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Did G. Lucas ever intend to portray the Jedi as a flawed institution in the prequels? Or was it added later in the EU?

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I feel the idea that the Jedi had become flawed by the time of the prequels and were partly responsible for the rise of the Empire and the fall of Anakin is an idea that is part of the canon now, but was never really intended in the movies. It’s only in the Clone Wars show (I haven’t watched it, but from what I’ve heard), the EU, and even the new movies (for ex: Luke telling Rey about the Jedi allowing Palpatine to rise) that this notion is ever established. I read some parts of the ROTS novelization recently and at the end it seems Yoda realize their failings and errors, but that’s just in the novel, not in the movie.
In the movies, the only times it’s adressed that the Jedi are flawed is by the bad guys (Dooku, Palpatine, Anakin/Vader), so it just seems like typical bad guy talk (“You guys are no better than me” kind of speech) with no real weight.

So, did George intended to show the Jedi this way? Or was he thinking the Jedi were 100% good guys with no flaws, but it didn’t really translate that well in the final products, so that was retconned later?

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I think it started with the retcon of Obi Wan being a liar. When he told Luke the truth in Star Wars, because at the time Darth Vader was just Tarkin’s henchmen and not Luke’s father.

Then you had the whole point of view speech in Return of the Jedi. And in the novelization the revelation Anakin’s fall was Obi Wan’s fault and hubris.

As for the Jedi having flaws the only flaw Annikin Starkiller had in the rough draft screenplay was that he lacked discipline for his lack of celibacy. Its truly bizarre, he isn’t called out for punching out Leia Aquilae.

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Probably a mix of both, but I’d still lean toward it being an EU thing. The prequels themselves kind of portray the Jedi as being right for all their dumbass rules and ideas.

Dooku wasn’t the good guy Sith who had an actually genuine criticism of the Jedi and Republic, you’re right in saying it’s just standard bad guy talk.

Anakin’s deviation from the Jedi code is portrayed as him being wrong.

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Dooku was also trying to get Obi Wan to join him as his Sith Apprentice. At least that was what i understood from that scene in Attack of the Clones.

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There’s enough evidence for me that it was intentional, Lucas is fascinated by the fall of Rome and what happens to societies preceding their collapse. The prequels might not have communicated this idea clearly and it doesn’t mean everything was planned out, but the PT is in part about the dissolution of democracy and the fall of the Republic due to institutional failings from all sides that allowed it to happen.

Even in TPM the council was flawed, that’s why Qui Gon representing the wise old sage isn’t a member of the council and defies their wishes to do what he feels he must, typically out of compassion rather than self interest. Dooku fully defected from the Jedi but formerly trained Qui Gon, one deleted scene even goes as far to compare the two as respected intellectuals who went against the grain. Dooku became corrupted and was on the wrong side of the war, but shared similar ideals and both in fact did perceive a larger view of the force.

Palpatine in ROTS calls the Jedi dogmatic and narrow minded, then twists this idea to further confuse and exploit Anakin before convincing him and the public that the Jedi Order are corrupt, tyrannical and traitors to the Republic. That’s his entire manipulation game, secretly inciting incidents that would create the conditions to a more divisive political climate, then sowing seeds of doubt until any faith in the whole system is in question.

I don’t think it’s just typical bad guy talk either, maybe for us as the audience because the movies already let
us in on who the true good guys are. At the same time we point out where the Jedi Order were flawed we still understand they aren’t the problem, but if you were living in that society without the awareness you were being misled, maybe you would take the bait further and become a separatist like Dooku.

“The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” - DV

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I think George intended the prequels to deal with the theme of Jedi being a flawed organisation, but it’s only occasionally made clear or done well. I think he wanted to show that the Jedi were corrupted by war and betrayed their own principles, which was a factor in Anakin’s turn to evil. The biggest example of this I can think of is when. Mace Windu says of Palpatine, “He’s too dangerous to be left alive!” echoing the line spoken by Palpatine himself earlier in the film: “He was too dangerous to be kept alive…” I think that’s the point where Anakin begins to see truth in Palpatine’s assertion that the Jedi are very similar to the Sith.

This whole theme was mostly just hinted or grasped at in the prequels, but yeah, I think it was much better explored in The Clone Wars and other novels and comics.

Not entirely relevant to the question, but this reminds me of this quote from Rebels.
“Thousands of Jedi once there were. Then came war. In our arrogance, join the conflict, swiftly, we did. Fear, anger, hate… consumed by the dark side the Jedi were.” - Yoda

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

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act on instinct said:

There’s enough evidence for me that it was intentional, Lucas is fascinated by the fall of Rome and what happens to societies preceding their collapse.

