Flickering Myth’s writing team are counting down to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by discussing their most memorable Star Wars moments. Next up is Ricky Church with the Umbara Arc from The Clone Wars…
Though the Star Wars Prequels are not good films by any means, they did at least have some good elements come out of them. One of those elements is Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a computer-animated series focusing on the infamous Clone Wars we saw so little of in the Prequel Trilogy. The Clone Wars helped expand on this conflict in many excellent ways, from filling in Palpatine’s ultimate plot to showcasing the narrow-mindedness of the Jedi as they willingly marched towards their doom.
One of the most outstanding aspects of the series, however, was its focus on the Clone Troopers. Over the course of the series many of the clones stood out as individuals rather than members of a collective and no Clone Wars arc shows that better than Season 4’s Umbara arc, a four episode story that sees many of the clones we’ve come to know come into conflict with General Krell, a no nonsense and by the book Jedi who’s more interested in victory than his soldiers. In an all out assault on a planet the clones not only have to fight for survival, but weigh the consequences of following orders against doing the right thing.
One of the successes of this arc was individualizing so many of the clones, giving each one their own personality, voice and opinion. Many clones had been introduced throughout the series, but very few of them were recurring characters and it was rarer still to have a story arc revolved around the clones let alone an entire episode. The clones felt like real characters, largely thanks to the overall theme of the arc as General Krell viewed them more as expendable lab rats than actual people. Unlike Obi-Wan, Anakin or any other Jedi on the show, Krell refers to the majority of the clones by their service numbers rather than their names, fully dehumanizing them. This becomes a huge point of contention for Captain Rex, Clone Wars’ main clone.
Dee Bradley Baker deserves so much credit for this arc in particular for how well he individualizes the clones. As one guy voicing so many clones, it’d be easy to make them literally sound the same, but Baker puts just enough inflection in each clone to make them sound different, further individualizing them. The best scene that shows this is when many of the clones debate over Krell’s tactics with many for and against Krell’s strategy. Its a good scene that not only illustrates their individuality, but has excellent points on both sides of the argument, making viewers think about which side is really the right one.
Aside from some great character building moments, the Umbara arc is filled with exciting action sequences. Many of the action scenes have a Band of Brothers type feel to it, showing some brutal imagery as clones are shot, crushed, blown up or stabbed. This arc is arguably the darkest The Clone Wars got when depicting gigantic battles. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Walter Murch, Apocalypse Now’s editor, directed the episode ‘The General’, the most action-packed episode of the arc (which also includes the aforementioned debate scene). The Umbara arc is an outstanding piece of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and a great example of some of the good to come out of the Prequel era.
What’s your most memorable Star Wars moment? Let us know in the comments below…
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