One of the most derided parts of the Star Wars saga, other than the question of who shot first, is the romance plotline from Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Complaints range from poorly written and acted to a lack of chemistry between the two leads.
I love the Star Wars films, but they are far from perfect. There are plenty of scenes that I have problems with, but for the most part I have never had any problems with the love story in Episode II. If anything I think we need more of the story between Anakin and Padme.
Let’s look at the basic facts here. Neither of them has had what we would call a normal childhood. Padme has been in government and public service since her pre-teen years. Anakin was raised in slavery and servitude, bought and sold, knowing only poverty and hardship. Then whisked away from his mother to be raised by monks who avoid all relationships and attachments, especially romantic involvements. It gets even more complicated when you add in teenage hormones and the normal awkwardness of late teens and early twenties adolescence. They are both entering this relationship with enough emotional baggage for a whole team of therapists.
Every fiber of Anakin and Padme’s being is telling them that this is a mistake. They both know it’s wrong and could ruin any future either of them have planned. This is something that they both want, but know they must not do.
I don’t believe George Lucas was trying to write the immortal, classic love story. At best, Anakin and Padme are doomed star crossed lovers, at worst they are a couple who drunkenly got married in a Vegas drive thru chapel. This is by no means a healthy relationship.
Anakin has been obsessed with Padme since he looked like Jake Lloyd, and it doesn’t take him long to start putting the moves on her. Even after she has shot down his advances multiple times. Meanwhile, Padme is sending a variety of mixed.
It’s because of these reasons and more that we end up with a very awkward, emo, on again, off again courtship.
We can’t talk about Anakin and Padme without at least some comparison to Han and Leia’s romance. But, that is not a fair comparison. Han and Leia spent more time together from the events of A New Hope through to the time they professed their love in The Empire Strikes Back. Han doesn’t carry a fraction of the baggage that Anakin has. Leia and Padme do come from similar backgrounds, but Leia is far more of a realist to Padme’s idealism. Leia has seen the dreams crushed, Padme was still chasing hers.
While Anakin and Padme were star crossed lovers destined for darkness, Han and Leia were two friends who grew to be more. They were the rebirth of light and love in the galaxy. Anakin and Padme were trapped in the decline of the galaxy and darkness. They existed in a world of gray.
You can’t judge Anakin and Padme’s romance by our normal standards. Star Wars is a fairy tale, this is less of the Notebook and more Storybook.
Only in a fairy tale do we get a love story with such ill equipped people that doesn’t end with hours of therapy and divorce lawyers.