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Melinda’s Brew: The ABCs of Star Wars

Melinda’s Brew: The ABCs of Star Wars

You know Leia and Lando and Greedo and Darth Maul, / Vader and Qui-Gon, the Fetts and Mon Mothma, / But do you know some of the lesser characters from the Star Wars Saga?

I can hear your groans. You thought the holidays were over, and the jingles and carols that swamped the sound waves from early November to late December were finally tucked away for 11 more months. Now, you’ll have the melody of the Johnny Marks classic swimming around your head all day. [You can thank me later. 😉 ] Imagine my dilemma — it has been a fixture in my head for days as I’ve attempted to “Star Wars-ize” the song for this post! 😉 I suspect the melody will not fade for days to come.

To say I love Star Wars is an understatement. I bet you could say the same about yourself. 😉 If you ask me why I have such a strong attachment to the George Lucas-created story, I’d say to you: “Please, pull up a chair, accept my offer of a cup of coffee [or whatever you’d prefer], enjoy these bite-size snacks — you might need sustenance for the coming passage of time — and I’ll tell you everything.” There is no simple answer. Not really. A myriad of reasons exist, and not intending to sound wishy-washy, my explanation probably would vary from one day to the next. Why? I have given some thought to this conundrum over the years, and the only reason I can offer is the Star Wars Saga is so multi-layered that it presents many, many reasons one is likely to be pulled toward it, even enveloped in it. That’s my reasoning in a nutshell.

All those layers — building sets and dressing them, adding nameless characters to scenes, choosing props that are both familiar and strange … this has been a mainstay of the six Star Wars films to date. They add elements to the stories — on a subconscious level — that enhance our understanding and enjoyment of the films. Once I have watched a new Star Wars movie for the fourth or fifth time, I start to examine what and who is in the background. I already am familiar enough with the action and story that is unfolding onscreen, what the featured characters are up to. Thus, I can divert my attention elsewhere. What I discover is fascinating!

Being a curious individual by nature, I always have been intrigued by the myriad of characters who have helped shape the Star Wars Saga. I’m not talking about Leia, Luke, Anakin/Darth Vader and the other key players — although I do find them interesting. No, I am referring to that face in the crowd, that unknown character who appears onscreen maybe only for a moment in time. Who is she? How does he figure into the story? What is her background? Why is he there?

In my second blog each month [posting on the 30th] throughout 2015, I will be taking a close look at some of these lesser known — many of them unknown — characters who are part of our beloved Saga, wrapping up my trek through the alphabet on December 30th*. I will choose at least one character from each letter to highlight. My only prerequisite for this endeavor is that the characters must have appeared in one of the films. In my research, the backgrounds of some of the characters is sketchy at best … which allows me to conjure up my own story about them. You will know when I present my own musings. [It’s fun to create backgrounds, traits for characters. 🙂 ] There is no place like the beginning to start, so let’s get the ball rolling with A and B.

A … By the time the events of “Revenge of the Sith” roll around, Naboo has a new queen, Apailana — one who is as young as Padmé was when she sat on the throne of her family’s home planet. Apailana is only 13 years old when she is elected ruler, succeeding Queen Jamillia. It won’t be long before this relatively new, young queen is thrust into uncertain — and even scary — times. Will she rise to the occasion? How will she lead her people?

So sad Apailana is when we meet her. Who could blame her, of course. She isn’t merely putting in a diplomatic appearance at Padmé’s funeral. Apailana may be young, but she is well aware of what Naboo has lost, what the galaxy has lost with Padmé’s passing. Her grief is genuine. Furthermore, walking in the wake of the Nabierre family, Apailana does not believe for one moment the “official” spin airing on the Holonet airwaves surrounding the Senator’s death. The Jedi are to blame, the Empire is proclaiming. While Apailana doesn’t know who is responsible, she knows it is not the Jedi. Just as Apailana wears the royal mask, she will find herself wearing a mask, figuratively speaking, to hide her true feelings about the Emperor and what is occurring across the galaxy. As queen of Naboo, Apailana worked closely with Padmé, and must have been well aware of Padmé’s involvement with those senators who had growing concerns about the direction in which Chancellor Palpatine was taking the galaxy. Apailana carries the torch for Naboo — pretending to go along with the Emperor and his New Order. Knowing that citizens are required to reveal any knowledge they have about the Jedi, as well as being aware that anyone providing safe haven for the Jedi will be summarily dealt with, Apailana defies the official order. She makes it possible for a number of Jedi to seek refuge on Naboo. Sadly, her duplicity is found out. The 501st Legion is dispatched to Naboo, and Apailana is executed. A more loyal monarch to Palpatine is seated on the throne.

