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Title tba
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by Nathaniel Reed,  9/2005

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Nathaniel Reed's Virtual Edition ~ see things before they happen ~ original logo art by Scott Swearingin and Nat Reed
:: A trilogy of fan-fic set after Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and inspired by George Lucas' historical draft concepts ::
 
Returning to the Beginning
27th January 2012
This month, I return to the opening scenes of Episode VII : Plague of Doom, and Luke Skywalker's return to Mon Calamar.
Having successfully divined and harvested many Kyber crystals from the gas planet's volatile moon ilum, Luke has brought them back to the hidden military base, 'Aquilae', with which to build training sabres for his Jedi students.
On exiting hyperspace, Luke had spotted a melée of ships in orbit above the ocean world. Sensing the approach of a starfighter, he turns his head and looks back over his shoulder.
Luke glances over his shoulder at the approaching starfighter.
A familiar voice calls out to him : it's Leia, his sister, wife to Han Solo, and skilled Jedi student in pilot training with some of the other padawans. She instructs her squadron to return to the base, then hails her brother, asking him how his trip to the Kyber system had gone.
Leia sends Devil Group back home, then greets her brother.
In an old image that I've recently altered and updated, Luke confirms that he was successful in collecting many Kyber crystals for his students' laser swords. He asks his sister of the outcome of the galaxy-wide broadcast requesting Jedi candidates : Leia answers that several new recruits have arrived and await further testing by him, but still none are younger than themselves. The Skywalker Twins do indeed seem to be the last of the Jedi born to the Galaxy......
Luke confirms his trip to Ilum was successful, and asks how it's going with the Jedi recruits.
You can see the VE artwork in the 'Mon Cal' art gallery as well as in the online illustrated story, and you can discuss this in the forum here !
 
January saw some sippets of 'production' news. Primarily regarding the oft-proposed Live-Action TV series set between Episode III and Episode IV, and apparently - erroneously in my humble opinion - not reflecting the Skywalker family. TheForce.net reported on some recent Rick McCallum interviews, the first with 'Collidor' :

"Episode III was made for $100 million which was unheard of even five years ago, because had it been made by any studio or anywhere in the United States it would have been easily double that price. So imagine an hour's episode with more digital animation and more visual effects and more complicated in terms of set design and costume design than a two- hour movie that takes us three years to make, and we have to do that every week and we only have $5 million to do it. That's our challenge."
McCallum also thinks "it'll be the most awesome part of the whole franchise".

Following this, further details were offered by the US news show Entertainment Weekly :

McCallum reiterated that Star Wars : Underworld was strictly a working title, he then promised that the series would feature "a lot of smugglers, gangsters, bounty hunters, and a few Wall Street-type power brokers" .... and over 50 scripts have been penned “by writers hailing from Europe, Australia, and North America".
 
In addition, TFN reported that George Lucas was on the verge of retiring.... though with a creative caveat !

"I'm retiring," Lucas said. "I'm moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff." The new WW2 movie Red Tails will be George's last big project, except for Indiana Jones 5. In fact, he is reported to have declaimed, "Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?". If this last comment is true, how sad it makes me feel that supposéd fans have brought an artist to such a low ebb.

............ of course, the CLONE WARS series and Live-Action TV series are presented on the TV medium not the bigger-budget movie scale, so it could very well be that those might continue under his supervision, nay even be regarded as 'small' art-house projects ! If they ain't movies, then they must be art-house fare !!
 
Ahead of the February 2012 release of Episode I : The Phantom Menace : 3D I thought it timely to revisit an old but controversial friend, and review the role of that loveable gungan, Jar Jar Binks.

Yes, he was met with a very mixed reaction from the fanbase upon his arrival ; and that only minimally mellowed as the episodes progressed. Many took 'offence' at the carribbean pidgeon-english speaking stereotype.... yet, these very same critics conveniently forgot to regard Star Wars as ultimately a children's adventure fairytale : many believe - and I agree - that the audience who viewed TPM through adult jaded eyes were the very same audience who first lapped up the simplistic entertainment in their childhood and early teens. In short, they grew up and forgot to 'regress' their perception and judgement when they came to watch Episode I in 1999.

