Ironically, Windu’s unlikely undoing – the strong fighter has the upper hand, and is about to kill the weakened Sith Lord until Anakin comes running – can be traced directly back to his stubbornly unyielding distrust in Anakin, and his incomprehension of the young man’s natural power and ever-growing ambition. This brings to mind the precipitous relationship between Brutus and Julius Caesar, before the latter’s assassination, in real-life history, as vividly brought to the small screen in the excellent HBO series Rome. Both Anakin and Brutus were dangerously undecided in their actions, a little bit paranoid, and the abundant distrust, whether deserved or not, was a key factor in them ultimately doing what their did.
But back to the action at hand, when Anakin arrives Palpatine is a weak, internally wounded figure slumped against a wall with Windu deaf to his pleads and that of Anakin’s. “I need him,” cries Anakin, before slicing off the hand of Windu that threatens the life of his imagined savior of Padme’s life. The ultimate betrayal gives Palpatine a boost of perverse energy, and he disturbingly blasts Windu full of lightning bolts of energy – “I have power! UNLIMITED POWER!!!” – throwing his lifeless body into the cityscape of Coruscant.
Then Anakin collapses to his knees, crying out “What have I done?!?” (That question begs to be answered, but I’ll resist.) It’s pretty easy to, again, find the comparisons to another tormented figure, Brutus, whom I mentioned earlier. And it’s interesting to ponder on that infamous killing in 44 B.C.E Rome and the violent events of Revenge of the Sith; on the stark contract and switching of roles or, indeed, the similarities.
So the distraught, yet fully devoted Anakin pledges his allegiance to the now-fully revealed Darth Sidious, who, after some inexplicable slurring and murmuring, promptly names his Darth Vader, and commands him to do evil – i.e, march into the Jedi Temple like an hooded angel of death, at the head of a battalion of clone troopers to kill any Jedi they might encounter. Anakin, eradicating any doubt that he might be salvaged from the dark side, himself slaughters the young kids sheltering from the massacre. Yeesh. And you wondered why my younger self didn’t like this film as much?
This sequence of betrayal, and the ones that follow – showing the clones, having recieved a secret command from Darth Sidious, turning on their Jedi leaders on various war-torn planets strewn around the galax and blasting them to oblivion while their backs are turned – has always worked for me on an emotional level. And it’s what makes Revenge of the Sith worth it, watching a Republic and its ideals crumble while a vicious tyrant sways the senate by spinning lies, taking absolute control and installing an veritable empire. Watching as (most of) the good guys get killed and the bad guys win the day. As Padme aptly puts it: “So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.” You got it, milady!
One must not forget the climatic clash in the volcano planet of Mustafar, where the staunch Obi-Wan confronts his fallen apprentice whom he loved and regarded as a brother in a furious lightsaber duel of biblical proportions. Even though the fight features two grown men balancing and over a river of lava while shouting borderline cheesy lines about betrayal and love, it hasn’t lost any of its visual and emotional heft and ends with a perfectly twisted note: Obi-Wan caustically walking away from the mutilated, writhing corpse of his still-alive ex-apprentice, leaving Anakin to burn in lava and, during his pain, focus on, and amplify, his hatred for the Jedi.
It’s not the ending, of course; Anakin will be rescued by his lord, pulled from the brink of death and be reborn into the Darth Vader who terrorized the first trilogy, in a montage that silmutaneausly mirrors and opposes that of the birth of Luke and Leia, and the death, as expected, of Padme, weakened during an abusive outburst of her husband and the shock of it all.
I’ve written more than I planned to on this movie, and should probably wrap up this article. Butthe fact that I felt compelled, by a Star Wars movie, to spill more than 1,600 words of pure thoughts is in itself a testament to the lasting power of Revenge of the Sith. There are some boring or bad areas, specifically with the actors, but overall it’s a thrilling tale of one man’s descent into indomitable darkness, and the consequences of his actions. If you haven’t seen it since childhood, watch it again taking all this in mind. Or just wait until it gets re-released in 3D.
The end. Wanna go back to the first page?