Stephen Speicher

Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith (2005)

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148 posts in this topic

It is not at all anti-UN.  It is in fact very pro-UN.  Here are some quotes from the movie:

Those quotes were very surprising, since the direct opposite was her opinion in episode 1. I'll be looking for any change in Padme that could have caused this, though I doubt I find any. Offcourse, one can argue that she also was corrupted, since she joined the senate.

Though, what this second trilogy needs, is a good hero. The first trilogy had that in plenty. Obi Wan could pheraps be seen as a hero, along with the other from the jedi council, but a hero that looses isn't a very good hero.

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Ed,

As far as I can tell, Joel did not review this movie. He defended its cast against the charge of "bad acting"

But in the process of that defense he presented a scathing criticism of an essential aspect of the movie: the words which accompnay the action of the story.

"The writer failed the actors because the dialogue was breathtaking in its lifelessness. When it didn't serve a utilitarian purpose, such as groaningly obvious exposition, it attempted to convey some sort of emotional meaning, either through maddening Danielle Steel novel cliche ("Hold me as you did back on Naboo"), or by stating it baldly without any kind of subtext. I swear to you that Eleanora Duse or Lawrence Olivier could not make these words real."

Damning criticism such as this (which, incidentally, I do not agree with) could stand alone as a review.

Joel's complete review, by his words as I remember them, has yet to be published on this forum.

Yes, there are other things to be said about a movie. But once you damn the writer and the director for the things that were criticized, all you are left with are technical details that, at best, would form the skeleton of a movie.

That being said, I loved this movie!

Me too! But, then again, all of Star Wars stands alone in my mind, not subject to the exact same standards by which I judge other movies. It all started in 1978 when Betsy and I wandered into the very first showing of a movie, in a galaxy far, far away ...

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Hi.

So, yes, I didn't actually give out a full review of the movie, and yes, I did say that George Lucas failed his actors by being a rotten writer of dialogue and a director of, you know, human beings.

But I didn't say whether I liked or hated the movie.

The answer is that I was cold to it. Didn't like it, didn't hate it. I was just, eh.

And I haven't given a full review because it's hard to work up a lot of thought toward something you're just sort of, eh, toward.

Understand that I had set my expectations really low toward this movie. As one friend put it, "If it's in color, I'll be happy." So, it's not like I was looking for Casablanca in space. (Did anyone else have that experience? Of being so underwhelmed by the prior two movies that you attempted to set expectations to subterranean depths in order to preserve hope that you might get something out of, let's face it, Lucas' last chance to Get It Right.)

But having said what my expectations were upon taking my seat at the theater, I must add that in order to achieve that state of mind, you'd have to blank out the entire context for seeing it in the first place. I'll put it this way: If the first two movies (parts 4 and 5, if you're using the Lucas revisionist numbering sequence) moved you in any way, it was because inside, you were a bored farm boy amusing yourself by bullseye-ing womprats in your T-16, wanting to rescue the princess and join the rebellion and fight the empire, not for any altruist need to sacrifice yourself for a cause, but because it was Adventure, and that was the way to pure bliss.

Now we come to Revenge of the Sith, or the conclusion of this first trilogy. And what is the theme of this movie? Think for a moment, and contrast it against the Star Wars that you loved.

And by the way, there's no way I can discuss this without spoilers, so if you want to remain pure, you'll need to skip the rest of this post.

I contend that the theme of the Revenge is: "The pursuit of happiness will lead to your destruction."

My evidence:

If Anakin is protagonist, then his central conflict is what the movie is about. Yoda playing the angel on his shoulder, and the Chancellor playing the devil. The conflict boils down to: Give up your greatest value (your wife and children) in return for... um... what exactly? Galactic stability? Status in the Jedi order?

Remember Yoda's counsel? Paraphrasing here: "If your personal attachments cause you to fear losing them, give them up." And he's the good guy? "Fear leads to anger, and anger leads to the Dark Side." So basically, normal human emotions are evil, so you have to repress them in order to be one of us.

The Chancellor? He says, in effect, the Jedi are dogmatic and are telling you to evade thinking about the half of the Force that they're afraid of. He says: I know what you're going through. It's rough, but I'll help you through it. If I'm Anakin, I'm listening to this guy more than I'm listening to Yoda. But that's just because I want to pursue my own happiness.

Of course, Anakin makes that same choice. He chooses his personal happiness, he chooses the Devil on his shoulder, he wants to save his wife and child, he is manipulated into murdering Mace Windu, he slaughters children, he becomes Darth Vader.

