Stephen Speicher

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

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148 posts in this topic

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.

It is all over the place in the original series! The whole storyline of Han Solo is a testimony to that fact.

Star Wars was never in any way an Objectivist film, not explicitly, nor implicitly. The whole moral/metaphysics/epistemology of the movies was laid out explicitly in the first Star Wars. It has never deviated from that.

Do you think that Anakin was going to fall by selflessly devoting himself to the cause and shunning the pursuit of happiness? If you thought this, you never understood the original movie(s). That is the path to success of the heroes of the original series. I'm shocked you didn't see this coming 28 years ago!

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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's part of what I meant when I wrote that this movie was dumbed down to the level of 10-year-olds. What bothers me more than the content of the explicit philosophy is how absurdly floating it is. Characters just throw out philosophical babble as ends-in-themselves, no-explanation-required, contextless floating abstractions. Nobody really argues for a position so much as state it.

"Only the Sith believe in absolutes" is uttered as proof of Sith-ness: if one utters absolutes, then one is a Sith! Yet that in itself is an absolute. Only the Sith? No exception? Then I guess accusing one of being a Sith makes the accuser one as well.

Oh, and the line about being either with me or with my enemy is CLEARLY a jab at Bush.

God how this movie stinks!

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That's part of what I meant when I wrote that this movie was dumbed down to the level of 10-year-olds.  What bothers me more than the content of the explicit philosophy is how absurdly floating it is.  Characters just throw out philosophical babble as ends-in-themselves, no-explanation-required, contextless floating abstractions.  Nobody really argues for a position so much as state it.

"Only the Sith believe in absolutes" is uttered as proof of Sith-ness: if one utters absolutes, then one is a Sith!  Yet that in itself is an absolute.  Only the Sith?  No exception?  Then I guess accusing one of being a Sith makes the accuser one as well.

Oh, and the line about being either with me or with my enemy is CLEARLY a jab at Bush. 

God how this movie stinks!

As to the first part:

Can actions not stand substitute for philosophical statements?

As to the second:

Please refrain from flaming-there is no need to turn this thread into a flame war.

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Can actions not stand substitute for philosophical statements?

Huh?

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That's part of what I meant when I wrote that this movie was dumbed down to the level of 10-year-olds. 

"Only the Sith believe in absolutes" is uttered as proof of Sith-ness: if one utters absolutes, then one is a Sith!  Yet that in itself is an absolute.  Only the Sith?  No exception?  Then I guess accusing one of being a Sith makes the accuser one as well.

So what? Professional philosophers commit this fallacy right and left. Attacking the syllogism by means of a syllogism. "Nobody can be certain of anything" "Everything is relative". The list is endless.

Are we going to crucify Lucas because he made the same mistake that many men with thoroughly much less excuse make as a matter of course? Or were these philosophers 10 years old when they made these statements? Or are you saying that once somebody is 11 eleven years old they'll see right through that? I can assure there are not many people in the general population that picked up on this at all, and would have to have this thoroughly explained to them.

Also, let it be known that this method of bad philosophy given in contextless, unargued assertions, is throughout the entire series, from beginning to end.

"Your eyes can deceive you, don't trust them."

ObiWan Kenobi Star Wars 1977

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

May the Force be with him. B)

I really can't believe some of this philosophical criticism of lines from the movie; this was Star Wars 3, not ITOE 3! I did not embrace the Jedi philosophy in 1977, but I was thrilled to be transported into the Star Wars world nonetheless. Lucas created this world for a generation that is now sharing its value along with their grown sons and daughters, and those who ate a Star Wars cereal in their high chair twenty years ago, now download the Star Wars ringtones onto their cell phones. Lucas created a real empire almost equal in size and scope to the one he created on film, and like JRoberts I thank him for everything he has done (with the possible exception of Howard the Duck :) ).

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"Only the Sith believe in absolutes" is uttered as proof of Sith-ness: if one utters absolutes, then one is a Sith! Yet that in itself is an absolute. Only the Sith? No exception? Then I guess accusing one of being a Sith makes the accuser one as well.

God how this movie stinks!

Let's not forget that it is the Sith who say that the good is relative (that it's "just a point of view"), and it is the Jedi who make moral judgments absolutely, about their own side and that of the enemy. The best way to take the condemnation of Obi-wan, then, is in context of the actual scene, rather than try to extrapolate some sort of universal principle and condemn the film on those grounds.

