V is for Vader – Rewriting the Star Wars Prequels

I have seen lots of bad movies in my life. Most of them are soon forgotten. But only one film betrayed me to such a degree that I continue to think about it years later. I am speaking of coarse of the ruination of Star Wars with the prequels (yes, I can be that much of a geek sometimes). Fixing these stories is the subject of hundreds of fan made YouTube videos and thousands of webpages, so at least I’m not alone. I shutter to think of hours that have been spent as fans discuss what it was that made Star Wars jump the shark. Was it Jar Jar? Midi-chlorians? Or was it Lucas lavishing attention on special effects and zipping around the galaxy trying to squeeze as many creatures, star ships, Jedi, planets, and cities into the movie as possible while leaving plot, character development, acting, and dialog as a mere after-thought? I think we all know the unfortunate answer to that question.

I actually (surprisingly) can not watch them again. Unlike the originals which I can watch over and over, I can not sit through the prequels again. I almost believe the entire prequel series was nothing more than an extravagant commercial for the Lucas Arts games (which are quite good by the way).

A new, new hope?
There is no doubt (for me) that the films will eventually be remade (please let it be in my lifetime). There is too much interest in it. As soon as Lucas decides he is ready to make another billion dollars, he will remake them. And this time, I hope, he will let someone else do the writing and directing. So, in anticipation of a remake, I am offering my opinion. I also hope that by publishing this, I can once and for all exorcise the demons that haunt me and free my mind from the psychological burden Lucas has shackled me with.

Pretend with me that the prequels never existed, and let’s come up with a new story. Frankly I don’t care about episodes 1 or 2, they can and perhaps should be set 100’s or 1000’s of years before (how far back do we need to go in order to get different some new characters?). 1 and 2 and can be truly unique stories featuring the Jedi at the peak of their power. I am only concerned about the one that supposedly connects with the original trilogy. The rise of Darth Vader.

What was wrong with prequels?
If you don’t know, I’m afraid I wont be able to explain it to you. It is obvious for anyone over the age of 12 and there are a ton of reviews online that explain it well and for the most part I agree, yes, the dialog in movies was bad, yes the acting was bad, yes I thought having all the same characters as the original made the universe small, but my main complaint is the story itself. The story of how Anakin Skywalker was corrupted by the dark side. In a movie filled with impossible things, the story of how Anakin became Darth Vader as Lucas told it seems the most impossible. Why? Because nothing in the human experience suggests that corruption works that way.

The corruption of Anakin Skywalker – Lucas Version
A loose cannon Jedi investigating a Trade / Banking conspiracy find a small boy (born from a virgin mother no less) who has high concentrations of Midi-chlorians (cellular bacteria similar to mitochondria and chloroplasts that make the force work). They take him to see the Jedi council for evaluation. They forbid training because (surprise) the boy is too old (nothing new here, apparently this is what they always say). So the Obi-wan trains him. Training Jedi consists of following another Jedia around and smarting off (even Luke had more training than Anakin). By the time he is about 19 he meets his childhood crush and a relationship develops into a cheesy romance. He starts having dreams in which she dies. These dreams, a few speeches about how the Jedi are holding him back, and a few conversations with the Lord of the Sith, are all the motivation he apparently needs to switch to the Dark Side. He walks into the Jedi school, and kills a dozen kids, then tracks down Obi-Wan and tries to kill him. His wife dies, his arms and legs cut off, he is rescued and put into his suit and renamed Darth Vader. Does that make any sense at all to you? It doesn’t to me.

It is impossible that THIS was the life of Anakin Skywalker. It is so inconsistent, so shallow, so unbelievable that I refuse to accept it into my Star Wars universe. Just like I never accepted The Ewok Adventure: Caravan of Courage (1984) , Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985), The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), or Star Wars: Droids (1985) to be “real” Star Wars” films, so I have disowned the prequels. As Yoda would say: “That bad, they are.”

The true nature of good and evil
The story of Darth Vader should be a story that explores the causes of corruption. What defines a villain? What makes someone evil? This is a topic that is very important in today’s world. As the means of the corrupt get ever more sophisticated, the public needs a good lesson every now and then to build up its immune system against real “evil”. People need to learn again why certain things are wrong, why others are worth fighting for, and to remember that we all have a great capacity to do good and must be on guard against the “Dark Side” of human nature. The truth is, it is very easy to slip into the Dark Side. It happens to good people all the time – its called: “Just doing your job.”

I’ll explain.

What is evil?
My definition of evil is pretty simple – “to act, or fail to act in way that causes or allows suffering”. As there are degrees of suffering there are also degrees of evil. “Failing to act” means apathy, indifference, willful ignorance, or compliance (“Just doing my job”) with policies that lead to death and suffering.

The causes of evil
Buddha may claim suffering is caused by attachment – I’m not disputing that. But causing others to suffer is done because they have something you or someone you work for wants or needs and you are unable or unwilling to make them a fair trade to get it. They are somehow in your way. The root cause is obvious and has been documented for hundreds of years and known as the seven deadly sins:

