Padme's Funeral Gif

Mystery Box #2: Padmé’s Funeral Song

Mystery Box is a newish series of posts wMystery Boxe decided to start a while ago. We got the name from a TED talk by J.J. Abrams about the mystery and fascination of the unknown in his films. The Star Wars films have so much depth and mystery to them that we thought it was fun to maybe dip into this ocean of the unknown every once in a while and pick out some fun little tidbits, whether this is a deleted scene like last time, a piece of music or something happening in the background that is actually really interesting. As hardcore Star Wars some of these things (like the deleted scenes) are nothing new, but to new fans this might be something you’ve never noticed before. Once again we have a Mystery Box post for you related to Padmé Amidala. We simply can’t help it that so much interesting stuff is related to this fascinating character! Today we’re looking at one of the saddest moments in her whole character story: her funeral. Despite it already being a heart-breaking scene the music only makes it sadder. Have a listen below and then join me as I discuss a couple of ideas.

Are all the tears wiped away? Good, let’s start. Those familiar with the whole Prequel trilogy might recognize that this is exactly the same theme as the one played in The Phantom Menace during Qui-Gon Jinn’s funeral. Now, one could think that they simply enjoyed the theme and considered it fitting for another funeral. However, as with everything in Star Wars, I believe there is a lot more behind it than that. When you think about it Qui-Gon and Padmé have quite a lot in common. Both are very head-strong, principled and both care a lot about Anakin Skywalker. They are leaders, don’t mind going in against their superiors and leave us too early. Significantly, both’s dying words are dedicated to Anakin and directed at Obi-Wan Kenobi. I think it is therefore no stretch to suggest that both represented an integral part of both the Jedi Council and the Republic which had to die in order for the Empire to rise.

The above is only one of the interesting aspects which the music brings out of this scene. Aside from bringing back the solemnity of Qui-Gon’s funeral, this is also the third time within the Prequel Trilogy that John Williams uses Sanskrit as his language choice. The first time is during the ‘Battle of Fates’ between Qui-Gon, Darth Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The second and third time are the double uses of the Funeral-theme. Each of these instances is a moment in which Light and Dark come together and cause destruction. Rather than choose pre-existing Sanskrit texts and adapting them to his own liking, Williams had an Celtic poem translated for the ‘Battle of Fates’ and chose lyrics from that. For the Funeral-theme he had the line ‘Death’s long sweet sleep’ loosely translated.

BoF gif
(Any excuse to post a gif from the Battle of Fates should be used)

Madhurah swehpna, go rahdomah swehpna,
(Oh sweet sleep, rest subduing fear)
Madhurah swehpna, go rahdomah swehpna,
(Oh sweet sleep, rest subduing fear)
Mooritioo, madhurah swehpna.
(Oh death, sweet sleep)

Above are the lyrics of the theme. They are, quite clearly, all about death, there is no mystery to that. However, despite being mournful there is also something very peaceful about them, as if this death is, in a way, also a balm. Especially in the case of Padmé it can be said that she has finally found peace and rest. From the moment she became Queen of Naboo she has been working ceaselessly, been in close to constant danger and had to always hide half of herself from the world. For her, death most likely is a sweet sleep in which fear no longer has a place. It’s also important to remember that Sanskrit is a sacred language for Hinduism. It is still used in India for religious rituals and ceremonies through chants etc. Words carry power and as a politician Padmé Amidala constantly used this power in aid of those who couldn’t speak for themselves. Her voice was her strongest weapon and it was a touching idea by John Williams to escort her final journey with a farewell that matches her in that strength.

What this post hopefully shows is just some of the care, attention and detail that has gone into Star Wars. Even something as potentially small as the soundtrack can have a major influence on how you view a scene and what you take away from it. In this case the music manages to link Padmé to one of the most interesting characters in all of Star Wars canon while also paying homage to her as one of the most outspoken and powerful characters in the whole saga.

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5 thoughts on “Mystery Box #2: Padmé’s Funeral Song

  1. I remember the feeling of having my breath taken away as I heard both themes in the theater. Choir had never been done like this in Star Wars before. Not even the chorus in Return of the Jedi (during the scene where Luke battles Vader) came this close.

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