I’m still not sure what it is exactly the Sith were seeking revenge for but I’m going to assume it was something bad!
Written By: George Lucas
Directed By: George Lucas
Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith continues an upward trend in the Star Wars franchise of films. I liked Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and I really liked Episode II: Attack Of The Clones but I pretty much love Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. It’s not a perfect movie, but in the vein of what I expect and want from the world of Star Wars it is oh so close to perfection. I was quite surprised by the amount of backlash that this particular film received, I mean I could understand the problems people had with a few areas, but on the whole I was never able to understand why so many people outright hated this film. That is I wasn’t able to understand the detractors until I undertook this viewing of Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith.
At about the halfway point it clicked for me, Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith is the story of the downfall of a hero. Whether or not the film works for you is dependent on you as the viewer buying this: “Anakin Skywalker, Hero.” I understand why this was such a hard buy for a lot of people, but it wasn’t for me, and that may be thanks to all the Expanded Universe material I have read or watched that has, ahem, expanded on Anakin’s character. Still, even without such outside sources I do believe that Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith does a more than adequate job by itself of portraying Anakin as the conflicted hero and making the film be all about his fall. On this viewing of Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith what I most took away was how much Anakin ends up hating himself, how that is what will drive his character in all the years to come, and why he is able to end up taking on such an evil bent. The scene where he yells “I hate you,” at Obi-Wan is perhaps my favorite moment in the entire film. When Anakin yells those words he isn’t yelling them at Obi-Wan, rather Obi-Wan is merely the recipient for all of Anakin’s self-hatred. I realize I am probably on an island by myself with this particular reading but the more I think about it the more it makes perfect sense to me.
The fact that Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith ties itself so much into Anakin’s fall does bring about one of its larger misfires. Prior to this entry in the saga I would have argued that Padmé Amidala was a much stronger female character than her daughter ever was in the original trilogy. Sadly this movie ruins all of that and reduces what was a strong independent character into nothing more than a prop for Anakin’s feelings and ultimately turns her into an abhorrent character that no one can root for. She’s lost the will to live my ass!
Something I noticed about Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith the first time I watched it that still holds true to this viewing was the way George Lucas made this his big splashy picture. What I mean by that is that Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith is constructed much like an old school comic book, each frame is full of some sort of vibrant or loud color, even the darker tones stand out, and each image is meticulously crafted so that every centimeter of the screen is filled with some little bit of importance. The dialogue is also constructed in the typical pulp style where not a lot is said but what is said is big and bombastic and sounds like the most important thing that character could ever say. It’s not an easy aesthetic to take in as it flies in the face of much of what we are taught to think of as “great” cinema, but I love the style Lucas chose to employ in Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith.
Contrary to what I said earlier in this review, I don’t think I can actually peg down one moment that stood out as the best moment for me. I can say though that I think two scenes/moments represent the pinnacle of George Lucas’ career as a director. First is the scene of Anakin and Padmé staring at each other across Coruscant just as Anakin makes the decision that will seal his fate forever. I don’t think Lucas has ever been more on his game than in that scene, getting the actors to play it perfectly, picking the right music and setting a tone that gets me every time. Despite my love of Star Wars I’ve never thought much of Lucas as a director, but in that scene he showed me something.
The next pinnacle for Lucas wasn’t so much a pinnacle for Lucas as it was a pinnacle for the entire Star Wars creative team and this time I am speaking of the final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Not only does it have the emotional resonance found in the second greatest lightsaber duel in the saga, to be revealed at a later date, but it is the most action packed and tells the most story within its action. All you need to know about Anakin, Obi-Wan and their relationship can be found in that duel and it never fails to get me going or leave me staring at my screen in pure bliss. When I think of what is coming up next in terms of lightsaber duels I can only sigh at how large the drop off in quality will be.
Once again, there’s no need for me to actually talk about the CG work, the sound design or the costumes, all are stellar as only LucasFilm can provide. And, as much as I would like to get into how Yoda’s meditation scene with Anakin really irks me and provides a lot of fuel for my anti-Jedi leanings, I will save that for when I get to the novelization. I know, I know, I am a tease, but sometimes a little tease is a good thing.
I know there is plenty that I didn’t touch on, the excellent fall of the Jedi montage and Darth Vader’s cringe inducing “No!” for starters, but I believe I touched on all the areas that adequately present my feelings on Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. As much as I liked Episode II: Attack Of The Clones, this is the best film of the prequel trilogy and when all is said and done I am sure many of you will hold a hand over their mouth aghast at where I place it in the overall saga. Let me reiterate, Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith isn’t a perfect movie, nor is it a movie whose presentation and aesthetic style will work for everyone. But, it is a movie that I love and a prime example of the mythic storytelling found in Star Wars that has always captivated me. I’ll be most interested to find out where Edgar falls on Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, then again I’ve been just as interested to see what Edgar thought of the other two films in the marathon so far, so maybe I should stop talking now.
Check out Edgar’s review at Between The Seats.