// in defense of the Star Wars prequel trilogy… sort of. //

{or, my love-hate relationship with the aforementioned movies}

~

To start off, if you’ve never seen Star Wars Episodes I-III, then you may want to back out now because none of this is relevant, and the stories of these three movies are entirely too complicated to explain in a blog post.

Are you still here? You’ve seen them, then? Good. Let us proceed.

~

The Star Wars prequel trilogy {to avoid confusion:: the movies with Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, and Liam Neeson} has been the subject of much controversy among the Star Wars fandom, which is very widespread and ranges from kids of the 80’s who all wanted to be Han Solo, to little boys who all clamor for Kylo Ren’s lightsaber, and little girls who are thrilled because they finally get to dress up as a Jedi and rock Rey’s tri-bun hairstyle, to everyone in-between those ages. If you’ve seen these prequel movies, you understand the controversy– some love them, others adamantly hate them, and there’s really not much room for in-betweens, apparently.

I have a confession to make, a conclusion that I’ve reached in the past… Oh, the past two months or so, and haven’t really wanted to admit to myself until now.

I now have reached the point where I love the prequels more than I hate them.

And even the (more startling) point where I have perhaps come to love them even more than the original trilogy (Ep. IV-VI).

I KNOW. I KNOW. Just hear me out, please.

Yes, there were parts of Lucas’s script that were downright ridiculous and cringe-worthy. (Every “romantic” Anidala line ever, am I right?) Yes, the acting could’ve been better (for some characters; others were portrayed splendidly). And yes, Anakin and Padmé’s relationship is so frustratingly problematic.

These movies are frustratingly problematic. I won’t even attempt to deny that.

But… They’re also great, in their own way, for a number of reasons:

I. The Prequel Galaxy
My favorite era of Star Wars is the prequel era– the Galaxy before the Emperor’s rule, the Old Galactic Republic. This may have something to do with the fact that I am an American and am fiercely supportive of liberty and republics. Ahem. But in all seriousness, there are several things in particular that make the prequel era my favorite:

the Jedi {problematic yet wonderful}:

While I don’t exactly agree with their whole Code (especially the no-emotions or attachments rule because that’s what makes us human), I love the Jedi because they’re the followers of Light, the keepers of peace in the Galaxy, and being a Christian, I’m always drawn towards characters who walk in the Light and fight for what’s right. It’s so cool to see the way they lived when they actually were a fairly large group of people, with an Order and a Temple and everything, as opposed to the Original Trilogy where there can apparently be only one living Jedi at a time (in which Obi-Wan and Yoda die, but now Luke is a Jedi and can carry on the legacy). The Battle of Geonosis, pictured above, is particularly epic (and that screencap reminds me of the Avengers). And besides– who among us hasn’t wanted to be a Jedi and use a lightsaber at least once in their lives?

Naboo: 

Naboo:

(This is by far my favorite planet of the Star Wars galaxy.)

Naboo palace:

Naboo:

SO CLOSE to pinning this onto my foreign travels board. Naboo~:

naboo architecture - Google Search:

Naberrie villa, Lake Country, Naboo:

Aren’t these pictures just breathtaking? If I could live on a fictional planet, it would definitely be Naboo. I don’t even think it requires explaining why I love it so much; the pictures will suffice. Nabooian culture is also pretty fascinating, from what I can tell– especially when it comes to Queen Amidala and her Handmaidens (see the Characters section below). Just… can I live on Naboo for awhile, please? Preferably in their time of peace? That would be lovely.

 ~

II. The Characters (…Some of them)
Obi-Wan Kenobi  {Deserved Better™}:

Obi-Wan Kenobi.  *heartthrob* o_o  >> *nods*:

I’m just going to preface this with a warning: He is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time, so I might accidentally go on a fangirl-y rambly tangent about how much of a precious cinnamon roll Jedi he is.

Can we just all agree that Obi Wan is the sassiest person EVER!!!  “YOU HAD ONE JOB ANAKIN. ONE.” | 23 Times Obi Wan Kenobi Was 1,000% Done

"My favorite thing about you is your astute powers of observation."

(THE SASS. I can’t.)