There’s some quote by Lucas comparing the fall of the Republic to the fall of the Roman Republic (comparing Palpatine to Caesar), and he comments that dictators don’t come to power at the head of a conquering army, but by turning institutions in on themselves.

So this guy’s fascinated enough by the fall of the Roman Republic to base a trilogy off of it, but not enough to know that Caesar actually did come at the head of a conquering army? The Senate gave him dictatorial powers after he conquered Rome, and it was an attempt to limit his power, not to give him power.

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SparkySywer said:

So this guy’s fascinated enough by the fall of the Roman Republic to base a trilogy off of it, but not enough to know that Caesar actually did come at the head of a conquering army? The Senate gave him dictatorial powers after he conquered Rome, and it was an attempt to limit his power, not to give him power.

I don’t recall George ever saying the prequels were a Roman biopic. It’s possible to take some ideas and inspiration from an event without directly mirroring it.

I’m actually a bit confused at the amount of people who don’t think the portrayal of the Jedi was intentional in the PT. Probably could’ve been articulated a bit more concisely, but there’s still entire lines of dialogue dedicated to the idea that have already been touched upon in this thread. One of my favorite lesser talked about ones is Yoda’s in Episode II:

OBI-WAN: “…he still has much to learn, Master. His abilities have made him… well arrogant.”

YODA: “Yes. Yes. A flaw more and more common among Jedi. Too sure of themselves they are. Even the older, more experienced ones.”

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I think some of it had to be intentional. The Jedi are far too arrogant and flawed in the Prequels for them to have been intended to be the moral high ground. Obviously, they’re still good guys you’re supposed to root for, but even heroes have flaws. Remember the Prequels are about the decay of democracy.

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This makes me wish they had kept the extended version of the meeting between Obi-Wan and madame Jocasta. It fleshes out the political situation a lot and makes it clearer than Dooku is a well-intentioned extremist that specifically condemns the flaws in the Republic government and the Jedi.

I always defend the idea that the story works best with a flawed, even hypocritical Jedi Order we are not always sure we should root for, but that G. Lucas could have explored this deconstructed view of the Jedi much more in the movies themselves.

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Thanks for your answers they’re all very interesting and made me realise I should rewatch the movies to better see the clues.

One thing that has always bothered me though, ever since I was a kid, is that even if the Jedi were deliberately portrayed as flawed it seems the movies prove them right in some of their ambiguous teachings. For exemple, concerning the « no-attachements » rule, watching AOTC as a kid I remember thinking the Jedi were assholes for banning relationships but then ROTS seemed to validate them because it was like : « see they were right, because a romantic relationship led Anakin to the dark side ». I know it’s not that simple, but as a 12 year-old that’s how I and I’m sure a lot of other kids my age understood it.

I just wish there was a line from Yoda or Obi-Wan at the end of ROTS that acknowleges the Jedi’s errors to make it clear.

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I think it was Anakin trying to prevent a vision from happening that led to Padme dying. We don’t know if she would have died otherwise. Skywalker’s and force visions are a bad combo, look at what Luke did twice by following a force vision, he went to Bespin got his hand cut off, tried to murder Ben Solo in his sleep created Kylo Ren.

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VegetableMan said:

Thanks for your answers they’re all very interesting and made me realise I should rewatch the movies to better see the clues.

One thing that has always bothered me though, ever since I was a kid, is that even if the Jedi were deliberately portrayed as flawed it seems the movies prove them right in some of their ambiguous teachings. For exemple, concerning the « no-attachements » rule, watching AOTC as a kid I remember thinking the Jedi were assholes for banning relationships but then ROTS seemed to validate them because it was like : « see they were right, because a romantic relationship led Anakin to the dark side ». I know it’s not that simple, but as a 12 year-old that’s how I and I’m sure a lot of other kids my age understood it.

I just wish there was a line from Yoda or Obi-Wan at the end of ROTS that acknowleges the Jedi’s errors to make it clear.

