainly die in far more agony than if he just killed him, I think there’s a strong case that it makes sense for him. Particularly if Obi-Wan found out that Padmé was cheating on him with Anakin, whom she secretly married. Oh, yeah, that’s right — I have a conspiracy theory that suggests Luke is actually Obi-Wan’s son and that’s why he slips off to Tatooine to raise him.

Like father, like son?

Like father, like son?

Nothing about Alec Guinness recommended me to Obi-Wan, though after the prequels I have a stronger respect for his ability to portray genuine emotional responses to a then-unknown backstory. Ewan McGregor was a brilliant choice because he is able to seamlessly suggest these two performances are the same person. As the mythological staple, the wise old mentor, Obi-Wan sets the new hero on the path to redeem the one his fallen father attempted.

One of those blue ghosts!

One of those blue ghosts!

And I like Hayden Christensen as the ghost, so sue me! Anyway, that’s my love of Obi-Wan. His whole life, dedicated to the Jedi, but beyond that, to the good of the Republic which he served. Misguided at times, but always sincere, Obi-Wan is my darling.

Favorite Climax

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 11 July 2013 by Megan

Weird question. But I have an answer, and it doesn’t even involve Return of the Jedi!

Come on, admit it, you can hear the soundtrack!

Come on, admit it, you can hear the soundtrack!

I mean, come on. As most of the internet seemed to agree as I was searching for images for this, no matter what your opinion is of the prequels, you have to agree that this is epic. One of the reasons this is one of my favorites is I had looked forward to it for so long: I remember borrowing a “Star Wars Scrapbook” from my Star Wars friend when I was about 13 and discovering that Darth Vader’s suit was necessitated by his falling into lava during his and Obi-Wan’s final climactic showdown. And at that moment, even though Obi-Wan was just this boring old guy and Vader was Vader, I wanted to see that fight.

May 19, 2005, a day I waited for for six years, was full of disappointments just like every other day of a person’s life, and the higher the anticipation, the greater the need to not have disappointments, the more disappointments flock in. This is so true that when the film broke just as it was about to start, I almost started laughing in the theater. Yes, no joke: two theaters, midnight showing, rabid Star Wars fans, movie anticipated for minimum six years, and the film broke just as it started. I kept quoting the line from Galaxy Quest, “I mean, this is unreal! They’re going to start eating each other out there!”

Anyway, as we got close to 3 AM, as the camera swept in to Mustafer, I began easing closer and closer to the edge of my seat. This was it. This was the moment I had wanted to see since I was thirteen. I had imaged it,  pictured it, satirized it: the fight over lava. And it was an entire planet (moon) of lava! Awesome! “You will try,” Anakin intoned like a death demon,  and suddenly the soundtrack burst into life. To this day, “Anakin vs. Obi-Wan” is my favorite track on a soundtrack, ever. It’s just thrilling. And the fight was thrilling.

That was one thing that did not disappoint me that night. The lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan was exactly how I had imagined it. (Even, frighteningly enough, including a sequence of rope-swinging, which I had put into a song parody about the fight two years before.) And that crash of sabers in front of the volcanic geyser — I’m almost convinced that’s exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye the first time I read about their final confrontation. Obi-Wan’s final monologue and picking up of Anakin’s saber just completes it. This is a fight I can never watch without my pulse racing, without leaning closer to the screen. Which makes it all the more irritating how they spliced in fights of Palpatine and gross Yoda fighting! So enjoy this masterful YouTube cut that has the entire Obi-Wan/Anakin scene without any green trolls to bother you.

A Song That Reminds You of Star Wars

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 28 March 2013 by Megan

I’m going to take this one a very different direction today. Star Wars is strongly associated with sound, in fact having more sounds per second of film (between dialogue, music, and sound effects) than any other film. That’s according to The Sounds of Star Wars, which I’ve been reading this week, which is awesome and which I will attempt to review Sunday. But because sound is so closely tied in with Star Wars, and the music in with the sound, it’s of course very easy to simply turn to the soundtrack. But that feels like cheating. And there is a non-Star Wars song that always makes me think of Star Wars. When I say “always,” I really am talking about something that goes back more than 12 years:

Capture1

From an AIM Instant Messenger conversation dated September 27, 2000.

