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About the prophecy... (though we'd all really just like to forget about it...)

#1 User is offline   ShelterFromTheStorm Icon

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 07:12 PM

As I understand it, there are several pieces of information given to us in the movies:

1. Anakin will destroy the Sith, per the prophecy (Obi-Wan, Episode 3)

2. This is the reason the Jedi agree to train him.

3. The Sith have been extinct for centuries (Mace Windu, Episode 1)


Obviously, reason 3 is false. However, as far as the Jedi are concerned, there are no more Sith. So if Anakin is the Chosen One, that means the Sith must still exist; why do the Jedi spend all of Episode 1 denying their existence?
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#2 User is offline   Toru-chan Icon

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 07:40 AM

QUOTE (ShelterFromTheStorm @ Jul 12 2007, 10:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
1. Anakin will destroy the Sith, per the prophecy (Obi-Wan, Episode 3)
2. This is the reason the Jedi agree to train him.
3. The Sith have been extinct for centuries (Mace Windu, Episode 1)
Obviously, reason 3 is false. However, as far as the Jedi are concerned, there are no more Sith. So if Anakin is the Chosen One, that means the Sith must still exist; why do the Jedi spend all of Episode 1 denying their existence?


Add the "bring balance to the force" thing, the fact the prophecy is never mentioned in the OT and the whole thing doesn't make sense. Any half intelligent Jedi would have questioned it, or at least explained their irrational fanatical faith in it. (Let's not forget the midichlorians too: how do they figure into the prophecy.)

Suspect the inconsistencies in Lucas' work stems form the fact he doesn't plan this stuff out. He makes it up as it goes. We know of LOTR and Dune (and probably a zillion other fantasy authors) that they write detailed background before they write their novels. The advantage of that is the characters, situations and events are all mapped coherently. Lucas on the other hand, makes it up as he goes, and his mental continuity is flawed.

He used the prophecy as a plot device to tie up Anakin+Jedi+Sith. He didn't think it through any further, nor did he bounce the idea of anyone else. It defies deeper analysis, because it was a superficial to begin with.

Lucas seems to have been influenced by Dune: Desert Planet, Spice, Prophecy. Wonder if he might have pulled the PT prophecy from its pages? If he did, he ballsed it up. (Spoiler ahead: The fascinating thing about the Dune Prophecy is the whole thing was manufactured by the B.G. Sisterhood. This wasn't mentioned in David Lynch's movie, which redid the Prophecy as a run-of-the-mill Second Coming authorized by no less than God himself. It really changed the whole thing.)

Prophecies are an overused plot device: I'm sure Lucas could have done much better. Herbert got away with it in Dune because we were never sure Mau'Dib was "The One". I think Lucas used it as a stock device without understanding it.

So throw the floor open to a though experiment: How could Lucas have done the PT, not drifting too far away from the existing structure, in a way that would have made sense?

PS. I now prophecise than in the year 3,000 A.D. a man in green shall descend from the land between the desert of the ancients and the ruins of the bright city to liberate those who turn their back on the new ways. Worship me.

This post has been edited by Toru-chan: 12 July 2007 - 07:46 AM

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#3 User is offline   georgelucas4greedo Icon

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 10:33 AM

Lucas dumb because, how can you create a prophecy, when we all know whats going to happen anyway?

Its the most simplistic and as you stated cliche plot device ever.

I finally accepted that the PT is for kids. I remember this 7 year old on my block who grew a long braid to look like Obi Wan and then kids at school made fun of him and he cut it off. I think of that kid before I get all pissed off at Lucas.
It seems like everyone is over the nitpicking. Too bad.
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Posted 12 July 2007 - 11:35 AM

Yeah, it must be pretty disheartening to go out on a limb to pledge your love for something you actually believe is worthwhile- only to be shown in one forcible manner or another- that it's a load of crap.
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#5 User is offline   Toru-chan Icon

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 11:06 PM

QUOTE (georgelucas4greedo @ Jul 13 2007, 01:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Lucas dumb because, how can you create a prophecy, when we all know whats going to happen anyway?