I remember touching on this point myself before, maybe in the Ahsoka Tano thread. I think it is a big problem that this Jedi doctrine of no attachments allowed (which is really quite inhuman, and a mistaken decision only made out of fear, I think) has been repeatedly ‘proved’ in Star Wars content. Anakin’s love for Padmé leads to his crippling fear of her loss, which causes his turn to evil; Luke’s attachment to Leia and Han means that, when he sees Ben Solo bringing about their end in a vision, he acts impulsively and inadvertently causes BEN’S final turn to evil. For me, this would all have been resolved in Colin Trevorrow’s Duel of the Fates, where the central theme is Rey learning to be the perfect balance of love and anger, darkness and light, but alas. As it is, I’m very grateful to spinoff content such as books, comics, and series, which explore this theme arguably far deeper than the films. Ezra and Kanan from Rebels (and arguably Ahsoka too),for example, are Jedi who are not afraid to love others and yet are able to ‘let go’ of them when it’s absolutely necessary to move on.

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

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Ryan-SWI said:

SparkySywer said:

act on instinct said:

There’s enough evidence for me that it was intentional, Lucas is fascinated by the fall of Rome and what happens to societies preceding their collapse.

So this guy’s fascinated enough by the fall of the Roman Republic to base a trilogy off of it, but not enough to know that Caesar actually did come at the head of a conquering army? The Senate gave him dictatorial powers after he conquered Rome, and it was an attempt to limit his power, not to give him power.

I don’t recall George ever saying the prequels were a Roman biopic. It’s possible to take some ideas and inspiration from an event without directly mirroring it.

George Lucas: “All democracies turn into dictatorships – but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it’s Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea…”

This is the quote I’m referring to.

Caesar actually did take power through a coup (which is why this quote is so ironic), and the general population of Germany never supported Hitler during his rise to power, he was appointed by the previous Chancellor. The highest he ever got in the popular vote was 33%.

I don’t know much about Napoleon’s rise to power to be honest, but I doubt he fits Lucas’s idea of history either. Because he’d be, like, the one exception. This sort of misanthropic view of authoritarianism is ahistorical and just inaccurate.

jedi_bendu said:

I remember touching on this point myself before, maybe in the Ahsoka Tano thread. I think it is a big problem that this Jedi doctrine of no attachments allowed (which is really quite inhuman, and a mistaken decision only made out of fear, I think) has been repeatedly ‘proved’ in Star Wars content.

This is why, for better or worse, I do believe the prequel-era Jedi being bad is an EU invention. Everything in the movies, plus Mando, seems to vindicate them on these kinds of issues. If the Jedi being wrong was ever Lucas’s intention, it’s so muddied that it doesn’t really matter what his intention was.

The only real thing they aren’t later justified for is when Yoda, Mace Windu, and Obi-Wan call the Jedi arrogant, but they throw that word around a lot in the prequels without ever actually showing us arrogance. It’s so meaningless in the story the prequels end up telling that I kinda tune it out, which is why I forgot about it until rereading this thread. It just sounds like standard dumb prequel dialog.

It may be evidence that the story the prequels were trying to tell was about how the Jedi were bad/corrupt/flawed/whatever, but with how often the Jedi’s behavior is justified, I’d chock this up to the prequels being the prequels.

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George Lucas: “All democracies turn into dictatorships – but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it’s Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea…”

This is the quote I’m referring to.

Caesar actually did take power through a coup (which is why this quote is so ironic), and the general population of Germany never supported Hitler during his rise to power, he was appointed by the previous Chancellor. The highest he ever got in the popular vote was 33%.

I don’t know much about Napoleon’s rise to power to be honest, but I doubt he fits Lucas’s idea of history either. Because he’d be, like, the one exception. This sort of misanthropic view of authoritarianism is ahistorical and just inaccurate.

Well, Napoléon too literally came into power with a coup lol. So not a very clever quote from M. Lucas.
He should have made his analogy with the fall of the Roman Republic but take Augustus (a literal emperor) as an exemple of a guy who comes into power without a coup, not Caesar. It makes more sense and there are a lot more parallels to be drawn between him and Palpatine.

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VegetableMan said:

One thing that has always bothered me though, ever since I was a kid, is that even if the Jedi were deliberately portrayed as flawed it seems the movies prove them right in some of their ambiguous teachings. For exemple, concerning the « no-attachements » rule, watching AOTC as a kid I remember thinking the Jedi were assholes for banning relationships but then ROTS seemed to validate them because it was like : « see they were right, because a romantic relationship led Anakin to the dark side ». I know it’s not that simple, but as a 12 year-old that’s how I and I’m sure a lot of other kids my age understood it.

I think it has more to do with the Jedi’s approach being a self-fulfilling prophecy, rather than them being objectively right.

