Shmi Skywalker Lars stood on the edge of the sand berm marking the perimeter of the moisture farm, one leg up higher, to the very to of the ridge, knee bent. With one hand on that knee for support, the middle-aged woman, her dark hair slightly graying, her face worn and tired, stared up at the many bright dots of starlight on this crisp Tatooine night. No sharp edges broke the landscape about her, just the smooth and rounded forms of the windblown sand dunes on this planet of seemingly endless sands. Somewhere out in the distance, a creature groaned, a plaintive sound that resonated deeply within Shmi this night.
This special night.
Her son Anakin, her dearest little Annie, turned twenty that night, a birthday Shmi observed each year, though she hadn’t seen her beloved child in a decade.
You’d think the mother of the Chosen One would have more of a role within the Star Wars franchise. While Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August) shined brightly in her supporting role in 1999’s The Phantom Menace, the character was quickly dispatched in the Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Her only appearance in the film occurred near the movie’s third act, in which Anakin learns that his mother has been taken hostage and likely killed by the Tusken Raiders on Tatooine. He arrives at the Tuskan’s camp to find his mother bloodied, battered, and near death. Their tragic reunion ends when Shmi, who finally gets to see her son one last time, dies in his arms, leading Anakin to slaughter every Tusken in the camp. It was a pivotal moment that ushered Anakin closer to the Dark Side, and it was heartbreaking for Shmi, who’s quietly and steadfastly worked for the best interests of her family her entire life.
Despite its flaws, Attack of the Clones is one of my favorite Star Wars films, but I actually read the film’s novelization before I saw the movie. The book, written by R.A. Salvatore, provides several in-depth explorations of characters and stories that ultimately got cut from the film. One character who has several scenes in the novel is Anakin’s mother. Since the events of The Phantom Menace, Shmi was freed from slavery by Cliegg Lars, a moisture farmer who falls deeply in love with her. Shmi becomes a surrogate mother to Cliegg’s son Owen, loving him just as she loved Anakin. While Shmi nurtures and cares for him, Owen treats her without jealousy or judgment and understands the hole in Shmi’s heart following her decision to allow Anakin to leave Tatooine with the Jedi.
The Lars family bond is one of the most heartwarming aspects of the novel and one that I felt the movie could’ve benefitted from. Their family dinners, the food fight between Shmi, Beru, Owen, and Cliegg, their light teasing of C3PO, and their growing concern over the Tusken Raiders’ impeding threat adds so much depth to the story and to the characters themselves.
I enjoyed how much time the novel spent with Shmi, who aches for her son but understands she couldn’t have denied him the opportunity for a better life. In honor of her Annie, Shmi finishes putting C3PO together, turning him from a walking set of wires into a fully covered protocol droid. Despite his fussiness, C3PO is a constant reminder of Anakin and an admission for Shmi that she was where she belonged and her son where he belonged.
Ultimately, Shmi’s fate in the novel mirrors her death in the books. She leaves the safety of the Lars homestead to collect mushrooms, the same as she did every morning when the Tusken Raiders kidnap her. Cliegg and Owen gather a mob of farmers to launch a rescue, but the Tuskens spring a trap which leaves several farmers brutally killed and Cliegg without a leg. Plagued by nightmares of his mother’s death, Anakin returns to Tatooine with Padmè by his side. After learning of his mother’s capture, Anakin tracks the Tusken raiders and reunites with Shmi for the first and only time in a decade.
I’m here Mom,” he told her. “You’re safe now. Hang on. I’m going to get you out of here.”
“Annie? Annie?” Shmi replied, and she tilted her her head, the way she often had when Anakin was a boy, seeming quite amused by him. “You look so handsome.”
“Save your strength Mom,” he said, trying to calm her. “We’ve got to get you away from here.”
“My son,” Shmi went on, and she seemed to be in a different place than Anakin, a safer place. “My grown up son. I knew you’d come back to me. I knew it all along.”
Anakin tried again to tell her to lie still, and save her strength, but the words simply wouldn’t come out of his mouth.
Somewhere deep inside, Anakin understood. “Just stay with me Mom,” he pleaded, and he had to work very hard to keep the desperation out of his voice. “I’m going to make you well again. Everything’s…going to be fine.
“I love,” Shmi started to say, but then she went very still, and Anakin saw the light leave her eyes.
Shmi’s role in the Attack of the Clones movie was all too brief, but with it’s additional content about the character and the Lars family, the novel did right by the Chosen One’s mother.
Have you read Attack of the Clones? I thought the novel added so much depth to the movie, which is why it’s one of my favorites. Let me know what you thought about the character of Shmi, and be sure to check out my website for even more Star Wars content. Stay nerdy!