In the whole PT, was there any point where anyone in the audience was surprised? Or cared? For a story to be worth telling, the audience/readers have to like the characters and feel for them. The only ones you might like you knew survived anyway. The most likeable characters in the PT were Obi-won and the Emperor. Now that says something :-)

Anakin. Ahh Anakin. I think Lucas thought we'd like him because he was a cute kid. Everyone likes kids, right? But you need something more. Something that'll make you feel sorry for the poor little guy. But this poor little guy dumps mama and heads off without so much as a second thought. He says Yipee a few times. Other child actors have been able to pull off a good performance. I can't fault a child actor for poor acting, but I will fault the director for not spotting it. Given the material Lucas gave his other actors ("sand is scratchy"), Lloyd's performance was doomed from the start. Could another child actor have done it better? Yeah, but not without rewritten material. Even that kid from Sixth Sense couldn't have made "Annie" fly.

QUOTE
I finally accepted that the PT is for kids.


Agreed and Lucas has actually said this, although it was when he was blaming us being to dumb to get that for the movies' demise. But the OT was for kids too, but equally watchable by adults.

QUOTE
I remember this 7 year old on my block who grew a long braid to look like Obi Wan and then kids at school made fun of him and he cut it off. I think of that kid before I get all pissed off at Lucas.


Poor kid! Well the PT *should* have been cool. At the time everyone was saying how amazing it would be. Took a while for people to realize it wasn't. (Took me a year to wake up to it.)

I think Lucas mistook his target audience. Who are the Star Wars fans? Us! How many ten year old kids today are Star Wars mad? Now how many adults? When I saw the merchandise for the PT movies in the shops, it was 30-something guys standing around it with a big smirk. Not a kid to be seen.
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#6 User is offline   xenduck Icon

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 07:57 AM

If I may add my two cents, id like to clarify firstly that we have no clear information about the prophecy. This is VERY important.
The audience never sees, nor is reported to, the EXACT wording of the prophecy. in EP I, Windu says, 'you're referring to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance...' this is also ONLY a reference and lacking all kinds of qualifiers or specifics. Ok, so granted, Ani is the chosen one, fine. Chosen to bring the force into balance, but what the hell does that mean? if it was vague to start out with, then its only made more nebulous by Yoda's cryptic remark in EPIII that the prophecy MAY have been misread.

Then according to Obi, "It was said that you would destroy the Sith," but this is pretty worthless because we donít know who was saying this. Does he mean the prophecy said it; literally, or figuratively? or was this just a popular opinion of other Jedi?

So all we can glean from this is: there is a respected prophecy of one (conceived by midichlorians?) who will bring balance to the force, probably by destroying (not joining) the Sith. But itís possible to "misread".

Thatís not much to go on. Actually, itís disturbingly pointless. BUT pointless doesnít mean senseless. as for your primary objection then, Shelter, remember that Qui-gon had already said he was attacked by a Sith lord, then mundi says its impossible; but both Yoda and mace indicate its only IMPLAUSIBLE. And in fact, Yoda seems pretty sure there has always been two running around! And only after considering this, do they start talking about the prophecy. So it is not "obviously false" at all. (i have the screenplay in hand, btw).

Further, the only relevant pieces of information missing are: is the force really out of balance, and who cares? And how does one go about balancing it? Now this is all CONJECTURE, but i believe the issue of interpreting "balance" is what causes the problems. The way I see it, everyone assumes the reemergence of the Sith is what caused the unbalancing, and therefore Anakin must be here to destroy them. BUT, Yoda's cryptic remark hints that the unbalancing could be something else entirely, and Anakin's role is uncertain. maybe it means he will destroy all but two Jedi...wouldnít that be balance- two against two? (obi/yoda-palp/vader). Although the EU muddles up how many force-wielders there are, by EP IV we may assume there are only these four. And an oft over looked point is the word Qui-gon uses to describe Anakin: "a vergence in the force". I donít know what he means exactly; a vergence is when your eye movement is not parallel so you get cross-eyed or you look in opposite directions. or "A measure of the convergence or divergence of a pair of light rays, defined as the reciprocal of the distance between a point of reference and the point at which the rays intersect." apparently this isnít always centered around a person, but I would guess it means the force was focused (or conflicted) on Anakin, and possibly he was the unbalancing agent himself.

Add it all up and itís still pretty pointless, the role of the prophecy in the plot is merely an impetus for Anakin's training and excuses the burden of just who would have been HIS father. But if Iím allowed personal interpretation, I would say the moral of the whole story is that the Jedi order had become stagnate and impersonal; fixated on political affairs and detached from nature. So a cleansing fire (the Sith) swept them away to start fresh. But the Sith are corrupt too. Only Luke, who is afflicted by light and dark, can achieve balance- perhaps HE was the true chosen one.

