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Anakin & Obi-Wan: The Friendship We Never Really Saw

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Obi-Wan:

"Yes, I was once a Jedi knight ... the same as your father."

"He was the best starpilot in the galaxy ... and a cunning warrior."

"And he was a good friend"

In AotC, Anakin and Obi-Wan spend over half the movie separated from one another. We're supposed to buy into their relationship and sympathize with their conflict, but Lucas doesn't make the effort to develop their relationship beyond the most superficial level. The characters are simply presented as cut-outs - "Anakin is the whiny teen who thinks he's better than everyone else," and "Obi-Wan is the authoritative father who always thinks he knows best". We're fed this information in the first fifteen minutes of the movie and their relationship is never developed any further than that. And instead of having scenes where Anakin and Obi-Wan show their feelings through action, Lucas simply writes expository dialogue where they describe their feelings. These are fundamental screenwriting mistakes, providing proof Lucas has lost the touch (if he ever had it to begin with. In the past he always got help from others). Compare AotC to the rhyming ESB, where Luke spends over half the movie separated from Leia and Han. Luke's relationship to Leia and Han isn't integral to his development and his subplot whereas Anakin's relationship to Obi-Wan is. By creating these films on auto-pilot, Lucas has destroyed all depth of characterization.

The end battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin in RotS would of been much more gripping if we saw two "very good friends" battling, rather than what audience got to see, an acquaintance rather than a good friendship.

Another major problem is the transition from TPM to AotC. In TPM, toddler Anakin develops a relationship with Qui-Gonn Jinn. In AotC, adolescent Anakin is apprenticed to Obi-Wan. Lucas, by completely elliding the development of the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan, leaves the audience in the lurch. As a result, any investment in the characters formed in the first movie is squandered.

The problem is that Lucas is a slave to style when story should come first. By style I'm referring to Lucas's insistance on retaining an objective kind of time in Star Wars, where the films are edited to resemble real time (no big jumps in timeframe or alterations in the pace). Better would have been to introduce young Anakin in TPM and then show his growth and development into adolescence and apprenticeship via a montage. This would have enabled Lucas to present Anakin's growth in a visual manner, maintaining continuity, while showing the Jedi training methods that fans are interested in. It would also allow the viewers to compare Anakin's prodigious talents to his peers (who would be seen training beside him), showing us why Anakin appears to be the chosen one (instead of telling us through some stupid prophecy). Again, compare the transition between ANH and ESB to the transition between TPM and AotC. In ESB, Luke is a little older, but still played by the same actor, and he still retains the same character traits. Whereas Anakin has gone from being a toddler to being a teen, and from being a precocious boy to being a whiny and annoying teen. The audience does not get to see the development, and so is left cold and unsympathetic to the primary protagonist.

-Seiji

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Agreed Seiji...

I thought the Obi-Wan/Anakin friendship was completely squandered from the beginning. In TPM, Obi-Wan seems dead set against Anakin getting trained. That hardly sounds like "I was amazed at how strong the Force was with him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi" from ROTJ.

That friendship should be the a central point in the PT because the fight at the end of EP3 would have been far more emotional and effective if we really felt that two friends were battling it out to the death. Instead, we sort of don't really care cuz these two never exactly seemed like good friends. The only thing that fight has going for it is that it's been lingering in our minds for 20 years giving it some sort of legendary status.

This is just one more thing in a long list of stuff that LucASS dropped the ball on.
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I too agree. This was the biggest problem I have with the PT. There's just no real connection between these two characters. It's a shame that Lucas has pretty much left this task up to the EU.


Made for IE Forum's Episode III theme month - May 2005.

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Yes, I was thinking the same thing the other day. A lot of time in "Revenge of the Sith" is actually occupied with last minute attempts to finally show the deep friendship they were supposed to have, which left much too less time for a plausible fall of a hero, because it's just too abrupt and the audience has to buy into the 'forced to turn evil to get the only chance to save padme' thing. I also wonder what kind of revenge there was to see in the film - especially in the light of understanding it as anakin's revenge (in analogy to the jedi's (anakin's) return in RotJ).
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Yeah, I was wondering the same thing the first time I saw AotC three years ago. We have their first scene in the elevator, and they're reminiscing, and I thought, "Okay. Now we'll finally get to see the relationship that Old Ben was talking about, something we didn't see at all in Phantom Menace." And it wasn't so much that they were separated (I noticed that they were separated much more in Sith), but the time they did spend together, they spent it fighting and annoyed at each other or saying crap behind the other's back. "You will learn your place, young one." "In a lot of ways, I'm really ahead of him." "It's all Obi-Wan's fault!" And then all the times that Anakin disobeys Obi-Wan towards the end about saving Padme and fighting Dooku. There are a few lines, like, "Don't say that, you're like a father to me," but it's just too little, and, like you said, it's just expository dialogue. It doesn't show anything.

