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A Moment of Nerdery

Just to clear something up, Revenge of the Sith by no means includes "the absolute worst depiction of romance in the entire cinematic history of the universe". Indeed, it's not even close to the worst depiction of romance in a Star Wars movie. For that, you have to turn to the script of Attack of the Clones:

EXTERIOR: NABOO LAKE RETREAT, LODGE, GARDEN TERRACE - LATE AFTERNOON

[. . . ]

PADMÉ becomes aware that ANAKIN is looking at her.

PADMÉ: ...We used to lie on the sand and let the sun dry us... and try to guess the names of the birds singing.

ANAKIN: I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything's soft... and smooth...

He touches her arm. PADMÉ has become receptive to the way he looks at her but is nervous.

[. . .]

ANAKIN: From the moment I met you, all those years ago, a day hasn't gone by when I haven't thought of you. And now that I'm with you again, I'm in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you makes my stomach turn over - my mouth goes dry. I feel dizzy. I can't breathe. I'm haunted by the kiss you should never have given me. My heart is beating, hoping that kiss will not become a scar. You are in my very soul, tormenting me. What can I do? I will do anything you ask...

You have to imagine it with the really, really, really crappy acting. The frightening thing is that the younger generation of nerds may grow up thinking this sort of thing is normal and grow up to be even more romantically inept than the nerds of yesteryear. A sobering thought. In addition, consider what's going to happen to a new generation of fans who watch Episodes IV and V already knowing that Vader is Luke's father. Fucked up, no?

May 20, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Come on Matt. Are you saying you didn't know that Vader was Luke's father when you saw Episodes IV and V?

Posted by: Gareth | May 20, 2005 3:37:48 PM

Not to mention that they'll know Leia is Luke's sister, ick.

Posted by: Ugh | May 20, 2005 3:38:35 PM

Oh my god. Conceded.

Posted by: susan | May 20, 2005 3:53:25 PM

I'm haunted by the kiss you should never have given me

Pillow talk a la Lieberman?

Posted by: Calling All Toasters | May 20, 2005 3:55:43 PM

can someone explain to me why Anakin and Padme's love for each other was forbidden under the Jedi code or whatever?

Posted by: Goldberg | May 20, 2005 4:00:04 PM

For reasons too silly to explain, Teresa and I saw Attack of the Clones at a theater in Kansas City in the company of the very smart science fiction writer Connie Willis.

When Hayden Christensen said "I'm in agony," I burst out "So are we! So are we!" And broke up the entire theater. It was one of the finest moments of my life.

Posted by: Patrick Nielsen Hayden | May 20, 2005 4:00:31 PM

Goldberg, a big point of Sith is that duty has to override personal attachments. Given that many of us find this principle to be a hard saying, it's understandable that the Jedi would have rules limiting the personal attachments that might endanger one's sense of duty.

Posted by: Anderson | May 20, 2005 4:09:12 PM

In general, love scenes just don't make it in the movies. So, who can be surprised that Nerd Love 101 would be insipid? The 'requirement' that action movies have some 'romantic interest' is hogwash.

Can anyone imagine if 100 or a 1000 real-life 'romantic dialogues' were captured on hidden tape and replayed? Comedy? Tragedy? The sounds and odors of vomiting would empty the theaters.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 20, 2005 4:16:05 PM

My marginal tolerance for the bad acting in Episodes I and II dropped considerably after seeing Sin City. I figured the poor performances could be chalked up to so much of the movie being filmed in front of green screens. After seeing how well the actors did in Sin City, I realized that the blame should fall on Lucas, not the technology.

Posted by: Rebecca | May 20, 2005 4:24:19 PM

omg, I love Connie Willis!

in re: bad acting: Hasn't Hayden Christiansen be reveiwed to be a good actor in other movies he's been in? (Shattered Glass and the autoerotic asphyxiation one about the house I don't know the name of)

"The frightening thing is that the younger generation of nerds may grow up thinking this sort of thing is normal and grow up to be even more romantically inept than the nerds of yesteryear."

that's why natural selection engineered a small percentage of girls like me who find romantic ineptitude endearing and go all goo-goo-eyed...but even i find crap like the above nauseating. Stick to the political history and star trek trivia, guys. Oh, yeah, and any sentence involving the phrases "marginal utility" or "discounted rates of return" will surely make us go week in the knees....

Posted by: flip | May 20, 2005 4:29:01 PM

flip: bad acting: Hasn't Hayden Christiansen be reveiwed to be a good actor in other movies he's been in?

A bad director can make a lot of otherwise good actors look bad (look what he did with Natalie Portman and Liam Neeson). There's only a small handful of actors that always do a good job.

Posted by: fling93 | May 20, 2005 4:35:56 PM

Except in rare circumstances, I find romance as portrayed in movies to be insipid and cloying and usually end up rooting for something terrible to happen to one of the protagonists. At the same time, I love the over-the-top cheesy romance of Broadway musicals. I'm not sure why I wish the plague on the Jennifer Lopezes and Matthew McConaugheys of the world in Inoffensive-Romantic-Comedy-Of-The-Week but adore a song like "Without Love" from Hairspray or "Origin of Love" from Hedwig.

Posted by: Rebecca | May 20, 2005 4:43:07 PM

I figured the poor performances could be chalked up to so much of the movie being filmed in front of green screens.

That's taking benefit of the doubt to heroic levels. I can't picture even the best performances rescuing a script like that, and it's not as if these were the first movies to use green screens. Laura Dern was more believable nursing sick dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (and I'm not a big fan of the movie or Dern's acting ability).