However, I think it's also vitally important to ask ourselves what narrative and mythic role Jar Jar played in the Saga. It's true that his presence diminished as the three episodes progressed, and I do wonder if this was on George Lucas' part in response to the wildly critical reception following Episode I ; likewise I wonder what role the character would have played if he had been originally accepted in to the fold. Of course, knowing how Episode III played out, it's difficult to conceive of a space for him, but who knows what action he may have had in either the Loyalist Committee or even supporting Chancellor Palpatine in introducing the new and popular Empire of New Order ?

As it stands, narratively Jar Jar is instrumental in introducing the Jedi to Boss Nass of Otoh Gunga and thus helping them to covertly enter the Nubian capital royal city of Theed. Subsequently, his off-hand remark to Queen Amidala regarding the Gungan Grand Army prompts her to conceive of a plan of direct retaliation, and in turn requires the gungan to seek out his brethren in the hidden sacred place deep in the forest. Even in battle, his mis-haps and cowardice result in minor successes on the battlefield.

Of course, Episode II then presents Jar Jar as a senator co-representing Naboo for his gungan people. It's in this role where - manipulated by Palpatine and Mas Amedda - he urges that the controversial and stalled 'Grand Army of the Republic' should go ahead in order to rout the Separatists' threat of military action. In one sense, since this is such a pivotal moment in history, Jar Jar Binks becomes - for all the wrong reasons ! - a key figure. In Episode III, we see less of him, other than brief glimpses in his capacity as senator ; in that film's third deleted scene [regarding the Loyalists and their 'petition of two thousand'] a silent Jar Jar lends his moral support to his friends as they beseech Palpatine to end the civil war and relinquish his long-held emergency powers.

Mythically, when one reviews Jar Jar's presence a whole new dimension opens up. It is widely regarded that the importance of fairy tale and myth telling is to pose questions, offer advice, and discover solutions to everyday dilemmas by presenting them in a 'safe' and abstract fantastical setting. Often, the Hero, who is faced with such scenarios of bravery and morality, is accompanied by characters that are simplified projected foils of himself : the wise man, the warrior, the jester, the wild animal, and so on. These 'aspects' would all be found within the Hero, but by externalising them, the Hero can re-invest them or be re-attuned to them, and thus become a whole and complete Man again. The Jedi, the Mercenary, the droids, the Wookiee, the feminine Princess and Queen and Sister, the Slaver, the Gambler, the Mother, the Power-Greedy Sith, they all help the Hero find his way ahead. Replace 'Hero' with 'Child', and the isolated and lonely daydreaming awkward youngster discovers a purpose in his life : generally the wisdom is to ultimately believe in one's self.

Jar Jar proves that appearances can be deceptive, clumsiness and cowardice may not be the be all and end all, and a loyal and well-meaning heart can be forgiven. He becomes the unlikely Keeper of Knowledge when he accompanies Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, and later when he sows the seed of an idea in Amidala's mind to fight back against her people's oppressors. His awkwardness and social mistakes enable the Child to relate their learning experiences to him, and in turn find that they may not be so different after all. The adult Mythical Hero grows up as he discovers his true role in life. Equally, the Hero-Child may start out as an 'Ugly Duckling' or comical misfit, perhaps desperate to be accepted as one of the crowd, and this is where Jar Jar also matures through the course of Episode I, and further into Episode II, with promotion of sorts from 'exiled' to 'general' to 'senator', ultimately becoming unique in his own right.

All in all, give Jar Jar Binks - and George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars - a break ! Sit back, relax, and enjoy the story-telling for what it is, let it wash over you as sheer entertainment.... entertainment that may worm its way into one's subconscious !
 
Nathaniel Reed, 27th January 2012
 
 
 
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