I imagine Apailana possessing a large, warm heart, that she is driven to do what is right and just, despite the odds, despite threats from those running the galactic government far, far away. She has a kind spirit — that is evident even on her sad facial features during Padmé’s funeral procession. She was devoted to the people — and all the inhabitants — of Naboo. There are some things worth fighting — and dying — for, and even at a young age, Apailana knew this well.

B … It didn’t take me long to decide who I wanted to feature for the Bs. That honor falls to Ebenn Q3 Baobab, one of Naboo’s leading citizens. Attired in dress befitting his station, he has been an author, traveler, humorist, adventurer, historian and philologist. [Ironically, I had to look up that word. I’ll save you the trouble. A philologist is one who studies literature and language as it is used in literature.] Q3, as he is affectionately called, is purported to own the largest private collection of Hutt folk art. [I wonder what that consists of!] Q3 is a member of Padmé’s delegation meeting the galaxy’s new Chancellor, Palpatine, when he returns to his home world of Naboo at the end of “The Phantom Menace”. We get our first [partial] glimpse of Baobab when Padmé proclaims to Nute Gunray: “Now, Viceroy…” Baobab is on the far right of the screen [part of his body is offscreen], just behind the queen. Moments later, after laying a comforting hand on a very young Anakin’s shoulder, Palpatine approaches Padmé, and we can see Ebenn Baobab standing behind her right shoulder [to our left]. Ebenn Q3 Baobab was played by none other than Star Wars’ sound designer, Ben Burtt! By the way, have you read Ebenn Baobab’s [ahem… Ben Burtt’s 😉 ] “Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide”? It is filled with all kinds of useful information. You can learn to count in Huttese, decipher many of those Wookiee growls, and how to deal with Ewoks. The resource guide will come in handy on your intergalactic travels. 🙂

I imagine Ebenn Q3 Baobab as the quintessential adventurer — an individual with a keen, inquisitive mind who has an appreciation for beings from all walks of life and garners a thirst for knowledge. He is happy to share that which he has learned during his travels with the leader[s] of his home world, and that is why he is a trusted advisor to the Queen.

[The reason it was easy for me to decide who to choose to represent the Bs is because I am enthralled with cinema sound, and Ben Burtt is a master at the craft. Imagine my delight, my glee when I got to meet him at one of the Star Wars Celebrations! 🙂 I was walking on air all that Sunday long after chatting with him at his autograph table.]

A snippet in time on the screen. That’s all it takes for me to be intrigued about an unassuming character in the Star Wars Galaxy. Who is that individual? Maybe we can make some guesses, some suppositions based on dress, with whom a character appears, but that barely scratches the surface. If you’re interested in who all the “A” and “B” characters appearing throughout the six Star Wars films are, please see my list in the comment boxes below. I continue my march through the alphabet on March 30 [only 28 days in February!] with the Cs and Ds. As always, I invite you to leave a comment or contact me at melindaw@coffeewithkenobi.com. I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

[*The 2008, three-volume “The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia” and IMDb.com, as well as my countless viewings of all six films aided in my research.]

