Wednesday, August 15, 2012

32 BBY: The Phantom Menace Scholastic Novel

I’m glad I read Patrica C. Wrede’s version of The Phantom Menace.  I was dreading it at first, having already gone over the same story twice (and knowing this was far from the last).  However, going over the material a third time has allowed me to reflect on some aspects of the story I missed.
There are three elements of Wrede’s adaptation of TPM I want to comment on: Qui-Gon’s mention of a cloaking device, Shmi Skywalker, and how Kenobi may have handled Qui-Gon’s body.

By now you’re all aware of my minor obsession with cloaking devices in Star Wars.  I intend to write a Star Wars pirate story one day, and cloaking devices will factor in (shouldn’t cloaking devices be standard on all pirate vessels?).  As I’m going along in the material I’m making a note of all mentions of cloaking devices because I want my protagonist to come about one in a plausible manner.  Anyway, in both novelizations Qui-Gon asks Panaka if the ship has a cloaking device:

“The ship rocked as yet another bolt from the Trade Federation battleship exploded against the shields. ‘Do you have a cloaking device?’ Qui-Gon asked.  Panaka shook his head.  ‘This is not a warship.  We have no weapons.  We’re a non-violent people.’” (45).
The same basic description can be found in Brook’s adaptation on page 93. Interestingly, this line is not in the movie. As the party is escaping from Naboo there is only discussion about the shield generators going down, but nothing about a cloaking device.  I wonder why this mention made it into both adaptations, yet wasn’t mentioned in the movie.

The most remarkable aspect of Wrede’s version of The Phantom Menace centres upon Shmi Skywalker.  Neither in Brook’s edition nor in the film is anything mentioned of Shmi Skywalker’s possible Force sensitivity, which I always thought probable.  But there is mention of it here:

“’The Force is unusually strong with him, that much is clear,’ Qui-Gon murmured.  He could feel that the Force was with this woman, too, though not nearly so strongly as with her son” (82).
Like I said, Brooks’ adaptation makes no mention of this.  But this likelihood brings up all sorts of interesting possibilities for Anakin’s origins.  I know the novel Darth Plaguies sheds light on Anakin’s origins (how much though I don’t know.  I’ve avoided all Darth Plagueis discussions), but I’ve always had my own idea on how to make sense of the “fatherless conception” narrative.

After Revenge of the Sith theories abounded concerning Anakin’s origins, but the most popular one was the idea that Anakin was created by Darth Plageius.  This idea, obviously, stems from Palpatine’s story of Darth Plagueis the Wise.  If this is the case it only makes sense that Plagueis would chose a vessel that is also Force sensitive, thereby increasing the possibility of the offspring being born with the highest concentration of midichlorians possible.  It makes sense to me that Shmi Skywalker was also Force sensitive.  But as it is, all of this will hopefully be made clear for me when I read Darth Plagueis.
My last point is a rather morbid one, and a thought that never crossed my mind until after I read the Scholastic version of The Phantom Menace.  As I was reading the ending of the book, I was simultaneously thinking of my family back-home (by back-home I mean Ireland, even though I’m not a native son.  It’s simply a phrase I’ve grown up with my whole life).  As I was reading about Qui-Gon imploring Obi-Wan to train Anakin, I remembered a terrible story my cousin told me about his father’s death.  My cousin told me his father died upstairs in bed.  When they placed him in a body bag he needed to be carried downstairs.  The elder men of the neighbourhood stepped in to perform this task, but my cousin, being a young man in his twenties, insisted he be among the men to carry his father’s body.  His mother, sisters, and other men of the neighbourhood all protested, telling him the experience would be more than he could handle.  But he would not be swayed.  He felt he needed to carry him.  The men acquiesced, and my cousin was one of three men who carried his father’s body down the stairs.  Prior to his father’s death my cousin told me he was sad, but never cried.  After he carried his father’s body, and placed him in the waiting ambulance the reality of it all came crashing down on him.  He wept inconsolably.  He told me what upset him the most was the weight of his father’s body – how heavy he felt.

This story quickly passed through my mind when I read Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s final moments.  What did Obi-Wan do with Qui-Gon’s body after he died?  I imagine he had to carry his Master’s body out of that power core himself.  Was this experience as traumatizing on Obi-Wan as it was on my cousin? 
Admittedly, it was a sad and morbid thought.

For my next post I’m going to engage with The Phantom Menace again, this time in the form of the Movie Storybook.  Until then my friends, may the Force be with you. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that bit about Shmi being Force-sensitive is fascinating! I've read this book, but I must have forgotten that passage entirely, since I don't remember it at all. Thanks for the reminder! :)