Finally, the movie he should have made

Finally, the movie he should have made

So Melanie and I finally saw Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith on Saturday night. It was a much, much better movie than the previous two combined, yet it makes me even angrier that the first two were such lost opportunities. I particularly agree with Steven Greydanus’s review of the movie. (Incidentally, Steven has a longer piece in the June issue of Catholic World Report on the whole Star Wars saga and its place in American myth. On newsstands near you very soon.)

I think Lucas’s first big mistake (apart from Jar-Jar Binks) was starting with Anakin as a child. I know that he wanted to show how his love of his mother stunts his emotional maturity. Unfortunately what we end up with is Darth Vader, the most evil iconic villain in cinema history, being revealed as the product of whiny teenage angst. The descent of Anakin to the dark side of the Force is salvaged somewhat in Episode III, but it would not have to have been rescued if it had a better beginning.

Lucas could have started with Anakin at the age that Obiwan was portrayed in Episode I and Obiwan could have been Qui Gon’s age. Rather than having the loss of his mother being the major point, Anakin could have dealt naturally with the loss of a father, a more natural entree into the seduction by Darth Sidious and alienation from Obiwan. It would have made Obiwan’s recollection of Anakin as a great friend more appropriate. It would have made his relationship with Padme less Oedipal and more understandable.

Apart from that, I thought Sidious, as he justified the dark side of the Force, sounded very much like many liberal Catholic theologians I’ve heard.

Also, I’m embarrassed to say that I only realized today that the name “Revenge of the Sith” is a parallel to “Return of the Jedi.” I’m a trained observer. Don’t try this at home.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
28 comments
  • Yeah, that was weird, wasn’t it? It seems like alot of attacks on the Church and/or its icons are not made out of any real sense of righteousness, they are made out of jealousy and resentment. Penn and Teller know the Church will always have far more adherents than they will have fans, and the Church will be around long after they have turned to dust in the wind.

    I associate them with Las Vegas. (*shudder*) They must prefer darkness to light, and it probably kills them that many of us do not!

    Best –

  • I probably should’ve just sent the links to you, Dom, rather than post them on another thread…it just seemed at the time an appropriate place.

  • Dear Nerd o’ Mine,

    Please take no offense but the movie sucks.

    The “special effects” are amazing in that they suck.

    I could say more but it would be worthless (sorta like the movie).

    It’s over. Dom. Deal with it wink

    Kelly <——-can’t quite believe that this guy really believes in the tooth fairy wink

  • They used to be entertaining, but the more their act has taken on an attitude of crass cynicism, the less attractive it’s become.

  • It’s going to be hard to watch their episode on our Babylon 5 dvds after this.  They played comics Rebo and Zooty, who decided to leave comedy and go into politics.  But even there, they were being controlled by very evil forces and spoke only what those forces told them to say.  Perhaps Babylon 5 was ahead of its time…

  • I echo Steven’s review in my own blog.  Imagine Matthew 4 (The Temptation of Christ) where Satan gets all the good lines.  When it comes to making the case that good is good and evil is evil, the Jedi come up short.  Contrast Yoda going into exile with Jesus going to the people with the message “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

  • Kelly… It may not actually be over.  There have been rumors surrounding another movie (or possibily a trilogy) which will take place ~800 years before Episode I.  The story would cover the story of the Jedi exterminating the Sith led by a young Jedi named, Yoda.

    With respect to Episode III, I agree, great movie.  Lucas is one of the few people in Hollywood who seem to understand what is evil (cloning, subjectivism, deceit, breaking of sacred vows, red lightsabers, etc.) and what is not.  Sidious steals the show.

  • The animated shorts that were shown on the Cartoon Channel do a good job of showing some more reasons why Anakin became what he did.

  • This is vile, Dom, but not particularly surprising.  Teller has long been a vocal, profane critic of religion in all forms (though, admittedly, like most New Agers, pagans or wiccans, it’s Christianity that’s the focus of his bile).

    And the protest will just be written off as more theocrat whining.  Am I cynical, you think?

  • Sorry – for “Teller,” read “Penn.”  I’m only on my first cup of tea just now.

  • Catholic League’s press conference was held on May 26th, five days ago.  I wonder what the outcome was?  There has been no update on the League’s web site.

  • According to the NewsMax article, they also attacked Gandhi and the Dalai Lama.  I’d be curious to see what they said about those two.

  • Domenico,

    I wonder what you make of the whole point of the seemingly “immaculate conception” of this child, Anakin, and whether Anakin’s father is, in some sense, Darth Plagueis the Wise who knew the secrets of creating life from the metachlorians.  If this connection is real, then evil (from Darth Plagueis) attempted to create an evil great enough to destroy the good (through the character of Anakin who the Jedis’ mistakenly assume would bring balance to the force under the guise of the good) and yet in the end (Return of the Jedi through Luke’s intervention) the evil ended up defeating itself. 

    My wife and I have discussed this point to some length having seen all 6 films recently and we seem to agree that this Darth Plagueis connection (which Darth Sidious introduces) is not accidental but rather a clue to Anakin’s beginnings and how the story would come to conclusion. 

    Isn’t it always strange how a (Master) Sith Lord is never defeated by a Jedi?  Rather it is always the Apprentice of the Sith Lord that does the deed to end his Master.  Evil defeating Evil. 