  • Lust – Dante described Lust as an “excessive love”. When does love become excessive? In my opinion it happens the moment it overpowers reason. The man who puts his family, his career, his own life in danger for one night. If you’ve ever been watching the news and wondered what they were thinking, you’ve probably seen someone whose reason was overwhelmed – temporary insanity, lust – the animal within overcomes the thinking man.
  • Gluttony – the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. Nothing describes the current American consumer better. Excessive, unsustainable consumption leads to resource depletion, environmental degradation and reduced ecological health. In order for America to exist the way it does, in order to preserve our “keep up with the Joneses” mentality, we have to use the resources of the entire planet. For everyone on earth to do that, we would need 5 planets. See the StoryofStuff.com. In the longterm these effects can lead to increased conflict over dwindling resources and in the worst case a Malthusian catastrophe. (In agriculture – http://www.themeatrix.com/)
  • Greed – Greed is, like Lust and Gluttony, a sin of excess. However, Greed is applied to the acquisition of wealth in particular. These include disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, or treason, especially for personal gain, for example through bribery. Scavenging and hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are all actions that may be inspired by greed.
  • Sloth – Apathy, an unwillingness to care, to act, to reach ones full potential. In my view, a failure to take a risk in order to do what is right or to stop suffering. Although it is often seen as one of the lesser sins, in aggregate it has the largest impact. The only way small minorities of people are able to commit the other sins and cause suffering is because the rest of us are sloth. If we all acted as Jedi, or as police of our own communities and took a stand for what was right, no tyrant could exist. Tens of thousands of soldiers have had the opportunity to stop war crimes (maybe even war itself) but for sloth did nothing. War can not happen without the soldiers. Corporations can not rape cultures without workers. Good people have a role in everything bad. You may say, “they will just put someone else in that role” – maybe, but not if everyone said as you do – this is not acceptable, I will not do it, I will fight this.
  • Wrath – Dante described vengeance as “love of justice perverted to revenge and spite“. Wrath may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. These feelings can manifest as vehement denial of the truth, both to others and in the form of self-denial, impatience with the procedure of law, and the desire to seek revenge outside of the workings of the justice system (such as engaging in vigilantism) and generally wishing to do evil or harm to others. The transgressions borne of vengeance are among the most serious, including murder, assault, and in extreme cases, genocide. (See Crimes against humanity.)
  • Envy – St. Thomas Aquinas described Envy as “sorrow for another’s good”. It differs from Greed in that with Greed, you want things – in Envy, it is not so much your wanting, as it is you wanting others NOT to have it. “If I can’t have it, no one can”. In Dante’s Purgatory, the punishment for the envious is to have their eyes sewn shut with wire, because they have gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low.
  • Pride – In almost every list Pride is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others. Dante’s definition was “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbor.”

So these are all very human emotions. Any one of them is motivation for evil. Both you and I, dear reader, no doubt have all seven active in us right now. What differentiates good from evil is weather you acknowledge and try to fight these things, or if you plot and cultivate them.

Why good people do bad things
From my experience there are a couple only two valid reasons for people turning really, obviously bad: Chemistry and Culture

Chemistry: I would wager that almost all really big time evil-doers are chemically imbalanced in some way either due to genetics, drug addiction, or disease. Chemicals are at play in all emotions. Change the chemicals you change the nature and the intensity of the emotion. Change it enough and the person loseWeight Exercises control. If I was to rewrite Star Wars I would probably give Aniken a drug addiction. Nothing so completely changes a personality, alienates, and dehumanizes people as an addiction to a mind altering drug. Lucas most likely did not want to do this to maintain the family nature of the movie. But come on, if you are going to cut off a mans head in the opening scene I think you should at least warn people that this is an avoidable path you do not have to go down. The most avoidable dehumanizing, desperation causing element in modern society (other than poverty) is drugs. A heroin addiction should do the trick.

Scientists have discovered a trait that thrill seekers seem have in common – lower levels of a brain chemical called monoamine oxydase which seems to control dopamine levels. The less you have, the more a rush you get when something happens. Over time, as with any chemical addiction, your brain adjusts to the higher levels and you need more and more to feel the same high. While most of us can get our fix from everyday life, these people feel the need to jump out of planes, swim with sharks, etc. What starts off as laughing when you are tossed in the air as an infant by a parent, develops into a love of the high dive at the pool, horror movies, roller coasters, sky diving, etc. Anakin does seem to have this thrill seeker trait in the films, but it is not a clear motivation for switching to the dark side. Even the surfer movie Point Break does a better job of equating thrill seeking with crime.

Culture: By far the most damning human control mechanism is loyalty to a grand vision – otherwise known as “the end justifies the means”.

Here is how it works: a leader paints a picture (as he should and as all leaders do). It is a vision of something good. Something you agree with, something you can really get passionate about and believe in. Maybe its is a perfect society, a land of milk and honey, maybe its increased profits, a higher stock price, Christmas bonuses, maybe its a cure for cancer, a higher crop yield, cleaner water, a safe zone for commerce, lower crime, a drug free America, a secure border, an afterlife with God (and seventy virgins), universal health care, or maybe it’s just good old fashioned Freedom. Whatever it is, you agree and you want it. You believe in it, and you want to help make it happen.

So you sign up. You join the military, you take that corporate job, you pay your membership dues, you do what it takes, you go to work. Fine, so do I.

But eventually, there is one small detail, one small bump in the road, one barrier between US and OUR goal. Something you may not totally agree with, but the end justifies the means right? If one man has to die so 100 can live free, thats ok right? We need to dam this river for water and electricity but these people must loseWeight Exercise their homes. But hey, that’s progress right? We can get cheaper labor in China and not pay medical benefits. There is gold in that mountain, but to get it we have to pollute that creek. These farmers are growing drugs, we have to burn their fields. We need to move this inventory. We need sell this house – this guy will buy it but he has bad credit – be creative. That meat is bad but we can’t afford to throw it out – be creative. Those people disagree with us, they are ruining our plan, we have to shut them up – be creative. That man is a terrorist. He must die.

Lot’s of bad things happen all the time but most of it is institutionalized. That means the blame is spread out so that each little part is, in and of itself, mostly harmless. It doesn’t trigger anyone’s sense of moral outrage. Even if it is bad, people justify it by “looking at the big picture”. “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet,” they say. Testing these bombs and building this arsenal ensures our security and provides a deterrent for war. These people are a backward tribe of savages – why shouldn’t we take their resources, if they aren’t using them, someone should. We are just making better use of the land.

“Ok – fine, but wait Ben, now your talking about evil at the large scale of a whole society. What does this have to do with Darth Vader?” you ask.