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"Only the Sith believe in absolutes" is uttered as proof of Sith-ness: if one utters absolutes, then one is a Sith! Yet that in itself is an absolute. Only the Sith? No exception? Then I guess accusing one of being a Sith makes the accuser one as well.

God how this movie stinks!

Let's not forget that it is the Sith who say that the good is relative (that it's "just a point of view"), and it is the Jedi who make moral judgments absolutely, about their own side and that of the enemy. The best way to take the condemnation of Obi-wan, then, is in context of the actual scene, rather than try to extrapolate some sort of universal principle and condemn the film on those grounds.

I don't think the context of that scene is as clear as you suggest, and I criticize the film for being confused and contradictory on the issues of absolutism vs relativism and selfishness vs selflessness. (By criticizing the film, I don't mean to deny that the film has some entertainment value--though I have to say that the awful third-grader-playing-with-action-figures dialogue detracted from such value.) But it seems to me that the film suggested that when Jedi deal in absolutes, it is only to the extent that they, too, fall to the dark side. Consider Mace Windu's decision to kill Palpatine without a trial (and the passion and anger on Windu's face when he tries to do so). The film was not clear on this point, though. Even to the end of the film, and in the other films, we never see Mace Windu, Obi-wan, or Yoda actually fall to the dark side. So in the end, I'm not sure what the context of that scene about the Sith being absolutists is supposed to be.

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May the Force be with him.  B)

I really can't believe some of this philosophical criticism of lines from the movie; this was Star Wars 3, not ITOE 3!

For myself, I'm not disappointed by the bad philosophy - that was there from the beginning in 1977, so I expected it. I was disappointed in this film by the acting, directing, writing, character development, story line, plot elements, etc. Not in every last particular, but in general just really, really bad, in my opinion. A bad film in and of itself, and a poor culmination of the poor development of the overall epic in the latest three films.

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I do not mean to imply that the acting was great, but I thought it to be decent and to me  the role of Anakin was one of the better performances. Hayden Christensen gave me a good sense of the inner conflicts Anakin was feeling.

We had little sleep after the movie, getting up at 5:30am after the 12:01 show.  B)

I think Joel's comments on the acting were proably correct for portions of the movie, but most noticeable in Samuel L. Jackson. As someone remarked not too long ago, I would enjoy Samuel L. Jackson reading the telephone book. But not in this movie, and I can attribute that more to the points that Joel made than I am willing to attribute to Jackson.

New Star Wars movies will follow the Revenge of the Sith: Revenge of the Fifth; Revenge of the Fourth.

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I just returned from my second viewing of the movie.

Me too. I'm glad to have contributed twice to the record $158,500,000 take in four days. I enjoyed it even more second time around. To all the naysayers, bah, humbug! B)

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And I should add that I just watched Episode 2 again (on DVD), and I really enjoyed it. Before I was kind of put off by the fact that I was left hanging, there was no aesthetic conclusion to the story, a pouty main character, a drawn-out romance, etc. Now that I know where Lucas was going with this, I really appreciated the very aspects of episode 2 that I did not enjoy before. The romance was actually sweet this time around, a great explanation for why it was so valuable to Anakin in Ep. 3; the struggles between power and obedience within his soul also made a lot of sense and were not at all a detractor. After watching Hayden Christiansen's performance in Ep. 2, I have come to believe that it was highly underrated, because of so much hype and expectation that all of us wanted; and the worst nightmare for a movie is to have its viewers expect something other than it will deliver -- in that case, even if the movie will be good, the audience will be left disappointed of their original hopes. This, I think, is exactly what happened to Hayden, and not watching it with any preconceived expectations, I really really liked his performance in Ep. 2, to my great surprise. So, bah humbug to the naysayers from me too B) I'm beginning to see the entirety of Lucas' vision, and it is good.

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And a fourth bah humbug too as I continue my re-viewing of episode 4!

:-D

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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.

That not entirely correct - In parts II & III of the trilogy Anakin denounces democracy in favour of centralized power. Remember in Episode II when he's roling around the fields of Naboo with Padme, he says he thinks a powerful man like Senator Palpatine should rule alone, as the republic's bickering never solves any of its problems (ignorant of the fact that Palpatine is the very architect of the problems that are the focus of Ep II).

As to the previous dialogue concerning Anakin, The Jedi and happiness, I'd say a few things: First, the point of the Jedi order is to act as an agent of the force, not the self. This is quite simply stated in the earlier films and I'm interested to see how Objectivist fans square up with this. Note the Star Wars saga is strongly influenced by the mystic writer Joseph Campbell's work 'The Hero with a thousand faces'.