That is what this movie is about and I defy anyone to come up with a more plausible explanation. I actually have an alternative explanation that involves making the Chancellor the protagonist of this story, and thus the theme is, "It's really easy to manipulate the good to turn evil by tempting them with personal happiness." That sort of works, and it's an ancient theme. It's Faust, basically, although Faust is more temptation through power, instead of personal happiness. But I can't legitimately say that the Chancellor is the protagonist because the moral choices the drive the story forward to the climax around his, they're Anakin's.

And if that's true, then this story is monstrous, and I really should be more repulsed than I am.

But I'm not. I mean, it's not like I didn't see what was coming. George Lucas chose to tell Darth Vader's story, and it was all going to come to this. It's been years in coming, and we all had those years to get used to it. Even the fact that the choice to tell this story is a complete repudiation of the Star Wars I fell in love with. (Yeah, I mean it, a -complete- repudiation. Darth Vader: Pursuit of happiness led to his doom. Luke Skywalker: Pursuit of happiness/excitement/adventure led to success, glory, and, well... happiness. And if you want repudiation, what's more repudiating that Lucas going back in after the fact, and changing stuff to make Greedo shoot first? Yeah, I know he went back in and changed it again. The point is that he's retrofitting the universe I loved, for exactly the reasons I loved them.)

Even with all that, there was an air of inevitability to this, a sense of (to use Yoda's term) destiny. And there's nothing more predictable than destiny.

I went to this movie out of habit, I saw pretty flashing lights, cute video game action, stirring John Williams music, and at the end, it was over and I wondered if there were any other movies worth seeing this weekend.

Which, I suppose, is the most damning reaction of all.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

It's Faust, basically, although Faust is more temptation through power, instead of personal happiness.
It baffles me how that you did not see this very same theme in SW III... A lot of what Anakin was talking about, to explain his turn, was nothing more than very clever rationalization, including him fighting for the republic, and for love. Both of these were gone by the end, and he was more attached to the Emperor than ever. Why? Power! What method did he use to try to turn Luke in SW V? By appealing to the supposed fact that the Dark Side is more powerful, expecting Luke to respond to that in the same way as he did.

I thought this emphasis on lust for power was clear as day, and couldn't imagine that people could miss it...

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I contend that the theme of the Revenge is: "The pursuit of happiness will lead to your destruction."

Would you say that what made Anakin "happy", and what he was pursuing, was the same thing that made Yoda happy?

Was Anakin's pursuit of happiness in line with any sense of good?

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"Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post."

I contend that the theme of the Revenge is: "The pursuit of happiness will lead to your destruction."

I like this formulation of the theme. Just before reading your post, I wrote a small review of the film in my blog in which I put forth my own formulation of the theme: the destructiveness of unyielding concern for one's own values. I'm not sure which formulation I prefer, but they are very similar.

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I just got back from seeing Sith. No spoilers here, just my opinion:

This movie is a stinker. Bad everything. OK, the light saber fight sequences were impressive. But that's about it.

I have no specific examples to offer, because I didn't go in with the intention of writing a review. I just remember making mental notes over and over again: "Oh, brother! How bad was that?!?!"

It's like The Matrix: as far as I'm concerned there's only one movie in that series, the first. With Star Wars, there's only the original three. The newer ones are terrible, and Sith is the worst of them. I gave it a 2.

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This movie is a stinker. Bad everything. OK, the light saber fight sequences were impressive. But that's about it.

Actually, I was thinking along the same lines, until I watched the Stewart Granger / James Mason version of Prisoner of Zenda (1952) on TCM this morning. What a night and day difference between that and Star Wars III: ROTS. Even the sword fighting is better! That is what a swashbuckler is supposed to be like. (From what I hear, the 1937 version is even better. That, BTW, features Raymond Massey, who would later play Gail Wynand in the movie version of The Fountainhead.)

It's like The Matrix: as far as I'm concerned there's only one movie in that series, the first. With Star Wars, there's only the original three. The newer ones are terrible, and Sith is the worst of them. I gave it a 2.

I gave it a 3. As for which of parts 1 - 3 is worse, there's a limit to hairsplitting, especially when the overall value of each is so low.

And it kills me to give these movies a bad review, because I dearly love episode 4 (it's my all-time 2nd favorite film, behind Casablanca) and episodes 5 and 6, though not as much.

