Stephen Speicher

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

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In "The Empire Strikes Back," I was revolted by Yoda at my first glimpse of him; and not a word of his lousy eastern philosophy ever raised him an iota in my estimation.

"When nine-hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not."

Yoda Return of the Jedi

:D:D:D

Betsy once gave me a hint about a present I was to receive. She said it was my favorite cowboy. This really perplexed me for some time. It turned out to be a life-like Yoda mask wearing a cowboy hat!

I love Yoda. The voice of Yoda is Frank Oz, the marvelous puppeteer who does my most favorite, Cookie Monster.

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Fozzie Bear, at least, I felt I could trust.

And Kermit had a good singing voice.

* * *

Here's an interesting Star Wars-oriented website I enjoyed:

www.leiasmetalbikini.com/ :D

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Not much to say about this movie: Like all of Star Wars; great directing, lousy writing, which makes it impossible to evaluate the acting.

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Not much to say about this movie: Like all of Star Wars; great directing, lousy writing, which makes it impossible to evaluate the acting.

To help you recuperate from the ordeal, go here:

http://www.leiasmetalbikini.com/

(Got the full URL this time!!)

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Not much to say about this movie: Like all of Star Wars; great directing, lousy writing, which makes it impossible to evaluate the acting.

Great directing.

Hmm.

I read a very interesting article in slate.com today. (http://slate.msn.com/id/2120697/)

The premise is that Lucas and Spielberg have had a fascinating passive competition going back to Lucas' film school days at USC, when Spielberg was in awe of the Lucas' short student piece THX-1138.

There's a lot of specious psychologizing in the article, but I want to quote this one section on Raiders of the Lost Ark:

"... Lucas had helped curb Spielberg's tendency toward financial excess, but Spielberg would rightly take credit for Raiders' artistry. When Nazis shoot up a casket of liquor, Karen Allen stops briefly to grab a mouthful before getting on with the fight. Lucas would never have shot that, or if he did he would have cut it, but for Spielberg, such touches are, you feel, almost the reason for shooting the film; for while speed excites Lucas—precisely because it seals him off from what blurs past, like Luke Skywalker in his X-wing cockpit—it seems almost to relax Spielberg, loosening him up for dabs of characterization and his goosiest, off-the-cuff humor."

Just to repeat... "Lucas would never have shot that." Talk about stark contrasts. Watching this latest batch of Lucas' movies, I cannot think of one sharp spontaneous-seeming moment of character that didn't come from a robot or CGI creature.

That's just being a bad director.

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Just to repeat... "Lucas would never have shot that." Talk about stark contrasts. Watching this latest batch of Lucas' movies, I cannot think of one sharp spontaneous-seeming moment of character that didn't come from a robot or CGI creature.

That's just being a bad director.

So it would have been better if Luke Skywalker had stopped for a bite of a Twinkie while dueling Darth Vader?

You left out the part about whose idea Raiders of the Lost Ark was in the first place.

There is also the point that directing a movie involves a lot more than just getting the actors to act right. A director's self is in every aspect of every frame of a movie. They are much like a painter.

I frankly, and I may be biased here because I may be the biggest Star Wars fan on this board, I may also be biased because he has always been a hero of mine, and was the main deciding factor on my choice of career.

I don't know what anyone is talking about when they are talking about the acting anyway, seems fine to me. Although I do have this observation. I have heard people speak of "wooden performances" and in the same paragraph speak of the Jedi as Stoics. Hmmm.

The part you quoted is the part I can't stand about Spielberg. I don't like those kind of touches in a movie "the human touch" or "slice of life" kind of inclusions. He actual bores me as a director (with the exception of the Indiana Jones movies and ET). I fell asleep to Jurassic Park in the theater, it was so damned boring.

Taken as a whole, I think George Lucas is one of the best directors ever. But, maybe it depends on what you are looking for in a movie.

