Archive for Qui-Gon Jinn

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Main Character

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , on 2 August 2015 by Megan

Day 2 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Let’s just accept that 1) favorites generally don’t fluctuate; 2) challenges focus on favorites; 3) there is going to be a certain degree of redundancy; 4) it is OK to talk about the same person more than once; 5) when it’s been two years since I posted about something, it’s not redundant, not really.

That’s more for my benefit than yours because I guarantee you don’t care. My apology stated, let’s move on to the fun stuff.

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And what could be more fun than the legendary Qui-Gon Jinn? I listed some points in this post from 2013 — mostly, that I was entraced by this guy the moment I first saw him on the movie poster and was not disappointed by his appearance. Liam Neeson’s own personal core of awesomeness helps keep Qui-Gon a sustainable favorite even as we near the two decade mark.

Yes, he’s only in one of the three prequel films, but his shadow is over them all. Qui-Gon Jinn, like another favorite of mine, Cadfael, is a warrior/monk/teacher/detective/all around amazing and awesome guy. He’s been a role model to me since I was 14, which was made even cooler by the fact that Obi-Wan was 14 as his apprentice. I could basically step into Obi-Wan’s shoes and be mentored by this great man.

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It’s because of Qui-Gon Jinn that I think stubbornness is a virtue. He never accepts what authority tells him because, even if Yoda is 800 years old, Qui-Gon is confident enough in his own experience and knowledge to believe he just might know better than the little goblin. He tests each situation for himself and draws his own conclusions. Nothing shakes him from his beliefs. He’ll take rebuke, shame, even physical assault, but he will not change his position and he will not compromise on what he knows is right: “I will do what I must.”

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Which is not to say he’s never known failure, even deep, biting failure. He never stopped blaming himself for the fall of his second apprentice, Xanatos; nor did he ever recover from the death of the love of his life, Tahl. He held himself responsible for that, too. But he was tough in the face of his mistakes; they never introduced self-doubt, and he carries the entire plot of Episode I, and, arguably, the prequel trilogy, on his shoulder as he charges ahead. The Force could not be clearer: he has found the “Chosen One” and the Jedi must train him.

While some of his in-film behavior is inexplicable — I simply can’t believe a man who has been betrayed in the past, even betrayed by Obi-Wan, would ever backstab his apprentice before the Council the way Lucas’ Qui-Gon does. But there are times I genuinely believe George Lucas doesn’t know as much about his own characters as I do.

Qui-Gon is proud and stubborn but also gentle. He has an innate knowledge of what people need, what people will respond to, what will cause them to stretch and grow. Obstacles don’t ruffle him as long as he knows he’s in control — watch his temper flare when Watto shoos him out of the shop, for example — and while he doesn’t believe the Council could find the will of the Force with both hands and a flashlight, his trust in what he calls “the Living Force” (the Force of right now, this minute, not the dusty past or the shifting future) doesn’t waver at any point.

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In 1999, when I carried the Visual Dictionary everywhere for months because I couldn’t see the movie until a month after it came out, I drew the inevitable conclusion that Qui-Gon had to die in Episode I. There was no getting around it. I still cried when it happened. Actually, it just made me like him more; I was really infatuated with dead people back then. Sometimes I still am, as long as the death is pointful (not profitable), in character, and, most important of all, not Pyrrhic. Sidebar.

Qui-Gon’s life and background remains shrouded in mystery to me; honestly I have never been able to bring myself to believe that Dooku was his master. His death also has some mystery, in my opinion, because I find it a little overly convenient that when he falls in love a second time, he instantly dies. I’m inclined to think he faked his death so he could run away with Shmi, not allowing the Jedi to derail his heart a second time; but that’s a conspiracy for a different day (1)(2). He’s cool and he’s awesome and that’s all there is to say.

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Favorite E1 Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , on 1 May 2014 by Megan

I know people hate Jar Jar Binks. If it’s one thing practically everyone in the universe knows, it’s that practically everyone in the universe hates Jar Jar Binks.

Why so much hate?

Why so much hate?

He’s not my favorite character, by any means whatsoever, but I think it’s unfair that he’s been made the entire scapegoat of why “everyone” hates a movie they were going to hate from the word go for the same reason they were going to hate ROTJ no matter what — the delivery did not live up to the expectation. Should George Lucas have bought into the idiotic notion that Star Wars was a kids movie and therefore construct a film for 7-year-olds? No. He should have understood that his primary demographic was far closer to 27 than 7 and given us a buddy Jedi (in the buddy cop vein) of Anakin and Obi-Wan kicking ass and taking names.