HOLY SHIT thatís longer than intended, sorry.

This post has been edited by xenduck: 13 July 2007 - 08:02 AM

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#7 User is offline   Toru-chan Icon

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 01:32 AM

QUOTE (xenduck @ Jul 13 2007, 10:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The audience never sees, nor is reported to, the EXACT wording of the prophecy. in EP I, Windu says, 'you're referring to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance...'


At this point they should have showed another Jedi rolling their eyes, or saying "'Balance to the force'. What the hell does that mean anyway?" Then they could cut to another saying "And two? Why only two? How are you going to take over the Galaxy with just two of them?" Another quips "Yeah, that always bothered me." Adds another "Hey, if they three of them they'd be unstoppable." All laugh.

QUOTE
Yoda's cryptic remark in EPIII that the prophecy MAY have been misread.

OT Yoda was cool. PT Yoda was a self-important fool. It's like is established he's cool from the OT movies, so there's no need for him to justify his coolness in the PT. I don't think the little green guy did one right thing. He managed not just to misread the prophecy of the force, but he misread what 30,000 clone troopers were thinking.

QUOTE
Then according to Obi, "It was said that you would destroy the Sith," but this is pretty worthless because we donít know who was saying this. Does he mean the prophecy said it; literally, or figuratively? or was this just a popular opinion of other Jedi?

Which points towards the prophecy being a plot device not being fleshed out. There are too many gaps and holds. Herbert, Tolkien, Gemmell had a mass of background material. Lucas, SFAIK, never even wrote down the prophecy to which everyone refers. No wonder it's inconsistent. We never even get to hear where it even came from. If it is to "bring balance to the force", at the end of ROTJ when only Jedi are left alive, does that mean the prophecy which did come true is no longer true? It doesn't make sense.

QUOTE
I would say the moral of the whole story is that the Jedi order had become stagnate and impersonal; fixated on political affairs and detached from nature. So a cleansing fire (the Sith) swept them away to start fresh. But the Sith are corrupt too. Only Luke, who is afflicted by light and dark, can achieve balance- perhaps HE was the true chosen one.


Which would have been fine: The Jedi become complacent and lazy. The Sith, well, the only two thing is dumb and I've never been convinced these guys were that bad. Sauron was bad. He would scour the Shire. But Palps? By the time Star Wars came around and until Tarkin blew up Alderaan Palps was doing a pretty good job.

QUOTE
Add it all up and itís still pretty pointless, the role of the prophecy in the plot is merely an impetus for Anakin's training and excuses the burden of just who would have been HIS father.


Japanese Anime: They pretty much *never* make these things from scratch. They choose an existing manga that has been running for many years that has lots of materials. All the plot holes and inconsistencies have been eliminated and the manga which turned out not to have a viable story are canned early on. The Manga have good story editors to weed this sort of stuff out. When they make an Anime, they're building on a sound foundation. The fact people already know the story (from reading the Manga) isn't a problem, because the story is so sound little is left to chance.

Now compare that to Lucas: He had 20 years of time to think and a rich tapestry of fiction, official and otherwise, to build on. Instead, he made it up at the time. He would have done far better if he'd developed the story over time, published it, coped with the criticism, he could have had a brilliant story to draw the PT from. Instead, he made it up all in his head and never opened it to peer review. (Yeah, He did ask Spielberg for suggestions, but that was limited to "How should I do this shot?" as opposed to "So, what do you *really* think of my story?" BTW Spielberg once asked Lucas if he could direct a Star Wars movie. Lucas refused. Said Spielberg "It really is George's Baby" (not the exact quote but close).

The Prophecy was simply a crappy plot device that doesn't stand up to even limited scrutiny. This thread, just a couple of days old, has debunked it pretty heavily. It should have been ditched early on. Authors know to give their drafts to other people to read, editors, friends and others, to learn if they're on the mark. Lucas was overconfident, didn't do this, and he and we paid the price.

The moral: Develop your story in the open and peer review it. It'll be a better story for it.