One of my main hopes in seeing a movie is that I had better not see anything that I spend the rest of my waking hours looking at. I want to be taken somewhere, see the world (or any other) through a definite different slant, a style, I want a person's footprint on that film. I don't want to see the actors being "natural", I don't want to see an office that looks exactly like any office I see on any other day. I don't want to see people acting just as they do all around me, talking like I talk, you talk, they talk, we talk. This is what George Lucas has always given in spades, and he should be commended, and cheered for it.

Not to mention his matchless acheivements in other areas of the film industry.

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No one has mentioned what I think the theme of the Star Wars movies is. Interestingly, it is the same as Lord of the Rings. This may explain the broad appeal of both.

Evil cannot be harnessed or tamed to serve the needs of the good.

The one ring maintains itself because those who have it, or want it, think they can use it for good purposes. Boromir tried to take the ring from Frodo because he thinks he can use its power to save Gondor. The ring corrupts all those who wear it and the only thing to do it destroy it. When treated this way, evil loses its power.

In Star Wars, this is illustrated over and over.

The Trade Federation deals forms a secret alliance with Darth Sideous, and ultimately they are killed for it. The same goes for Count Duku.

Anikin thinks he can use the power of the Dark Side to save Padme, only to find that it is the power of the Dark Side that causes him to kill her.

Members of the Senate think a little tyranny will help to save the Republic. Tyranny begets more tyranny and the citizens of the Republic end up as subjects of the Empire.

At the series climax, Luke, in a rage fueled by fear of what Vader could do to his sister, duels Vader into submission and disarms him by cutting off his hand. At this point, Luke could easily kill Vader and rid the galaxy of this evil man. The gain is so great and the cost is so little. All he need do is complete the goal of any duel, and strike his target. Here compromise with evil is most tempting. He realizes, however, that his advantage has been achieved through the power of the Dark Side, and therefore must be rejected. Luke refuses, turns off his light saber saying, "I am a Jedi, like my father."

The message to the good is this: Don't compromise with evil, under any circumstances. The only proper response to evil is rejection. Never lose hope. You don't need to make a deal with evil. No matter how bleak things seem to be, fight on, and victory must ultimately come.

Its terrific.

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No one has mentioned what I think the theme of the Star Wars movies is.  Interestingly, it is the same as Lord of the Rings.  This may explain the broad appeal of both.

Evil cannot be harnessed or tamed to serve the needs of the good.

The one ring maintains itself because those who have it, or want it, think they can use it for good purposes.  Boromir tried to take the ring from Frodo because he thinks he can use its power to save Gondor.  The ring corrupts all those who wear it and the only thing to do it destroy it.  When treated this way, evil loses its power.

In Star Wars, this is illustrated over and over. 

The Trade Federation deals forms a secret alliance with Darth Sideous, and ultimately they are killed for it.  The same goes for Count Duku.

Anikin thinks he can use the power of the Dark Side to save Padme, only to find that it is the power of the Dark Side that causes him to kill her.

Members of the Senate think a little tyranny will help to save the Republic.  Tyranny begets more tyranny and the citizens of the Republic end up as subjects of the Empire.

At the series climax, Luke, in a rage fueled by fear of what Vader could do to his sister, duels Vader into submission and disarms him by cutting off his hand.  At this point, Luke could easily kill Vader and rid the galaxy of this evil man.  The gain is so great and the cost is so little.  All he need do is complete the goal of any duel, and strike his target.  Here compromise with evil is most tempting.  He realizes, however, that his advantage has been achieved through  the power of the Dark Side, and therefore must be rejected.    Luke refuses, turns off his light saber saying, "I am a Jedi, like my father."

The message to the good is this: Don't compromise with evil, under any circumstances.  The only proper response to evil is rejection.  Never lose hope.  You don't need to make a deal with evil.  No matter how bleak things seem to be, fight on, and victory must ultimately come.

Its terrific.

Yes, Kudos to you!

I've never looked at it from that angle, but it truly does make sense (and is truly correct!)

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Evil cannot be harnessed or tamed to serve the needs of the good.