However I don't think the point (made by Jedi Masters) is that emotions are intrinsically bad, but that they are incompatible with the lifestyle of a Jedi. Jedi are actually very similar to Plato's 'Guardians' in 'The Republic' in this respect. A great deal is made of the fact it is extremely risky to make an older child/teenager a padawan - their own established individuality is not synonymous with the will of the force. Luke has to loose everything he knows to become a Jedi knight - his entire life on Tatooine wiped out by blasters before him. Though interestingly it seems the Jedi order never quite square up with the will of the force, at least not consciously, as the 'return of balance to the force' comes from the orders elimination primarily.

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Ah, I mean to say the point as it is intended by Jedi Masters is "that they [emotions] are incompatible with the lifestyle of a Jedi" rather than being intrinsically bad as was implied earlier here.

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That not entirely correct - In parts II & III of the trilogy Anakin denounces democracy in favour of centralized power. Remember in Episode II when he's roling around the fields of Naboo with Padme, he says he thinks a powerful man like Senator Palpatine should rule alone, as the republic's bickering never solves any of its problems (ignorant of the fact that Palpatine is the very architect of the problems that are the focus of Ep II).

True, but my point was not with regard to where Anakin's political sympathies lay, but what his central dramatic choice was.

I simply wanted to show that he did not start off as a power luster, he wanted to roll around in the fields with Padme, he wanted to lead a life of adventure, he wanted to be happy.

Note that while he approves of dictatorial rule, he never actually acts to become the dictator. He acts to serve the Chancellor, which puts him more in the category of a Peter Keating in the thrall of Ellsworth Toohey.

His actions were motivated by the pursuit of happiness, as I've defined them above. That's what I mean when I talk about his central dramatic choice. And that's why I say that the theme is "The pursuit of happiness leads to your destruction."

By the way, I don't mean to say that this theme immediately invalidates this movie in my eyes. It's possible to make good drama with a theme like that. Tolstoy uses the same theme in Anna Karenina. (Hmm... Anna Karenina... Anakin. Coincidencia?)

Whether Lucas is artistically successful is a separate point, but in order to make that point, it would be a discussion about crappy subtext-less dialogue, wooden characterization, and a few wonderful dramatic plot devices that are raised then dropped without allowing the audience to fully experience them. That's not a very fun discussion.

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True, but my point was not with regard to where Anakin's political sympathies lay, but what his central dramatic choice was.

I simply wanted to show that he did not start off as a power luster, he wanted to roll around in the fields with Padme, he wanted to lead a life of adventure, he wanted to be happy.

Note that while he approves of dictatorial rule, he never actually acts to become the dictator. He acts to serve the Chancellor, which puts him more in the category of a Peter Keating in the thrall of Ellsworth Toohey.

His actions were motivated by the pursuit of happiness, as I've defined them above. That's what I mean when I talk about his central dramatic choice. And that's why I say that the theme is "The pursuit of happiness leads to your destruction."

By the way, I don't mean to say that this theme immediately invalidates this movie in my eyes. It's possible to make good drama with a theme like that. Tolstoy uses the same theme in Anna Karenina. (Hmm... Anna Karenina... Anakin. Coincidencia?)

Whether Lucas is artistically successful is a separate point, but in order to make that point, it would be a discussion about crappy subtext-less dialogue, wooden characterization, and a few wonderful dramatic plot devices that are raised then dropped without allowing the audience to fully experience them. That's not a very fun discussion.

I actually have a very simple question. Do you consider Anakin a moral man? And if so-what moral traits does he show, and how does he act to continue them?

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I guess if you have enough midiflorins then you can use as many feelings as you so desire. Except the angry, mourning, fearful ones.

But, there is no point in watching for the philosophical value. I liked some of the fighting, and Yoda was cool, as always, but I thought the story was terrible. The first(I should say, original) trilogy was much better than this one.

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I'd like to add a fifth bah humbug. But, that is all the time I have, as I will be late for my third watching of the movie later tonight! ha ha!

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I think this was a stinker - I gave it a 3.

As has been said, the characters are empty and the dialogues are wooden. The main story / theme is a strong one, but the execution is weak. There were several "deus ex machina" moments that spoiled it for me.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

For example, Lucas builds the Anakin character as someone who is ambitious and arrogant. There's plenty of material here to create a fall based on his will to bring order and a "pax galactica" to the galaxy, by force if necessary. Yet at the end he falls why? Because he dreams that his wife might die in childbirth. Where does that come from? I realize that this is meant to make the audience feel a modiccum of sympathy for him and prepare for the Episode 6 redemption, but trully I don't think we need that.

