Sir Christopher Lee was born on May 2th, 1922 and is best known for his roles as Dracula, Francisco Scaramanga and Saruman. Today is Sir Christopher Lee’s birthday and in honour of this amazing man, we have a post about Count Dooku. As a character, Count Dooku, or Lord Tyranus as he is also known, is extremely important to the development of the Clone Wars and yet he is himself also manipulated by Darth Sidious. This post will completely focus on the Prequel films, rather than The Clone Wars series.
Count Dooku is crucial to the story of the Prequel Trilogy because he shows the corruption at the heart of the Jedi Order itself. The Prequels aren’t as simple as “evil conquers good because evil is stronger”, there is a lot more to them. Over the course of The Phantom Menace, The Attack of the Clones and The Revenge of the Sith we see the breakdown of not only the Republic, but also of the Jedi Order from the inside out rather than just by the corruption from Darth Sidious. This break down is, in many ways, shown at the same time. In The Phantom Menace we see the Trade Federation successfully put a blockade around Naboo and seemingly getting away with it. The Senate is stuck in its own bureaucracy and can get nothing done since they have lost their common interest in peace and are rather pursuing their own interests. Similarly, we see a split within the Jedi Order as well. Although Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are Master and Padawan, there is a difference in how they see the Jedi. Where Qui-Gon is freer in his interpretation of the role of a Jedi, Obi-Wan seems more dedicated to the stricter set of rules of the Jedi Council. Both of these fractures deepen throughout The Attack of the Clones and come to a head in The Revenge of the Sith. So how does Dooku fit into this?
Although he was apprenticed to Jedi Master Thame Cerulian, Dooku received a lot of advice and training from Yoda, arguably one of the most famous Jedi in the Jedi Order. Dooku was a prodigy and upon becoming a Jedi immediately took an apprentice. There is a clear sense of tradition within the Jedi Order, of wisdom and teaching being passed down each link in the chain. This chain is clear: Yoda – Dooku – Qui-Gon – Obi-Wan – Anakin. Although arguably Anakin is the one who brings a final end to the Jedi Order as it existed, it was an interesting choice by Lucas to have the active war against the Jedi be led by Dooku. Yoda said the following about him:
‘Our greatest student! Our greatest failure.’ – Yoda: Dark Rendezvous
In many ways, Dooku was trained during the high-time of the Jedi Order, pre-Clone Wars, pre-Sidious. He had the advantage of being trained during relative peace and, in many ways, represented everything a Jedi should aspire to. He was an excellent swordsman, a good teacher and politically convincing. The role of the Jedi was initially as peace keepers and philosophers, yet they are constantly drawn into armed conflicts, forced to sacrifice themselves and kill others in the process. Dooku saw the Jedi corrupting themselves and allowing themselves to be abused. All of this came to a head when Qui-Gon Jinn was killed in The Phantom Menace, leading to Dooku’s resignation from the Jedi Order.
Dooku ‘s disillusionment with the Jedi Order is symptomatic and also strangely ironic. It is an example of the depth of the Prequel films that they show the breaking up of the Jedi order going so far back. Rather than going down the simple road of having a “very bad villain” who simply storms all over good, Star Wars shows society and humanity to be much more complex. In large run organizations, may they be political or ideological, there is bound to be dissent and Count Dooku’s character shows how this fracture festers until it makes enemies out of allies. The very character that should have rightfully represented everything that was good about the Jedi ended up playing a large role in the downfall of the Jedi.
The tragedy of Count Dooku is that, just like Anakin, he lies to himself. Star Wars is a story full of characters wanting to good but ending up doing bad. Despite being disillusioned with the Jedi in his own right, Dooku was also misled by Darth Sideous and Darth Plagueis before him. He became an apprentice to Darth Sideous, still convinced that despite using the Dark Side he could remain uncorrupted. Similarly to Anakin, he wanted to use the Dark Side to advance his own ambitions, unaware of the plan Darth Sidious had for him. Sidious used Count Dooku to push the Republic and the Jedi Order to the breaking point. Originally leaving the order out of protest over Jedis being used as soldiers, he caused the death of numerous Jedi himself. In the end, Dooku turned out to be a pawn that Sidious had no hesitations over sacrificing.
Dooku’s development shows that in a time of war and collapse, controlled from the outside but growing from the inside, there is no space for idealists like Count Dooku. An interesting parallel is Padme Amidala, who despite her fervent belief in justice and democracy begins doubting the Republic in The Revenge of the Sith. She sees flaws in the system but unlike Dooku, she never abandons it and therefore she remains a liability to Palpatine. Count Dooku is crucial to the story of the Star Wars prequels trilogy, showing that the downfall of the Jedi was set in motion long before the occurrences in the films.
2 thoughts on “Christopher Lee’s Dooku: The Importance of the Count”
An interesting parallel is Padme Amidala, who despite her fervent belief in justice and democracy begins doubting the Republic in The Revenge of the Sith. She sees flaws in the system but unlike Dooku, she never abandons it and therefore she remains a liability to Palpatine. Count Dooku is crucial to the story of the Star Wars prequels trilogy, showing that the downfall of the Jedi was set in motion long before the occurrences in the films.
I do not see anything wrong in “abandoning” the system. Come to think of it, Palpatine never really abandoned the system. He merely changed it to a certain degree and made it even more oppressive. In my view.