That was a really good analysis. A good illustration of the point "Ends don't justify the means".

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The message to the good is this: Don't compromise with evil, under any circumstances.  The only proper response to evil is rejection.  Never lose hope.  You don't need to make a deal with evil.  No matter how bleak things seem to be, fight on, and victory must ultimately come.

You're point is interesting and it certainly applies to LOTR, but here's my problem with it.

It is undeniable, as Ayn Rand pointed out, that compromise with evil will destroy the good. But what is evil? For these movies, evil is some amorphous, indescribable "force" which is inherently bad pure and simple. This view of evil is basically childish. What is the "dark side of the force" and why is it dark? Why is the damn ring "totally, utterly evil" without any redeeming qualities? (And here I must admit that I have had tremendous sympathy for Borromir ever since I read the stories when I was eleven. To me, Borromir should have been the hero of the saga. He was proud, ambitous, couragous and in the real world, damn clever. Ever since the Trojan War, using the strengths of your enemy to defeat them has been a brilliant tactical strategy. But in LOTR, Borromir had to die for it. This continues to piss me off to this day.)

Its hard to buy into these "universes" because what they have offered as evil have no analog in the real world. And for me, it compromises these stories ability to convey any moral or theme with any intensity. (Incindently, this is a point made by Robert Trazinsky with regard to LOTR and I think it applies to Star Wars as well.)

I agree with Brian Smith's analysis. These films are great eye candy. But you can only really enjoy them on the surface. To go any deeper is to embed yourself in so many contradictions that you have to philosophize yourself into a pretzel to come away with any profound intellectual value.

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

It is undeniable, as Ayn Rand pointed out, that compromise with evil will destroy the good. But what is evil? For these movies, evil is some amorphous, indescribable "force" which is inherently bad pure and simple. This view of evil is basically childish.
Both Star Wars and LOTR share a similar view of evil and endown it with very similar characteristics: power for power's sake, ambition without reason, absence of harmony and integration, etc. All of the main heroes, in both stories, possess everything that those who are evil do not: reluctance to desire power, ambition put to the purpose of serving other goals and always kept in check by reason, an integration between the mind and the body, between the reason and the emotions, etc.

On the subject of ambition: for example, Sauron has ambitions -- to destroy the world, which is not exaclty a rational ambition here. Frodo has ambitions too -- to destroy the Ring; for him, ambition itself is never the goal, it is put to serve other higher tasks, and is constantly in check to make sure the goals are not swerved away from. Lesson taught: ambition is important because it can drive us toward difficult goals, but it can also get out of control and become an end to itself, or an end to sinister goals such as unrestrained power, so it's something to be careful about.

On the issue of harmony and integrationg: Aragorn, for example, is always calm, serene, etc; during battles he may show expressions of rage, but that is an exception to his regular calm and collected mode of living. Compare that to the orcs who may be said to have expressions of rage and brutality as their regular every day thing, and lacking any peace and harmony whatsoever. The Eye of Sauron is certainly not a peaceful happy little eye, enjoying the scenery from atop a tower. In Star Wars, the same exact thing happens: Aragorn's countenance is now possessed by all of Jedi, institutionalized explicitly in their very philosophy, with a strong explicit focus on integration and understanding one's subconscious as an important part of being happy. The primary aspect of the evil men, such as Sidious, is that they are fundamentally not in harmony with the world, or with themselves. Sidious, even when he's not fighting but merely transmitting orders through a hologram, always projects a sort of sinister rage and putrid hatred. This is especially visible in Episode III, during the duel with Yoda, when Sidious cackles in all of his hideous glory. Also remember the end of Episode I, when Darth Maul is fighting Qui-Gon. When the laser doors separate them, Maul continues pacing, fueled by his rage, while the Jedi sits down, right in the middle of a fight, to reclaim some of his calmness and harmony. Lesson taught: being in harmony with oneself and the world is good, while not being in harmony, and not understanding one's values and emotions, such as in the case of Anakin, can lead to disastrous results, not only for yourself but even for others as well.

