Episode I: The real story?

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Episode I: The real story?

Postby Omeganian » 2008-04-06 02:25pm

This is a text originally written in Russian by a person under the name of Boris Feldman. With the permission of the manager of the site where it was posted, I translated it and posted on a couple of locations, now I decided to put it here. The text could be regarded as a fanfic, as a parody on "historical" films, or perhaps that's the way it truly happened, who knows... Maybe rewriting other episodes in the same tone could be an improvement for the prequel trilogy.


I believe it can be said without much exaggeration that each one of us, watching the episodes of “Star Wars” is highly tempted to interpret them as an historical source. The fact that they are well done, realistic, and full of well known events makes the temptation irresistible.
Nevertheless, a serious researcher has simply got no right for such an attitude towards a film largely made for entertainment. This is most relevant for Episode I, Episode IV and the second half of Episode VI.

The fact about Episode I which distinguishes it from the others in this respect is that while the youth and the second half of Anakin-Vader’s life are largely documented (by audio and video recordings, protocols of the meetings of the governmental bodies of the Republic and the Empire, the Jedi Council, the Rebel Command etc.) reliable information sources about his childhood are all but absent. The handwritten memoirs of his teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi which reached us are (unlike the memoirs of Master Yoda) a document of first of all political rather than historical orientation, and as for the numerous recollections of Anakin-Vader’s childhood friends they were collected only after the establishment of the New Republic meaning almost half a century after the actual events.

As a result, the childhood of Anakin-Vader has largely become myth-like and the few facts and events which did take place are completely lost among the sea of fiction and conjectures. This is the situation I intend to correct as much as possible with this research.

Episode I

The plot of Episode I is built around events which did occur - the blockade of the planet Naboo by the Trade Federation and the following partial occupation of the planet by the TF forces.

According to the film, the conflict arose because of the disputes between the TF and the Naboo government in taxing the transit trade. Already we see the obvious desire of the author to embellish the truth and instead of reality, to present the desired (the sugary image of Naboo).

As it happened, the planet’s distance from the Core Worlds and the low level of its technological development made it unprofitable for cargo transfer or organizing a large trading base. Therefore, there was no speaking about “taxes” on the little cargo that did go through Naboo (usually on the way to the Rim Worlds).

No, the conflict between the TF and Naboo had a much more unsightly basis – the poison of the mollusk “gumto – ugna” (“big barrel” - gungan language). Deadly for a human, it was nevertheless a powerful drug for a dozen of other races, including the Hutts. Naboo’s proximity to the largest galactic smuggling centers of Tatooine and Nar Shadaa made the manufacture and export of the refined poison (“gugny”) a risk-free and most profitable business.

The right for the trade were obtained (not for free at all) by the Trade Federation.

But, the idyll didn’t last long. The Gungans, completely ignored during the signing of contract, were naturally displeased with the use of their waters for the industrial fishing of “big barrel” and demanded their share in the profits. The TF answered with depth charges.

The infuriated Gungans quickly made contact with smugglers and, having purchased (with the money obtained by their own “gugny” trade) modern weapons (I hope nobody believes that the Gungan culture, which was not familiar even with fire could develop force shields and energy bombs on its own), started organizing attacks on the sea factories of the TF, at the same time threatening the government of Naboo with a full scale biological and ecological war against humans.

The government, fully aware of the warlike character of the Gungans, their high intellect and their large experience in biological war, saw as the best to listen to their demands and unilaterally broke the contact with traders suggesting to sign a new one – on terms acceptable to the Gungans. Naturally, the Gungans were to be paid on the expense of TF profits. The latter refused and demanded for the old contract to be maintained. Since no appeal to the Senate was possible, both sides had to resort to military force.
The role of Palpatine-Sidious in forming this conflict is highly exaggerated, although he did aid its development into an outright war, blackmailing the TF in the name of the crime syndicate “Black Sun” and at the same time contacting the Gungans with offers of military and political aid. Despite that, it should be noted that the sides of the conflict dug completely on their own the hole into which Palpatine-Sidious later pushed them.