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George Lucas chose to tell Darth Vader's story, and it was all going to come to this. It's been years in coming, and we all had those years to get used to it. Even the fact that the choice to tell this story is a complete repudiation of the Star Wars I fell in love with.

I agree. Another thing is, by centering the stories of the first trilogy around Anakin / Vader, the entire saga is now recast with Vader as the central character! It would be like rewriting The Fountainhead to make Toohey or Keating the central character.

The decision to make episodes 1 - 3 really undermines the saga. Much of the joy and wonder of episode 4 was the discovery of this fantastic universe. The audience is in Luke's position of being introduced to this larger universe, and we follow right along with Luke as he learns about the Jedi, the Force, and the way the galaxy is (vs. what he thought it was). But now if someone sees the movies in sequence, that sense of wonder is long gone by episode 4. You know all about the Force and the Jedi, and all the well-made exposition is just so much tedium.

Then in episode 5, the big shocker is learning Luke is Vader's son. But now there's no suspense, shock, or drama for the audience, because it's been set out very clearly in episode 3.

And finally, in episode 6, the act of Vader killing the emperor is no longer The Evil One turning to good, but the corrupted good guy redeeming himself. That's not nearly as dramatic.

Another point of anger for me: episode 4 is an immensely underrated work of art. It sends the classic archetpye of a hero's journey into space. Luke starts as a naive farmboy, an "everyboy", and undergoes a massive transformation to become the savior of the galaxy (with the destruction of the Death Star). There are many iconic details, like the visual styling of the landspeeder coming from the early Ford Mustangs. Then there's the philosophic conflict: morality (Luke's decision to fight for The Cause) vs. practicality (the rogue Han); mysticism vs. science (the Force vs. technology, the discussion of light sabers vs. blasters, the discussion of the Death Star or the Force as the ultimate power in the universe, etc., etc.); the east-meets-west symbolism ("Obi-Wan Kenobi" sounds more than slightly Japanese, and the guy dresses in, well, Samurai robes and fights with a light saber, vs. Han Solo - a loner with a very individualistic last name, and dresses like a space cowboy, with boots, leather vest, and low-slung holster).

Now compare all of that depth and layering to any of the three new movies. There's no comparison possible. The new ones are written down to the level of 10-year-olds, with no depth or subtlety or subtext.

Right now, I would sum up the first three movies as an unnecessary first act for the later movies. It sets up the characters and background, but is so poorly done that it also removes a lot of suspense and surprise from the original trilogy. There's a reason, after all, that the word "shadow" is in "foreshadow": what's to come should be hinted at and only hinted at. To tell your audience exactly what is going to happen later on (or telling in a hamfisted manner) just bores them. They CAN'T be curious about what is going to happen, because the artist has told them already.

So I see the new trilogy as not just bad movies, but as actually serving to undermine the value of the original trilogy.

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Now compare all of that depth and layering to any of the three new movies.  There's no comparison possible.  The new ones are written down to the level of 10-year-olds, with no depth or subtlety or subtext.

Come now-there is a difference between varying opinions and sheer nonsense.

There is no way that a 10-year-old can grasp the deep moral conflicts, intense emotions, love, patriotism, politics, etc. in the third movie. They can semi-relate to the 'silliness' of I and II, but even those movies contain content that is well above the heads of 10 year olds.

The point is that ALL the Star Wars movies contain a very deep meaning interwoven with many profound philosophical messages.

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I should mention that Lucas's own official statement for inspiration behind the entire Star Wars story (I-VI), was the collapse of Roman republic; it was, paraphrasing, "a story about Caesar set in space". At the end Romans no longer valued their freedom, and the Senate kept expanding Caesar's executive powers, finally voting to establish him as a dictator with unlimited powers. And indeed, as Padme noted with recoil, this is how freedom died -- to thunderous applause. The premise, thus, is not a fictional device but a real story, an immortal tale, that happened almost exactly the same in the past, and will happen again in the future if history is any guide. How does it happen, and why, episodes IV-VI do not say, but I-III do, especially III, in a very real way.

It's undeniable that I-III are different in many ways from IV-VI, but the question is whether we should expect them to be the same or not. It also should not be forgotten that the vision of Lucas was not "tainted" by I-III. The entire thing, I-VI, is the vision Lucas had in his mind, and IV-VI are simply one part, not the whole picture. It's like The Matrix, when people watched only the first movie many thought it was a cyberpunk hodgepodge of Platonic philosophy, and loved it for that. But when the last two movies came out and were substantially different from the first, people thought that those two movies "messed up" the premise that the Warchowski brothers originally had. The truth, however, is that they did not intend their trilogy to be a hodgepodge of Platonic philosophy, and everyone misunderstood the premise of the movies. So the way to judge the Warchowski's vision is not by the first movie, but by all three, because that is what they were trying to say all along. Exactly the same thing applies to George Lucas.

