This month’s Star Wars writing prompt on Anakin and His Angel is “There are several amazing supporting characters throughout the Star Wars galaxy, from the noble and sweet handmaiden Dorme’ to the crazy and mischievous Salacious Crumb. Which character from the films or cartoons do you particularly love the most?”
Every month that I do the prompts, I struggle with narrowing down my choices, and this month was no different. Does supporting mean anyone besides Luke, Leia, Han, Rey or the like? Does Obi-Wan count? I was very close to picking him, as he truly was a supporting character in the original trilogy, but later became a main one in Episodes I-III. Indeed, I hope he gets a spin off movie about his years in exile, but I digress…
As Star Wars is often male-centric, with female representation grossly neglected, I want to spotlight a woman. Who better than Shmi Skywalker, the matriarch of the Skywalker clan?
But what do we even know about Shmi? Even before Disney took over the Star Wars franchise , Anakin’s mother fell to the trope of the saintly mother’s death as fuel for the main character’s development. From Bambi to movies of today (especially Disney films) the mother MUST be killed, or dead already, to build sympathy and push the plot forward. We barely got to know Shmi, for everything that made her who she was happened offscreen. How exactly did she become pregnant with Anakin? What was her background before his birth? We never witnessed her marriage to Cliegg Lars and her being a step mother to Owen. Had she been able to be a loving mother to Owen, which in turn made him willing to take responsibility for baby Luke?
There were so many missed opportunities with Shmi. She is an enigma, forced into a martyr role, so as to represent Anakin’s descent towards the Dark Side. She made sacrifice after sacrifice for Anakin, and willingly sends him off to the Jedi Order. Although I am complaining about her small role, that scene of their goodbye tore at me, for I imagined how I would cope sending my child away forever. Her only reunion with him comes at a heavy cost, and she would be devastated to know what he did afterwards.
Although I have picked her as my favorite supporting character and I feel the actress Pernilla August did as much as she could with what little was given her, her small role symbolizes to me missed opportunities. Star Wars stands out for varied and complex characters, so it truly is a shame that Shmi couldn’t be given a richer role in the Star Wars universe.