In 2000, my AIM convos did little more than document everything going on on the radio at that second. Anyway, the song I’m talking about is by the Wallflowers, and although I called it “The Padiddle Song” most of my life, it’s actually called “One Headlight.” The book I’m referring to, The Uncertain Path, is the sixth book in the Jedi Apprentice series by Jude Watson.

I used to wait in agony for these to come out. Defenders of the Dead made me so mad, I threw my copy across the room.

I used to wait in agony for these to come out.

These juvenile-level books told the story of Obi-Wan’s training as a 14-year-old Padawan apprentice to Qui-Gon. Their relationship had a very rocky start; in the first two books, Qui-Gon didn’t want an apprentice at all. In the third book, Obi-Wan narrowly escaping a mind-wipe just after his 14th birthday makes them both realize how close they have become and how much they don’t want to lose each other. So book 4 was their first real adventure together as a reciprocal team. Then came Defenders of the Dead. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan go to a planet called Melida/Daan where all the middle-aged people have been utterly wiped out in a war and now there are only children and old people. Obi-Wan immediately is drawn in by the arguments of the other adolescents — sort of a Communist Youth in Space — and quickly grows fed up with Qui-Gon and the Council’s “pandering” to the other faction. At the end of the book, Obi-Wan gives his lightsaber to Qui-Gon and quits the Jedi.

I threw the book across the room, I was so mad. Of course Obi-Wan did it because he’d fallen in love with this girl fighter Cerasi. It was outrageous though because Qui-Gon’s reluctance to take a Padawan had centered entirely around his abandonment issues since his previous apprentice had turned dark side and also quit the Jedi. Oh, I wanted to kill Obi-Wan for putting Qui-Gon through that. (Keeping in mind that at this age, I still considered Qui-Gon more awesome than any fictional character ever created in history before, and Obi-Wan was still kind of the boring old guy in the Original Trilogy, although his hotness was beginning to make an impression. In fact, although I was looking for times I quoted “One Headlight,” I found 15 convos containing both Wallflowers lyrics and the phrase “Obi-Wan is hot.”)

Anyway, in the next book, Cerasi dies a martyr to her cause, and her death inspires peace throughout Melida/Daan and ends the conflict. Obi-Wan goes back to the Jedi and in true Jedi fashion, never speaks of it again. But even though various sources have pinned him with Siri, I know the truth. His heart — before he gave it to Padmé to crush — belonged to a redheaded teenage freedom fighter whose death gave her planet peace and set him back on the right track. I have always found these lyrics ring eerily in sync with the events of these two books, and though I haven’t read them in over a decade, I always think of Obi-Wan when I hear this song.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you

One Headlight
by The Wallflowers

(with annotations, because I doubt you’ve read these books)

So long ago I don’t remember when,
That’s when they say I lost my only friend.
Well, they say she died easy of a  broken heart disease
As I listen to the cemetery trees.

[Obi-Wan, thinking back, recalls his days with Cerasi and the Melida/Daan youth]

I seen the sun coming up at the funeral at dawn,
The long broken arm of human law.
It always seemed such a waste,
She always had a pretty face.
I wonder why she hung around this place.

[Cerasi and the other fighters, whose parents and oftentimes older siblings had all been killed in the war, often lingered at the mausoleums and grave houses where their loved ones’ remains were. In fact, most of Melida/Daan was like a cemetery, bombed out shells of its former glory.]

Hey, —-
Come on try a little, nothing is forever!
There’s got to be something better than
In the middle.
Me and Cinderella put it all together
We can drive it home with one headlight.

[The youth of Melida/Daan were caught in the middle, the conflict between the Melida and the Daan, life and death, young and old, war and peace. Cinderella is Cerasi, a fairytale character with a grim side, and the one headlight is just enough light to be able to see a little bit ahead by, just enough light to know the right thing to do]

She said, “It’s cold. It feels like Independence Day,
And I can’t break away from this parade.”
But there’s got to be an opening somewhere here in front of me
Through this maze of ugliness and greed.
And I seen the sign up ahead at the county line bridge,
Saying all that’s good and nothingness is dead.
Run until she’s out of breath, she ran until there’s nothing left
She hit the end, it’s just her window ledge.

[Although they didn’t have an Independence Day, they did have highly military ritual. This reminds me of the scene in which Cerasi dies, imprinted in my imagination as the bright figure of the girl leaping out into the dazzling gray of the sky and shot in the circle of the two facing enemies.]

