The Jedi librarian

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!

Reel Librarians:  Star Wars Library Scene

The Jedi archives library is still quite recognizable as a library, with its rows of bookcases and library tables. The cool blue tones of the set foreshadow a certain coolness, or aloofness, that we will see reflected in the Jedi librarian’s manner, as well.

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.

Reel Librarians:  Star Wars Library Scene

Madame Jocasta Nu, Jedi librarian

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.

Reel Librarians:  Star Wars Library Scene

This futuristic version of a library still retains a traditional air, including a backdrop of sculptures and columns. Also, that computer library desk/table wouldn’t look out of place in a modern library.

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.

Reel Librarians:  Star Wars Library Scene

The chilly look on the Jedi librarian’s face when Obi-Wan suggests that the archives are incomplete.

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.)

Reel Librarians:  Star Wars library scene

Obi-Wan contemplates his options after talking with the Jedi librarian.

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!

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24 comments on “The Jedi librarian

  1. We need to get you that action figure! 🙂

  2. […] March 2013:  The Jedi librarian […]

  3. […] In honor of the new Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, premiering this week — my husband is sooooooooo excited! — I am shining the spotlight on a Star Wars-related post from the Reel Librarians archives. […]

  4. Hi Jen. I came across this article while searching something that struck me as interesting watching the scene in Episode II which this blog focuses on. I haven’t watched this in awhile and on this viewing I realized that even more than a library, this has overtones of a church IMO. Very Vatican Library-esque. Also, the glowing “books” remind me a lot of stained glass, especially in the tighter shots. It’s not surprising, since the Jedi are what I would call a non-theistic religion, with generations of tradition and complacency as you stated. This was all punctuated with her stating “…it must not exist”. To me this scene was a nod to the stagnant and myopic view of some major religions in the face of science and progress. (She even had an altar boy!) In the next scene with Obi-Wan, Yoda and the Padawan learners they solve the problem with some quick astrophysics. Anyway, this is a ramble and I’m sure it’s been thought of and discussed before. I just wanted to say that I know any librarian worth their salt wouldn’t have given such a curt and unhelpful response!

    Dewey need librarians? Decimally! (Worst library pun ever? Be honest.)

    j

  5. Crystal says:

    My headcanon is that she knew exactly where it was, but it was restricted by order of Sifo-Dyas.

  6. […] are devoid of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt’s estimation. As for the […]

  7. […] of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt’s estimation. As […]

  8. […] are devoid of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt’s estimation. As for the […]

  9. […] are devoid of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt’s estimation. As for the […]

  10. […] are devoid of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt's estimation. As for the […]

  11. […] are devoid of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt’s estimation. As for the […]

  12. […] are devoid of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt’s estimation. As for the […]

  13. […] are devoid of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt’s estimation. As for the […]

  14. […] abandoned of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts yet allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is finish garbage,” in Britt’s estimation. As for a Empire, […]

  15. […] are devoid of context. The Jedi library contains volumes of star charts but allows no room for questioning their accuracy. “The library is complete garbage,” in Britt’s […]

  16. […] May 4th, to a series of pingbacks and increased traffic to my Reel Librarians blog post about the Jedi librarian, Jocasta Nu, and her epic fail of a reference interview in Star Wars, Episode II:  Attack of the Clones […]

  17. Sarah says:

    Amazed to find someone who took seriously the scene I’m looking for. I’m not exactly a librarian, but currently working on a project for National Archives of Korea, and will have to do a presentation next week. The library scene from Star Wars struck me while outlining my presentation. Hmm, I thought mentioning this scene could wake up audience. (you know, we easily get sleepy.) But I only remembered that scene appeared sometime when Obi-wan or Anikan were looking for clone factory. I googled and found your post. Yes, this capture is what I wanted! Thanks for the dialogue as well. I may also mention your post. Hope that’s ok.

    • Thank you so much, Sarah, for commenting (and I’m sorry it took me so long to respond!), and yes, it was totally fine if you mentioned my post. How did the presentation go?

      And I loved your first line of the comment, that you were “amazed to find someone who took [that archives scene] seriously” — that comment is one I get in many variations about this whole site! 😀

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