“That’s right,” I say, “I’m talking about the Empire – the society and culture Darth Vader lived in.”

The Lucifer Effect
The original Star Wars films drew sharp lines between good and evil. Darth Vader was a symbol, a focal point of the culture he lived in. He represented the Empire. He was an emotionless man, entrenched in an emotionless bureaucratic (and evil – i.e. causing suffering left and right) system that dehumanized death and suffering. Remember, in the first movie, the empire (not Darth Vader) committed the biggest atrocity – an entire planet (Alderian) was destroyed just to demonstrate the power of a battle station – the Death Star. The destruction of Alderian was the by far the biggest crime in the entire series and justifies the rebellion. Vader did not pull the trigger or order it himself, but he was an enabler and stood by while it happened. Why? What was the grand vision so large and inspiring it would turn a Jedi into a man that would stand by while that happened. In fact, every one on that Death Star went about their lives as if nothing happened. Did they believe the Empire was bringing peace to the galaxy? Did they think that planet needed to be destroyed? I am reminded of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhicker’s guide to the galaxy where earth is destroyed in the first chapter in order to build a hyperspace bypass. While this is so ludicrous and irrational it is funny, if you suspend disbelief as we are asked to do in a film, you would expect outrage from the characters.

In that system, The Empire, you can understand how a man like Darth Vader could exist. There are easy parallels to governments and corporations on earth. You don’t have to envision Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany to find the effects of institutionalization on individuals. Look at the Stanford prison study an experiment where college students were randomly assigned roles as either prisoners or guards. Once given uniforms the students began to behave violently toward each other. The guards became abusive, the prisoners depressed to such a degree the experiment had to be stopped.

Heroes and Villains
Star Wars created powerful icons in the first films. Icons are useful to society to help us communicate complex ideas very quickly. There are many icons that have this power but Darth Vader was one that stood for ruthless machine-like determination to accomplish an end and to gain more power no matter what the personal cost. He we was willing to destroy his son, even his own body to achieve his goals. In this respect he was no different than any other henchman. But how do people become that way? I imagined that he had been trained to follow orders, without question, to complete the task no matter what must be done. He is the ultimate example of a man who believes the end always justifies the means. It wasn’t until the very end that he discovered he was ruining his own and other people lives for nothing…other than to give more power to the emperor.

After watching the prequels I was very disappointed. Aniken had no strict military training and no discipline. The empire which in the first three films was made up of officers that we even more evil than Darth Vader yet we learned they we all clones in the prequels? huh? The backstory Lucas was telling looked good but made no sense.

Darth Vader Was a Bully
Some kids are bullies. Bullies enjoy being cruel to others. They have contempt for the weak and view them as their prey. They lack empathy and foresight, and do not accept responsibility for their actions. They are concerned only about themselves and crave attention.

  • The bully who does not understand social cues and therefore reacts inappropriately and often physically. This is the person that interprets everything as an attack. When accidentally bumped into takes it as an attack and fights back.
  • The bully who plans his attacks and is charming to everyone but his victims.
  • The bullied bully who gets relief from his own sense of helplessness by overpowering others – 40% of bullies are bullied at home or at school – but Aniken does not seem to be bullied in any sense.
  • The bully who is cold and calculating. Since his parents do not monitor his activities or take an interest in his life, he learns to abuse others when no authority figure is looking. His bullying can be planned and relentless, as he constantly humiliates his victim, often getting other children to join him.
  • The bully who is prejudice or racist and has not learned empathy and compassion. The parents of these bullies often have prejudices based on race, sex, wealth and achievement. Other people are just competitors who stand in the way. They encourage the child to always be the best in sports or academics, and others must be kept in an inferior position. Aggression is rewarded and respected, and humiliating others is tolerated. Compassion and empathy seem like weaknesses.

There is an excellent article on bullies at http://www.byparents-forparents.com/causesbullies.html

The real story of Darth Vader
This is my version – Aniken had joined the Republican Guard right after high school when he is 18. His strength, determination, courage, and loyalty had rewarded him with promotions eventually putting him at as the right hand man of the emperor (not second in command, but more of a hit man, a dark guard). If you watch the HBO series Rome you see an example of this in the character Lucius Vorenus a soldier of Julies Caesar. From what we learned from Ben Kanobee we imagined they were colleges who at some point in the coarse of carrying out there orders, were faced with a moral delimia, perhaps they we sent a target that contained no enemy combatants but just civilans. OB1 wanted to abort the mission, Aniken disagreed. “We complete the mission.” It is his ruthless determination and lack of compasion that make darth vader an icon in the first films. None of that exists in the prequels.

Changes to the prequels:
Part of me wonders if the prequels should even be about Darth Vader at
all. It seems odd that a Jedi could turn to the Dark side at all, the
only way that could really happen is if, like in real life, the lines
between good an evil we not so clear. Aniken would need to be a man of
strong beliefs and a certainty that the right end justified any means. After thinking about, I have come up with a few options:

Option 1) Aniken Skywalker and the Sorcerers Stone
I would use a more Harry Potter type of training environment. An academy for Jedi where there are classes, tests, and skill challenges. At some point, they are taken to work with Yoda, on Dagobah (thus explaining the bunker Luke and Yoda encounter in Empire Strikes Back). Yoda only trains a few Jedi at a time. Ainikin’s turn comes when his master is in trouble on another mission (similar to what happened to Luke). He almost immediately wants to leave because he believes there is nothing for him to learn there (since Yoda does not teach fighting but rather the more spiritual side of the force) and second, that his friends need him. He leaves one night but instead of helping Ainikin is then captured by the Sith and goes through a tourture process that is meant to break him down and make him convert (similar to to the prison sequence in V for Vendetta that Natalie Portman’s character goes through) . Before releasing him, they inject him with a serum that will make him turn to the dark side.

