I’ve recently been inspired to wonder what could have made the Star Wars Prequels better.
The “reviews” posted by Red Letter Media are both amazingly insightful and also unnecessarily vulgar and disgusting. I’m not sure why they thought it prudent to surround their cogent (and humorous on their own) points about the prequels with nasty garbage. But since I can’t in good conscience recommend that people actually watch them, just take my word for it: they highlight all of the problems with Episodes 1,2, and 3.
Recently, another video has been posted by Belated Media in which the author reimagines the storyline for the Phantom Menace and instead of just pointing out the mistakes Lucas and Company made with them (like Red Letter Media) actually makes some good suggestions as to how The Phantom Menace could have worked (if the people surrounding Lucas had tied him to a chair and locked him in a room to prevent him from creating cinematic pieces of crap). The Belated Media fellow is a bit too fond of profanity for my taste (though not nearly as bad as the Plinkett character in Red Letter Media)… so if you choose to watch that one, just be warned.
So, since there is no other phenomenon I loath more than fanfiction and also because there is an unforgivable shortage of fanboys bloviating with their ignorant opinions about Star Wars… I decided to write my own alternate script treatment for the first prequel. See below for the results… and please, I’d love to hear others thoughts about what could have made The Phantom Menace (and the other prequels) better.
A couple of caveats, notes, etc.
1) This is not an original work. I have simply taken characters and plot points created by Lucas and also the “Expanded Universe” [EU] (especially some Dark Horse comic book story lines) and “modified” them. I changed up some details and implications to present a story that I feel would have served us better as a Star Wars movie.
2) In regards to “being a better Star Wars movie”: I will readily admit that my treatment does not “feel” like the first trilogy (Star Wars (A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). But neither do the prequels that Lucas actually gave us. I believe that the prequel trilogy should be very different in tone from the movies with Luke, Leia, and Han. I just think that the prequels should also feel A LOT different from what we got. So, I tried to find a new tone that (admittedly) is probably more in line with the way that most of the books in the EU come across.
3) For screenwriting nit-pickers out there: this is a poor excuse for a Treatment and it is almost sacrilege to even label it as such. But, it was the best way I could think of to describe the mess I have put together below.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Screenplay Treatment by: T. Gregory Haberkorn
Based on characters created by: George Lucas
A boy, 13, stares into binoculars out across a desert landscape as two suns set in the distance. His mother, SHMI SKYWALKER, calls for him to come in. Reluctantly, ANAKIN SKYWALKER goes inside their small, shabby dwelling place. He begins to excitedly talk to his mother about what he’d been looking at: the progress being made on the new Pod-Racing Arena. Shmi reminds him not to get too excited, since slaves are not allowed to watch the races from inside the arena.
Their conversation is interrupted when a large Twi’Lek, TARQUIN LOM, barges into their home. He is their master, and he is furious. Tarquin grabs Shmi by her shoulders and slams her against the wall, shouting at her to never cost him a customer again. Anakin runs at Tarquin, but the muscular Twi’Lek just shoves him down. Tarquin continues to berate Shmi for suggesting to a customer that they may be able to find a particular part for less cost at a different mech vendor. Anakin rises and stares angrily at Tarquin, his face red and pulse quickening. He clenches his fists. Suddenly, Tarquin begins to cough and wheeze in between his shouts. He appears unable to catch his breath and simply backhands Shmi and stumbles outside.
As blood begins to trickle from the corner of Shmi’s mouth, she reaches for Anakin. She holds him close as tears begin to stream down his face.
Meanwhile, across the galaxy…
A loud celebration is occurring in front of the Galactic Senate building. Bands play and a parade winds around the grounds. At the center of the commotion is a large dais where CHANCELLOR FINIS VALORUM is speaking to loud cheers and applause. He is congratulating the Grand Army of the Republic. They had quelled a violent uprising on a distant planet called Yinchorii. Before the Army “saved the day”, the 20 Jedi who had been dispatched to seek a peaceful end to the conflict had been ambushed.
The solemn gathering at the Jedi Temple is a marked contrast from the scene at the Senate. A funeral ceremony is being held for the Jedi who were massacred at Yinchorii. As the funeral pyres glow in the dim light, QUI-GON JINN and MACE WINDU are quietly arguing in a corner. Qui Gon is concerned about the leadership of the Jedi Council, after they failed to protect the doomed team of 20 on their mission. Mace insists that no one, not even Master Yoda, had foreseen the possibility of the ambush. Qui Gon says that is why he is concerned.
Yoda is seen inside one of the towers peering silently down upon the funeral ceremony. His eyes fix upon OBI-WAN KENOBI, 20 years old, as he stands near a particular pyre. Yoda watches as Qui Gon approaches Obi-Wan.
In Naboo, we see Queen Amidala (17) walking with Senator Palpatine. She thanks him for deciding to come home instead of stay in Coruscant for the celebration. He insists that his proper place at this time is there, in Naboo. They discuss the battleships from the Trade Federation which are looming above Naboo. The Queen is concerned because her pleas for assistance to the Chancellor have been largely ignored. Palpatine suggests that the entire Republic is war weary. And that after the recent victory, the Senate is simply not interested in getting involved in a new conflict so soon.
Palpatine reassures Amidala that he was able to recruit help from outside of the Senate.
Back on Coruscant…
Qui Gon and Obi-Wan stand before a burning pyre. Obi-Wan asks Qui Gon what he thinks happens after death. Qui Gon mentions that his views on the matter are not necessarily considered proper Jedi Doctrine, but he believes that the Force contains all life, past and present. Qui Gon says that all he has learned about the Force suggests that physical death is not the end. He just hasn’t quite figured out what that means. Qui Gon breaks off his speech, recognizing by the way Obi Wan has not stopped staring at the young woman on the pyre, that this lecture was not even necessary.
Qui Gon places his hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder and reminds him to guard his emotions. Obi-Wan nods in agreement and asks him what he was discussing with Master Windu. Qui Gon tells him that Master Yoda has a special assignment for them. A secret scouting mission to Naboo to determine the situation.
Whether it is Fate, the Force, or a phantom presence simply pulling the strings, Obi-Wan, Amidala, and Anakin will soon find their destinies forever intertwined. And those closest to them will not be immune to the changes their meeting will bring to the galaxy…
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace