I recently embarked on a journey: A chronological read-through of the the current Star Wars canon. There are some books I haven’t gotten to, and some I wanted to reread in light of the latest films and books. Always in motion my perspective is.
I started chronological read through with the novelization of Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks. This book was new to me, and I wasn’t sure what to expect (I’ve had mixed results with the novelizations) but the added character development and scenes that weren’t in the movie added much depth and enhanced the movie.
Here are my biggest insights from the novelization:
“We have to help them Mom,” Anakin insisted, knowing he was right about this, that he was meant to help the Jedi and his companions. “Remember what you said? You said the biggest problem in the universe is that no one helps anyone.”
Anakin is a precocious nine-year old with many skills. Having the perspective of his inner monologue made many aspects of his giftedness seem more natural and less intrusive. Anakin has dreams of becoming a Jedi, of flying away from Tatooine in a star ship, and later returning to free all the slaves. Knowing Anakin’s future as we do makes the dissonance between his childhood aspirations and his later actions that much more poignant. Anakin’s instant fascination with Padme includes a bold prediction he will marry her someday (this wasn’t included in the film) and this declaration adds to mythos of destiny and tragedy that is interwoven with their story.
The novelization also demonstrates Anakin’s kindness and generosity of spirit. His absolute devotion to his mother, his free sharing of his pod-race prize money, and his kindness to others: offering to help a friend with her cooling unit; saving the life of an injured Tusken Raider at great personal risk. Anakin’s goodness brings his future struggles into sharper relief.
“Obi-Wan would see the boy and jar jar in the same light–useless burdens, pointless projects, unnecessary distractions. obi-wan was grounded in the need to focus on the larger picture, on the unifying force. he lacked qui-gon’s intuitive nature.”
We learn that Qui-Gon cavalier attitude to the dictates of the Jedi Order is nothing new. Qui-Gon’s attunement to both the Living and Unifying Force is as mystifying to his padawan as the audience, and perhaps even the Jedi Council. We also learn that Qui-Gon as a history of taking up strays, cast-aways, and lost causes. Jar Jar and Anakin are but the latest in his collection of rag-tags. This habit causes tension in his relationship with Obi-Wan, which thankfully somewhat resolves prior to Qui-Gon’s death at the hand Darth Maul. These revelations added to how I view Obi-Wan’s own training and his training relationship with Anakin.
” ‘ Many things will change when we reach coruscant, annie. my caring for you will not be one of them.’ “
Unfortunately, The Phantom Menace novelization doesn’t offer any internal perspective from Padme (a missed opportunity in my opinion). I would have loved to learn more about Padme’s thought process as she grappled with a crisis as a fourteen year old leader of an entire planet. The novel does provide background to Anakin’s interest in Padme. While her beauty was initially responsible, it was Padme’s kindness to him, her fierceness in battle, and her leadership skills that ultimately captivated him. It’s clear that young Anakin’s interest in her is beyond her angelic appearance.
I finished Terry Brooks’ novelization glad I had read it, and with an urge to rewatch The Phantom Menace as soon as possible. My newly gained insights made the film more interesting than ever.
” ‘We bombad heroes, annie!’ jar jar laughed, lifting his arms over his head and showing all his teeth.
The boy laughed. He guessed maybe they were.”
Have you read any of the film novelizations? How did they alter your view of the film?