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It's coarse and rough and irritating: Lucas admits his Star Wars prequels dialogue 'is pretty corny'
Speaking with author Paul Duncan for The Star Wars Archives. 1999–2005 (a massive, 600-page tome that chronicles the Special Editions and Episodes I - III), George Lucas admits that some of the dialogue between Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padmé (Natalie Portman) in Episode II "is pretty corny." In particular, he was referring to the scene in which Anakin drops this little old chestnut: "I am haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me."
"It is presented very honestly, it isn't tongue-in-cheek at all, and it's played to the hilt," the writer-director explains in the book. "But it is consistent, not only with the rest of the movie, but with the overall Star Wars style. Most people don't understand the style of Star Wars. They don't get that there's an underlying motif that is very much like a 1930s Western or Saturday matinee serial. It's in the more romantic period of making movies and adventure films. And this film is even more of a melodrama than the others."
Later on, in the section dedicated to the production of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Lucas talks about the soap opera nature of the prequels, especially its conclusion, which has all the hallmarks of a cheesy daytime drama: forbidden romance, betrayal, misunderstanding, murder, and a character who turns out to be evil.
"There's a bit more soap opera in this one than there has been in the past," he reveals, "so setting the scenes up and staging them was more complex than it usually is. Normally, we would have rehearsals at the beginning of the film. We would read through and then rehearse certain scenes that were tricky. Then, we would work out staging on the set as we were shooting each day, and do the rehearsal as we shot it. This one, because there was a lot more complex staging, I would take the week's work and on the previous Saturday, I would spend all day rehearsing with the actors and the cameraman, and we would stage the scene the scene and rehearse it a couple times. So for the rest of the week, we would have a very clear vision of what we were doing, and didn't have to spend time on the set trying to figure things out."
And here's another fun mea culpa: Episode III used some recordings from the much-maligned Holiday Special from 1978. Sound designer Ben Burtt states that he "brought out some recordings I'd done of bears at zoos for the Star Wars Holiday Special, which had a Wookiee family." That bear sound was then mixed with "a lot of dogs, coyotes, and a few large cats yelping and barking to create highs and lows, screaming and crying." The resulting mix was used for the Wookiees' battle against the droid army on Kashyyyk. "That way, we could make hundreds, thousands of Wookiees charging camera, like in Braveheart, all barking and yelping as they come," Burtt adds.
The idea of a yuletide special set in the galaxy far, far away got a shot at redemption with an animated, LEGO-inspired holiday event set after the events of Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. Now streaming on Disney+, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special was well-received by critics and currently holds a 70 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (a stark contrast to the 27 percent of the '78 original).
The 14-pound Archives book (yes, we weighed it) also offers up details on Lucas's ideas for a third Star Wars trilogy before Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 and went in a different direction with the new movies. Its story would have revolved around the hurdles to rebuild involved with rebuilding Republic after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi. Darth Maul and his apprentice, Darth Talon (described by Lucas as a "new Darth Vader"), were envisioned as the main antagonists. Despite the intense fan backlash following the release of Phantom Menace, Lucas planned to take an even deeper dive into the midi-chlorians and Whills with his unmade trilogy.