As you can probably tell, Obi-Wan isn’t merely a Jedi Master– he’s a sassmaster. And it’s beautiful. He is also charmingly elegant, drinks tea, gets exasperated with Anakin, and prefers negotiation and diplomacy to actual fighting but will totally stand up for what’s right no matter what– so clearly, we are kindred spirits. (Actually, it’s generally agreed that he’s an INFJ. Which is also my personality type. I’m not saying that I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi; I’m just saying that you’ve never seen me and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the same place at the same time. ;))

He is forever putting his duty over his heart, adhering to the Jedi Code and its no-attachments rule despite it being very obvious that he does care for people, very deeply. He gives up any chances he had at true love, quietly and without complaint, something that still makes me sad from time to time. And he deserves so much better than to have to go into exile on Tatooine because his brother betrayed him by going Sith and killed all the Jedi and nope this is not okay. He loses literally everyone he’s ever loved. His father figure, his brother, his friends, anyone he could’ve fallen in love with– agh. And yet, through all of that, never once does he even get tempted towards the Dark Side. He’s firmly rooted in the Light. And that’s why I admire him so much, why he’s my favorite– he’s one of the few Star Wars characters who is truly in the Light, yet he still has his moral dilemmas and regrets, so he’s a wonderfully realistic character.

(I’m actually very proud about how I didn’t once resort to typing in all caps through that. I was very tempted several times. HE DESERVED BETTER OKAY. There. I did it.)

Padmé Naberrie Amidala Skywalker {questionable relationship choices, still an epic human being}:

Padmé Amidala - Natalie Portman - Star Wars:

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace; Costume Design by Trisha Biggar:

I love this line, for so many reasons. Padme, the Tea Partier ;):

Many people have this false impression that Padmé Amidala exists solely as a love interest for Anakin Skywalker, and while I see what they mean (their relationship is really so problematic), I would argue that Anakin isn’t Padmé’s sole reason for existence. Far from it, actually. Because, on her own, Padmé Naberrie becomes Queen of Naboo, then an influential Senator, and even goes on to help create the Rebellion before her death (the Rebellion that her children would later go on to be the heroes of). She fights for her planet’s liberty, leading a battle– and wins. At age fourteen, with the help of her Handmaidens, her Guard, her citizens, some Gungans (think the infamous Jar-Jar Binks), and a couple of Jedi. She fights again in the Battle of Geonosis alongside the Jedi– “aggressive negotiations”, she calls it– and survives countless assassination attempts targeting her before that. She never loses sight of her ideals of liberty and democracy, even when everything falls apart around her. And when Palpatine tries to take over and turn the Republic into an Empire (spoiler: he does), she joins with her like-minded Senator friends and is a founding member of the Rebellion– because no matter what, she won’t give up on freedom and the good of the Galaxy. It breaks her heart when she learns that her husband Anakin has fallen to the Dark Side, yet she goes to confront him– heavily pregnant, I might add– and pleads with him to return to the light, warning him that he’s going down a path she cannot follow, that she never wanted this. It, um, doesn’t go so well for her, and she dies shortly after giving birth to Luke and Leia that same day. (There are many debates over what the actual cause of her death was; she’s too strong-willed for the “died of a broken heart” nonsense. There’s no way she would’ve abandoned her children like that.) Even though she dies young, and her relationship choices were doubtful at best (I mean, Anakin? Really?), Padmé Amidala is a beacon of light and hope in the waning Republic, and is dearly loved by many, and her legacy lives on in her children.

(Also, not to be trivial– but the girl has the best fashion sense. My all-time favorite is her yellow picnic gown, as seen above. I would love to own that dress. Just, look up Padmé Amidala on Pinterest and drool over the lovely dresses and robes and battle gowns and such. Yes please.)

II round deux: The Handmaidens {the most underappreciated characters ever}:

Handmaden appreciation:

The Naboo Royal Handmaidens are a group of young women handpicked to aid the Queen of Naboo. On the surface, it appears as if the handmaidens only assist with the Queen’s gowns, hairstyles, and makeup. However, they are all trained in self-defense and remain vigilant against any threats to their sovereign. In fact, during times of turmoil, a handmaiden actually poses as the Queen. #starwars:

“The Naboo Royal Handmaidens are a group of young women handpicked to aid the Queen of Naboo. On the surface, it appears as if the handmaidens only assist with the Queen’s gowns, hairstyles, and makeup. However, they are all trained in self-defense and remain vigilant against any threats to their sovereign. In fact, during times of turmoil, a handmaiden actually poses as the Queen.”

