A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I watched the fan edit of the Star War prequel trilogy, entitled Star Wars: Rise of the Empire, which was compiled back in 2007. Out of the 7+ hours of the original prequels (Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999; Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002; Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005), this techie fan managed to whittle the story down to a still-healthy-yet-manageable 4 hours. It seemed like a majority of the second prequel, Attack of the Clones, stayed on the cutting-room floor (no more painful love scenes out on the lake by Naboo, thank goodness!), but guess which scene made the cut in its entirety?
That’s right, the library scene!
Early on in Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan (Ewan MacGregor) visits the Jedi Archives to research a mysterious planet called Kamino. During his talk with the archivist librarian (Alethea McGrath as Madame Jocasta Nu, seen below), Obi-Wan discovers that the planet has been removed from the navigation maps of the Jedi archives.
Here’s how their interaction plays out:
Jocasta Nu: Did you call for assistance?
Obi-Wan: Yes, yes, I did.
Jocasta Nu: Are you having a problem, Master Kenobi?
Obi-Wan: Yes, I’m looking for a planetary system called Kamino.
Jocasta Nu: Kamino.
Obi-Wan: It doesn’t show up on the archive charts.
Jocasta Nu: Kamino. It’s not a system I’m familiar with. Are you sure you have the right coordinates?
Obi-Wan: According to my information, it should appear in this quadrant here, just south of the Rishi Maze.
So far, so good. But when the computer screen pulls up a blank on that quadrant, the Jedi librarian fails to look further:
Jocasta Nu [shaking her head]: I hate to say it, but it looks like the system you’re searching for doesn’t exist.
Obi-Wan: Impossible. Perhaps the archives are incomplete.
Jocasta Nu: If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.
This is not at all a flattering scene for real librarians or archivists; that look on Jocasta Nu’s face during her last line is a real groaner, as seen below.
And Obi-Wan is not convinced of Jocasta Nu’s declaration. He takes his discovery to Yoda, and they reason that this erasing of archival data could have only been done by a Jedi, suggesting a dangerous conspiracy.
This library scene is a classic cinematic example of a failed reference interview, to be sure. (I’ve even used it as training example of what NOT to do on the reference desk!) Where are the follow-up questions? A keyword search for “Kamino” in other archival collections? A search to see when/if the planetary archives log has been tampered with? A helpful referral for another archivist or department to look into the matter? Nope, none of those things that would (hopefully) happen in the real world. (SIGH.)
Nevertheless, this library archives scene is still quite an important one, and Jocasta Nu still remains a key Information Provider (even if she is a provider of misinformation in this case). It’s a pivotal scene that propels the plot forward, revealing the depth of the conspiracy. Even Jocasta Nu’s prim refusal to believe in the infallibility of the archives adds proof to the difficult task ahead of Obi-Wan and the Jedi, who are fighting generations of tradition and complacency — the very things that the Emperor is manipulating to ensure his plan’s success.
All of this helps explains why this Class III library scene — all one minute of it! — survived the fan edit.
Also, in my research, it turns out that Jocasta Nu makes a reappearance in the 2005 video game version of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. And she has earned her own action figure!
- “The Moral Landscape of the STAR WARS Saga” – The Jedi Order I (rosiepowell2000.typepad.com)
- Any other actors aren’t the ones you’re looking for: Ewan McGregor would rather he was re-cast as Obi-Wan Kenobi (mirror.co.uk)
- There’s no debate necessary – here’s the person who should make the next Star Wars cartoon (io9.com)
- Star Wars Episode VII: “There’s something amazing here…” (eatpraymedia.com)