    Finally, Anakin did not become evil simply because he was a whiny momma’s boy.  Rather it was multi-faceted:  1)  unhealthy attachments, 2) ego-massaging by Palpatine/Sidious, 3) ego from knowing about this prophecy, 4) disobedience (lack of humility necessary for the Jedi), 5) immaturity about desires and wants, and finally, 6) the powerful skills he has because of his nature.  If I had to pin down the one trait necessary for Jedi’s successful use of the force, it is humility.  One must know that he is not the maker of his own powers and nature.  Rather, he needs to submit to the Force and submit to his superiors before coming to learn through direct experience from the Master Jedi about the true ways of the Force and its use for Good.  Strange, it is,  that the Force requires the same disposition in humility at the beginning of his training like the one who must be humble before God himself as the motion towards having faith. 

    Much good is to be found in these movies.

  • A good point I hadn’t considered. I didn’t connect the Darth Plagueis story with the spontaneous conception of Anakin, but it might also be true that Darth Sidious learned the secrets from Plageuis before killing him and was himself responsible for Anakin’s conception.

    I haven’t heard George Lucas say anything about that, but it would be interesting.

    I didn’t mean to imply that Anakin became evil because he was whiny, but that his whininess detracted from the menace of the character and the overall potential of the character.

    I would have a different emphasis from evil defeating evil. More like the Lord makes straight with crooked paths and that no one is ever irredeemable while life is still present.

  • The novelization of the movie doesn’t clear up the “paternity” of Anakin (whether it by Plagueis or Sidious) but it discusses the issue in a bit more depth.

    I think it was Plagueis and not Sidious myself because Sidious later says something like “Anakin, together we can discover this secret!”  This admission comes AFTER Sidious had led Anakin to believe he already had the power and AFTER Anakin had already helped to defeat Mace Windu. 

    Sith masters always keep knowledge from their apprentices (considering it assasination insurance).  Its likely that Sidious found out about Anakin’s conception and didn’t want to wait around to be replaced as Plageuis’ apprentice by Anakin, so he murders his master in his sleep.

  • I really liked Revenge of the Sith.  Unlike most fans, Jar-Jar did not bother me much.  What KILLED the first movie was “Anikin the Mannikin” Jake Llyod.  He won out over 3000 other kids? Including Haley Joel Osment?  Did ol’ George have his hearing aid turned off that day (month…year…)?  Even William Shatner could out-act Lloyd.  Poor kid.  I wonder how it feels to know that millions and MILLIONS of people think you ruined one of the all-time biggest money-making movies in the world?  And worse, you will be remembered for that for as long as Star Wars is remembered!

  • What about the SITH line, *he saved others but he couldn’t save himself*  …  My kids reported on this but said there were no bolts of lightning when it was spoken…  I’m with Kelly… yuk.

  • HellO Dom,

    I also agree mostly with Greydanus’s review, though I would reverse his estimation of the first two prequels.

    After considerable reflection, I am inclined to agree with another reviewer who argued that THE PHANTOM MENACE was on the whole probably a better film than CLONES, as it was, for all its flaws, clearly the film Lucas wanted to make – and as a result was more coherent than CLONES, which too often came across as Lucas responding to fan criticisms of MENACE.  As in “OK, is this what you guys wanted?”

    But in the end I also think you and Steve have a another valid point: Lucas probably did not have enough material to flesh out into three movies of backstory, and it showed.  Lucas himself recently admitted that his original screenplay outline for the first three episodes was about 60% SITH and 40% what ended up in MENACE and CLONES.

    In the end Lucas gets credit for revolutionizing movie-making technology and delierving a compelling if flawed story that brought fantasy to the big screen and and at its best showed the mythic power of great archetypes.  The conceptual framework is intriguing if too gnostic at points, and a steadier pen could have distiled it into something that truly fulfilled the promise inherent in it.

    But in the end I got some nice summer fantasy films out of it, so I’m not complaining too bitterly. George Lucas did not rape my childhood.

    Hello Jane,

    Not sure what rings wrong on that line with you – maybe its not seeing the line delivered.

  • Not sure what rings wrong on that line with you – maybe its not seeing the line delivered.

    Richard. I saw the whole movie and didn’t see the line delivered. I might, I admit, have nodded off for a second or two or thirty wink

    Jane, thow in the towel with me. In this thread we’re ‘way out of our depth. Thank goodness!

    I mean, when you come across a statement like (and I’m not picking on danb here, honest):

    I think it was Plagueis and not Sidious myself because Sidious later says something like 8221; is a mild description. They launched an expletive-fueled tirade against her and Catholicism. This wasn’t just irreverent humor; it was anger and vitriol and bile.

    Everyone in the world, Catholic or not, knew Mother Teresa as a saintly woman (lefty British author Christopher Hitchens excepted), so what could have motivated Penn and Teller to do this? (While Penn is the one who did all the talking, the act’s schtick is that Teller always remains silent. Even so, he’s half the duo and is just as responsible.)

    Details of just what they said are through that link above. I’m not going to reproduce it here, even with the expletives covered because I’ll still know what they are and I don’t want to see it on this page.

    Viacom owns Showtime, as well as CBS and other media properties.

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    28489

    kclark@mindspring.com
    http://pewlady.blogspot.com
    209.91.58.188
    2005-05-31 20:26:07
    2005-06-01 00:26:07
    I tried to get folks’ attention to this a few days ago.

    http://bettnet.dyndns.org/blog/comments.php?id=5068_0_1_0_C

  • Isn’t Catholic Ragemonkey great? I like that blog alot.

    Hmmm…lesbian nuns and longhaired, aging college professors…it’s all making sense to me now…

  • To his credit, Penn scoffs at “new age” pseudo-spirituality, and pronounces the term to rhyme with “sewage”.

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