On the left a mysterious figure who has entered the stage from nowhere. The quiet man, the still warrior, the high plains drifter who trusts completely in a higher power. He is calm, independent and self-contained. His companions have placed their hope in him for safe passage off this desert planet. This Jedi Knight, Qui-Gon Jinn will represent the future for the boy in the picture.
On the right the mother Shmi, that has sheltered her young son from a harsh life. A slave just like her son, she provides and cares for him with love. Knowledge that her son will eventually outgrow the life they share has shown in her face since the arrival of the stranger. She crosses her arms in a defensive posture against this outcome and yet she knows that she must let her son go when the time comes. She has always feared this day; has always known that her immaculate conception, unexplainable and miraculous would give rise to someone special. This boy who has always had a mastery over his environment seems to be able to bend events to his will. The mother will come to symbolise the boy’s past.
Situated between the two on our screen is the boy himself, Anakin Skywalker. Unknown to the galaxy, and yet to make his seismic impression on its history. This boy is pure of spirit and kind of heart. He has went out of his way to assist the Jedi Knight and his companions the strange Gungan and the Queen’s purported handmaiden. At this point one could not have anticipated how his future would unfold.
This scene occurs as the boy leaves his mother, or rather is extracted from her, a departure that is heart-breaking. “I’ll come back to free you mom, I promise”, the boy vows. A promise that in a sense he will keep, but not in the circumstances envisaged.
In removing the young boy from his environment he will grow fearful, removed from his small family unit of two. Fear for his mother, later admitted to Yoda. If fear leads to anger, and anger to hate, and hate to suffering then the origins of that initial fear lie with the boy’s extraction from his mother’s home. In more ways than one the result of a gamble undertaken by Qui-Gon, but whether it resulted in a win or loss remains debatable even now.
Later, many years from now Anakin will be tortured by nightmare visions of his mother, sensing her pain through the Force. He struggles with this but is told of the risks of attachment. The Jedi mantra of the future in motion will be contemplated and wrestled with in the context of these horrific visions. Finally when the anguish of having not kept his childlike promise to his mother becomes too unbearable for words, he returns to the desert planet to unearth the cause of his visions.
On Tatooine once more, he is finally reunited with his mother, but it is too late. He failed to act on the visions. All told him to be mindful of his feelings, to refuse to give into fear, to abandon attachments. That advice is small comfort as Shmi dies in his arms. A reunion of sorts with his mother, but not the reunion he had envisaged as a child when he had promised her he would come back for her.
Important therefore to remember the boy that was. Also to acknowledge the boy that might have been. Take note as he passes from his past to his future and takes his first steps into a wider world.
Watch the scene here.
Editor’s Note: All images subject to copyright and can be removed upon request.