Once home, medical scans reveal nothing. The other Jedi, even Obi-Wan accuse him of making the whole thing up. He lashes out in anger and violence. At night he has nightmares every night that the serum is turning him. He gets increasingly angry at everything. Tired from lack of sleep, his body gets weaker, his resolve fails. Previously unbeaten in practice deuls he begins to loseWeight Exercise to even the weakest Jedi – hurting his proud self esteem. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan decides to investigate if maybe Aniken’s claims of being captured by the Sith might be true. He goes to see Yoda. Yoda retrieves an ancient book on Sith practices. Obi Wan asks why aren’t these files in the Jedi Archives. They are Yoda explains. But in this world of science, only that which is testable remains fact. Over time, with the Sith extinct, these stories went from fact, to history, to legend, to myth. They are still in the archive but now they are tagged as myths. Among the pages, Obi Wan finds the story of how the Sith would inject their protege with colored water. The “serum” would be undetectable by scans (because there is nothing there) but would eat at the young jedi’s mind. It would turn his friends against him and weaken him. Horrified Obi Wan rushes to find Aniken. But Aniken, after being defeated again in a practice deul, losses his temper and takes his real lightsaber and kills the boy.

When Obi-Wan arrives he, he is too late, Aniken stands over the fallen boy, he disarms Aniken and confronts him. In an emotional scene he explains that the serum was just water – Ainken is convenced other wise, he sees this as a final blow to his dignity and is enraged, he grabs his light saber and challenges his master to a deul. In his weak state and frantic state he is no match for Obi-Wan and is defeated and injured quite badly. When Aniken awakens he is with the Sith again. They kidnapped him while he (one of the Sith work at the academy) was unconscious but explain to him that they rescued him. That Obi-Wan had tried to kill him. They fix him up and tell him that he can join them and become a Sith. That they appriciate his power, and that he doesn’t understand the mission of the Sith. They are trying to bring real peace to the galaxy. That the Jedi are corrupt, that they serve a Republic that has made slaves of all systems in order to feed its unbridled overconsumption. They show Aniken the dark side of the galaxy, sweat shops, toxic waste, a string of planets left uninhabitable. The Sith want to bring balance back. But he must prove himself and his loyalty. Aniken, feeling he has no choice and believe in the big picture, accepts. He kneels and is given his weapon and cape. He is trained with the Sith. We see him learning powerful tricks of the Dark Side. At the end of his training he is required to fight to the death with his training partner. He wins. Darth Sidus tells him is now a Jedi Lord and gives him name and his mission.

Option 2) V for Vendetta This movie is so perfect for the Star Wars remake I honestly believe the Wachowski brothers did it to show Lucas up. Even going so far as to cast Natalie Portman opposite the dark, vengeful, masked hero. Both V and Vader commit crimes, but there is an important difference. The motive is very clear and understandable with V and we can actually relate and cheer him on. Every line, every scene of V could be adapted into a Star Wars Prequel. Apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way either.

Update: The original video that I listed here was removed from youtube and I have not been able to find it again. If you have it, please let me know. It was http://www.youtube.com/v/fxi47t8Q3I4

In fact, I feel so strongly about it that I have developed a kind of selective amnesia that allows me to blissfully pretend that V for Vendetta tells the real story of how Aniken became Darth Vader. In my version the back story has him captured and tortured by a corrupt government with a secret so vile it would destroy them if told. He is forced to by his since of duty to infiltrate and destroy an evil administration.

In a touching scene, Natalie Portman discoveries that V is responsible for a man’s murder.

“Did you kill him?”


“Will you kill others?”

(Very short pause) “Yes.” (only a very slight sense of remorse, as if he is sorry that it is necessary, not sorry to do it).

Watch V again and you’ll see what I mean. It is a perfect replacement for Star Wars, just add the theme music, change the mask (or not – I don’t think the Guy Fawkes version looks half bad), let James Earl Jones voice do the voice over, add a scene where he sleeps with Natalie Portman, (off camera please) to explain how she has his kids, and instead of dieing at the end, he survives (but barely) and now his suit has life support (so in the prequel he where’s a suit but no heavy breathing in this one, save that for A New Hope). Oh, and instead of three prequels, just have the one…you can even keep the name V for Vendetta – the V stands for Vader.

Keep the plot, the script, the actors, and all the scenes – just change the scenery a little (don’t go overboard damnit!). Now, about the ending….obviously, we need the emperor to survive which does throw a bit of a kink into things…personally I think Star Wars jumped the shark with the introduction of the emperor in Empire Strikes Back, if there was an emperor, he should have been a normal man (no force) and let Vader truly be the last of that religion (except Ben and Yoda…and Luke, and Leia?).

Looks like someone else has the same idea! Take a look at this video:

The only real problem with my V for Vader concept is the same problem the prequels had – which is Vader can not be a lone wolf in Episode 3 and then be entrenched in a bureaucratic hierarchy in A New Hope. I mean, where did all those officers come from.

A much better version with Padme as the emperor

Option 3) “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’… I release the safety-catch of my light saber”
In order to write a truly good prequel to Star Wars we have to examine the real life stories of the evil second in command. Take for example Herman Goering. This was Hitler’s right hand man. A truly evil man. (It is not until he wakes up on River World that he finds redemption – totally different story). Let’s see if this man’s life would be suitable for adaptation in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.

It takes time to work your way up the evil chain of command and it involves a level of detachment from society, ruthlessness, and a flair for the dramatic – this man had all of these. World War 1 flying ace (achieved through lies and trickery – he steals a plan to pretend to be a part of the air force – but perhaps earned in the end), a true flare for the dramatic including fixing up a castle and dressing in medieval attire, joining the Nazi party where he is injured at a rally (shot in the groin), starts using morphine, becomes a dangerous and violent addict, is locked up in an insane asylum, loseWeight Exercises touch with reality.