But all of that aside, Jar Jar Binks is neither the worst nor the best character in the prequels, and certainly not the most embarrassing. Ahmed Best didn’t deserve what he got from the movie at all. And my favorite moment in Episode I (not to be confused with the funniest) also happens to be the first clip I ever saw.

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Oh, hey guys.

I was 14 and I watched all the news religiously in order to hear reports on Episode I and see bits. And one morning (May 13, 1999), George Lucas was interviewed on NBC and they showed this clip from Episode I — Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Jar Jar meeting in the swamp on Naboo.

If they find us, they will crush us, grind us into tiny pieces, and blast us into oblivion.

Honestly I love this scene from the moment Qui-Gon snaps, “You almost got us killed! Are you brainless?” all the way up to where Jar Jar spins around, forcing Obi-Wan to duck his flying ears. I’ve been charmed by this scene since day one, and it never ceases to be funny.

Neither Obi-Wan nor Qui-Gon behave in a very appropriate manor for a couple of monks. They are short-tempered, demanding, and bully a stranger — clearly some kind of mentally handicapped young person — into taking them to his people’s hidden underwater city, knowing full well that he faces execution for doing so. It’s only after Qui-Gon’s conscience smites him that he asks about Jar Jar’s fate and, with much protest from Obi-Wan, brings him along to save his life. They take what they want until they get to the capital city. All of this actually falls in line very neatly with how Jedi are known to behave — ends justifying the means, absolute selfishness, etc. etc. — and even the two best Jedi the Order has ever known fall into that trap.

And, come on, Obi-Wan has to duck so Jar Jar’s ears don’t hit him! He has to duck! Ah, ha ha ha, I can’t get over that. He ducks! Oh, I love it. I have to go watch this movie. Bye.

Favorite Quote

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 4 July 2013 by Megan

Can I get hung up on grammar a moment and object that this should be “favorite quotation“; quote is a verb and quotation is a noun. It’s like asking “what’s your favorite eat?” If quotation is too long, you’re going to have to bite it and say quot. All right, English major out.

Honestly, it’s not fair to make me select one favorite line out of six films. I was hoping to be able to estimate the number of lines in the films all together, but my concordance — which I began in 2009 — is not complete enough to allow for this. I can’t even estimate it without it being a hugely time consuming process; I’ve only completed The Phantom Menace and it’s just not set up for line counting. (But I can tell you that Jar Jar Binks has slightly under 10% of the dialogue in Episode I.)

I really, really, really wanted to give you a favorite line from each film, but I think  that will have to be a project for another day. However, in order to do this, I’m going to have to sit down and watch all of them and take notes. I just don’t have the time. So instead, I will give you what amounts to my very favorite quotation from Star Wars of all time, a line I even bought on a bumper sticker and used as my online signature for years.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Qui-Gon Jinn

And as usual, Qui-Gon appears.

 

The ability to speak does not make you intelligent. — Qui-Gon Jinn

Who Do You Ship?

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 9 May 2013 by Megan

I know this question is not in the original lineup, but I couldn’t answer questions on least favorite romances, unbearable shipping, least favorite couples, without showing you that I can appreciate romance, and without demonstrating that there is one couple in the Star Wars franchise that I ship with all my heart, to the point of inventing not-strictly-canonical conspiracy theories to make it possible. Sometimes I do believe in romance, true love, and soulmates.

Oh, girl, you KNOW I had to be talking Shmi-Gon!!

Oh, girl, you KNOW I had to be talking Shmi-Gon!!

Qui-Gon on Tatooine

45 minutes into the film, he says his name for the first time — to her

He’s a Jedi Master with a long, wearying career behind him: he’s trained three apprentices with varying degrees of success, fought creatures and monsters, gotten disrespect from his peers, seen and heard horrible things, suffered deaths, betrayals, and tortures. On a routine negotiation mission, he and his apprentice are cast into an overwhelming and disturbing chain of events, and he moves from negotiator to bodyguard to the Queen of Naboo. He winds up on Tatooine due to engine trouble, and heads into the hostile alien town in search of parts.

Shmi Skywalker

Her name is never even spoken in Episode I

She’s a simple woman invested in the survival, first, of her son, and then of herself. While Anakin’s origin — and what was done to her to result in that — remains mysterious, she fell into slavery as an adolescent, kidnapped by pirates when the rest of her family was killed. She is used to a hard life, has learned to be cynical of a Republic that can’t afford to enforce its laws on the Outer Rim, and she takes the unwanted, uninvited presence of her son into stride. Although a Tatooine resident for only six years, she knows there’s no hope for stranded Republicans here.