So I would not agree at all that these movies are all flash; there's important substance in them for the viewer to mine and to learn from.

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Also remember the end of Episode I, when Darth Maul is fighting Qui-Gon. When the laser doors separate them, Maul continues pacing, fueled by his rage, while the Jedi sits down, right in the middle of a fight, to reclaim some of his calmness and harmony. Lesson taught: being in harmony with oneself and the world is good, while not being in harmony, and not understanding one's values and emotions, such as in the case of Anakin, can lead to disastrous results, not only for yourself but even for others as well.

Here is a rule for the Star Wars films. Obi Wan Kenobi is the exception to every rule.

In your example of duel with Darth Maul after Qui-Gon is mortally wounded, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul are sperated by the last laser door as Qui-Gon had been moments before. Obi-Wan does not sit down, but is literally crackling with rage to slay this dark lord. When the door opens he goes at him with a vengence.

Obi-Wan is also the exception to Brian Smith's analysis. He fought to the teeth every step of the way. (My wife is convinced that Obi-Wan wins against the Siths because he uses the Dark Side to accomplish his aim and returns to the good when it is over, but that is another debate.) Even when he met his end in the original Star Wars, it was not a renounciation, nor giving up. If you remember he sees that Luke is watching them duel, and turns to Vader and smiles saying (as we find out later) "I am sending your own son after you, that will be your defeat."

He is also the Jedi that offered Anakin the only real, sound advice in Episode II. "Be patient. Think."

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It is undeniable, as Ayn Rand pointed out, that compromise with evil will destroy the good. But what is evil? For these movies, evil is some amorphous, indescribable "force" which is inherently bad pure and simple. This view of evil is basically childish. 

 

The "view" of evil in these movies is not childish, but, rather, symbolic. In stories like these, evil is merely the nucleus (in some fantasy-like form) that serves as the catalyst for the story. And the storyline develops from the good fighting against this evil, it is in the choices that these characters make when confronting this symbolic evil that make the story.

By this base of conflict come the issues of: how does one defeat evil? Can one use evil means to pursue good ends? Can one be only partly evil? Can one bring oneself back to the good after a lifetime of renounciation and evil...etc.

And the reason these types of stories have such wide appeal is because they are not studies in the nature of evil, nor stories of depravity. The evil is a symbolic embodiment by fantastic means to project the stories of the good, the hero. Once the good finds the correct path the evil is defeated, and the good is victorious.

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Right, Obi-Wan does not sit down and is teeming with eagerness to fight, but then he is just a learner at that point. Look how collected and poised he is in Episode III. But then again it never occurred to me that he could tap into the Dark Side at will... or that such thoughts occur to people B)

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Right, Obi-Wan does not sit down and is teeming with eagerness to fight, but then he is just a learner at that point. Look how collected and poised he is in Episode III. But then again it never occurred to me that he could tap into the Dark Side at will... or that such thoughts occur to people B)

Well, the thought occured to my wife....I'm keeping an eye on her... :)

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No one has mentioned what I think the theme of the Star Wars movies is.  Interestingly, it is the same as Lord of the Rings.  This may explain the broad appeal of both.

Evil cannot be harnessed or tamed to serve the needs of the good.

That is true as far as it goes, insofar as the Ring and the Dark side are actually evil, which -- in part -- they are.

However, the Ring, and the Dark Side are package deals. Both concepts package together real evil with -- retaliatory force. And since the result of a package deal is to obliterate the good part of the package-deal by equating it with the evil part of the package-deal, the good and necessary idea that is obliterated in both stories (by the ideas of the Ring and the Dark Side) is retaliatory force.

In both stories the side that is supposed to be the good has no clear unequivocal idea of retaliatory force (because there is no clear idea of what constitutes either good or evil). If retaliatory force is muddied and mixed and sometimes equated with evil; then the only effective weapon against evil has been obliterated, and obliterating the weapons that can fight evil serves only evil.