In any case, regardless, I'm off to practice the Star Wars songs on the piano -- the theme song of the movies, and The Force theme song (played in the beginning of IV when Luke is looking off into the sunset, and played again in the end of III when Luke's adopted parents hold the baby and look off into the sunset). It's a lot of fun playing that music, believe you me!

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So the way to judge the Warchowski's vision is not by the first movie, but by all three, because that is what they were trying to say all along. Exactly the same thing applies to George Lucas.

Interestingly, Lucas says something quite similar in his current (June 2nd issue) Rolling Stone interview.

"I made a series of movies that was about one thing: Darth Vader. Originally, people thought it was all about Luke. The early films are about Luke redeeming his father, so Luke's the focus. But it's also about Princess Leia and her struggle to re-establish the Republic, which is what her mother was doing. So it's really about mothers and daughters and fathers and sons.

"So now, instead of all these surprises that aren't actually surprises, when you get to back to to Episode IV, as soon as Darth Vader walks through the door, and you see Princess Leia with R2, you're gonna say 'Oh, my God, that's his daughter.' "

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Interestingly, Lucas says something quite similar in his current (June 2nd issue)  Rolling Stone interview.

"I made a series of movies that was about one thing: Darth Vader. Originally, people thought it was all about Luke. The early films are about Luke redeeming his father, so Luke's the focus. But it's also about Princess Leia and her struggle to re-establish the Republic, which is what her mother was doing. So it's really about mothers and daughters and fathers and sons.

"So now, instead of all these surprises that aren't actually surprises, when you get to back to to Episode IV, as soon as Darth Vader walks through the door, and you see Princess Leia with R2, you're gonna say 'Oh, my God, that's his daughter.'  "

That's exactly the effect that I got-almost a "Cause (I,II,III)-Effect(IV,V,VI)" feeling.

I'm actually eager to watch all 6 "in-a-row" (heh) to get the full effect and impact of the moral story of Darth Vader.

Thanks for posting that article B)

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It's undeniable that I-III are different in many ways from IV-VI, but the question is whether we should expect them to be the same or not. It also should not be forgotten that the vision of Lucas was not "tainted" by I-III. The entire thing, I-VI, is the vision Lucas had in his mind, and IV-VI are simply one part, not the whole picture.

Well said!

I have to fault all the people complaining about Lucas making the movies about Darth Vader as not even understanding the original trilogy in the first place. They were always about him. IV-VI was about the redemption of Anakin Skywalker, I-III are about his fall. There was no "recasting The Fountainhead to focus on Keating and Toohey" to paraphrase an analogy someone made earlier.

How did anyone expect I-III to be like IV-VI? This is like seeing a ball ascending in the air only to be dismayed by the fact that it crashed to the ground before its ascent. In IV-VI you get to see the gradual and the ultimate success of the good against the evil, but number IV starts with a galaxy after its death throes, choked by more than 20 years of an evil dictatorship.

The original Star Wars didn't start out in happy little Kansas, it started in hell.

There is no bad effect upon the original trilogy by these three films. In fact the story is now even stronger. I should know, I am a Star Wars fan.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

It baffles me how that you did not see this very same theme in SW III... A lot of what Anakin was talking about, to explain his turn, was nothing more than very clever rationalization, including him fighting for the republic, and for love. Both of these were gone by the end, and he was more attached to the Emperor than ever. Why? Power! What method did he use to try to turn Luke in SW V? By appealing to the supposed fact that the Dark Side is more powerful, expecting Luke to respond to that in the same way as he did.

I thought this emphasis on lust for power was clear as day, and couldn't imagine that people could miss it...

Let's be clear about our terms here.

What's power lust?

Is it the desire to control nature? Or the desire to control people?

I think it's important to draw a distinction between the two.

In doing so, I think it's clear that what the Chancellor tempts Anakin with is the first and notthe second.

Let's not lose sight of the fact that the beginning of Anakin's turn to the Dark Side comes from his desire to experience and save his own personal happiness (embodied by his wife and child). There is not one iota of desire to rule people until afterAnakin makes his deal with the Chancellor.

