Star Wars. One of the biggest franchises ever to grace the screens. Roughly 40 years ago Star Wars changed cinema and helped pave the way for the blockbuster phenomenon. George Lucas continued the saga in 1999 by exploring the events that led to the rise of the Empire and the origins of the Darth Vader, arguably one of the most iconic film villains of all time.
Whilst the prequel trilogy accumulated $2.5 billion world wide at the Box Office, over time fans have grown less fond of these films. It’s an observation that has become more prominent in the lead up to Episode VII as Lucasfilm promises a more grounded trilogy to reinvigorate the franchise.
I’ll get to the point, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) is my favourite Star Wars film. It may be nostalgia and the fact that I grew up on the prequel trilogy, but I love them and think they are important to view so you understand characters origins. I admit that they are cheesy (just like the original films) but the whole point of the franchise is that it is pure fun and fantasy. It allows an audience to go on an exciting journey and completely embrace the Star Wars universe.
That being said, the themes and character relationships in Revenge of the Sith are powerful and engrossing. It’s rare for a film to show the evil side taking power and conquering good, and that is why I love this film. Because at the end of the day you know the end result and that evil does not win forever, but I love how unconventional the film is in showing that sometimes it is hard to resist your natural emotions.
Let’s be honest, this film plays with your emotions. No matter how many times I watch this film, I keep getting frustrated how Anakin goes on a dark path and those little moments where you see the seeds are being sown into his eventual doom.
Relationships is a strong theme. Relationship of husband and wife, master and padawan and obviously evil vs. good. Anakin encompasses all of these themes and despite the mediocre acting from Hayden Christensen, the character exploration is one of the strongest points of the film. I loved how he struggles with his conflicting emotions and to a degree repressed them because he is going on a journey, unfortunately he ends up at the wrong destination. Anakin allows fear, greed and jealousy to consume him to the point where he is too deep in affiliation with the Sith.
It reminds me of a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:
“I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go over.” (Act 3 Scene 4)
It brings up the theme of forgiveness and redemption. The thing that gives the audience hope is that by destroying the Emperor and saving Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi, there is redemption for Anakin. However, at the time of the events of Revenge of the Sith, questions about whether people can turn back from their evil ways. Then the audience member in me is crying and begging Anakin not to listen to the Chancellor, even though it has to happen and even though there is some small moment of redemption in the end.
The Chosen One. The prophecy spoke about an individual who would destroy the Sith and bring peace to the galaxy. Up to this point no one has doubted that destiny over Anakin’s life, until Yoda says a subtle yet impactful statement: “A prophecy misread, perhaps.” Little do they know he actually fulfils the prophecy at the end of Return of the Jedi, however at this point in the film it’s quite a shocking moment thinking all this time has been wasted and in fact they could be back at square one, in trying to find the one who would destroy the Sith. Also referring back to Phantom of the Menace (1999) the Jedi council initially reject the request to train Anakin as they sensed great fear in him, unfortunately how right they were.
The best scene of the whole film is the incredible fight sequence on the volcanic planet Mustafar between Obi-Wan and Anakin. This is a tragic moment as the little boy on Tatooine is no more, he has thrown away all chances to become a great Jedi Master and thrown away a brotherly bond all for selfish gain.
The most tragic relationship breakdown is between Padme and Anakin, after everything they had been through it was all thrown away due to the paranoia of Anakin. Gone was the little boy she met on Tatooine, as she states, “I don’t know you anymore, Anakin, you’re breaking my heart!” before Anakin acts out and despite the fact he was trying to prevent her death, ironically he was the cause of her death. There is a subtle moment during the funereal of Padme when you see the necklace (that was given to her when they first met) clutched in her hands, for a single moment you remember they innocence of their relationship. How they had a true and deep love for each other that was sacrificed due to Anakin’s pursuit of power.
I could go on longer, but in short this film is great to dissect and discuss important themes and issues. During the whole film, even the whole prequel trilogy, you see so many moments where the overall outcome could have been prevented. However, we all know what is going to happen and as tragic as it is, the end goal is one of hope and peace and Anakin does fulfil the Jedi prophecy.