This post has been edited by Toru-chan: 14 July 2007 - 01:38 AM

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#8 User is offline   Toru-chan Icon

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 11:22 PM

UPDATE: Reading "The Secret History of Star Wars" (Google is your friend). Page 73 talks about an early Star Wars draft which says this: (which I've heavily paraphrased here) "Old Man Skywalker discovered the force, light and dark, and because it was so powerful only taught it to his 12 kids, who passed it down. A renegade Jedi taught it to a band of pirates called the Sith, who are now hunting down and killing off the Jedi. However a *PROPHECY* says that a savior will come called "The Son of Suns".

BTW I recommend this book (It's free and very thorough - the author never published it commercially because of copyright. There's a thread on it somewhere here) In another part he describes how Lucases used to regularly have BBQs with the other indy filmakers of the time. Afterwards he'd show them the drafts. Many didn't get it, but Copolla did: "He showed me a draft I really liked, but he changed it and kept changing it.

A lot of the grief Lucas has attracted is because (1) he changed things and pretended he didn't, (2) he dropped the ball on the PT. All he had to do was admit (1) and if he kept his story development open he wouldn't have (2).

This post has been edited by Toru-chan: 14 July 2007 - 11:23 PM

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#9 User is offline   xenduck Icon

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 07:11 AM

ok, now im confused. i believe i answered the initial question, in that the jedi (save mundi) dont deny the existence of the sith.

but tell me again how the prophecy is a problem. i mean, sure its frustratingly vague, but its not all that important anyway and as far as i can tell it never contradicts itself, actually, its vagueness makes it nearly impossible to contradict. so i dont disagree pointedly at anything you say, chan. i admit, without compunction, that the prophecy is a plot device, but so is everything else, really. and would you please demonstrate what exactly is inconsistent about it, and why the gaps or holes OUGHT to be filled, except to satisfy your curiosity?
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Posted 15 July 2007 - 11:17 AM

I agree. Elaborating on the Prophecy is like showing the encounter with the bounty hunter on Ord Mantell: it's just a plot device; no more, no less. happy.gif
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#11 User is offline   Toru-chan Icon

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 05:46 PM

QUOTE (xenduck @ Jul 15 2007, 10:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
i admit, without compunction, that the prophecy is a plot device, but so is everything else, really. and would you please demonstrate what exactly is inconsistent about it, and why the gaps or holes OUGHT to be filled, except to satisfy your curiosity?


Agreed, plots are made up of plot devices, but we only call out plot devices when they become cliches: Take Tom Clancy. His early books were great thrillers, and there were a number of tricks he used to keep you reading. In later books, he kept using the same tricks, only changing the names. It got pretty dull. (Apparently even for him: Later, he hired people to ghost write for him. That became public during his divorce case. OUCH!)

Another different plot device: "My word is my bond." Robert Jordan (a good Conan author) used it and Conan's fierce sense of honor to explain why Conan wouldn't walk away from a hero's quest. Hack authors like Roland Green (one of the worst authors I have ever read) used it to explain Conan making and keeping the most ridiculous of promises. Jordan knew how to use the device. Green didn't. There is a formula to any type of fiction and plot devices are tools, but the reader/viewer shouldn't be able to see them in the finished product.

Prophecies as a plot device teeter on being a cliche. When the author can't work out how to motivate his characters, he whips out a prophecy. Sometimes it works: Matrix I was borderline, but they got away with it because Morpheus' obsession with it, and others doubting his leadership over it. When the Oracle told Neo he wasn't the one, more doubt. Matrix I was borderline, but they did it sufficiently well to get away with it.

The Prophecy in TPM on the other hand is pretty thin. It's goes no deeper than 'We should train this kid because there's a prophecy'. We've seen Lucas use crappy plot devices on other things: The Mothership in TPM which for some dumb reason, remote controls the entire droid army. You half expect a character to put up their hand in disbelief: "Excuse me Sir, The Trade Federation did what? What a pack of morons!"

My interest: What makes a good story work and a bad one not? You can learn about that as much from good fiction as you can from bad fiction. The Star Wars Saga has examples of both. Another question: Why do people love stories so much? They're mostly completely fake, but everyone loves a well told yarn. There's a theory that we're genetically programmed to love myth and legend, because they motivate an individual to go out and advance themselves and thus their tribe.

BTW in follow up to "The Secret History of Star Wars":

The prophecy in the early drafts of Star Wars is only briefly mentioned in one draft and quickly dropped. We don't see it again until TPM. It's no secret the original Star Wars drew its inspiration from a huge range of films and stories. Seems to have stopped for the PT, where Lucas only drew inspiration from himself.