His famous quotation (which is always apt in these times of war) shows he had the :
Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. …Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

At the end of the war in the Nuremberg Trials the verdict was read:
“There is nothing to be said in mitigation. For Goering was often, indeed almost always, the moving force, second only to his leader. He was the leading war aggressor, both as political and as military leader; he was the director of the slave labour programme and the creator of the oppressive programme against the Jews and other races, at home and abroad. All of these crimes he has frankly admitted. On some specific cases there may be conflict of testimony, but in terms of the broad outline, his own admissions are more than sufficiently wide to be conclusive of his guilt. His guilt is unique in its enormity. The record discloses no excuses for this man.”

Any of these, I feel would be better options. And now I send these ideas out into the web and at last the child in me that loved Star Wars can rest in peace. (But I still want to see them remade.

Lucas, you call me when your ready.

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Join the discussion 153 Comments

  • And above all, you can never have Darth Vader scream “Nooooooooo” from behind that mask. That was so horribly out of character, it completely ruined that mask. Once the mask is on, the transition is complete, damn it. No whining after that.

  • […] V is for Vader – Rewriting the Star Wars Prequels […]

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  • Nicolas Bozek says:

    Not bad … not bad at all.
    I like the way you think Ben-san!
    Have you ever thought of making your own movie…. with today’s technology you don’t need million of dollars to do it…these guys did the job with a DV camcorder and some low end PCs… and the result is quite impressive.
    Check it out

  • h2o says:

    Well I have to say that you summarized the prequels in a way that just makes them look shallow.

    You make me think that you were so much into the original movies that whatever would have been made afterwards, wouldn’t have been good enough anyways. Only an exact copy would have satisfied you.

    And I like the CGI of the prequels because I can’t stand Yoda’s muppet look in the original trilogy (Yoda was severely overdone in those movies anyways).

    If you can spare some time, drop a response.


  • Ben Shoemate says:

    I just like good story telling. The prequels weren’t good stories
    worth thinking about in the same way that a book like Ender’s Game or
    the Matrix, or the original star wars did.

    In the end I think a good movie, like a good book needs a single
    interesting idea to run through it holding everything together, but
    the ideas itself is not enough, there also has to be a story around
    that idea that involves people you believe in and care about. The Idea
    in the matrix is that we live in a virtual world controlled by
    machines. The Idea in star wars was that an evil empire faces a
    rebellion. The idea in the prequals…I’m not sure. The idea is
    something that can be summarized in 2 paragraphs. Interesting, but not
    a story. The story is about the people. You go to movie for the idea,
    but you care about it afterwards because of the people story. I did
    not believe the people story in the pre-quels. I did not believe that
    was the story of Darth Vader.

    Ben Shoemate
    Web Architect

  • Lightbringerrr says:

    Judging from your take on the plot outlines of the Prequels( Epi 2 and 3 especially ), I can understand why they don’t make sense to you, and why you don’t like them;

    You didn’t watch them.

  • daveed says:

    Pretty intriguing points, and you are spot-on in saying that there is no unifying idea in the PT, which made it such a mess. And there's a wealth of backstory, themes and plot points in the OT that should be drawn upon (indeed, Lucas put a lot of emphasis on parallelisms and repeating ideas)

    I believe the key is the critical meeting between Luke and Obi Wan in the first SW film. That brief historical context Kenobi shares with Luke tells you just about everything you need to know about any prequel setting.
    From my read of it, several salient points:

    1) it's possible that the Jedi and the Empire had a tenuous, and brief, coexistence before one of the Jedi decided to betray the Order.

    2) That Luke never heard of The Force before indicates that it was a mystical secret, the true nature of which was known to very few people; Han calls it “hokey religion”.

    3) Anakin knew he had a son, likely before he fell to the Dark Side, when he was prone to following an “idealistic crusade”

    4) The Clone Wars had more significance to the destruction of peace and liberty in the Galaxy. And the clones were something dark, fearsome and perhaps unholy, not the fetishized GI Joes they've become.

  • deadjoe says:

    The problem with people of my generation ( I saw Star Wars in 1977) is that we had seen the prequels already. They were called The Godfather Part I and II.

    That is what I was expecing.

  • jgkojak says:


    But I would argue that the frustration of the prequals is that they are SO CLOSE to being pretty good and their are so many missed opportunities, the fix is not nearly so dramatic as you propose.

    Simple changes:

    1) Anakin is the same actor in all three films (like Luke). I'll buy a 16 year old Anakin winning a pod race– not an 8 year old.

    2) The damage done to him by life as a slave along w/failure/guilt about not bringing his mother with him could be more emphasized.

    3) Change the structure of the films:

    Episode I:
    Combine the best parts of Episode 1 and 2.
    Mace Windu goes to Camino.
    While Obi Wan is helping win the battle of naboo (in a much shorter sequence earlier in film) Anakin defies Qui Gon's orders and follows him, sees Darth Maul defeat Qui Gon, and uses his rage and rudientary training to kill Darth Maul on the spot. Much more dramatic- and a harbinger.

    Movie ends with Yoda's battle w/Dooku, and the massing of clone troops.

    Episode II
    Begins with Obi Wan and Anakin engaged in some battle (pick from the best of the Clone Wars animated series). Then Anakin takes off the Tattooine to save his mom, dragging Padme, kills the Sand people, etc.
    The middle of episode two is the beginning of Episode III (space battle/rescue or Palpatine).

    Ep II ends with Anakin killing Windu and being named Darth Vader (wow! talk about a cliffhanger!- Go, do what must be done, show no mercy!)

