~ 19 June 2005 ~

Just Like Beggar’s Canyon Back Home

While I’m on the subject of space, and since it seems de rigueur on the internet to have a review of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and I am not above the law, here’s mine—along with a few thoughts.

The final installment to the epic sci-fi (melo)drama is certainly entertaining. Yes, the dialogue was weak, and the plot was a bit wanting, and oh-so-over-the-top Yoda’s speech patterns were. These detractors were minimized by the sheer volume of lightsaber action in the film.

I’ve found that with Star Wars, the more lightsabers, the better. Episode IV merely teases us with the use of the weapon. In Episode I, Darth Maul’s double–edged weapon stole the show. In Revenge of the Sith, there’s even one villain who wields four lightsabers at once—it doesn’t get any better than this.

The transformation of Darth Vader into a tragic figure (as opposed to a maniacal fiend) isn’t new to Episode III. It began in Return of the Jedi, where Luke could feel the good in his father. In the end, Vader does the good thing by killing the emperor—after which his penchant for force-choking and planetary destruction are all but forgotten as he joins Kenobi and Yoda in the Jedi ghost-world.

It’s interesting how we rare it is these days in film to see pure, unadulterated evil. There are undoubtedly more, but the only recent example I can think of is Sauron in The Lord of the Rings. Typically, the antagonist in a film is more victim than villain, having turned to evil as a result of his circumstances—a “basically good” person corrupted by a temptations common to us all.

I wonder if our tendency to sympathize with evil comes from a common understanding that there is only a thin line separating each of us from becoming an Eichmann, a Hitler, or a Vader. Such understanding is healthy (it reminds us that we are all indeed sinful), as long as it doesn’t mitigate the evil itself. The sympathy Lucas garners for Darth Vader leaves him virtually unaccountable for his murderous history.

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