Praising the Revenge of the Sith

Con­tin­ued from the first page…

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?

2 thoughts on “Praising the Revenge of the Sith

  1. Nice arti­cle. This is eas­ily my favourite of the pre­quels, and I agree that there’s def­i­nitely some­thing to take from it.

    I like the whole Brutus/Julius com­par­i­son, and you make the entire con­struct of Anakin’s char­ac­ter sound bril­liant. Which, I’m sure, was exactly how it sounded in the script. It’s just a shame some­thing was lost between writ­ing and execution.

    The char­ac­ters are there, the plot is there; but the dia­logue isn’t (it is George Lucas after all) and, more impor­tantly, nei­ther is the con­vic­tion. Which, as you rightly point out, is heav­ily down to the acting.

    But there’s def­i­nitely some­thing in there to like. Even if it is just the five (5!) lightsaber duels. ;)

    1. Cheers for read­ing! Glad you liked it.

      The act­ing is kinda awful, yeah. You know it’s bad when Natalie Portman’s hilar­i­ous “What are we gonna do, Ani?” becomes the most mem­o­rable dia­logue of the movie…

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