A long, long time ago, I wrote about Ian Doescher’s delightful book The Empire Striketh Back–a re-imagining of the Star Wars film as though written by William Shakespeare.
Well, I recently learned that Doescher also wrote more of these books for the prequel trilogy. As my readers know, I like the prequel trilogy very much, but there’s no denying it has a weak script that undercuts its other strengths. This is especially true of Attack of the Clones.
Doescher’s treatment fixes these problems. Most notably, it fixes the character of Anakin Skywalker. In Doescher’s version, Skywalker seems like he actually cares about Padme Amidala. This really helps the romance between them. (I know, you would think this would be obvious, but apparently it wasn’t to Lucas.)
That’s not the only improvement–all of the dialogue is much better when done in the style of the Bard.
The irony is that Lucas has always defended his awkward script by calling it “stylized dialogue”. Well, Doescher’s dialogue is even more stylized; but what’s more is that it’s good. It trips off the tongue.
What Lucas should have done was give his story outline–which is very strong, with its political machinations, epic battles, and forbidden romance–to Doescher or someone like him, who could give it a fittingly poetic script to match. Then maybe put the exceptionally talented cast under the direction of a Shakespearean director (say, Sir Kenneth Branagh?) and they would have really had something. It would have been stunning.
The prequels are not bad–they just needed a better script.