there is a story among the Naboo, about a girl who went down to the shore and saw a man drowning, there in the deep water. She was a great swimmer (children of Naboo are) and so she shed her clothing and came out to him with strong, sure strokes. Yet he was desperate and flailing and would not heed her, and in his panic he dragged her down with him, into the dark water.
Her lungs were not so deep as his. She drowned.
this is a lesson, the mothers of Naboo tell their children. sometimes, to be strong and good-hearted is not enough to save yourself.
No one on Naboo seems to remember the name of the girl who went down to the shore. Girls in tales don’t need names.
(this story is different among the gungans. They say: there was a girl, and as she sank down into the darkness and the mud, she opened her eyes and breathed in, and she became a gungan, for nothing is made and nothing is destroyed, and all water that was once snow comes around again in rain.
Death is a rare thing, the gungans say. The rest is just a change of states.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the next Star Wars movie lately, and about the astronomical (ha) hopes I have pinned on it to be even better than the last. I went looking for fics to preemptively fill the hole in my heart, but in the end I discovered one that, while excellent, doesn’t really speculate about the future of the sequel trilogy at all. (The AO3 gods are just like that sometimes.) While those immortal dead doesn’t offer any great ideas about what might happen next, it does offer a bittersweet perspective into what has already happened: namely, the passing of Padmé Amidala and its effect on the people in whose lives she would have otherwise been.
It’s been nearly sixteen years since The Phantom Menace first came out—sixteen years! God, I’m old—and there is no shortage of negative critiques for this movie online. But now that Episode VII has been announced, I decided it was time to go back and revisit the prequels. While the Star Wars prequels are some of my favorite movies, they are very poorly written, and that’s especially true for Episode I. The Phantom Menace could be removed from the story entirely with the series losing very little, since the movie comes across more as a prequel to the other two prequels instead of as the first part of a trilogy. Nothing much of importance happens in Episode I—Palpatine becomes chancellor and Anakin and Padmé meet during an unexplored conflict about a trade blockade—and the story also has a distinct lack of focus. It’s not until Episode II that the Clone Wars begin and our main conflict gets going.
Not only is Episode I’s plot all over the place, but we wind up with four potential main characters. While this is not necessarily a problem, it becomes a problem when a movie doesn’t know what it’s doing. As a result, none of these characters are particularly developed, and it’s hard to tell which character is supposed to be the main character.
Out of all four of them, though, Padmé is probably the most interesting character, and her story arc has a lot more potential that everyone else’s. She’s a young, naïve queen, fighting for the liberation of her people, while at the same time trying to reconcile this need for violence with her own personal pacifistic beliefs. Or at least, that would be the case, had her character been better written, and had she been intended to be the main character. Regardless of what the writers wanted when they wrote this episode, Padmé is more connected to the plot than any other character, and she’s also the one with clear motivations we can relate to. What this means is that The Phantom Menace is potentially the first Star Wars movie with a female lead.