Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Adoption Movie Guide: Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones

The second in a series of six about something that happened A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Away with the last episode posting, appropriately enough, on May the Fourth…

 In the previous film, nine-year-old Anakin left his mother (albeit with some trepidation) to become a Jedi. But how will he cope when voluntary separation turns into involuntary loss?

Anakin has grown into a teenager. He is gifted, and the Jedi are impressed with his skills but still fearful of his high level of fear. He is assigned to protect Padme; she is a young Senator, and attempts have been made on her life. This is fine by Anakin; he’s had a crush on Padme since he was nine, and he gets her to fall in love with him as he is guarding her. But Anakin gets a premonition that his mother is in danger. He has not seen her in the ten years since he left home. 
Following his premonition, Anakin and Padme defy the orders given to Anakin and return to his home world to protect his mother. He finds that she has been kidnapped. Anakin finds her, but she dies in his arms. Enraged, he kills every person living in the village where she was being held.  He confesses this to Padme, and she comforts him. They eventually marry. Meanwhile, a politician from Padme’s home world has deceitfully risen through the ranks of government to become a de-facto ruler of the galaxy. He has his sights set on Anakin.

How is This Relevant to Adoption? 
Anakin was separated from his mother voluntarily, but now he loses her against his will. She dies, and he believes that this loss is due to his absence.  Anakin expresses his belief that he fails his mother, and he develops a strong fear of any future loss. This fear of loss might have already been present, but it is heightened to the point where Anakin will do anything to prevent people he loves from dying – even killing many.

Strong Points
Early in the film Anakin confides in Padme that anxious dreams about his mother keep him from sleeping. Children who have been separated from their first family may often wonder and worry about the family members that they no longer see.  This is a very honest scene, and can open the door into discussions about kids’ anxieties.

Anakin is whiny, and a pessimist. Before his mother dies, he whines to a friend about girl problems. This isn’t unrealistic given Anakin’s age, but it does make it somewhat difficult to sympathize with him. Obi-Wan reminds him, “you’re focusing on the negative, Anakin. Be mindful of your thoughts.”

Anakin and Padme discuss Jedi beliefs. Padme believes that Jedis are not allowed to fall in love. Anakin wants to be with Padme, so he rationalizes, saying that attachment and possession are forbidden, but that compassion is central to a Jedi’s life. Since Anakin defines compassion as “unconditional love,” he suggests that it would be alright for him to be with Padme. This scene has the potential to be problematic in several ways. First, Anakin is thinking in absolutes (which another Jedi suggests leads to evil.) Second, Anakin is already showing a fear of attachment (although this isn’t unrealistic.) Third, Anakin is very obviously rationalizing, even though he doesn’t realize it. Finally, Anakin and Padme agree to a secret relationship, hidden from those close to them. Even their marriage is only witnessed by robots. Although Anakin is a 19-year-old in this film, he is in many ways younger than that. This is a great scene to analyze, but it could be confusing to kids if it’s seen without comment.
 When Anakin’s mother dies, Anakin makes a tearful confession, “I wasn’t strong enough to save you, Mom, I wasn’t strong enough. But I promise, I won’t fail again. I miss you so much.” His grief is understandable. His self-blame is not uncommon in children, but it’s not deserved. This scene has the potential to help teenage viewers see that blame is not always due to those who feel it.
Weak Points

Like many children separated from their first parents, Anakin worries about his missing family members and imagines them in danger. He does investigate his premonitions about his mother, and finds that she has, in fact, been kidnapped and mistreated. This could be troubling to some viewers as it may seem to offer proof of the validity of their worries. After all, Anakin only “sensed” that his mother was in trouble.

Some troubling scenes: Anakin’s mother dies in his arms. Anakin and his friends are in danger of execution. Anakin’s arm is amputated. Later, another character is decapitated in front of his son.


Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is geared towards teens and pre-teens, and would be best viewed by kids ages 11 and up. The conversations to which this film lends itself are relevant to this age group as well. Parents should be familiar with the traumatic scenes in the film (mostly sci-fi battle violence, non-bloody) to ensure that their children will not be triggered by them.

Questions for Discussion after the movie

Anakin said that a Jedi cannot have any attachments. Do you believe him? (The Jedi do seem to care about each other…)

Why might some people want to live without attachment? (It helps them feel like they’ll avoid pain of loss)

Why is it good to have friends? Who was Anakin attached to (Obi-Wan, Jar Jar Binks, Padme, his mother)

When did Anakin seem the most positive to you? The most negative?

Anakin blames himself for his mother dying. What do you think (You might suggest that The Tuskan Raiders have responsibility for kidnapping her.)

In the last movie, Yoda said, “fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Do you see this in Anakin? In anybody else?

What was your favorite part of the movie?

Like this post? Make sure to check out the Adoption Movie Guide of Star Wars Episode I. You also might want to follow Adoption at the Movies on Twitter and Facebook

Other Posts You Might Like

Adoption Movie Guide: Superman The Movie
Adoption Movie Guide: Batman Begins


  1. For someone who has not watched the Star Wars series and who parents a young Jedi-wannabe, this series is so helpful!

    1. Thanks, Lori! I'll be watching the last 2 movies this weekend. May The Force be with you and your young padawans. :)


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