On this background, the secret arrival of Chancellor Valorum’s envoys and the choosing of Jedi Knights for a seemingly routine bureaucratic mission become completely logical. Both sides of the conflict lied to the Senate and the government. Both sides had no desire for a public discussion about the nature of the problems. Both sides wanted the ambassadors to disappear as quickly as possible.

Palpatine-Sidious’ Sith talents and his agents allowed him to discover and bring to TF and Naboo’ attention all the details about the “embassy”, their ship, course and the time when they were due to arrive. As a result, the Federation forces were fully prepared to meet them and the government of Naboo (the queen included) did nothing to aid the Jedi.

Unlike what was shown in the movie, the Jedi never made it to the TF station. Their ship was attacked and destroyed on the approach to the blockade forces. The crew, warned by the Jedi a few minutes before the attack, fled from the ship on three escape pods. Two of them were destroyed by the enemy ships. The Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi (also known as “Unlucky Ben”) managed to destroy their pod’s power grid (by cutting the wiring with their lightsabers) and went into trance, thus fooling the TF automatic interceptors. It was then that Obi-Wan said his famous phrase “The negotiations were short”.

Not having even orbital velocity, the pod was naturally attracted to the planet. Upon entering the thicker layers of the atmosphere the reserve thrusters were activated which gave the Jedi a relatively soft landing

The scene of Jedi’s landing on Naboo on TF transports which was implicitly shown in the movie could not take place under any circumstances. That’s because in order to reduce the manufacture costs and to make easier the maintenance, the ships designed for inert cargos (which were used by the TF for landing the droids on Naboo’s surface) were not airtight, had no heating or other life support systems and could not be used to transport living beings.

A few hours after the Jedi landed the landing of the TF forces started. Since by the will of the Force (and chance) the pod fell close to one of the large “gugny” refining facility, encountering the Gungans, as well as the TF forces became all but inevitable.

Unlike in the film, the rescue of Jar Jar Binks (a partisan-deserter out of Boss Nass’ force) included no exchange of fire with the droids, which would have inevitably exposed the Jedi to the TF. Jar Jar was knocked down by a droid’s swoop bike and the hiding Jedi saw him to be in the path of a TF crawler (not nearly all the TF battle machines were fitted with repulsors, as for the technology shown in the movie, at the time of the “wet war” the majority of it was non-existent yet). Using the Force, the Jedi pulled Binks under their cover, thus saving him from an inevitable death or injury.

The scene of negotiations with Boss Nass as shown in the movie is largely veracious except for a few details. For example, it’s obvious that even the careless Gungans had to maintain a black-out during a war, and their underwater domes at the times fad no force field walls but were made of natural materials (stripes of certain reptiles’ hardened saliva). Jar Jar Binks’ exile “for idiocy” also replaced the death sentence for deserting the battlefield, to which he was sentenced shortly before the events described in the film. The circumstances of this are unclear, as well as his pardon and elevation before the battle with the main TF forces.

The “bongo” travel shown in the film is for entertainment alone. According to all the sources available to us it was a boring and tiring sailing which lasted 1.6 standard (Coruscant) days.

The scene of releasing queen Amidala and organizing her escape from Naboo is shown quite correctly, except that actually over a half of the guards escorting the queen were injured or killed on the way to the hangars.

The scene of breaking through the blockade is shown amazingly close to the true events. At least, all the existing memoirs of the witnesses describe it exactly the same and in exact accordance to the film. The only doubts are about the scene of honoring R2-D2, probably inserted in the film to enhance the catharsis.

The excuse for the ship’s travel to Tatooine is a complete fiction. Actually, it was required to give the queen time to explain the situation to the Jedi and, in case of a negative reaction, to contact the Hutts. The Jedi, faithful to the Council’s order to protect the queen, didn’t consider the drug dealing a grave crime and agreed to continue overseeing the queen’s protection. Nevertheless, the malfunctions which were discovered in the ship’s drive after the jump to Tatooine played an important part in Anakin-Vader’s life, bringing the Jedi into Watto’s store.

The scene of Anakin meeting the Jedi and Amidala is quite accurate, as well as the conversation between Watto and Qui-Gon Jinn. There is some inaccuracy in describing Watto’s behavior.