The essentialdramatic choice that Anakin makes is "I will make this deal with the devil, in order to safeguard my future personal happiness (save my wife)."

Without the motivation of personal happiness, there is no descent, there is no deal with the devil, there is no Darth Vader.

It is unequivocally not a lust to rule that animates the central dramatic choice. That doesn't come into play until much later, when it shows up as a symptom, along with paranoia, of the Dark Side's corruption of his soul.

It's his desire for individual happiness, apart from the needs of the collective (the Jedi Order, the stability of the Republic), that make him choose the Dark Side.

That's what is so infuriating about it.

Because this was not present in the original series. The pursuit of happiness was not incompatible with moral good back then.

Now it is, and that bugs me.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

Let's be clear about our terms here.

What's power lust?

Is it the desire to control nature? Or the desire to control people?

I think it's important to draw a distinction between the two.

In doing so, I think it's clear that what the Chancellor tempts Anakin with is the first and not the second.

I think it is especially the desire to control other people. Anakin was a rebel who resented other people, especially more knowledgeable and experienced Jedi, who would tell him what to do. He resented their rules and restrictions and, rather than decide not to be a Jedi, he broke their rules in secret and hid the fact that he was married from them. Anakin resented, most of all, that he was the only member of the Jedi Council who had not yet been granted the title of Jedi Knight although he had, in fact, most of the powers and responsibility of a Jedi.

His resentment of the other Jedis was so strong and deep that, when Palpatine told him to kill the Jedi, he not only slaughtered the Council leader, but tried to kill every Jedi and everyone who might become a Jedi including all the children.

This strikes me as the behavior of a power-lusting value-hater, not a valuer.

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The huge disagreement over the value of Star Wars III underscores the importance of "of value to whom and for what" in the evaluation of art. Why you go to a particular movie and what you want out of it has a lot to do with whether you are delighted, satisfied, disappointed, or repulsed by what you see.

When I go to see a Star Wars film, I don't expect Casablanca. I am not seeking philosophical guidance, inspiration, an ingenious plot, or depth of characterization. I go to be entertained by an experience that is a cross between a Disneyland thrill ride, a travelog to incredibly exotic places, and a Robert Heinlein space opera.

In Star Wars III, I got what I wanted.

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There is no way that a 10-year-old can grasp the deep moral conflicts, intense emotions, love, patriotism, politics, etc. in the third movie.

That assumes those aspects exist in the movie. I contest that.

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It was amazing how philosophically unsound this whole movie is. One thing, however, really caught my eye. Obi Wan says-Only the Sith deal in absolutes. That was the most terrible thing of the whole movie. Anakin had just said-If you are not with me, you are my enemy. However, although the use of the word absolute is devestating, the word dichotomy would have been much more fitting, and philosophically correct. Would you not agree?

Only the Sith deal in dichotomies.

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Personally, I don't think Lucas "ruined the suspense" of the first three movies with the recent additions. I've seen the first three, like, a gillion times and there's no suspense left! B)

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It was amazing how philosophically unsound this whole movie is.  One thing, however, really caught my eye.  Obi Wan says-Only the Sith deal in absolutes.  That was the most terrible thing of the whole movie.  Anakin had just said-If you are not with me, you are my enemy.  However, although the use of the word absolute is devestating, the word dichotomy would have been much more fitting, and philosophically correct.  Would you not agree?

Only the Sith deal in dichotomies.

That line about absolutes only came once, though. What really recurred throughout the movie was the call to "search one's feelings" to gain some knowledge.

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That line about absolutes only came once, though.  What really recurred throughout the movie was the call to "search one's feelings" to gain some knowledge.

Of course it did, thats the whole idea of "the force". The jedi don't gain knowledge of the force through reason, they gain it by their mystical powers and just 'feeling' it. If you're going to get any enjoyment out of the Star Wars saga you will have to accept that and see it as part of the Star Wars reality.

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I just returned from my second viewing of the movie. I also rated it (like I said I would do earlier) and am doing something that I very rarely do. I gave it a 10.

A 10 to me means a perfect movie (of course in context).

I am not dismayed by any of the 'bad philosophy'. If each statement is taken in the context that it was stated, and not as a universal principle, then the statements actually make sense-and are correct.

I also want to recant my view on the acting (I knew it was my sleepiness :-p). I thought the acting was great and was not at all disappointed with any performances-especially that of Anakin.

I would like to take the time now to offer my deepest gratitude to the wonderful George Lucas. Thank you!

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