Three hundred twenty-two days and counting…

Until next time, MTFBWY 🙂

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7 Comments

  1. Melinda Wolf
    January 30, 2015 at 16:59 Reply

    The A Characters:
    The Phantom Menace — Queen Padmé Amidala; Mas Amenda; Amee
    Attack of the Clones — Senator Padmé Amidala; Mas Amedda; Senator Ask Aak; Passel Argente; Mari Amithest; Adnama
    Revenge of the Sith — Padmé Amidala; Mas Amedda; Captain Raymus Antilles; Nee Alavar; Queen Apailana of Naboo; Stass Allie; Cellheim Anujo; Senator Ask Aak; Magistrate Passel Argente; Senator Nee Alavar
    A New Hope — Wedge Antilles
    The Empire Strikes Back — Cal Alder
    Return of the Jedi — Admiral Ackbar; Amanaman; Sim Aloo

    Star Wars Holiday Special — Ackmena [I couldn’t resist adding this one character in the list. Bea Arthur graced television screens for so many years, and her desire to play Ackmena speaks volumes regarding the space fantasy. 🙂 ]

    1. Melinda
      March 22, 2015 at 12:20 Reply

      Oops! I forgot to list Wedge Antilles in “Return of the Jedi”. 😉

  2. Melinda Wolf
    January 30, 2015 at 17:05 Reply

    The B Characters:
    The Phantom Menace — Sio Bibble; Jar Jar Binks; Beed; Kitster Chanchani Banai; Depa Billaba; Ebenn Q3 Baobab
    Attack of the Clones — Jar Jar Binks; Sio Bibble; Hermione Bagwa; J.K. Burtola; Depa Billaba; Kell Borean; Lillea Bringbit
    Revenge of the Sith — Clone Commander Bly; Sio Bibble; Jar Jar Binks; Bene; Senator Bana Breemu
    A New Hope — Ponda Baba; Chall Bekan; Bo Shek
    The Empire Strikes Back — Bossk
    Return of the Jedi — Barada; Lt. Blount; Doda Bodonawieedo; Bossk; Nizuc Bek; Beedo; Boushh

  3. Pam Bruchwalski
    February 2, 2015 at 17:58 Reply

    This is a really cool idea, Melinda! I have that 3 volume encyclopedia set, too, and I haven’t looked at it in ages. I’ll have to pull it out.

    I guess I never really gave Apailana much thought. I know the actress is that one from that movie (!), but I think I’m always so focused on Padme’s death at that point that I forget that this is not the same queen who followed Padme. Who would really know the difference without thinking about it? I mean, “WE” would, but most people wouldn’t give it a second thought. Interesting.

    I’ll be honest and say that I don’t remember the B character and have no real opinion about him!

    Can’t wait to see who’s next!

    1. Melinda
      February 7, 2015 at 09:33 Reply

      “The Whale Rider” 😉

      There are so many characters I could have chosen to highlight, but then my (somewhat 😉 ) lengthy blogs would get to be tomes. lol Seriously, I always have been intrigued by the characters in the background. I like to imagine who they are, what they’re doing there, etc. I suppose it’s an extension of when I’m sitting in the park or at the beach (not right now, of course. It’s much too cold! 😉 ) or killing time while I’m waiting for my car to be serviced … to pass the time, I like to choose an individual, and think about who that person is, what her life is like … given the few clues I might have (dress, accessories, with whom s/he is out and about, etc.). It helps with character development. 🙂

      My family LOVES to watch movies. While I know it might be germane to a story for a character to be going down a deserted street in a city that usually is teeming with life, it always bothers me that, for instance, a street or area is deserted — when I KNOW it shouldn’t be. It costs money, too, to have extras walking around, to be part of one scene or another. I get it. It just bothers me, and I appreciate it when directors go to the trouble and expense to “bring life” to a scene. 🙂

  4. Becca Benjamin
    February 6, 2015 at 12:43 Reply

    I want more and I know I shouldn’t 😉
    Sorry, couldn’t resist that. This was awesomely intriguing and like Pam, I really never gave Queen Apailana much thought either. Now, I must admit, I’m quite curious to know more 🙂

    1. Melinda
      February 7, 2015 at 09:39 Reply

      Lol 😉 Becca, you slay me. 😉 (with laughter 🙂 )

      It’s all in the details — that’s how I look at it — that make Star Wars so rich! 🙂 I rarely give too much thought about those background characters during the first two or three viewings of one of the films — too engrossed am I in the story unraveling on the screen. Thank goodness for the Star Wars Encyclopedia! 🙂 True, sometimes the background/description is a bit sketchy, but that’s when we can use our own imaginations. 🙂

      Do you still write your fan fiction? 🙂

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