Friday, April 19, 2024

 Padmé: The Lost Scenes

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Deleted scenes are a necessary evil. Even these days, when certain types of movies just seem to be getting longer and longer, there are always scenes that didn’t make the cut because there was no time. Or because people decided last minute that they sucked. Or both.

 Choosing which scenes can be cut can be a delicate art, though. Some scenes are important, you know? Sometimes it’s that one scene that makes everything make sense. Or it can be essential to the characterization of someone. Or sometimes it prevents a character from being nothing but a convenient uterus.

 Yes, I speak of Senator Padmé Amidala… Naberrie… Skywalker… whatever, a character you know somewhere in your brain probably could be interesting, but in the end has the personality of a piece of cardboard. Is it possible that this is because most of her important scenes ended up on the cutting room floor? Maybe these scenes would have made her a compelling character. Or at least maybe you would get the feeling that the piece of cardboard was from a box that once held something interesting in it. Like heirloom tomatoes.

Let’s look at her deleted scenes one-by-one and see.


 The Phantom Menace:

 Most of the deleted scenes in this movie consist of about another ten minutes of Pod Racing. Yeah, it was supposed to be longer. It really is too bad that we missed seeing Ratts Tyerell’s wife and kids, though.

 The Battle is Over:


Padmé tells the Viceroy that the will have to explain himself to the Senate.

Some poor actor who was really excited that he got to be in a Star Wars movie informs Padmé that the droids have stopped working. Then he pushes one over. It’s thrilling. Padmé tries to be all stern. 


Attack of the Clones:

Except for a couple of brief scenes having to do with Obi-Wan’s very compelling mystery plot, and one where Anakin whines a bit about his nightmares, all the deleted scenes in Attack of the Clones involve Padmé. Padmé as a politician, Padmé as a person with a family, Padmé as a public figure important enough to assassinate. Padmé who exists outside of the context that Anakin is into her.

Padmé addresses the Senate:

Padmé petitions the Senate not to approve the Military Creation Act.

 Okay, so Padmé ruled a planet for eight years, and she’s been in the Senate for another two years after that. She got her people through that whole blockade business. She’s a political prodigy. So why does she sound a little bit, like, naive?

“If you serve the Separatists with violence, they will only give you violence in return.” Okay, what’s your alternative plan? Are you going to let them secede? Are you going to negotiate? What concessions are you prepared to offer? What are your objections to them in the first place?

This whole thing is like a Model UN speech a fifteen-year-old would give. Then her teacher would give her a B+ and write “I admire your strong principles. Constructive suggestions vague.”

Extended Arrival on Naboo:

Padmé and Anakin discuss various issues when first arriving on Naboo. 

Padmé may be a little extroverted too. I suppose that’s to be expected in a politician. In any case, boy does she like to talk about herself. And boy does Anakin like to carry her luggage for her.

She is being very candid about things though. She admits that maybe electing fourteen-year-olds to be heads of states is maybe not very good for planets, or for a healthy adolescence. Or for education, because Padmé was so busy that she didn’t have time to learn what democracy is.

“Popular rule is not democracy, Ani.” Yes, Padmé, it is. That is literally what democracy is. It may not be effective or equitable governance, but this is, in, fact, what the term means.

And this is also the point where we’re introduced to the fact that work-life balance doesn’t exist in this universe, and all politicians are celibate or something? Bail Organa isn’t celibate… I’m suddenly uncomfortably suspicious that this only applies to women because George Lucas thinks this is 1935. Whatever. The fact that she was a queen and then a senator means that she can’t have a family. Just accept it.

Padmé Parents’ House:

Anakin has dinner with Padmé and her family.

So Padmé has a family who worries about her. And a sister who chose to have a family instead of a career because that’s a thing apparently. And Padmé has a bizarre fashion sense because, while her mother and sister are buttoned to the chin like good little Victorian matrons, Padmé is walking around bra-less showing more skin than a Spice Girl.

But if you were ever wondering about gender relations in the Prequel-verse are, then this is the sequence for you. First, Anakin, who had just finished contradicting Padmé in front of her boss, decides to contradict her in front of her parents after she tries to reassure them that she’s not in danger.

Um, dipshit? Maybe you should let the grown-ass experienced politician who you claim respect so much decide for herself what to share or not share with her family instead of undermining her at every turn so everyone knows how much the writer has internalized protective paternalism?

Then the menz (Anakin and Padmé’s dad) go outside to stroll and talk about the political situation some more while the ladies go to the kitchen, do the dishes, and have a conversation that definitely does not pass the Bechtel Test. Like, what is this, Real Housewives of New Jersey?

Padmé’s Bedroom:

Padmé and Anakin go to her bedroom in her house and they talk.

The two hot people go to a bedroom and they don’t have sex? What the fuck is that?

Anyway, we’re treated to more of Padmé’s penchant for monologuing endlessly about herself. There’s really not much to this scene, I’m afraid. You get the feeling Natalie Portman realizes how stupid this is and wants to get it over with.

Dooku Interrogates Padmé:

Count Dooku asks Naboo to join the Separatists in exchange for Padmé and Anakin’s lives.

This was in no way an interrogation, but that’s neither here nor there. The material point is that Padmé believes in the Republic and would never betray it. My question is, why? Like, this system failed her and her people miserably back in The Phantom Menace. For that matter, why should she, or I, be against the Separatists at all? Because they’re against the Republic and I’m supposed to be for it? Even though I’m never given any reason to think it’s anything but a fundamentally flawed mess?