They meet when her nine-year-old son Anakin brings in this cluster of strangers right off the street. They could be a man and his daughter (or even, given Tatooine’s culture, a man with his young wife), nonhuman manager, and an astromech droid. Although the girl is smooth-faced and her flowing locks betray unfamiliarity with the desert, and they are obviously outlanders trying not to raise attention, Shmi doesn’t feel the need to distrust them and welcomes them to wait the storm out in their humble hovel. Qui-Gon greets her courteously, explains their presence as Anakin is too distracted to, and offers food to help pay their way at the modest table.

While Padmé and Anakin “play” — he shows off all his boring crap — Qui-Gon and Jar Jar help with dinner. There’s no way of knowing what they talk about, though Qui-Gon does step aside to answer a comm call from Obi-Wan and you can see Shmi there in the background. Dinner conversation is mostly neutral and polite, with the exception of Padmé’s bringing up the slavery issue (you’d think a future senator would show more tact). Anakin brings up his obsession with podracing, and for a moment, anyway, Qui-Gon is distracted by the glimmer of a way out of this mess. And yet, is it Anakin’s mewling, “Mom, you say the biggest problem in this universe is no one helps each other” that convinces her to let her son do this enormously dangerous thing? Or is it Padmé’s gentle reference to Qui-Gon, and the Jedi’s kind eyes as he asks after some friendly person who might help them?

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Sparks fly when our worlds collide, and I am falling at your feet

However it was, Qui-Gon tries to resist his feelings for her at the same time the draw of the Force surrounding her son makes it impossible. (On the other hand, they say show kindness to the child and you will attract the mother.) And note how cool he tries to play it as he’s all, “Soooo . . . who was his father?” It’s so easy for Qui-Gon’s dismissive attitude at the end of the Tatooine segment to distract from his feelings for her — first he puts her son in danger, brushes off her concerns, and makes a wager for her son to get free and not her. But, come on, what would Shmi do with freedom if Anakin didn’t have it? Use your gray matter!

Anakin of course wins the Podrace — the Force could hardly allow anything otherwise to happen. Anakin gets his freedom. Qui-Gon knows he can take the boy — whom he consistently refers to as “the boy” — to Coruscant and get him enrolled in Jedi training. Remember he has no intention of training him himself until the Council crosses him! As he sends Anakin off to collect his things and get ready to leave, Qui-Gon steps to Shmi and asks if she’ll be all right. He puts his hand on her shoulder.

The tender farewell

The tender farewell

Lucas didn’t script this, and, naturally, tried to cut it, but Liam held his ground. It’s a good thing, too, because in many respects Lucas’ Qui-Gon is almost inhumanly callous throughout the last half of the movie. You can attribute it to general incompetence from the director, sure, but I also think — and Liam Neeson must’ve felt it because he put that tender gesture in — that Qui-Gon’s distracted in more ways than one. He’s a man in love.

While the camera is pandering to Anakin’s farewell-droid speech, what is Qui-Gon telling Shmi? “I’ll watch out for him, you have my word,” he says just before the camera cuts, as she opens her mouth as if to speak. What else does Qui-Gon tell her? Does he promise to come back? His harsh, “I didn’t come here to free slaves” from a day or so earlier (Lucas’ timelining, again unclear) was a weak attempt to break his feelings for her. Instead, he has decided he’d rather break his vows.

He flies in the face of the Council more then usual. Is it because he’s so invested in Anakin’s identity as the Chosen One? Or is it because he has no plan B for how to get the mother if the Jedi won’t take her kid?

Qui-Gon has been fighting the Jedi Council for closing in on half a century by now, probably. He’s worn out. If you believe that he loved the Jedi Knight Tahl, then he has a background of one love lost due to the Council’s madness and insane celibacy requirements. (Fun side note — Ki-Adi-Mundi, due to underpopulatino of his homeworld, was granted permission to marry not one, but five women. Celibacy is clearly not demanded by the Force.) He and Obi-Wan are bickering the entire way to Naboo, but is it just because Obi-Wan and the Council are at odds with Qui-Gon about Anakin’s potential? Or is it because his master confided in him that he was taking a giant step and leaving the Order? Obi-Wan has been his apprentice, as close as a son, for 12 years, and is more than ready to take the trials, as they both know. With the Council refusing to take on responsibility for Anakin, Qui-Gon needs his apprentice to step into the gap — and knows Obi-Wan is more than capable. Somehow in the battle for Naboo, he means to fake his death and dodge the Council.

How do I explain Qui-Gon’s actual death scene? Well, let’s be frank. What kills him? He’s clearly caught off guard by a saber in the gut, but would this kill him? Why do people typically die of abdominal wounds? Because the bleeding is so difficult to stop — but that’s a non-issue with a saber because it instantly cauterizes the wound. Peritonitis, inflammation of the tissues lining and surrounding abdominal organs, also causes death in cases of gut injury. Again, not an issue with a lightsaber wound. If Qui-Gon actually dies, I say he suffocates due to a ruptured diaphragm; it’s the only thing that makes sense. What makes more sense is that Obi-Wan knows he isn’t dying. Qui-Gon asks for his promise to train Anakin again because of Obi-Wan’s reluctance, but Obi-Wan, knowing his master will never return to the Jedi, agrees, and knows he must give his master up.

Qui-Gon slips into a healing Force trance, and Obi-Wan cries not over his death but over his separation, knowing he cannot contact him again. He helps Qui-Gon escapes, provides a decoy or Force-illusion body for the funeral (why it’s appropriate to give a non-Nubian a Nubian funeral, I don’t know), and takes on the responsibility for Anakin. Qui-Gon, meantime, buys a ship with his 20,000 Republic dataries, returns to Tatooine, and sells the ship; with local currency, he enlists the support of a widowed trader, Cliegg Lars, and his son Owen. He gives them the money to buy a moisture farm — as Cliegg wants out of the spacelanes — if they agree to buy Shmi, free her, and circulate the story that he married her. The Larses are glad to accommodate, and Shmi finds herself reunited with Qui-Gon, who can court her properly.

Home, home on the Jundland Wastes, where the Jawas and Bantha cubs play . . .

I have such a mental image of Qui-Gon in a Tatooine style ranch home, out in the Jundland Wastes, living in peace at last with Shmi and their kids. Qui-Gon’s immense respect for all life forms quickly win over the local Sand People, who regard him almost as one of themselves, and they are frequently around the homestead and help him and his family survive in the harsh environment. In Episode II, Anakin’s inexplicable nightmares — possibly fueled by Palpatine’s influence — drives him back to Tatooine. Word gets around that Anakin’s trying to find his mother, so Cliegg and Owen quickly cook up a story about her death by Sand People. Cliegg’s suspiciously inconsistent story betrays this — he goes from “we’re still looking, I’m not giving up hope” to “she’s dead, son” in under 5 minutes as he tries to discourage Anakin. Some of Qui-Gon’s Tusken friends agree to fake her death, but the consequence of Anakin murdering them was unforeseen by them all. This is why Qui-Gon shouts, “Anakin! No!”

Later, Qui-Gon toys around with Master Yoda, contacting him telepathically through the Force and taunting him with visions of “the netherworld of the Force” and nonsense. In a vision, he encourages Yoda to send Obi-Wan and the boy “Anakin’s son” to Tatooine where  he will “train Obi-Wan” to contact him in the Force. In reality, once Obi-Wan is there, Qui-Gon reveals himself in the person, and they move in all neighborly. Obi-Wan’s ridiculous “call” in ANH that startles the Sand People off is really just Qui-Gon’s password to tell them he’s a friend. (He does seem to know an incredible lot about them!)

And so there you have it. I have a vision of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon grilling out bantha flank steaks outside his lodge, Qui-Gon and Shmi’s black-headed kids romping around in Uli dress for sand protection, Shmi warning them not to spoil their appetite before the burgers are done, a beautiful day under the twin suns . . .

Flashback! Why?

Posted in Questions with tags , , , , , , on 1 April 2013 by Megan

I feel like I’ve been quoting old AIM convos kind of a lot this year, and it made me want to go back and do another flashback question, courtesy of one of those AIM convos.

If Qui-Gon knew that Jar-Jar was going to be a pain while he went looking for a hyper drive why did he take him? — Krisco F.

Qui-Gon Jinn with Jar Jar

No one ever asks that question about Anakin…

My answer at the time was quite accurate and fully sourced by a Lucas-approved canonical source, that is, the novelization of Episode I — this included a scene never filmed for the movie, in which Obi-Wan dismisses Jar Jar’s concerns about going. (Jar Jar in fact did not want to go). The argument is a small group would be less noticeable than a single undercover Jedi in a place like Mos Epsa.

What I actually quoted, in the fall of 2000, to answer the question, though, was the following excerpt from an Episode I journal I myself had actually written — Obi-Wan’s Padawan journal. (I wrote it because, as a massive oversight, no one else had.) I’m going to quote it for  you, just to get some length to this post, but be patient and keep in mind that the person who wrote this was fourteen years old at the time.

