As we move into this new era of Star Wars, I want to take a look back at the saga films, how my perceptions have changed over time and the ever-changing canon of Star Wars.
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, was released in May of 2005. For me, this was the most anticipated film of the prequel trilogy. From the first moment that I heard that the prequel films were going to happen back in 1994, I wanted to see the fight between Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. The “be all and end all” battle, where Anakin is forced into the Darth Vader suit, becoming more machine than man. So, by the time of the film’s release in 2005 I had been waiting nearly 11 years to see that climatic duel. Needless to say my anticipation of this film’s release was high.
Looking back on Revenge of the Sith now, it is helped greatly, by The Clone Wars animated show. The films themselves only give us the first and last battles of the Clone Wars. We only get hints of the great hero that Anakin has become, but really, we are only seeing him at his worst in the films.The animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, helps to fill in so many gaps in the film version of the saga. The prequel trilogy is a tragic tale. A story about the rise and fall of the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker — so deep and heavily layered that it really should have had more than the eight hours of live action film that we see between the three films.
That’s not to say that the film doesn’t succeed at telling the story, but rather, we only get the highlights. So we have to infer much of it for ourselves. Looking at this film in context with The Clone Wars we can see so much more of Anakin’s continuing trend towards the dark side and his disillusionment with the Jedi Council. Seeing Anakin be placed on the council, but not be promoted to Jedi Master, is so much more meaningful after we see how Ahsoka was treated by the Jedi Masters of the High Council.
Anakin’s fall to the dark side is the central story of the whole prequel trilogy. It all culminates here, with him making those final, fateful choices and becoming Darth Vader. At the time of the film’s release, I know there were many complaints that the change happened too quickly. On first viewing, I was shocked by how quickly it happened as well, but after repeated viewings, and seeing this film in context with the other two films, and now The Clone Wars, we can clearly see that this change has been building in Anakin since he was a young boy on Tatooine.
Revenge of the Sith is a tragedy in the grandest sense. It’s a story of love and loss, power and corruption, and how much people can give up in the name of security. It’s hard not to see George Lucas’ political beliefs here.
Like the others in the prequel trilogy, this film is a visual feast for the eyes. Rewatching the film for this article, I continue to find new details and things I have never noticed before. From the opening battle over Coruscant to the climatic duel between Jedi and Sith, the action is simply fantastic.
The acting in Star Wars has never been one of it’s strong points, but here in this film, we finally get to see Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, and yes Hayden Christensen all deliver their best performances of the trilogy. Ian McDiarmid delivers a master class in how to be evil with his cackling and twisted Palpatine.
The film’s final moment are among the saddest in the saga with Obi-wan’s impassioned “You were my brother!” speech and Darth Vader taking his first breaths as Padme takes her last. The final hour of this film is fantastic and heartbreaking melodrama, almost Shakespearean in its storytelling.
When having to rank the Star Wars films, I would put Revenge of the Sith as my second favorite behind only the original A New Hope. This is the film that delivers on so much of what was expected from the prequel trilogy.
The Cantina Cast
The wretched hive your Jedi Master warned you about!