Call it a real-life Jedi mind trick. At the end of the new trailer for ”Star Wars: Episode 2 — Attack of the Clones,” a Web site URL appears in tiny letters, right under the words ”the saga continues May 16.” And if you surf to that site — holonetnews.com — as some ”Star Wars” fans did within seconds of the last week’s trailer premiere, you’ll find yourself in a certain galaxy far, far away.
In the tradition of online campaigns for ”The Blair Witch Project” and ”A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” Lucasfilm has created a Web site that pretends to exist within the world of ”Star Wars.” The site claims to be ”the information source for the Republic,” presenting fake news stories that chronicle the state of the ”Star Wars” universe circa ”Episode II,” from relatively trivial tidbits (”New Jedi Starfighter Unveiled”) to events at the heart of the new movie (”Palpatine Sets Army Vote Date”).
”Ten years passed between ‘Episode I’ and ‘Episode II,”’ says site cocreator Paul Ens. ”So we wanted to help update fans on the changing political climate.” With the Republic on the verge of collapsing into the evil Empire, the site’s AP-style news stories, updated weekly, elaborate on the events that will roil the Galaxy in ”Episode II.” Many focus on the Republic’s debate over creating an army to combat planets that have seceded from the union — a plot point officially unveiled in the latest ”Episode II” trailer.
One news story informs us that the mysterious renegade Jedi Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) is ”the secessionist movement’s loudest advocate” — which is the most information we’ve gotten about him so far. In another, we learn that Queen-turned-Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) will continue her ”Phantom Menace” pacifist stance in the new movie. ”Warfare is the product of cowardice; it takes bravery to forego easy answers and find peaceful resolutions,” she says in a story that reveals her as the head of a ”Campaign against Republic Militarization.”