-Sabé, the Decoy:

Star Wars (Phantom Menace)_Padme Handmaiden_Battle:

Sabé is the most important of Queen Amidala's royal retinue of handmaidens. During crisis situations, Sabé and Amidala switch roles.:

{The one time we see Sabé as herself, without the Amidala persona.}

(*casually includes screenshot of favorite Star Wars ship that isn’t even canon* *smiles innocently* *Sabewan/Sobiwan forever* *because they both are epic and deserve happiness* *and it totally COULD HAVE HAPPENED*)

You know how there was a girl who donned the Queen’s robes and hung out in the ship in The Phantom Menace while Padmé was off running around Tatooine pretending to be a Handmaiden and going to pod races and meeting her future husband? Yes. This is that girl. (It is noteworthy to add that she is also Baby Kiera Knightley.) We never learn too much about her from this movie– considering she spends the majority of her time onscreen in her role as the Decoy Queen– but Sabé is without a doubt one of the most courageous and underrated characters in this entire saga. Think about it: the girl had to put on Queen Amidala’s heavy makeup and ridiculous headdresses, and impersonate her perfectly so that only Padme and the Captain of the Guard and the other Handmaidens knew who she truly was, and talk through diplomatic negotiations while trying to avoid an entire planetary war— all of this while knowing that she could literally be assassinated at any moment, because the whole point of the Decoy thing is to protect the real Queen in times of danger. Oh yeah, and Sabé is roughly Padmé’s age in this– and Padmé is fourteen years old. This girl is a teenager, y’all. And she’s got more courage than I’ll likely ever have. I wish we could’ve learned more about who she really is, but, well, that’s why we read fan-written stories, right? There’s quite a bunch about Sabé– others evidently have the same amount of admiration and curiosity that I do– and many of them are quite wonderful insights into her character. (And the aforementioned Sabewan/Sobiwan ship, which don’t even get me started on that loveliness.)

(Fun game to play while watching TPM: ‘Which Amidala is Natalie Portman, and which one is Kiera Knightley?’ You’ll never really know, will you? ;))

Others: And the other Handmaidens are epic too, as seen above. They protect Padmé Amidala with their lives– her life, and her secrets (read: Anakin and the twins). They’re warriors with diplomatic skills and good fashion sense. What’s not to love?

Honorable mention: In Attack of the Clones, a Handmaiden named Cordé actually died for Padmé, when she was posing as a Decoy Senator during the time when there were many assassination attempts on Senator Amidala– and this one in particular caused the ship Cordé was descending to explode. It’s such a sad scene, especially when we see Padmé grieving over her friend and struggling with guilt, but we can clearly see that Cordé was a lovely and sweet human being, and that her sacrifice, though tragic, wasn’t in vain.

~

III. The Potential for Imagining (AUs and such)
-Anakin’s Redemption {or, how everything could’ve changed}

Star Wars is one of those fandoms where, due to canon being so tragic, AU stories (alternate universes– in other words, plot divergence) are invented, and some of them end up being even better than canon. One example: the many, many different points where Anakin could’ve Made Better Choices, and either not turned at all or gotten his redemption before he could lose his family. This opens up the imagination to so many different avenues, each of them fascinating. Palpatine could’ve taken over and formed his Empire anyway, and the Skywalkers could’ve gone into hiding until it was time to join the Rebellion– or Palpatine could’ve been defeated before the Empire had the chance to begin– or something entirely different could happen. AUs are wonderful because they give the chance to explore the “should’ve happened” and go deeper into character analysis, all while still creating a beautifully complex story with beloved characters who (typically) make better choices. And the Anakin-is-Redeemed AU is my favorite. ^_^ Redemption is always my favorite storyline.

~

This concludes my why-I-like-the-prequels ramble. Am I alone in this, or do you guys like them too? Which Star Wars character is your favorite? Do you have a favorite movie? I would love to hear your thoughts!

{love always, Em}

// lessons from high school. //

…because as of this past Friday, I have officially walked the halls of my school for the last time, and as of this upcoming Friday, I shall be a high school graduate.

So, to celebrate, here are a few things I’ve learned over the past four years…

~

// Growing up really isn’t all that terrifying. Really. It’s crazy and beautiful, and occasionally stressful, and requires trusting God more and realizing that you can’t do this on your own (and that you’re not supposed to). But it’s so incredibly worth it.

// Your parents are absolutely amazing human beings. You already know this, but right now you’re at a weird age and get frustrated with them on occasion, so I just wanted to reiterate that. They’re epic, and show Christ in all they do, and you’re incredibly blessed to be their daughter.

// You’ve been given a gift in wordsmithery. Embrace it. Fly with it. The words you write can create worlds and share your heart in ways that speaking out loud can’t. Isn’t that amazing?

// You love fiction, and you know what? That’s such a huge part of who you are. Don’t hide that. It’s perfectly wonderful to love the stories that have made an impact on your life. And there’s so many other people who feel the same way; allow me to introduce you, younger-Em, to this thing called “fandom”…

// You’re not crazy, just an INFJ. 😉 It’s beautiful to have someone finally put the way your brain works into words. And also, psychology and personality typing is amazing. (Spoiler alert: Psych is what you’re going to major in someday, because it makes your heart happy even more than English does)

// On the “you’re not crazy” note– it’s perfectly okay to be different than those around you at school, because different is authentically you. Don’t hide parts of yourself to try and fit in, because you know what? Breaking the mold and embracing who you are in Christ is so much more fun and freeing.