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i definatly saw the friendship there, at least in sith i dont know about AOTCs. but how would you have liked them to portray it. what would have been some good scenes to show there friendship.
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Well, the friendship depicted in RotS should have been in AotC. I expected more 'friendship breaking up' scenes in RotS - all that came too abruptly, since they merely established that friendship in RotS for the audience to witness.
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well it made the change more startling i think. i liked it, in AOTC anakin was obiwans student, its hard to really portay brotherly friendship there. in Sith they are both knights so i casn see it happening there.
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Originally posted by: Shimraa
i definatly saw the friendship there, at least in sith i dont know about AOTCs. but how would you have liked them to portray it. what would have been some good scenes to show there friendship.

Simple - there should be no qui-gon, his character sahould have been called OBI-WAN. Obi-Wan could have had a young padawan who gets killed by Darth Maul and obi-wan then takes on Anakin. Qui-gon was very warm and caring towards Anakin, as Obi-Wan should have. The 'friendship' should have begun in the first movie.

War does not make one great.

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that doesnt answer my question all you are doing is taking a character out of the mix. how would that have expanded the friendship.
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Well in that case I would have had them doing hi fives in between the lightsaber fights saying 'you da man' 'No you da man'

War does not make one great.

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Originally posted by: Yoda Is Your Father
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Originally posted by: Shimraa
i definatly saw the friendship there, at least in sith i dont know about AOTCs. but how would you have liked them to portray it. what would have been some good scenes to show there friendship.

Simple - there should be no qui-gon, his character sahould have been called OBI-WAN. Obi-Wan could have had a young padawan who gets killed by Darth Maul and obi-wan then takes on Anakin. Qui-gon was very warm and caring towards Anakin, as Obi-Wan should have. The 'friendship' should have begun in the first movie.


Unfortunally, I agree.
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” — Nazi Reich Marshal Hermann Goering
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Originally posted by: Master Sifo-Dyas
Yes, I was thinking the same thing the other day. A lot of time in "Revenge of the Sith" is actually occupied with last minute attempts to finally show the deep friendship they were supposed to have, which left much too less time for a plausible fall of a hero, because it's just too abrupt and the audience has to buy into the 'forced to turn evil to get the only chance to save padme' thing. I also wonder what kind of revenge there was to see in the film - especially in the light of understanding it as anakin's revenge (in analogy to the jedi's (anakin's) return in RotJ).


The Sith got revenge by destroying the Jedi and taking power. The problem is that in none of the prequels does Lucas ever explain what the Sith are or why they want revenge on the Jedi. We just get the standard cop-out that the Jedi are good and the Sith are evil. It's like a James Bond flick, we are told the bad guy is evil, but we never find out why he lives alone underwater, or where he got all his money from, or why he wants to destroy the world except that he lusts after power. If we want any background on the villain, we've got to read the expanded universe novels, which pretty much means that the movies are dependent upon the expanded universe, at least they are if the viewer want's more than a special effects thrill ride.



"To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain and a crime in the statesman." - George Santayana
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Well, if "Return of the Jedi" would not have a certain duality in it's meaning, I would fully agree with you. Alas, I always deemed it very cool that you could actually interprete the film title in two ways: You could either say the Jedi as an institution/religion have returned, but you could also say that anakin - the jedi - returns.

I simply expected that the same thing would work for "Revenge of the Sith". That you could of course say, the Sith as a fraction take revenge on the Jedi. Yet, I also was waiting for Anakin's personal revenge for something that was done to him that justified a gruesome revenge. That never really happened and thus represents yet another missed opportunity for a great parallel to "Return of the Jedi".
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Oh I see what you were looking for, that would have been cool. I bet Lucas didn't intend for ROTJ to have the double meaning on "return," that it was accidental and that he thinks ROTS is an even better film because it has better special effects. The guy's a tool.

"To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain and a crime in the statesman." - George Santayana
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I think had Anakin been introduced as a troubled teen in the first film (or at least closer in age to Padme and Obi-Wan) and had more interaction with Obi-wan in the first film it would have made their friendship a lot more believable as well as creating a kind of friendly sibling rivalry between the two 'brothers'(no not biological brothers) and had Anakin not whined about Obi-Wan for no reason at every drop of the hat in AOTC, I think the climax of ROTC would have been far more intense if Anikan's resentment of Obi-Wan had been left to emerge in the final film.
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i agree, it would have had alot more effect. also your right it would have been better if anakin was older in TPM maybe 12 or 13. they could have made padme a little older too maybe 15 or 16. then it would have worked out that they were 22 and 25 in AOTCs and 24 and 27 in ep3. i think that would have been a cool concept.
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Originally posted by: Master Sifo-Dyas
Well, if "Return of the Jedi" would not have a certain duality in it's meaning, I would fully agree with you. Alas, I always deemed it very cool that you could actually interprete the film title in two ways: You could either say the Jedi as an institution/religion have returned, but you could also say that anakin - the jedi - returns.


In portuguese, the word "the" can be translated as "o", "a", "os" or "as", determining gender and number (singular/plural). The movie's title is "O retorno de Jedi", using "de" makes it somewhat ambiguous (like "return of jedi"), but it's more likely to mean "return of a singular Jedi". So yes, it could be Anakin's return...

For "Revenge of the Sith", the title was translated as "A vingança dos sith", which clearly means "revenge of the (many) sith". So it's not Palpatine's revenge, it's THEIR revenge.
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” — Nazi Reich Marshal Hermann Goering
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Well, I think using translations to interprete such things is a bad call. I always stick to the original language. The german translations already contradict your theory that a translation into a different language gives any hints about the authors intentions when picking a certain title for a movie.
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It is funny there relationship always seems tense. He discourages qui-gonn from taking him, then when he takes him (as a favor to the late qui-gonn and a promise) he is weary as was the jedi council of he was. They always present there relationship as tense and scolding or at best it feels indifferent. Original screenplays had more interaction with obi-wan and padme and padme having a deep admiration for obi-wan, thrusting the jealousy of Anakin hate for Obi deeper by the end of ROTS. Obi-wan probably would feel some jealousy in that his master saw much more promise in this boy than him, that Anakin admired Palpatine more than him, and was in love with (forbidden) another politician, Padme. Sadly, so many of the character developments you find in the novelizations and full screenplays are gone. But there are full slapstick moments, poo-doo references, yippees, plenty O' useless CGI for its own sake.
16 years I wait and this is what I get???
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That's EXACTLLY what I was going to say, that Anakin should of been a little older in the first film. I would of liked to have seen their age difference only be 3-4 years difference, Obi-Wan being more like an older brother, rather than a father figure. It's just hard to buy into Obi-Wan, I'm guessing early 20s, bonding with someone so much younger, 8-10 years old.

When Obi-Wan says:

"When I first met your father, I was amazed at how strongly the Force was with him."

This amazement could of also indicated that he was amazed that someone so close in age harnessed this same, strange new ability that was also so new to him, still being a young padawan learner. Never had he met someone that he could identify with, him being around older, stuffy Jedi, father figures. FINALLY, someone close to his own age also has this same, unique abilty and aura about them. The same could be said about Anakin, both now have someone that they can identify with, something in common.

Maybe Qui-Gonn could of took them to a remote planet, sensing through The Force he may not be around much longer. It could of continued the adventures between the two of them, bonding them through experiences, leanring the ways of The Force together could of been another bonding experience, training with each other to become Jedi Knights, through the same frustrations Luke suffered through with Yoda on planet Dagoba, to sharing the joys of finally being able to over come those frustrations. As Yoda said, " Its energy surrounds us and binds us".

I don't know, I haven't gave it a whole lot of thought. It's not like I'm trying to 1-UP George Lucas, creating the best possible script where there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house because everyone was so moved by Anakin's and Obi-Wan relationship. No matter how many other ideas and suggestion we have, the prequels are what they are. As Shimraa always says, they're George Lucas' movies, universe, and story. That being said, this post was created from a fans/audience members perspective based on the films we were given.
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I have just finished reading the Episode One novel. It explains it all a lot better. Obi-Wan was against Anakin being trained at first but in the final battle with Maul Obi-Wan finally gets in touch with the living force to defeat Maul and becomes more insightful. When Anakin destroys the droid command ship (which in the book is much more the will of the force than a kid saying 'oops') Obi-Wan, wiser and more understanding following his master's death, believs that Anakin is the chosen one and sees that Qui-Gon was right all along. So, it wasn't put across too well in the films but having read the book I appreciate their relationship a lot more, although you shouldn't have to read a bookmto enjoy a film...

War does not make one great.

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i think making anakin older from the start, ditching qui-gon in favor of obi-wan (maybe he's between padawans, or maybe he's seeking his first padawan, or maybe his padawan does get killed in epI) would have GREATLY improved the prequels.

it also would have de-creepifyed the anakin/padme relationship in epI.

(i overall didn't care for the epI novel, but I did like that they made it much more clear/obvious that anakin really can sense the future, and that when he says he's gonna marry padme, he means in a more matter-of-fact way, since he has this great force power. it's not just some creepy thing a kid says.)
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Wow, this is a great thread and I've had the exact same thoughts as many people here. I really never understood what the point of Qui-gon was, when Obiwan's friendship to Anakin needed to be developed.

In the OT, the characters really showed that they liked each other and came across as Friends. Han and Luke are joking around about Leia and then they have that great moment right before the Battle of Yavin when Han says "May the Force Be With You." Oh man, is that a great moment or what? And the way the three friends are embracing, smiling and shouting after the Death Star is destroyed is awesome.

In Empire there's a great scene which shows the Friendship between Luke and Han. Right before the Battle of Hoth, just the way they look at each other shows that they care about each other and the way Luke is so concerned about his friends on Cloud City.

The only person I was really convinced Anakin loved was his mother.
George Lucas was seduced by the dark side. The OOT ceased to exist in his mind and became the Special Editions...." "They're more maching now than movies. Twisted and evil."