But this is one of the few times where Padmé does things that make you think that maybe she’s a person of some gravitas and authority. She can formally request things.

Anakin and Padmé on trial:  

Padmé and Anakin are sentenced to die in the arena.

The Trade Federation dudes have a grudge against Padmé because of the events of The Phantom Menace. To the extent they want her to die a slow painful death. That makes sense. She’s an important public figure who’s worth assassinating.

What makes less sense: Padmé threatens the Geonosians with military repercussions if they execute her and two Jedi. Um, wasn’t she against the very idea of any kind of military response to the Separatists? Did she change her mind? When did that happen? What did this mind changing? Is this the first time they did anything that could be an “act of war”? Then why did the Senate want to make an army?

And why does everyone have random aristocratic titles? Like, where is Dooku’s county?


Revenge of the Sith:

The deleted scenes in Revenge of the Sith screw everyone over, not just Padmé. Well, everyone but Anakin, the script already did that. There is some scene of irrelevant fluff from the rescue in the beginning, and some stuff with the Jedi that is super repetitive and deserved to be axed.

And then, there’s everything Padmé said and did that didn’t directly relate to Anakin or her pregnancy. Sigh.

Even if it’s really poorly done and could have been entirely avoided if anyone involved had two brain cells to form even a rudimentary neural network, the transition into a dictatorship and the beginnings of the Rebellion are rather important. I’m not sure why cutting EVERYTHING to do with it was more justified than making the lightsaber duel a few minutes shorter. These scenes really aren’t that long.

These scenes also contain the only other woman in this movie with a non-trivial speaking role (Mon Mothma).

A Stirring in the Senate:

Padmé and some fellow Senators discuss some reservations they have about Palpatine’s growing power.

So, Palpatine has been Chancellor for, what, twelve years now? At least from the beginning of the war, when he was granted Emergency Powers, he’s been gathering more and more authority to himself, presumably at the expense of the Senate.

And only now, when his takeover is so complete that Mon Mothma can say that the Senate is already irrelevant “in practical terms” do these people think to maybe start questioning it in any way. Padmé certainly acts as though this is the first time any of these issues has occurred to her. But that must be because a man finally explained to her “how deep the corruption in the Senate has spread.”

What a political prodigy, you guys.

I guess Palpatine was using to Dark Side to control everyone’s thoughts and actions (a favourite excuse of apologists…) because Bail Organa’s primary concern is that everyone know that he’s not a Separatist, and that he’s not advocating actually doing anything at all. I think he’s trying to convince the other people to join him, but then it sounds sometimes like they’re trying to convince him of… something.

Oh, and Mon Mothma has read the script because she more or less says “we can’t tell anyone about this meeting. Not even secret husbands/baby-daddies.”

Seeds of Rebellion:

Padmé and the Senators talk more, she wants to include Anakin.

So the Senators get back together for a party in Padmé room and the talk has turned to how Palpatine has appointed military governors to run everything. But they haven’t really made any progress on the whole “talking not actually doing things” thing. Padmé wants to tell Anakin about everything, but she can’t because, um, they don’t want to trust the Jedi so they’re happy just getting nothing done.

I’m really not sure what the point of this scene is at all, to tell the truth. People say the same stuff they said in the previous scene. I do know that Natalie Portman is acting her face off. though. I actually believe that this is shit is serious and there’s urgency to this. But everyone is telling her to be patient and that they can totally talk their way out of this somehow.

And there’s this guy who looks like a Yogi but speaks with a crazy Crocodile Dundee-esque Australian accent. Maybe that’s his natural accent…I don’t know, it’s still funny.

Confronting the Chancellor:

Padmé questions Palpatine and he dodges.

So, there’s this thing called “the Delegation of the 2,000” who are a tad uneasy about this dictatorship thing. And Padmé is their representative. And she ask Palps if he plans on being a power hungry dictator for much longer. And he’s like, “Nah.” I think she accepts this? Or like, she does, but Natalie Portman thinks that’s stupid. I think that might be it.

Oh, and Palpatine is really snappy at poor Australian Yogi for asking a simple question. But don’t worry, you can totally trust him to do the right thing.  

In other news, he thinks the Senate’s idealism is as adorable as I do. And Anakin sucks at being a secret baby-daddy.


So there it is, all the Padmé things we never got to see. It’s pretty obvious how her own “development” as a character was sidelined and considered expendable. I mean, this is hardly subtle, in Attack of the Clones, all the scenes that were cut, even if they featured Anakin, were focused on Padmé and her character. The only real survivor is her thrilling conversation with Queen Jamilla, which featured Anakin undermining her in front of her boss.

In Revenge of the Sith this is even worse. Basically every scene that Padmé is in that isn’t about Anakin is gone. The effect is that she’s more or less a non-entity, she’s just an extension of Anakin. A source for his manpain, or worse, the thing that tempts him to be seduced by the Dark Side.

It’s very difficult not to cry “sexism” here, but perhaps I don’t need to. The real problem is the complete focus on Anakin, with action sequences being a close second. There was just no room for Padmé, because she’s not Anakin.

And it’s not as though including any or all of these scenes would have made a better three movies. Nothing makes sense any more with them included. Padmé isn’t any more well developed or nuanced. In fact, she may seem like even more of an idiot.

I suppose I’m disappointed. I really wanted there to be something more to Padmé, but there just isn’t. There is nothing here below the surface, nothing that can be built on to make a decent head canon. She’s not a character, and she doesn’t have a story.

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