According to the recollections of a person who knew him back then, Watto (quite in accordance with Tatooine customs) was ready to accept republican dataries, but only in cash and with a 40% discount. Qui-Gon insisted on a cashless settlement (because it was difficult and quite costly to convert Republic currency to cash on Tatooine) and 20% discount at the most.

Of course, Amidala could turn to the Hutts, but their unpredictable attitude presented a certain risk, since the Hutts could easily decide that it would be better for them to sell Amidala to the TF. Luckily for the three, Anakin, who found the strangers likable, pointed at Watto’s weakness – gambling.

With this information at hand, Qui-Gon started an argument with Watto about whether or not a completely unprepared person can participate in the Boonta Eve Classic, after which they agreed that Watto rents a pod and gives it to Qui-Gon on the security of one of Amidala’s handmaidens (the story of Amidala following Qui-Gon disguised is accurate except for a single detail – both Jedi knew who was the queen of Naboo). If Qui-Gon’s participant will make it to the finish line alive (whatever his time result is), Watto was to sell the hyperdrive cashless in republican dataries with a 25% discount. If the person wins, Watto agreed to transfer to Qui-Gon the ownership of Anakin (who by that time already has demonstrated a force talent).

As the participant Qui-Gon proposed Obi-Wan and thus the outcome of the race was sealed.

The popular opinion about Anakin-Vader’s participation (and even victory) in the race is nothing but a myth, which was invented by the sect of Vader-worshipers (which is all but destroyed by now) in the times of Empire’s heyday. It must be said that the opinion about Anakin-Vader being the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy and the mistaken opinion that he was the one who turned the scales during the battle of Naboo are also purely Vader-worshippers’ made.

Something that must be noted separately is the theory which was voiced in the film, about the connection between a Jedi’s talent and the presence in his cells of a virus like form called “midi-chlorians”. Sadly, the ignorance of the sensations-loving masses forces the makers of films to connive at the most lowly tastes, for example using beautiful, yet long since rejected theories. By the time of the events described in the film it was already known that the so called “midi-chlorians” are nothing more than parasitic, Force sensitive forms of life which can indeed be found in a Jedi’s body but cannot be the source of his abilities at least because there were many reliably recorded cases where no MC’s at all were found in a Jedi’s body.

Anyway, the fact of Anakin being Force sensitive was registered by both jedi unambiguously, and the task of getting the boy to Coruscant and organizing proper training became of primary importance to them.

The battle between Qui-Gon and the Sith-zabrak Darth Maul on Tatooine indeed took place and went quite close to what was shown in the movie.

Another thing which was shown all but completely true is the events on Coruscant, including Palpatine’s elections. Parts of these scenes are actually documentary material from the Senate’s archives which was but minimally adjusted (it’s a sight for the sore eyes on the background of inaccuracies and conjectures).

Discussing the conflict in the Senate is also most interesting from the point of view of analyzing Palpatine-Sidious’ political talent. Watching the TF having to defend against a false accusation of occupying Naboo because of disputes in taxing politics without having any worthy arguments to present in its own defense and without any possibility to reveal the truth about the conflict (the reaction on TF’s participation in illegal drug dealing would have been most negative and devastating.) can be for a source of great intellectual pleasure for a politics researching historian.

Unfortunately, we know absolutely nothing about how close to the reality the movie shows the meeting of the Jedi Council where it was decided that teaching Anakin might be too dangerous. At least, the historians haven’t got a single reliable document describing the course of that meeting (which is most unusual, considering the manic accuracy of the Order’s record keepers). Neither is it described in Master Yoda’s memoirs, although he does mention that such a meeting took place. As a result, the film is practically reconstructing the respective part of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s memoirs – and whether or not they are precise historically is very much doubted nowadays.

Amidala’s departing for Naboo is shown with certain pieces cut away. For example, the movie doesn’t mention the so called “A-Legion” which consisted of volunteers from the depths of Coruscant and according to Amidala’s and Palpatine’s plans was supposed to form the core of the guerrilla army. The “Legion’s” dispatch to Naboo was delayed by Palpatine under the pretense of checking and training the people, and then cancelled altogether after receiving the news about the liberation of Naboo.

The negotiations between Amidala and the Gungan leaders are shown (according to all the materials in our possession) most accurately, although somewhat shortened. Actually, the lasted for about two days, during which the sides worked out the basics of the planetary management after the war and the distribution of profits from “gugni” trade.

The film likewise reflects quite precisely the plan of the guards’ raid on the palace under the leadership of Amidala herself and the divertive attack of the Gungans on the planetary capital – the city of Naboo. Certain inaccuracies, including hovering tanks (war machines on repulsors were still rare at the time), droids using binoculars and communicating with voice, shield generators mounted on animals and other things inserted into the film for show do little to change the course and the results of the battle (the complete defeat of the Gungan army).

The raid on the palace is shown close to the truth. During the battle three (not two, as shown in the film) groups of guards managed to enter the palace. Unlike in the film, all three groups had separate objectives; capturing the TF representatives, the comm center and the hangars. The Jedi were indeed part of the last group (since hangars were the most important for the mission overall) but Amidala was not. Likewise, Anakin’s participation in the assault is a complete fiction, since he was at the time in a boarding school on Coruscant.

Naturally, his role in destroying the TF orbital base is likewise a myth. According to the records at hand, it was indeed destroyed by a Naboo pilot who managed to get his fighter through one of the auxiliary locks and, overriding the security systems of his ship, engage the hyperdrive. The following kinetic explosion destroyed a large portion of the station, including the Command Center and a number of energy system circuits.

Nevertheless, the scene shown in the movie, of all the droids shutting down after that is absolutely ridiculous. Even the Trade Federation was not foolish enough to use completely remotely controlled automatons in a planetary war. In fact, the destruction of the space base contemporized with the defeat of the Gungan army and the panic flight of the remaining warriors (about 42% of the initial number, 35% more were wounded and later found on the battlefield). As a result, the ground command center, receiving no orders to pursue, concluded that their mission was complete and started the standard procedures of preparing for evacuation, including “packing up” the droids, getting the transports to points suitable for landing, organizing the protection and transmitting a request for transport ships. Since the TF communications were indeed transmitted through the station, the droid army was never evacuated and has been destroyed the next day by an air attack.

The most arguable, and, at the same time, 100% historical moment of the film is the battle between the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Sith zabrak Darth Maul. We know for certain that such a battle took place during the liberation of Naboo. We also know that as a result both Qui-Gon and Darth Maul died and Obi Wan remained alive.

But, the course of the battle as shown in the film is completely impossible. Even leaving aside the demand for a good show, which forced the authors to fill the battle with impossible leaps and poses, the mere suggestion that the young Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, who didn’t have the fencing talent characteristic to Master Yoda, Mace Windu or the Skywalker family, could single-handedly defeat Darth Maul who was at the peak of his strength is completely ridiculous.

Alas, Obi-Wan himself doesn’t describe the battle in his memoirs. Moreover, the only mention of it in his personal diary is very obscure and only says that Maul was “killed by my lightsaber in another’s hand”. Considering Qui-Gon was at the moment of Darth Maul’s death already dead or mortally wounded, these words were a sticking point of historians for a long time. (Vader-worshippers claimed that it was Anakin-Vader who participated in the battle and destroyed Maul – a complete nonsense!).

Some light was shed on the course and the results of the battle with the discovery of the diary written by the New Jedi Order founder Luke Skywalker. According to one of the entries, in the year 52 of the New Republic, Master Skywalker penetrated time with his mind and saw the battle from the points of view of all three combatants simultaneously. The impressions recorded by him, while can’t be considered 100% historical evidence, nevertheless explain amazingly well most of the facts unclear to the historians.

For example, an explanation is given as to why Darth Maul abandoned his post of the TF representatives’ bodyguard and went to battle the Jedi. As Master Skywalker writes, Maul’s real instructions saw as the ideal outcome the destruction of ALL the conflicting sides.

His (or, rather, Palpatine-Sidious’) plan was to first destroy the Jedi, then to give Amidala time to deal with the TF representatives, after which Darth Maul was to destroy Amidala and every person escorting her. If Amidala managed to capture the TF representatives alive, Maul was to kill them as well, presenting it as a battle accident. As a result, a full vacuum would have been created in the local space of Naboo, which could be used easily by Palpatine-Sidious.

The death of Qui-Gon Jinn in the interpretation of Master Skywalker’s records receives a nature of self-sacrifice. Having the rare talent of truly becoming one with the Force, Qui-Gon had a vision during the battle, which showed him Darth Maul’s real plan, as well as the impossibility of defeating him by usual means. The reasons for that were the fighters’ personal characteristics, as well as the character of the combat training.

The ritualized and too showy battle style peculiar to the Jedi, could not oppose the extremely pragmatic style of the Sith, which had the sole purpose of destroying the opponent as quickly as possible. Besides, Darth Maul was superior to his opponents as a Jedi and lightsaber fighter to begin with. Realizing that, Qui-Gon Jinn made the only decision which would have allowed the Jedi to win the battle.

Separating himself from Obi-Wan during the battle on purpose (an action intolerable even for a student under usual circumstances), he, in a carefully calculated (or “suggested by the Force” – depending on the point of view) moment opened himself for Dart Maul’s strike. Qui-Gon knew, that being a young zabrak and a Sith (and feeling relatively safe) Maul won’t miss a chance to admire his deed.

He didn’t. Piercing Qui-Gon Jinn’s body with his lightsaber, Dart Maul froze for a moment, looking into the dying Jedi’s eyes. That moment was sufficient for Obi-Wan Kenobi to throw his lightsaber and, accelerating it with the Force, to cut through both Maul’s forearms. Finishing the Sith after that was a matter of a couple of seconds. That was probably what Obi-Wan meant in his diary. Darth Maul was killed by his lightsaber, but that lightsaber was directed by Qui-Gon Jinn’s hand (or, rather, will).

Among further events, there are only doubts about the reconstruction of the talk between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda, as well as the fact of Master Yoda’s and Master Mace Windu’s arrival on Naboo. According to the information available to us (the Jedi Council’s archive) Qui-Gon Jinn’s cremation took place on Coruscant and went according to the Order’s rules.

The scene of the celebration in Gungans’ honor is shown quite precisely. The deviation from the truth is only in the part of the Gungans’ uniform and ornaments – actually, they looked much more modest. Amidala’s threats towards the Trade Federation, however, are a complete fiction. The government of Naboo couldn’t sue the traders officially, since that would have demanded that they uncover all the reasons for the conflict and stop the gugni trade. Considering the necessity of restoring the planet economically after the occupation it would have been very bad for Naboo. As a result, the Naboo government and the Trade Federation signed a peace treaty, the full details of which are still unknown.

And meanwhile, Anakin-Vader did become the padawan of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi…
Q: How are children made in the TNG era Federation?

A: With power couplings. To explain, you shut down the power to the lights, and then, in the darkness, you have the usual TOS era coupling.

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Postby Coiler » 2008-04-12 08:51pm

I'm impressed at the way he made the story more realistic. If only he could do the same for the EU...

In the years after the Clone Wars, there was a hideous error in the strength of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was believed to be the result of a typographical error that accidently lowered the army's numbers by several orders of magnitude...

I'd like to see something like that. :P
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Postby gtg947h » 2008-04-13 05:59am

That was quite interesting... I'd love to see the rest of the movies done that way, at least.

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Postby Omeganian » 2008-04-14 11:27am

What else could there be...

It should be noted, that the scene in Episode VI, when an officer uses the name "Death Star" while talking to the Emperor could have never taken place. That name was never used by the Empire, but only by its enemies, which has been taken into account in Episode IV, where it is never used. Had an officer indeed used that name while talking to the Emperor, he would have been killed on the spot.
Q: How are children made in the TNG era Federation?

A: With power couplings. To explain, you shut down the power to the lights, and then, in the darkness, you have the usual TOS era coupling.

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Postby bazymew » 2008-05-02 08:30pm

That's probably about how much they would change the story of a movie based on a true story. :lol:

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