This might be a shitty analogy, but I kind of like to compare it to the drastically different teenage pregnancy rates in the United States and the Netherlands.

In the US, especially the American South, sex is sort of a taboo topic for teenagers. In a lot of Southern schools, sex education can basically be summed up to “the safest sex is no sex”. Absistence-focused sex education is the norm, and schools and parental discussions focus on the dangers and risks of sex, and why you should avoid it until you’re married. So, this leaves teenagers rather uneducated about safe sex practices, and unsurprisingly many Southern states have the highest teen pregnancy rates.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, has a rather open and honest system of sex education. From what I understand, schools, medical professionals and parents talk about the joys and responsibilities of intimacy. Dutch teenagers are properly educated on safe sex, and given the resources to help ensure it. In general, the topic of sex is a lot more open and not treated as taboo. Netherlands currently has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world.

Bringing it back to the Jedi, the drastic actions Anakin takes to save Padmé can partially be blamed on the Jedi’s failure to teach him how to deal with his emotions in a healthy way. The Jedi teach children to basically fear their emotions, avoid attachment, and bury their feelings. The Jedi keep Anakin from having a healthy relationship with his mother, and when Anakin falls in love with Padmé, he is afraid to tell the Jedi, and in their secrecy, he becomes possessive of her. He feels like he can’t tell Obi-Wan or Yoda what’s really going on (or they wouldn’t understand), so he takes drastic measures to save her.

I personally don’t think Obi-Wan or Yoda were really even self-aware of how the Jedi’s conservative philosophy was partially responsible for their downfall. To me, it seems they think it has more to do with the dark side clouding their vision, and their growing arrogance, which is true too. They never really pass that knowledge onto Luke in the films, and in a way they made the same mistake with him. Even though Luke seemingly learned something about how Anakin’s attachment to his son saved him, I think Luke also saw how his fear of Vader turning Leia almost made him fall to the dark side. And in the end, that fear is what causes Luke to make the same mistakes with Ben.

He sort of touches on it in TLJ with Rey, but he never really goes into the detail I think they should’ve. Luke recognized the Jedi teaching was flawed, but that’s never paid off very clearly.

But yeah, I agree that if this is what Lucas was going for, it could’ve been made a little clearer. This is how I see it at least.

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SparkySywer said:

act on instinct said:

There’s enough evidence for me that it was intentional, Lucas is fascinated by the fall of Rome and what happens to societies preceding their collapse.

There’s some quote by Lucas comparing the fall of the Republic to the fall of the Roman Republic (comparing Palpatine to Caesar), and he comments that dictators don’t come to power at the head of a conquering army, but by turning institutions in on themselves.

So this guy’s fascinated enough by the fall of the Roman Republic to base a trilogy off of it, but not enough to know that Caesar actually did come at the head of a conquering army? The Senate gave him dictatorial powers after he conquered Rome, and it was an attempt to limit his power, not to give him power.

Palpatine also seized power through a coup via order 66, and with an army he created. I’m not sure I see the contradiction.

The quote you refer to also still points in the direction of Lucas’ intentions.

“The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” - DV

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It was certainly intentional:

The prequel trilogy is based on a back-story outline Lucas created in the mid-1970s for the original three “Star Wars” movies, so the themes percolated out of the Vietnam War and the Nixon-Watergate era, he said.

Lucas began researching how democracies can turn into dictatorships with full consent of the electorate.

“In ancient Rome, “why did the senate after killing Caesar turn around and give the government to his nephew?” Lucas said. “Why did France after they got rid of the king and that whole system turn around and give it to Napoleon? It’s the same thing with Germany and Hitler.”

“You sort of see these recurring themes where a democracy turns itself into a dictatorship, and it always seems to happen kind of in the same way, with the same kinds of issues, and threats from the outside, needing more control. A democratic body, a senate, not being able to function properly because everybody’s squabbling, there’s corruption.” George Lucas

“The story being told in ‘Star Wars’ is a classic one. Every few hundred years, the story is retold because we have a tendency to do the same things over and over again. Power corrupts, and when you’re in charge, you start doing things that you think are right, but they’re actually not.” – George Lucas in 2005

“[The Jedi] sort of persuade people into doing the right thing but their job really isn’t to go around fighting people yet they are now used as generals and they are fighting a war and they are doing something they really weren’t meant to do. They are being corrupted by this war, by being forced to be generals instead of peacemakers.” – George Lucas for E! Behind the Scenes - Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith

"Pleasure’s fun. It’s great, but you can’t keep it going forever; just accept the fact that it’s here and it’s gone, and maybe then again, it will come back, and you’ll get to do it again. Joy lasts forever. Pleasure is purely self-centered. It’s all about your pleasure: it’s about you. It’s a selfish, self-centered emotion, that is created by a self-centered motive of greed. Joy is compassion. Joy is giving yourself to somebody else, or something else. And it’s a kind of thing that is, in its subtlety and lowness, much more powerful than pleasure. You get hung up on pleasure; you’re doomed. If you pursue joy; you will find everlasting happiness.” - George Lucas

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The corruption of Palpatine’s predecessor was a lie to get him elected Chancellor and he tricked Padme into elevating him to such a position. Then he tricked Jar Jar into giving him emergency powers which he never intended to expire. Tricked the Jedi into a frame up of a treasonous coup to overthrow him with the help of Anakin. Just so he could wipe them out.

The prequel Jedi were really dumb, almost like the Spaceballs quote, evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

They keep doing dumb things like accepting the Clone Army, training with them becoming their military commanders when Palpatine was the leader of both sides of the war and had the same clone army created.

AND they keep saying the Dark Side clouds everything as they continue to do stupid stuff just because the plot requires it.

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They’re dumb, but the question is was it on purpose? A lot of the TV material afterwards fills in the context, bit I have to wonder if this is damage control.

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They’re not dumb, they’re complacent. Just as many people are when things are stable for so long. They became too content. Much like real life. People grow complacent all the time and before they know it society and their lives change in the blink of an eye. We can be blinded by the truth until we lose the very things we could’ve prevented. Unfortunately it’s usually much too late. The same thing applies to the Jedi. They grew content, rigided, uncompromising, and egotistical. They became the very things they weren’t. Qui-Gon was the closest to what a true Jedi stood for in the last days of the Republic.

You can see it in these scenes with the Jedi:

https://youtu.be/LD1ENDfFpHU

https://youtu.be/WhkfkNLxVCs

https://youtu.be/F1Tay55Vd7g

https://youtu.be/8bqQYIm8DGc

https://youtu.be/SA_1g3hGgNc

And for reference to Qui-Gon:

https://youtu.be/quIY2jJN1Fg

https://youtu.be/IZ1SmxIc2uk

https://youtu.be/19XIC-xX588

"Pleasure’s fun. It’s great, but you can’t keep it going forever; just accept the fact that it’s here and it’s gone, and maybe then again, it will come back, and you’ll get to do it again. Joy lasts forever. Pleasure is purely self-centered. It’s all about your pleasure: it’s about you. It’s a selfish, self-centered emotion, that is created by a self-centered motive of greed. Joy is compassion. Joy is giving yourself to somebody else, or something else. And it’s a kind of thing that is, in its subtlety and lowness, much more powerful than pleasure. You get hung up on pleasure; you’re doomed. If you pursue joy; you will find everlasting happiness.” - George Lucas

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The prequels are a study in subtle story telling. It is never made truly clear what Palpatine is doing. But if you watch the PT enough you can see that he is playing both sides and he has many avenues to get what he wants. He lays the plans for the demise of the Jedi around the time of TPM. He plans to corrupt Anakin and make him his apprentice. The only real hint is when Jango says he was recruited by a man named Tyranus. The question is if Syfo Dias was really the Jedi who ordered the clones of if it was Count Dooku playing the part.

There is a lot that is not explicitly stated and we are left to guess.

Lucas shared his thoughts with Dave Filoni and he shared them in the behind the scenes of the Mandalorian. Those make sense.

Qui-gon was the Master Anakin needed. As the three Jedi duel on Naboo, Anakin’s fate is being decided.

The Jedi don’t see that they are failing Anakin. They tell Anakin to just not have feelings. He has feelings and they never teach him how to deal with them to avoid the dark side. Their whole attitude toward the dark side is to just avoid it. The whole fear leads to anger leads to hate leads to suffering starts with just avoiding those feelings. Anakin is a mass of feelings and needs to deal with them and the Jedi have no idea. Qui-gon would have taught him how to deal with his feelings. He was the only true Jedi in the PT and with his death the course to Empire and the fall of the Anakin and the Jedi was sealed.

So I think the corruption of the Jedi is very much PT canon and has nothing to do with Clone Wars. I could see it before Filoni started Clone Wars.

And I did not read the novelizations or most of the EU. So what I saw had to be just what is in the three PT movies.