The only thing I liked out of I & II combined was the depiction of the clone army as precursors to the storm troopers. That was a cool plot twist.

I just did a google on "clone army" and desktop search came up with one of my old emails from when it came out. I stated at the time that special effects had probably reached the point of doing a decent Trantor in Asimov's Foundation Series. Well, I think that would be pretty cool, but the reference is admittedly dated (FWIW there was a big Foundation revival in the early 80s).

Posted by: PaulC | May 20, 2005 4:49:47 PM

"The frightening thing is that the younger generation of nerds may grow up thinking this sort of thing is normal and grow up to be even more romantically inept than the nerds of yesteryear"

I've noticed a tendency in geeky people to attack other people's nerdiness, thereby making themselves look less nerdy. I've tried this tactic, but I'm actually too genuinely nerdy to be able to successfully deflect criticism.

It's the same reason that Republican attack people they see as sexual deviants.

Posted by: Jamison | May 20, 2005 4:59:09 PM

My sister, who was in 9th grade at the time, told me in horror that some of her friends at school liked the above romantic dialogue. I told her that if a boy ever said something like that, it was evidence of his corruption by the Dark Side of the Force, and that her duty to the Republic required her to decapitate him with a light-saber.

Posted by: Ethical Werewolf | May 20, 2005 5:03:44 PM

PaulC - Yes, other films had used green screens extensively, but mostly for action sequences (like your Jurassic Park example). I believe Episode I was one of the first movies to use green screen extensively for non-action sequences. I figured that it was a difficult adjustment for the actors to perform that way for dramatic scenes as opposed to scenes where they pretended to fight with CGI creatures, etc.

Then again, the experience shouldn't be that different than theatrical acting with no background or props (the plays I Am My Own Wife and The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe come to mind as examples). So there really isn't that good of an excuse.

Posted by: Rebecca | May 20, 2005 5:12:26 PM

"that's why natural selection engineered a small percentage of girls like me who find romantic ineptitude endearing and go all goo-goo-eyed"

Flip,
Do you like video games? If you wanna, you can come to my moms house and we can play video games.

Posted by: Jamison | May 20, 2005 5:14:18 PM

A Moment of Nerdery

I thought the hip term was "geek", not "nerd". Are the nerds reclaiming the word "nerd"? I keep thinking of the nerd in American Splendor who drove 400 miles to see Revenge of the Nerds, revelling in his nerdery. Matthew seems like much more of a geek than a nerd.

Anyway, I thought Hayden Christensen was pretty damn good in Shattered Glass; obviously Natalie Portman and Ewen McGregor are good too. Nonetheless, they all completely sucked in I and II. So much so, that I probably won't even see III. So what caused I and II to suck as much as it did? Must be the directing and the writing... Anybody on this blog know a good screenwriter that could have done a lot better for these movies?

Posted by: Al | May 20, 2005 5:17:06 PM

Oh, yeah, and any sentence involving the phrases "marginal utility" or "discounted rates of return" will surely make us go week in the knees....

And "bend points". We love the "bend points".

Posted by: Rebecca | May 20, 2005 5:20:33 PM

Matthew seems like much more of a geek than a nerd.

Matt is way too political to be either. I think that makes him a wonk. His interest in SF and computers (usually in the context of IP questions) is a little anomalous, but probably less so among wonks with blogs.

Posted by: PaulC | May 20, 2005 5:22:30 PM

Speaking of Lucas, though, I finally saw American Graffiti a couple of weeks ago (I wasn't kidding about waiting till the DVD was available at the library). I cannot think of a bad thing to say about it in terms of dialogue or acting--very entertaining, engaging movie. It wasn't hokey, like the series Happy Days that it inspired, and seemed to me to capture a period very well (but I'm guessing). Actually, one thing that struck me was the early acting promise of Mackenzie Phillips. I can't say she lived up to in her stint on _One Day at a Time_, which was OK but unremarkable.

Years ago, I saw THX 1138, which is not worth the agony. Trust me. But in between, Lucas showed he could make at least one good movie. The original Star Wars trilogy was decent I suppose. It's just that my SF movie (and TV) tastes have always tended towards paranoid visions like the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers or episodes of Outer Limits and Twilight Zone. I hate Star Wars for being the model that SF movies choose to imitate rather than Body Snatchers.

Posted by: PaulC | May 20, 2005 5:45:17 PM

Matthew seems like much more of a geek than a nerd.

Matt is way too political to be either. I think that makes him a wonk.

What about his discussion on the merits of “vampire decapitation” with his roommates?

Seemed pretty nerdy...

Posted by: stewie | May 20, 2005 5:52:13 PM

What about his discussion on the merits of “vampire decapitation” with his roommates?

See my comments at the time. I was pretty surprised. I think Matt has a geeky side, but he's more likely to be "out for Thai food and back to watch Academy screeners" than up past 4am playing D&D with his roommates--except maybe for when he posted the vampire question.

Or to put it another way, roll a D20 to see if Matt's next post is gonna be geeky or not.

Posted by: PaulC | May 20, 2005 6:03:59 PM

"Or to put it another way, roll a D20 to see if Matt's next post is gonna be geeky or not."

In the name of every holy thing, no!!

Posted by: TJ | May 20, 2005 6:21:52 PM

I always assumed it showed the beginning of Anakin's abuse of the force. He was obviously starting to use mind control on her from that point on. Inside, deep down inside, she is saying, "Umm...your nice and all, but I have a boyfriend back on Degaba. He's very nice. You'd like him."

Posted by: Njorl | May 20, 2005 6:58:35 PM

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