    Ep III is basically the last half of the real Ep III (the one part of Prequels that worked)- with more time/explaiatgion given to formation of rebellion, Padme's role (putting her POLITICALLY opposed to Anakin), probably show some sort of first rebellion raid on, say, a shipyard, stealing dozens of x-wings, more time in ending showing Yoda's exile, Chewbacca piloting Obi Wan to Tatooine, probably a scene with Obi Wan and Owen, certainly a scene showing Padme still barely alive to be cared for in secret by Organa on Alderaan (Leia barely remembering her mom as “sad”).

    All of these would kick ass, have great moments and deliver more of what we were expecting. Oh- and no Gungans/JarJar.

    • benshoemate says:

      Hmm… not a bad rewrite. I'm not sure I can agree that the prequels are “so
      close” – they are visually stunning, well shot, etc. But the changes you
      suggest to the story beyond editing alone.
      Even in your story rewrite I still think the missing element is
      Aniken's motivation. I believe Russel Crow in Gladiator – he has a reason to
      be mad.
      I believe V in V for Vendetta.

      To make Aniken believable you have to either 1) make him insane, or 2)
      surround him with an corrupt institution and make him the dutiful servant
      who will honorably follow orders no matter how painful or irrational (
      Schindler's list) while all others begin to wake up and rebel – he refuses
      to admit the regime and the system is corrupt.

  • Sam says:

    Hell yes. Prequels desperatley need to not be anything like the fall of Anikin Skywalker actually was.

  • Darth Geoff says:

    Some really great ideas here. Many are similar to what I had been thinking a couple years back when I started a little short-lived forum about rewriting the prequels: http://starwarsrewrite.forumer.com/

    I strongly agree with your concept of Anakin the addict, but the drug would have to be the dark side of the force. Stronger, quicker, more seductive. Seems pretty obvious to me.

    I'll link to your article here, feel free to poke around at our old ideas and add to that stale old forum if you like.

  • I loved star wars more than any other movie I ever read and I will watch the whole series every time I will have the time. I have recently seen the last movie, the one that appeared this year on cinema and of course I love it just as much as the others.

  • starslayer says:

    I totally understand how you feel about the prequel trilogy.

    I was only 11 years old when the first prequel came out. And I was pretty disapointed. I expected the film to center around Anakin, but it was focused on weird aliens known as gungans. I'm sorry, but their culture and language is very lame. It was like babay talk and Jar Jar was very annoying!

    I spent the nest 3 years trying to convince myself the next movie would be better. I only wish it were true.

    Again the movie was centered about Padme, leaving out very pivital information that was from episode 4. I expected more about Owen and Beru. They were the future guardians of Anakin's son. And from the scenes with Owen, it sounded like he had much frustration and anger towards Anakin.
    Sadly, they were only in one scene together and there was no talking between them. I didn't get why Owen would be so upset at Anakin.
    As much as I enjoy the major fighting scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin, it felt exhausting at the end. And his fall to the dark side because of a nightmare is the lamest excause to go dark.

    I love star wars and I'm a huge fan, but I was hoping for a repeat of the old movies. I wanted to see something exciting & shocking! Like the revelation in Empire when Vader announced he was Luke's father!

  • JoeAnne11 says:

    I always wanted to see this movie V for Vendeta. I have never been interested in StarWars for example. I really hope I will get to see it once cause I heard it's really interesting. Anyway I heard that the actor have been seen quite often in a nearby smoke shop

    • timada says:

      Lol! If you mean smoke shop as a legal pot shop… I don;'t think so! The guy from V for Vendeta is one of the best actors ever. Imagine how hard it is to play with a mask hiding your face… and he does it… and moreover, he's good at it. I'm sorry but you must have got it wrong. This actor is not like all the other silly crappy actors that end up in a Drug and alcohol treatment center or die of an overdose!

  • adawakeman42 says:

    Wow this was a great article, I remember seeing someone who was selling custom shirts on ebay that made some really funny jokes about how awful the prequels are. My gripe with the prequels was that even though they were rubbish if you were a fan of the originals you inevitable had to watch them at least once in the hope that one would be good.

  • richardinjapan says:

    I'm with ya, buddy. Here's an essay I wrote on the topic about a year ago.

    Rewriting STAR WARS
    by Richard Schwartz

    Watch in stunned amazement as Richard second-guesses the most successful filmmaker of all time!

    Just prior to the release of Phantom Menace, Weird Al Yankovic came out with one of his famous parodies that very accurately extrapolated from internet gossip what the actual story would be. Listening to the parody, I started to imagine what the movie would be like. Then I saw the movie, and the one in my head based on Weird Al's song was better.

    If I were to rate the films in points out of 10 (as I do on some scriptwriting peer review sites):
    The original – 9
    Empire Strikes back – perfect 10
    Jedi – 8. The rescue of Han Solo is the single best part of the whole epic, but I subtracted two points for the bloody Ewoks.

    Episode One – That's also the grade I give it. It would have been a zero, but for the great duel between Darth Maul and the Liam Neeson Jedi, the only two interesting characters in the whole trilogy. And he killed both of them off!
    Episode Two – zero
    Episode Three – at this point, George Lucas only needed to score two or more points for an average of five on the Richard Meter. After the fantastic first trilogy, which changed the course of Hollywood history and inspired countless other film makers, all he needed was two points to average out at “Good”, which is the lowest I ever like to rate even the lamest scripts I critique online.
    And he couldn't do it! Episode Three is a zero, giving him an overall score of four point something (If I was good at math, I'd be producing scripts, not writing them.)

    Two lines in particular stick out for me:

    “Hi, I'm your half-brother Owen, and this is my girlfriend Beru.”

    Senator Organa: “My wife and I have always wanted to adopt a little girl.”

    Welcome to Science Fiction Exposition Theater.

  • richardinjapan says:

    continued from above

    After years of grousing about how Episodes 1-3 were a waste of George Lucas’ money and my time, and during my last hour at work on Friday in which I had to appear like I was being productive, I finally sat down and wrote out how the story should have played out, if only George had picked up a phone and consulted me.