A moment later, holding a scanner in one hand, I was checking the artfully designed Naboo hyperdrive. I frowned at the readouts, just as Jar Jar burst into the hold, looking around as if seeking salvation from a fate worse then death. For a moment, I wondered just what kind of trouble he’d gotten himself into now, and then he threw himself at my feet, moaning. “Obi-Wan, sire!” he wailed, “Pleeze–me not go wid Quiggon!”

It only took a moment to realize what the terrified Gungan was talking about–Qui-Gon had decided to take Jar Jar with him into the spaceport. “Sorry,” I said, detaching myself from him. I told the Gungan he would make Qui-Gon appear less obvious by going along. I silently added, I hope.

Funniest Moment

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

I can’t believe I can’t find a video or a GIF or something showcasing my very favorite funny scene from Star Wars. In fact, I tried to pick a back-up funny moment . . . but I can’t find anything of that, either!

Fine, this screen-cap will have to do. Qui-Gon, thinking he’s playing it so cool, casually remarks on how Anakin must have Jedi reflexes if he races Pods. Maybe he’s trying to get a reaction from Shmi, to try to figure out what this kid’s deal is, but he’s distracted by Jar Jar’s incessant slurping plums out of the common bowl. SNAP! He grabs his tongue. And then is confused when he gets pegged for a Jedi.

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Jedi so far undercover, you don’t even know what covers are

Look, this scene does it for me. It cracks me up. Sometimes I rewind and watch it a couple of times in a row. This is really funny.

I also absolutely love the scene in ROTJ when Han starts issuing instructions to Threepio, interrupting him every second before Threepio can translate his demands to the Ewoks. He concludes, “And hurry up, will ya? I haven’t got all day.” Threepio actually does a double take. That scene has always been incredibly amusing to me.

Favorite Male Character

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 31 January 2013 by Megan

Let’s face it: Qui-Gon Jinn is cool. Liam Neeson is a man whose aura of coolness radiates and captures all in its path. I didn’t even know who he was the first time I saw the movie poster, but I went, “YES.” And maybe there was something creepy about my 14-year-old self crushing on the 48-year-old Neeson to such an extent; it’s likely not less creepy now that it’s been years since I first started gushing about his hotness, but hotness was not the issue in E1. Coolness was.

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Oh, it’s his hands, they drive me wild. I want them all over me.

Neeson’s 6’4″ frame was not anticipated by the set designers, so they actually had to shell out a few million to make the adjustments so he could stand up straight! His powerful skills as an actor were not anticipated by Lucas, but even the Emperor himself and his bad dialogue couldn’t stifle the great actor.

This Jedi Master, with his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, is known as a skilled negotiator, strongly connected with the intuitive or “living” Force, but frequently butts heads with the Council because he values what is right over what is proper and what is noble over what is acceptable. He is a man of strong convictions and powerful honor.

The force of awesomeness is strong with this one.

The force of awesomeness is strong with this one.

Laser blue eyes, a kind face, a big heart, noble soul, caustic wit, and a warm depth of feeling for all living — Qui-Gon is a far greater Jedi than Yoda, wiser and more powerful by far, not chained to any petty bureaucracy, answering to a higher standard than the weak-willed Code. He has known love, suffered betrayal, seen greatness, experienced depths. He is like Cadfael, a true warrior monk. And if you think he goes out like a wimp, well, stick around with me, kid — you’ll learn a thing or two.

Like Qui-Gon says -- Whenever I'm dead, I just stop being dead and be awesome instead. True story.

Like Qui-Gon says — Whenever I’m dead, I just stop being dead and be awesome instead. True story.

I don’t even really know how to quantify what is so cool about him, and it’s gotten so layered over the years with my own thoughts and opinions on his actions, because, let’s face it, Lucas gives him some awful moves in the one movie he’s in. First he tries to throw over his apprentice for a boy he doesn’t know — after all the ups and downs of trust and betrayal with Obi-Wan — and then he spends his dying breath on this punk kid. But just consider that the movie doesn’t always portray everything with accuracy.

Frankly, Qui-Gon’s passion, selfless devotion to the right thing, his immense strength held in check by his great gentleness, and his underspoken wisdom are all reasons why he is just the most amazing man and remains my favorite male character despite the fact that his screen time is extremely low when compared to other male characters. I love him. And now I feel slightly guilty for spending my post on favorite female on a lizard . . .