This place is old, it feels just like a beat up truck.
I turn the engine but the engine doesn’t turn.
It smells of cheap old wine, cigarettes,
This place is always such a mess.
Sometimes I think I’d like to watch it burn.
I’m so alone, I feel just like somebody else.
Man, I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same.
But somewhere here in between these city walls of dying dreams,
I think her death it must be killing me.

[The child warriors of Melida/Daan lived in the sewers and underground pipelines. There’s a scene where Obi-Wan sits around eating rations with a group of them that this reminds me of. Also, when it is all said and done, and he returns to the Jedi and moves on to the next adventure, he does not really change at all, and yet the place had an affect on him. It’s really such a sad, sad song, even in this context.]

Friends, by by ~DarthZini on DeviantArt

Favorite Female Character

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , , , on 17 January 2013 by Megan

Ugh, I hate this question. I just have no answer to it. I never like women. It is so incredibly difficult for me to think of favorite women . . . I just don’t know. There are some women I do like, but none of them seem legit for overarching favorite female character for the franchise.

Dracmus, Qi Xux  Aunt Beru, Taun We, Lyn Me

Dracmus, Qi Xux
Aunt Beru, Taun We, Lyn Me

For example, as I was “growing up” in my love for Star Wars, and reading the books and all, I freaking adored Dracmus (Assault on Selonia) and Qwi Xux (Dark Apprentice — she bags Wedge Antilles. Respect!), but it’s not like they’re even recurring characters. My favorite woman in the films was undoubtedly Lyn Me — I adore Twi’leks of all kinds, but this classically-trained dancer in Jabba’s palace actually has an awesome back story about her hunting down her sister and stuff. As I was contemplating answers for this challenge, I thought about how much I love Taun We, the Kaminoan who shows Obi-Wan around; the actress who did her voice described her as a creature of love and light, which just about sums it up; I love her galaxy-eyes. Aunt Beru, though she doesn’t seem to have enough personality to wring a whole post out of, nevertheless seems like a sweet lady, and one wonders just how she did at mothering Luke.

Still, none of these seemed to inspire enough affection from me to get a real post out of. Finally, I was authorized by a friend that the character didn’t have to be sentient. In that case, I said, well, in that case, I have an easy choice to make:

boga_relationship

Boga, the noble varactyl

In Episode III, Obi-Wan chooses a varactyl to get around quickly and unnoticed on Utapau. Although the film cuts it, the novelization mentions that he spends quite some time among the varactyl stables trying to identify one with the right sort of spirit. He immediately forms a bond with Boga; he senses a kindred spirit with her, and that she is noble, intelligent, and loving.

Just pretend there's a feathered lizard standing there.

Just pretend there’s a feathered lizard standing there.

Just watching Boga move in Episode III gives me a thrill. She reminds me of a big dog — well, specifically, of the Newfoundland we used to have — the way she goes loping down the ramps and corridors, barking and yipping. Birdlike, lizardlike, dinosaurish, you can tell just by looking at her that there’s something clever to her, but not a destructive kind of cleverness like a raptor.

movie_bg

Boga would take the raptors OUT.

I also find it amazing that Obi-Wan can just immediately handle one of these things. How many years does it take to become a horse master? And Boga’s big old head is kind of in the way for visibility while riding. Nevertheless, they make a convincing team. I was afraid she would try to sneeze and give away his location, but it’s in fact Obi-Wan who gives away the location by casually leaping into a hoard of enemies.

obi_boga

So many pretty colors, too. I want a baby varactyl.

Boga is quite ready to jump into any battle or fray at the need of the person she’s accompanying. Although she never met Obi-Wan before, she feels the connection he does, and droids and clones are no nevermind to her. She gladly jumps into the fight and carries Obi-Wan in pursuit of Grevious in some truly head-spinning dives.

Boga

I have the Boga figurine and it is so awesome.

Although she got her name from a Tunisian soft drink, this lizard-creature is legit. It’s not clear whether she dies or not; sources are contradictory. In the film, when Obi-Wan’s clone troops turn on him, Boga does her best to protect his frame from the bolts, and she almost certainly saves his life. Obi-Wan eulogizes her bravery, loyalty, and fierceness, and it seems to me if he thought she died, that she probably did. Still: a glorious career for a great and noble creature.

Kenobiandboga

Rest with the lizard angels, Boga, dear.