Topic: Star Wars / Richard III: A Co-Production
This semester, I've taken part in the insanely fun class Shakespeare in Film, which is basically an excuse for all of us lit majors to relax a little and watch some Shakespeare movies with our prof. Straight adaptations, derivatives, the works. For our final assignment, we had to pitch our own Shakespeare adaptation to the class. Pretty much anything was an option as long as it featured the Bard in some respect. So, as someone whose film opinions were largely begun by his discovery that the Star Wars prequels weren't that good, I decided to rewrite one of them.
The text below is basically just my notes for when I relayed the plot to the class. This isn't perfect—for the sake of the class I had to constrain it to Richard III's plot more than I would have liked (the Padme bit, specifically), and certain elements of it would be changed were I writing this pitch as a whole trilogy rather than one installment. Nevertheless, I had fun with it and thought I'd post it here.
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The setting: Coruscant, a planet covered entirely with city architecture that is a mix of the neo-medieval and the futuristic. Anakin Skywalker (Andrew Garfield) is a Jedi, our Richard III (he is not yet deformed, unlike his Shakespearean antecedent—this will only come in his battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi [Ewan McGregor]) He is working for Palpatine, the former Chancellor of the Republic who has used the opportunity of the Clone Wars to reform the government into the first Galactic Empire. What Anakin's Jedi colleagues don't know is that the Emperor is really an adept in the dark side of the Force, and has in secret converted Anakin to the Dark Lords of the Sith. Shortly after the film opens, the Emperor's shuttlecraft is apparently destroyed by remnants of the enemies from the Clone Wars, throwing the Empire's political situation into turmoil. Anakin sees an opportunity and begins plotting to seize control of the galaxy.
Lady Anne is Padme (Rooney Mara), a senator from Alderaan, whom Anakin wishes to wed in order to ensure that planet's political support. He ultimately wins her not through the dubious persuasion Richard displays in the original play but through the power of the Force. Obi-Wan is a conflated version of Clarence and Richmond; he appears to die after Anakin orders him killed by bounty hunters, but in fact survives and goes into hiding, preparing for the time when he will have to kill his former apprentice.
With Obi-Wan out of the picture, Alderaan's wealthy economy on his side, and the Emperor seemingly dead, Anakin seizes power. He begins a campaign against the Jedi, killing thousands of adults and children and imprisoning others within the skeletal beginnings of the Death Star (rather than the Tower of London). Anakin's friend Luke, a new character created specifically for the film, takes the place of Buckingham, initially serving to assist Anakin in his transition to the throne but growing increasingly dubious about this unholy alliance. He eventually defects, locating the exiled Obi-Wan and persuading him to lead a resistance against the new tyranny.
Anakin begins losing his grip on the situation, becoming increasingly paranoid due to dreams of his victims and worries about Obi-Wan returning to destroy him. These worries are vindicated when an army of the few remaining Jedi, led by Obi-Wan and Luke, moves on the strategically important planet of Mustafar. Anakin manages to capture and execute Luke, but Obi-Wan has begun his siege of the Empire's holdings on the lava planet and Anakin must lead the force that confronts him. During a heated bombing run against the Jedi forces, Anakin's starfighter is crippled (“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”), and he is forced to eject, injuring himself in the process. Anakin makes his way to Obi-Wan, who in a brutal lightsaber duel is able to overpower his weakened friend, remove several of his limbs, and cast him into a pit of lava. Despite the loss of their leader, the Empire rallies and the Jedi are forced into retreat.
Back on Coruscant, Obi-Wan comes to Padme and asks her to come away with him. She does so, revealing she is pregnant with Anakin's twins, and Obi-Wan resolves to hide these children from the Empire. We last see him using the Force to make contact with Yoda, who has long been a monk on the remote planet of Dagobah, and telling him that his teaching skills will someday be necessary once again. On Mustafar, we cut to the final moments of a horrifically painful surgical process. Anakin, who managed to use the Force to survive the lava despite terrible injuries, has been placed in the suit of Darth Vader, and out of the shadows walks Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine reveals that his death was faked and his absence from events was intentional, designed to lure Anakin into a position where he would be exposed and crippled so he could never pose a true threat to his master's rule. Vader rages, but can do nothing. In one last ironic cruelty, Palpatine stations his rechristened apprentice aboard the skeleton of the Death Star, the same place he imprisoned so many Jedi, to oversee construction.