    Episode I, The Way It Should Have Been

    A long time ago … etc.
    The galaxy is at peace. Jedi warriors are largely feared and frowned upon, although many wealthy individuals hire them as advisors and bodyguards. Ten thousand worlds jostle for power in the Senate which governs all known planets. The political process is unwieldy, but an Executive Council of potent rulers shepherds legislation through, and the less popular decisions are enforced by the army of battledroids at their disposal.

    But there is a problem – a key element in the manufacture of battledroids is in short supply. The last untapped source of the element is in the crust of Naboo, the homeworld of Princess Amidala, her planet’s representative in the Senate. She’s aghast that many of her colleagues are in favor of relocating her planet’s population to stripmine the surface, including many who have been bullied by the droid armies in the past, as well as her ally Senator Palpatine, a former Jedi.

    When the Senate votes to force Naboo to relocate, Amidala secedes from the Senate. Fearing for her life, she flees, but the Senate Guard, led by its charismatic Captain Jango Fett, intercepts her, and even her Jedi advisor Obiwan Kenobi can’t talk his way out of it.


    GUARDS surround AMIDALA and KENOBI.

    The princess has diplomatic immunity. She may not be stopped.

    I said arrest them!

    GUARD 1 lowers his weapon.

    GUARD 1
    “The princess has diplomatic –“

    Idiot! Don't listen to the Jedi, listen to me. Arrest the princess. If the Jedi says another word, kill him.

    A HOODED FIGURE lurks in the background.


    Every guard lowers his weapon.

    Who said that? There's another Jedi here!

    With the help of maverick Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn, they escape from the guards and make it to hyperspace. Kenobi doesn’t trust Jinn, who he suspects dabbles in the Dark Side.
    The ship is damaged, so they must put into Tatooine for repairs. Even Jinn is unable to finagle the shop to do the repairs for the little money they have on hand. However, that very day is a race conducted by the powerful Hutt clan which runs the planet and still practices slavery. Both Kenobi and Jinn recognize the Force within one of the racers, and they hurry to bet all their money on that driver.


    Kenobi and Jinn join a long line of punters waiting to bet on the race.

    There's no more time to place a bet.

    Punter 1 turns away. Kenobi and Jinn move up in line.

    PUNTER 1
    “There's no more time to place a bet.”

    You can go first.

    Punter 2 gives up his place in line.

    PUNTER 2
    “You can go first.”

    I've got to give up gambling.

    Punter 3 gets out of line.

    PUNTER 3
    “I've got to give up gambling.”

    Against heavy odds, the unknown racer wins, and steps out of his racer. It’s young Anakin, nine years old. The Jedis recognize his talent in the Force, and buy him from the Hutts. Anakin develops an immediate schoolboy crush on Amidala.

    The Hutts learn of Amidala’s presence and send their young protégé Jabba to inform the Senate, which sends Darth Maul to capture her. Anakin senses Darth Maul’s arrival, and warns Amidala to leave the planet. Both Jinn and Kenobi fight Darth Maul, but he defeats them easily. Anakin goes with them, but promises his mother and his best friend Owen that he will return one day and redeem them from slavery.

    The evacuation of Naboo has begun, although many citizens prepare to make a last stand to defend their homes. The battledroids assemble on the surface to wipe out the remaining resistance. Yoda and several other Jedis come to the aid of the rebels. Yoda recoils from Anakin, warning Kenobi not to train him as the Dark Side is strong in him.

    The Jedis easily defeat the thousands of battledroids – it’s no contest. Suddenly Yoda senses a greater danger; he communicates telepathically with Anakin, telling him to commandeer a fighter and fly it into the atmosphere. Darth Maul, realizing that the battle is lost, has begun bombarding the planet’s surface, and even the assembled Jedis can’t divert that many bombs. However, Anakin is able, with Yoda’s guidance, to push the bombs safely off course.

    Meanwhile Jinn, still stinging from his defeat at Darth Maul’s hands, sneaks into the fleet’s flagship and challenges him again. Both recognize the Dark Side in each other, but Jinn knows he can’t allow Darth Maul to live. Maul again defeats Jinn, but before he dies Jinn mentally causes the captain of the ship to trigger the self-destruct.

    Yoda, more convinced of Anakin’s power than before, urges Kenobi not to train him, but Kenobi is certain he can direct the boy’s abilities for good.

    The Senate is stunned by the defeat of the battledroids, and realize they are not the future of power projection. Heading up the committee to find an alternative, Palpatine rejects the design for a prototype Death Star, and instead calls in the handsome and athletic Captain of the Guard, Jango Fett, for a secret assignment….

    • richardinjapan says:

      continued from above

      continued from above

      Improvements over the original:

        I had a huge problem with the age of Obiwan in Phantom Menace. According to the “official mythology”, it takes place 13 years before Luke is born. Ewan McGregor played him as a teenager, mid-twenties at most. Do the math, and that would make him 32 years older in Episode IV. Do you think Alec Guinness played a man in his fifties? No way. Here Obiwan is already grown; a full Jedi, mid thirties.
      Same with Amidala – I think Lucas wanted her and Obiwan to be teen heartthrobs. A child senator? I don’t think so. In mine she is already 20, and none of this bullshit about being “elected queen.”
      I eliminated the stuff about the Force being a religion, with a Messiah (born to a virgin, yet!) and a temple. Mitichlorions?!?! WTF?!?!
      How is it possible that no one ever said to Luke: “Skywalker, huh? Any relation to the Anakin Skywalker who became Darth Vader?” Better that both Anakin and Owen don’t have last names, which makes sense if they’re slaves. They will both adopt the name after they are free.
      I never understood the rationale about “The boy is too old to begin his training.” Luke was 19 when he started, and Obiwan not much younger than that. If the Jedi are so damn enlightened, why were they so pig-headed about that one point?
      And if you’re going to clone an army, wouldn’t you choose a warrior to clone, instead of a lowly bounty hunter?
      Another big problem I had with the prequels was the technology, which was without exception more advanced than in the later episodes. It’s preposterous to think that technology would regress over 32 years, or even that droids from a generation later would not be obsolete. That’s why there’s no R2D2 or C3P0 in my script.
      Also, why did they portray slavery as no big deal? There were no chains, decent housing, and fairly good morale among the slaves. That’s crazy. SLAVERY SUCKS. Anakin as a former slave should be fanatic about ending it.
      Best of all … NO JAR JAR BINKS!

