Is this worth it? Revenge of the Sith and the chronological Expanded Universe

Given my quest here of going through and watching/reading/otherwise consuming the Star Wars canon in chronological order, this is a good moment to pause and consider whether it is actually good to “do” Star Wars in this way.

I mean, there’s the Machete Order approach to watching the films, which I think is probably a very good way to watch the films. For someone who has seen the films, and wants to explore the Expanded Universe, chronological order seems as good a way as any. My theory behind undertaking this Sisyphean task was my view of reading a conventional history of say, the causes of World War II – you know how it ends, but going through and reading the backdrop on the rise of Nazism etc is going to enrich your understanding of the WWII and allow you to see it through a new lens.

Revenge of the Sith is the first real time I can put this to the test. Actually, I screwed this up slightly, because I got impatient and re-watched the movie prior to finishing Dark Disciple. This meant I was almost immediately confused when they mention “Master Vos” fighting on the Republic side at the end of the Clone Wars when, where I was up to in the book showed that Vos had clearly gone to the Dark Side and it didn’t make sense to me that he was still in the Order (as I talked about in my Dark Disciple post, it still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me…)

The weird thing about chronological order, as opposed to, say, publication order, is you’re left with a circumstance where stories are being retrofitted around the skeletal structure offered by the films. Its particularly jarring in Revenge of the Sith because you have this seemingly quite sudden break between slightly naughty but “nice guy” Anakin, to his fall from grace in Sith. To be fair, its pretty jarring within the movie, where he goes from extreme loyalty to Obi-Wan to wanting to kill Obi-Wan. Another weird aspect for me was the figure of Ahsoka – I mean, it makes sense that as she’s out of the Order, Anakin no longer talks about her – but just the idea that there is hugely important relationship in his life which is not referred to at all is a little… unsettling?

The start of the movie has Anakin and Obi-Wan attacking Count Dooku’s ship. There is sort of a weird moment before Dooku is executed by Anakin that he looks at Palpatine like, dude why are you telling him to kill me? There appears to be no relation between the Dooku of the books and the bad-ass Dooku of the Clone Wars TV show. This disjuncture is made all the worse by the unfortunate decision to case Christopher Lee who looks about as athletic as Mr Burns.

PALPATINE: Yes… you must learn to kill a decrepit old man well beyond his prime. It might one day be an important skill to have…

I enjoyed pondering the whole Order 66 thing in light of the “chip” set of episodes from Clone Wars. What I didn’t enjoy was that weird line from Yoda at the end where he’s like “I’ve learned to appear as a ghost” – something my subconscious had apparently deleted from my memory banks because it thought it was sort of data glitch – only this time I’m like, oh, that’s why you spent ages on that weird storyline in Season 6.

In general, though, I was far more emotionally and intellectually invested in a Prequel movie than i ever have been before, and I have decided these are now “Good As Hell”.

Quick post-script: its kind of quaint watching these now as a not-so-subtle dig at the post-9/11 world of “democracy dying with rapturous applause”, in an era where we have an insane Rat-King as the leader of the Free World. If they were going for the Trump-era, they really should have had Jar Jar beat Sheev in the primaries. Jar Jar should also be a huge racist for this to work.

 

 

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