Original Release: May 19, 2005
Written and Directed By: George Lucas
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Chirstensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson and Frank Oz
Parting is such sweet sorrow, but alas, we have reached the end of our Vault Vader journey together. There were laughs, there were tears. I know I cried a little bit. From the original trilogy which defined a generation to a prequel trilogy that a generation tried to forget, it’s been one hell of a journey. So now, before the release of The Force Awakens. It’s time to take a look at Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. And while this film is certainly flawed, I often refer to it as my second favorite of the saga. It’s a film with some great emotional beats and one that manages to fix many of the wrongs of its two predecessors. So come along my padawans. Let us journey through the final story of Anakin and his emo hair. Let us complete the saga so we’re ready to go back to a galaxy far far away, come December 18.
George Lucas began work on Revenge of the Jedi even before Attack of the Clones was released. He proposed several of the action sequences to concept artists so that they could begin artwork and wrote a script for the film that focused heavily on tying up loose ends from Clones. As time went on though, he began to think that he might want to do a story that was more heavily focused on Anakin Skywalker and his inevitable shift to the dark side by the end of the film. This meant that several ideas and scenes were cut. Remember that complaint I had back in Episode II about never really understanding where the clones came from? Yep, that was one of the dropped storylines. Apparently this story was eventually told in the expanded universe in the form of a book, but seriously who has time to read anymore? (Oh, by the way, I’m releasing a book in January. Please read it!)
Another scene cut is a scene, which although heavily implied, never actually got filmed. In this particular scene, Palpatine, emperor of the universe, tells Anakin that he made the midi-clorines (Force bugs, or so I like to call them) create Anakin and thus, Palpatine is Anakin’s daddy. I’m glad this got cut though as it’s just too similar to the original trilogy. Many more tie-ins were planned, including a 10 year old Han Solo hanging out with the wookies. This was cut, but I find that to be a good thing as I can only imagine a 10 year old Solo annoying the crap out of everyone. There were many scenes involving all sorts of reasons for Anakin to turn to the dark side, but many of these were trashed in favor of the focus on Anakin’s desire to save Padme.
The very first scene of the film shot was actually the last scene of the film. It was filmed during the production of Attack of the Clones. Long before Lucas would ever film the climactic lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan, the two actors were busy rehearsing the sequence. In the film, the actors are moving at real speed and the scene is not sped up, with the exception of a few moments when single frames were taken out in order to make it seem the slightest bit faster. Christensen himself begged Lucas to let him be in the Darth Vader suit for the final scene. Because the suit was so tall, however, he actually had to look out the mouthpiece. Because of this, the film is the only one in which Anakin and Darth Vader are played by the same person.
I think there’s actually quite a lot to love about this film. The story itself is much more focused and tells more of a personal story. This means that, while the action is awesome, the really memorable parts of the film actually involve an emotional twist or a point of character development. This was not true of the last two films. Part of this is aided by the fact that Hayden Christionsen plays a far superior evil Anakin than his portrayal of good-guy Anakin. The moments of him finally turning to the dark side and marching an army of stormtroopers into the Jedi temple are some of the most powerful in the film and in this entire series.
That’s not to give too much credit to Hayden, because the real star of this film, and in fact all of the prequels, is Ewan Mcgregor who seems as though he was born to play young Obi-Wan. At the end of the climactic battle, he yells to Anakin, “You were my brother! I loved you!” and it’s a true testament to his acting skills that this sounds heartbreaking, rather than corny. He really pulls the weight of the film and I often felt horrible watching him try to deny that this kid he trained, was now so awful a human being.
Darth Sedious AKA Chancellor Palpatine AKA the Emperor is also fantastic. It’s great to finally get some quality screen time with this guy. He shifts so effortlessly between a kind gentleman to a crazy sith lord and his voices always work despite the fact that they really should seem silly. He makes an even better villain this time around than in the original Star Wars so many years ago.
There are some truly amazing action sequences here too. I love the opening star battle and the chasing of Greivous and Dooku. I love Obi-Wan taking down Grievous and the continuing Clone Wars. And that final battle. Obi-Wan vs. Anakin is stunning but let’s not forget Yoda VS Sideous which is a powerful confrontation. It hurts so much to watch Yoda fail, even though we know it has to happen. Watching them go head to head is a once in a saga moment and its well worth it. The sequence of the Jedi’s falling to Order 66 is incredibly sad but also wonderful to see all these Jedi that I’d come to love through the Clone Wars TV series and beyond. It’s one of the best composed sequences of the film and doesn’t fail to show the gravity and pain of what is happening.
Revenge of the Sith is far from perfect. There’s plenty of wonky dialogue and storylines that don’t ever quite play out the way they should. Anakin and Padme still have little to no chemistry, even though Natalie Portman tries her best to fake it. I still have a hard time believing that Jedi, who seem to sense everything, can’t sense Palpatine or at least Anakin having a baby with Padme. Their powers seem to conveniently turn off whenever the story needs them to, which gets harder and harder to swallow as the film moves forward.
Overall though, Revenge of the Sith is by far the best of the prequels and proves that Star Wars can still be good in a modern age. I want to thank all of you for reading this short series and getting excited for The Force Awakens with me. I can’t wait for the film and I am full of hope and happiness at seeing a new age of Star Wars come to life. While not all the Star Wars films are great, they are certainly a lot of fun to watch and talk about and I can’t wait to see what comes next for this little tale of a galaxy far far away.
* * *
NOTE: Obviously all the photos are courtesy of Disney Entertainment and I would never in a million years claim them as my own. That being said, all are actually taken with my phone during our viewing in order to capture the moment in a slightly different way than originally intended.
ALSO: My Fiancee has a blog too and he is talking about all the classics we are currently watching, which involves more than just Disney. Head over HERE and check it out!