      • richardinjapan says:

        continued from above

        Episode II, The Way It Should Have Been

        Fifteen years have passed. The Executive Council of the Senate has declared martial law with emergency powers. More planets, having felt their tyranny and seeing that the droid armies are not invincible, have joined the rebellion against the dictatorship. Amidala, now queen, is forced to flee from system to system, always in hiding from the Senate. Palpatine, however, has dropped out of sight.

        Anakin is now an adult Jedi, having completed his training with Obiwan. Since Jedis are now vital to a planet’s defense, they can write their own ticket, and since Anakin still secretly loves Amidala, he has devoted himself to protecting Naboo. When she sees him again, she’s impressed – the kid she once bought out of slavery is now a handsome Jedi knight. She never married, although Sen. Organa has long held a torch for her.

        Palpatine resurfaces – he has been organizing Jedi knights into a secret force for resistance. He speaks of creating an army with the power to overthrow the dictatorship and reinstitute democracy. Anakin doesn’t want to leave Amidala, but Palpatine flatters him, that with his powers he could do great deeds and win her love. He also exploits Anakin’s weak spot – he promises to eradicate slavery on Tatooine as a test of his new Jedi army’s strength. Obiwan still distrusts Palpatine as a former Jedi, but agrees to go along as a mentor to the young Jedis, and to shield Anakin from Palpatine’s influence.

        Tearful parting between Anakin and Amidala. They both confess, then consummate their love.

        Anakin returns to his home on Tatooine to eliminate slavery. Palpatine secretly instructs the knights in Dark Side techniques, and leads them into battle against the Hutts. Normally the Hutts are impervious to Jedi powers, but Palpatine suborns Jabba to betray the others. In return for agreeing to free the slaves, Palpatine leaves him in charge of Tatooine. Anakin in gratitude swears eternal obedience to Palpatine. He also takes a last name to celebrate his freedom: because he loves flying, he chooses the name Skywalker. His friend Owen, as a tribute to Anakin’s role in freeing him, also takes the name Skywalker.

        Obiwan confronts Palpatine, who admits to being a Sith and defeats him easily. Anakin’s loyalties are torn, but he chooses Palpatine, whom he now calls “Master.”

        Obiwan returns to Amidala, whose pregnancy is starting to show. Organa offers to make an honest woman of her, but Obiwan instantly suspects the truth.

        • richardinjapan says:

          continued from above

          Episode III, The Way It Should Have Been

          It’s three years later. Palpatine trains his Sith Army in the Dark Side of the Force. When they graduate, they take a new name with the title “Darth”. Anakin isn’t ready, because he’s still torn by his love for Amidala and friendship for Obiwan. Palpatine urges him to break with the past and accept the Dark Side.

          Owen, inspired by Anakin, has tracked him across the galaxy to join him in his fight against slavery. Instead he finds Obiwan on Alderaan (Amidala moved her seat of government there after the battle on Naboo), and learns to his chagrin that the Sith seek to overthrow democracy and install Palpatine as Emperor. Amidala, with two-year-old Luke in her arms, is drawn to Owen, who has much in common with Anakin. She has entered into a marriage of convenience with Organa, who loves the children like his own.

          In a blitzkrieg, the Siths eliminate all the good Jedis they can find (only Yoda and Obiwan escape) Now Palpatine unleashes his other secret army, all cloned from Captain Jango Fett’s superior DNA. Led by his Sith warriors, they are invincible, sweep all before them, and take control of government, declaring Palpatine emperor.

          However, Anakin is desperate for Amidala. He runs into Owen, who is disdainful of what Anakin has become. Anakin reads Owen’s thoughts, and learns for the first time that Amidala gave birth to a son (Owen never saw Leia). He brainwashes Owen in order to track Amidala down, and speaking through him demands that she join him in the Emperor’s court. However, she spurns him and in his rage, unwittingly helped by Palpatine, he kills her with his mental powers.

          Now driven by grief, he flies to Alderaan to take Luke with him, but Obiwan and Yoda team up to defeat him. They unnerve him by saying that Luke died together with his mother. He’s badly wounded, but rescued by storm troopers sent by Palpatine before they can kill him.

          To protect the children, they are split up. Leia goes to Organa, who will raise her as his princess now that he inherited Amidala’s title. Luke will go with Owen back to Tatooine. Obiwan asks to stay with them to train the boy, but Owen refuses, saying the Force only leads to evil. Obiwan instead makes his home in the caves outside town, to be available when he is needed. Yoda goes into retirement on Dagobah. Anakin, rushed to surgery, surrenders himself completely to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader.

          Oh George, George. Why didn’t you consult me first?

      • benshoemate says:

        Very, very good. Captivating in fact. Thanks for the great comment and
        excellent rewrite. Now let's just raise the capital to purchase
        the franchise from Lucas then re-shoot the films.

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    I agree that the prequels suck and they could have been way better, but your version sucks even more and I didn't even think that was possible. I have a way better idea, but who cares! Nothin will ever be done with it so all this is a waste of time.

  • Evildeathlifegood says:

    I agree that the prequels suck and they could have been way better, but your version sucks even more and I didn't even think that was possible. I have a way better idea, but who cares! Nothin will ever be done with it so all this is a waste of time.

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