Why does Lucas feel that he has to introduce characters that will show up in the later movies? Does it really add anything to know that 1 of the 2 wookies to witness Yoda's departure is Chewbaca? Or does it feel artificial and useless?

Again, at the end, why does Yoda explain to Kenobi that his old mentor has discovered life after death, or whatever it is? I don't understand how this serves the plot.

How come Count Dookoo doesn't betray Palpatine when he just heard him urging Skywalker to finish him off? Wouldn't that be the logical first thing you'd expect?

One thing I did enjoy is Padme's spaceship. The designer team has managed to bring back classic Bugatti lines to a modern setting. Actually, the designers are first rate throughout - the sets are gorgeous. But I do think that Lucas abuses this. He uses different settings to add color and flavor to an otherwise colorless and flavorless experience. Contrast that with a movie like Gattaca for example.

The dialogs are terrible. There's no personality, no spunkiness - it's as flat as yesterday's diet Coke. Only Palpatine does well, though I think the rubber mask adds nothing at all to the movie.

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... There were several "deus ex machina" moments that spoiled it for me.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

... Because he dreams that his wife might die in childbirth.  Where does that come from?

Did you see Episode II, where Anakin dreams about his mother and fails to save her?

Why does Lucas feel that he has to introduce characters that will show up in the later movies?

It adds continuity and meaning to a six-part series of movies.

Again, at the end, why does Yoda explain to Kenobi that his old mentor has discovered life after death, or whatever it is?

Did you see Episode IV? It explains how Obi-Wan comes back to advise Luke in destroying the Death Star after Obi-Wan was earlier slain by Darth Vader.

How come Count Dookoo doesn't betray Palpatine when he just heard him urging Skywalker to finish him off?

Huh? Betray him how? Anakin is standing there with two light sabers crossed by Dooku's head, and Dooku is stunned that he has been defeated by this arrogant boy.

Actually, the designers are first rate throughout - the sets are gorgeous.  But I do think that Lucas abuses this.  He uses different settings to add color and flavor to an otherwise colorless and flavorless experience.

Granted you did not like the othe rparts of the movie, but did you actually feel "abuse[d]" by all those gorgeous sets? Some have been known to absolutely revel in the worlds that Lucas creates in his Star Wars movies, perhaps even more so than with the Ring trilogy.

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I actually have a very simple question.  Do you consider Anakin a moral man? And if so-what moral traits does he show, and how does he act to continue them?

I'm not sure what you're asking here. Does Anakin have a moral code that Objectivists would approve of? Or does he have any kind of moral code, regardless of whether you'd approve of it or not?

I think he's accepted a moral code that is incompatible with his happiness (as stated by Yoda directly), and he attempts to both live the code and betray it at the same time, which leads to his doom.

By the moral standards of the movie's universe, that would make him immoral, but sympathetic.

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I'm not sure what you're asking here. Does Anakin have a moral code that Objectivists would approve of? Or does he have any kind of moral code, regardless of whether you'd approve of it or not?

I think he's accepted a moral code that is incompatible with his happiness (as stated by Yoda directly), and he attempts to both live the code and betray it at the same time, which leads to his doom.

By the moral standards of the movie's universe, that would make him immoral, but sympathetic.

Of course he has a moral code-everyone does. My question was more specific to you. Do you personally consider Anakin moral? If so-what virtues does he have that makes him moral? And also-how does the way he act correspond to his virtues and morality?

I hope that is more clear.

However, you did hit on something very big. He did choose a moral code incompatible with his happiness. If he did that-then who destroyed Padme (also stated in the movie)?

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I found Anakin EXTREMELY gullible. It was also terrible to here Darth Vader, in the suit and everything, yell and cry for his wife. Guess it was important, but, it's Darth Vader! Anyways, as I said, Anakin would believe just about anything anyone told him, and eventually just believed what Palpatine told him.

The premonitions were, after I discovered watching The Empire Strikes Back, rather important, as it shows why Luke could see Han being carbonized or whatever they did to him while he was on Dagobah with Yoda. However, Anakin was very foolish after seeing his wife writing in pain-doesn't he realize, that when one sees a premonition, he should do NOTHING about it, because 99% of the time, trying to prevent it actually causes it. Does no one see that trend in ANY movie with premonitions? Anakin should have.

I was dissapointed in the ways that they changed the old movies.

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