Why does Lucas pretend he had designed the whole saga in detail from day one? Seems once he says something he doesn't like to contradict himself (even if it means contradicting himself :-). That also explains the "Nine Movie" rumor. I don't have it now :-(, but I remember in 1980 reading this in an interview with him in I think _Variety_ (the Magazine) (don't recall the actual date of the edition). Lucas said it first, then later blamed the media for making it up, and also said he said it because they were pushing, etc.

"The Secret History of Star Wars" suggests why Lucas' story telling abilities waned: His film makers barbecues cum peer reviews dropped off, because once his buddies (Copolla etc) also got successful, they all became rich, paranoid and surrounded themselves with 'Yes' Men. Tensions developed within the group: Copolla was deep in debt and wanted Lucas to give him a loan. Lucas wouldn't, and they fell out. Kershner and Kurtz delivered (I think) the best film of the Star Wars bunch, arguing a lot with Lucas who as Executive Producer only cared about getting the money to finish Skywalker Ranch, and said they could make as much money without having to make the film as good. Incredible, but there are quotes!

After Empire Lucas parted with Kershner and Kurtz (read: fired them for having their own opinions) and decided to only hire his own 'Yes' men. He began with Richard Marquand who was a proxy director for Lucas. There's a quote by Marquand where he enthusiastically says that's what the role of a director should be.

Lucas also separated with his wife Marcia. From what I read, don't like her: She abandoned her daughter to run off with a tradesman she'd secretly been polishing the floorboards of Skywalker Ranch with, and took Lucas for half the net worth of Lucasfilm. In her defense she said she was bored: Well, try looking after the daughter you said you so badly wanted... :-( But she was a contributer to the movies and many of the cute, funny and plot-sense moments you see were her doing. Spielberg and Lucas were happy with the cut of Raiders, when she pointed out they'd left Marion tied up on the island with the Nazis.

After that, without his film making buddies or wife, having fired the people who would give him honest opinions, he surrounded himself by 'Yes' Men. Watch the ROTS DVD Mini-documentaries: You'll see time after time Lucas stride into a room, make an unchallenged proclamation, and have a room of drooling fan boys cum film makers worship him like a God. No one, not even his producer, would dream of questioning him. When he flings the ROTS script into the table, the fan boys treat it like the new Bible written by the hand of God. It's pretty sickening to watch.

Mark Hamill says in the end Lucas became so exalted that no one dares second guess him. Certainly not anyone he'd hire to work for him.

Despite all that: Feel for the guy. He's proof that money doesn't buy happiness. He has also by his own admission turned into the money-drive studio executive he always despised. The making of Star Wars itself is a pretty good story! :-)

This post has been edited by Toru-chan: 15 July 2007 - 06:08 PM

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 12:34 AM

To paraphrase South Park: I feel bad for Mr. Lucas. I don't think he has any friends. mellow.gif
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#13 User is offline   Toru-chan Icon

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 01:12 AM

QUOTE (Bond @ Jul 16 2007, 03:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To paraphrase South Park: I feel bad for Mr. Lucas. I don't think he has any friends. mellow.gif


Heh heh. There's another quote right after Star Wars where Lucas says "People can be pests. Everyone wants to be my friend now, and they all want something. I don't want any more friends." That's what he got. Forget the tragedy of Darth Vader. How about the Tragedy of George Lucas?

This post has been edited by Toru-chan: 16 July 2007 - 01:18 AM

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 01:19 AM

Yes, indeed. I can see it now: The Tragedy of George Lucas: The Man in the High Tower. tongue.gif
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#15 User is offline   xenduck Icon

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 07:07 AM

i think i understand now. while i dont think there is anything wrong with the prophecy, i see that there is a vital element missing. its one of my biggest problems with the prequals (but thats not saying much since i dont have many problems). that is, that there is no one to stand back and say, "hey thats crazy!" like Han pointing out what a bad idea running around the deathstar is; or leia commenting on chewie's walking-carpetness. or Indiana Jones just shooting the sword guy in 'raiders'. this isnt just comedy, its recognising the situations are silly and representing the audience's willingness to play along.

the PT seems to take itself TOO seriously. there was some slapstick via jarjar and 3PO but no cynical questioning of dubious elements such as midichlorians or the prophecy. this may be indicative of Lucas's suround of yes-men; which may or may not be his fault, but a fault none the less. yet a fault im willing to overlook given the depth and breadth of the story.
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