At the end of “Attack of the Clones”, Obi-Wan, Padmé and Anakin are sentenced to death and tied to three large execution posts in the Geonosis arena. But to whom was reserved the fourth pillar?
The final battle of Attack of the Clones, the second episode of the Star Wars prelogy, is about to begin. The galaxy of george lucas is about to enter an all-out war between the Republic and the separatist movement led by Count Dooku. The tension is at its peak. But for now, it is their public execution, organized in the great arena of Geonosis, that Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padmé must face.
Chained to large pillars, they are indeed condemned to be devoured, pulverized or crushed (depending on the case) by three monstrous creatures. Obviously, the two Jedi and the senator of Naboo do not intend to let themselves be eliminated so easily, and their killing quickly turns into an epic confrontation.
However, at the heart of this mythical sequence, a question remains: given that the prisoners are only three, who could have reserved the fourth pillar of the arena, just to the left of Padmé?
Although it is obviously possible that this last pole was there for no specific reason, the sound engineer Ben Burtt, who discusses the scene in the film’s audio commentary, has another theory. Indeed, according to him, the fourth pillar could have been reserved for R4, the small astromech droid who had accompanied Obi-Wan during his investigation to Geonosis, and who had remained alone since the capture of the Jedi.
“At one point we had a scene where Obi-Wan leaves and the Geonosians come in and give R4 the robot a rough time.”says Ben Burtt. “They take him out of the ship, manhandle him, and cause him a lot of stress in Obi-Wan’s absence. It was funny but it didn’t sit well with the story.”
This deleted scene would have allowed fans to know the fate that had been reserved for the little droid, but also possibly to integrate the latter into the final battle, via the famous last post:
“The fourth pillar in the arena which is unoccupied would have been a great place to tie up R4 with the rest of our heroes to be tortured or devoured by the monsters”continues Ben Burtt. “It would have been very cruel to kill a robot. You can kill humans but not a robot. There would have been an outcry and we would have had the censors on our backs.”
Apart from the central pillars, the architectural structure of the Petranaki arena represented a real technical challenge for the film crews. Thus, the animation director Rob Coleman remembers that initially the bleachers were much more symmetrical and conventional than in the final result:
“The stands were very geometric, that is to say, they looked like our stadiums”he says. “When it came to building, George wanted a more organic arena, like these creatures made it out of their secretions, or like termites building a termite mound.”
“There were not two parallel bleachers”confirms the director of visual effects John Knoll. “It was a very organic sculptural form, so distributing the creatures throughout the stadium was very difficult.”
The result ? An unforgettable setting for a memorable action scene.
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