// The books you read and the movies/shows you watch in high school? They’re some of the best ever, and they’ll leave their mark on your heart. Notably: Mere Christianity {you MUST read your C.S. Lewis, girl}, One Thousand Gifts, The Wingfeather Saga, Les Miserables, The Book Thief, Star Wars, Marvel movies {yes, someday you will love SW and Marvel– perhaps even more than Matt}, Big Hero Six, and Downton Abbey. Just you wait. It’s so epic.

// Don’t be so against change. Now, this is a lesson that I’m still in the process of learning. Maybe I’ll always be learning it. But dear, sweet girl– change is coming. I’m walking towards the biggest season of change myself right now, the most life-change I’ve ever faced before. And, from moving to a different church freshman year and other related events, I’ve learned that God will give you a crazy peace when you’re turning down the right path, even if it’s the unpopular one, even when it’s full of unknowns. Trust Him, and walk with Him, and have the grace to– perhaps not anticipate always, because every now and then change is saddening, but to accept the right changes when they come. He will give you the strength you need.

// This season of loneliness doesn’t last forever. (I just want to give you a hug and let you know that in person, younger-Em. Guys, I want a time machine.) Fix your eyes on Christ dear girl, always. He is the only one who can truly satisfy your soul and heal your heart. And then, when your security is in Him and you’re content with His company, then you’ll find that there are people who do think like you– kindred spirits. And you’ll make some amazing friendships, ones that’ll last for life, and deepen those that you already have. But finding joy in the Lord comes first.

// You are not defined by a letter grade. (Can I get an amen?) Or by how well you can sing, or write, or take tests, or do any of the things you enjoy doing. This life isn’t about how well you can perform. It’s about how you can show Jesus, follow Him. There will be so many times over the next few years that you struggle with this, but always remember that however well or poorly you do– that doesn’t create or destroy you. You’re still Emily even if you fail a test or mess up a song or write an awful sentence. Surrender it all to the One who has given you these gifts, and you’ll find that He’ll use them for “abundantly more than you could ever ask or imagine”. (Just trust me on this one.)

// You’re still single. And still very much content in the singleness. You do you, and reflect Christ in purity of heart, thoughts, and actions, and all will be well. ^_^ (And also: a couple of your friends will sometimes be just as boy-crazy as they were in middle school. Only it’s more annoying in high school, as you decidedly are not and frankly don’t care. Just smile and wave, and give honest advice when asked. And save the rolling of eyes for later.)

// As a fourteen-year-old, I know you’ve always got your head in the clouds or your nose in a book. Which is great sometimes (“reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn’t want to live there”), but you need to start paying attention to the world around you. You need to be more observant of where you’re going when your parents drive you places; this will come in handy in a couple of years (and I really wish you had done that, in hindsight). You also need to start paying attention to social and political issues; you’re going to be voting by your senior year, and you need to be informed. This world is so broken, so I wouldn’t advise reading the news for lengthy periods of time or you’ll get too heartbroken, but it’s so important to know what’s going on. These kinds of things can have a huge impact on your life, as an American citizen, a young woman, and especially as an unashamed Christian.

// And also– begin studying the Word and learning how to defend your faith. You’ll need it, that unshakable foundation to stand upon when the rest of the world tries to get you to move. And it’s never too early to start.

// You, dear heart, “are a splendid work of God” (to be spoken in an overly fancy British accent). So be confident, and let the Light shine through your eyes and smile, because you are beautiful and valued and loved by your Creator. Hold this truth close to your heart, always.

// “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” -C.S. Lewis

~

So, that apparently turned into a quasi-letter to my fourteen-year-old self? That wasn’t the original plan, but I just sort of went with it. (It’s easier to write lessons to someone, I’ve found, rather than just listing them objectively.)

Life is beautifully insane right now, as you can probably gather from my being caught in the week between finishing high school and officially graduating, but I’m sure I’ll be back afterwards to give the blog a few life updates and random musings. It’s summertime for me now, even though I wore a sweater today because it’s rather cold (comfortably cold, I love it), and I do hope to be writing more, both on here and on my stories-in-progress. Because in the fall? Well, that’s a season of a different kind of craziness that’s on the horizon, and I have no idea when I’ll find the time to write. But today, I’ll focus on the here and now– which is that it is well with my soul and I’m glad to be alive. (And I also need to go work on crafting decorations for my open house next Sunday. That too.)

{love always, Em}

(who has learned much, but is so thrilled to keep learning more and more every day)