What is supposed to substitute for a clear concept of retaliatory force is mysticism, and collectivism, which are bad for rational men, and are certainly no substitute for a clear idea of retaliatory force.

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If the Jedi don't believe that fighting for what's right is proper, then why do they make lightsabers, certainly the deadliest weapons in the Star Wars universe? And aren't both Star Wars and LOTR movies defined by huge massive battles between good guys and bad guys? Given all this, I'm not sure what you mean in your point about package dealing of evil with retaliatory force. Evil is packaged with aggression and wanton destruction for the sake of destruction, but I don't think that that package is a package deal, instead being a rather plausible way to present the issues at hand.

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It seems to me that this thread has two type of responses, those like Rose Lake's and mine that account for what the characters say and the implications thereof, and those like Thoyd Loki and Free Capitalist that attempt to extrapolate out from the sagas broad philosophical points that in my opinion either don't exist or are exaggerated.

That being said, I do find Thoyd Loki's position that the symbols of evil in these stories are not what's important but the response to them by the heroes to be interesting. But nevertheless it succumbs to the objection that I made earlier. Namely, that what is posited as evil has no analogy in the real world, and therefore the response to it by the heroes is difficult if not impossible to judge by real world standards.

If I were a writer of fiction, which I am not, I would rewrite the LOTR (in a new and original form) and make Borromir the hero.

As for Obi-won. I agree that he does seem to violate all the explicit rules of the Star Wars universe. Perhaps that's why he always won.

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If the Jedi don't believe that fighting for what's right is proper, then why do they make lightsabers, certainly the deadliest weapons in the Star Wars universe? And aren't both Star Wars and LOTR movies defined by huge massive battles between good guys and bad guys? Given all this, I'm not sure what you mean in your point about package dealing of evil with retaliatory force. Evil is packaged with aggression and wanton destruction for the sake of destruction, but  I don't think that that package is a package deal, instead being a rather plausible way to present the issues at hand.

It's very clear in the movies that getting angry at the (truly) evil SOBs - the Sith and their cohorts - leads one to the Dark Side. Zen-like peace is presumably a prereq. to good acts. As Mr. Spock could tell you, emotions are bad...

That is not a rational philosophy, in any galaxy. It's basically pacificism intertwined with Eastern mysticism. Seriously, what is the point in trying to make cohesive, rational, integrated sense out of George Lucas' plots?? It isn't there.

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If the Jedi don't believe that fighting for what's right is proper, then why do they make lightsabers, certainly the deadliest weapons in the Star Wars universe? And aren't both Star Wars and LOTR movies defined by huge massive battles between good guys and bad guys? Given all this, I'm not sure what you mean in your point about package dealing of evil with retaliatory force. Evil is packaged with aggression and wanton destruction for the sake of destruction, but  I don't think that that package is a package deal, instead being a rather plausible way to present the issues at hand.

Please read my post again and give it some thought. You may see that I have a point. I have reproduced and bolded the most relevant passages below. I'm not saying that my point is the only point. But I hadn't seen it made in this way, which I think is fairly clear and coherent, though perhaps something similar had already been expressed.

No one has mentioned what I think the theme of the Star Wars movies is.  Interestingly, it is the same as Lord of the Rings.  This may explain the broad appeal of both.

Evil cannot be harnessed or tamed to serve the needs of the good.

That is true as far as it goes, insofar as the Ring and the Dark side are actually evil, which  -- in part -- they are.

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Seriously, what is the point in trying to make cohesive, rational, integrated sense out of George Lucas' plots?? It isn't there.

Yes. That seems to be what many of the posts in this thread are trying to accomplish. I realize that we are all starved for truly rational, heroic art. But to try to find it in many of today's movies is pushing it in my opinion. To be sure, Star Wars, LOTR, and even the Batman movie have many things to recommend them. But they are not recreations of Atlas Shrugged. Let's not treat them as such.

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