Star Wars has some of the most iconic lines of dialogue in movie history. From the first “Use the Force, Luke” to the latest “Chewie, we’re home,” we will be reciting these lines long after movie theaters are replaced by VR implants. But, there’s still a sad truth we must face: Does anyone remember a damn thing Qui-Gon Jinn said?
The official Star Wars website has a lot of fun quizzes, and I take them from time to time when I’m supposed to be working. The latest is a quote quiz testing your knowledge of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. Now, I consider myself a relative Star Wars fan. I’ve seen all of the movies at least a couple of times. I’m reading Aftermath. I’m even wearing a Stormtrooper shirt as I’m working right now. Here’s the thing: I didn’t get a single quote right.
As much as we (by which I mean non-TPM defenders) make fun of The Phantom Menace for its writing, acting, directing, and pretty much any other “-ing” in modern filmmaking, we often ignore just how much we’ve forgotten the dialogue. Because, in spite of how much talking happens in the movie, none of it is particularly memorable. The best one I’d say is when Yoda tells Anakin what fear and anger lead to, but most of us get that wrong. It’s “suffering,” not “the dark side.”
Star Wars is a gorgeous tapestry of one-liners and snappy comebacks, but The Phantom Menace has really struggled to stay relevant. And when you compare it to The Force Awakens, with some of the best dialogue we’ve seen on Star Wars in years, it really pales.
Now, do movies have to rely on catch phrases in order to succeed? Absolutely not. I couldn’t tell you a single line from Arrival (except “Human,” but I had a visual aid) and yet I thought that movie was fantastic. But that’s not what Star Wars is. It’s a space opera that we remember for both its larger story and its individual moments. Within the legacy of Star Wars, you need to have something more substantial than Anakin asking some girl “Are you an angel?”
God, how terrible was that line? Padme let that kid put babies in her. After an opening line that like I’d be running to Obi-Wan.
I would argue that Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith did slightly improve on the one-liners, like “You were my brother, Anakin, I loved you!” And I’m sure there are select people who could ace that The Phantom Menace quiz (and I’m sure they’re already prepping their comments). But for me, the quiz just shows how much we’ve forgotten that movie, and how much hope rests on Rogue One. But, as was pointed out in the trailer, “Rebellions are built on hope.”
Damn, that’s a good line.