There are many conflicting view points on the Star Wars films, and what Lucas has been constantly modifying and whether or not it is positive or negative to what he is trying to accomplish. However, if there is one thing that the fans can agree upon, it’s that it is fun to complain about Star Wars. Star Wars is like politics. There are too many different ways that the films make people feel, and because of those feelings, people are going to derive different views. Despite personal opinions, there are a few empirical data points that I feel need to be addressed, not only to the fans, but to Lucas himself. A man who is seemingly trying to either create his perfect vision of a film, or has no creative outlet what-so-ever and can only cling to the franchise that gave him a halfway decent reputation to begin with.
In “A New Hope” we learn that Vader “betrayed and murdered” Anakin Skywalker, the father of the film’s protagonist, Luke Skywalker. Obviously, if you’ve been anywhere near a film or person in the last 20 years you know that this is speaking in more of a metaphoric sense as opposed to a literal interpretation. Obi-wan would not have used these words without thinking carefully about their phrasing. The betrayal of Anakin Skywalker is something that would greatly affect Mr. Kenobi, especially considering he’d been essentially raising the boy into adulthood. Obi-wan is telling Luke that there was something inside of Anakin that betrayed who he really was. More specifically, there was an influence that caused Anakin to turn against everything he stood for, essentially killing that good still in him. In Return of the Jedi, Obi-wan’s ghost tells Luke that Anakin was twisted and corrupted by the Dark Side. That sounds like a pretty uncomfortable transformation, both internally and externally. Not to mention he had a wife/lover that would be dealing with this dramatic change as well.
Now, let’s look at what Lucas did with these descriptors in the prequels.
Never, at any point, does Anakin Skywalker really have a conflict of interest within himself about what needs to be done. If he had we would have heard him talk about it, considering that any internal dialogue or need for “acting” was replaced with obvious exposition. When Anakin was feeling held back by Obi-wan, he would throw something and comment about being held back. When someone was scared, they would say they were scared. It was a bit surprising to see someone smile without some sort of dialogue paraphrasing “I’m smiling, look!” Of course, I’m being a bit dramatic, but my point remains the same. Anakin wasn’t betrayed or killed by any interior conflict. In fact, his change into Darth Vader was extremely anti-climactic. Someone simply said “I now call you, Darth … Vader.”
Anakin’s path down the Dark Side was driven by his fear of losing his wife during childbirth. Not to an explosion, or assassin, or an EMP caused by some sort of solar-flare causing the equipment to malfunction, but by complications in the birthing. This all seems a bit lazy, from a viewer’s standpoint, merely by examining everything else that exists in this fictional world. Even in modern times we have taken great leaps in medicine that help protect the mother during childbirth. Yet, in a galaxy where they have stadium-sized ships that are able to float into the air without jet propulsion, using what can only be surmised as an anti-gravity drive, they can’t save a woman from dying while having children. Any argument that the robot-doctors on board Mr. Organa’s ship weren’t equipped to handle a birth have to be thrown out the window, because we are clearly given a look at a robot whose hands were designed to scoop a baby out of a vagina. Unless a fan wants to say that the crew of the ship pulled the gelato-bot from the kitchen because they were short staffed, there isn’t much debate for them being without proper birthing equipment.
If anything, this scenario would lead suspicion to an assassination on Padme. The people standing in the room where strangely comfortable with the explanation of “she lost the will to live.” It would be nice to consider that maybe she was killed out of fear of Anakin’s power, or ability to track her using the Force or whatever, but that is only a fan-made theory (mine) and not something that Lucas stated in any shape or form.
Regardless, Anakin was afraid of losing his wife in childbirth. Which, according to him, justifies genocide. Not only against those who might fight against him, but the children who might just be learning how to start activating a Force push. Think about that again. Anakin Skywalker, one of the greatest combative and tactical Jedi in history, kills an entire population of children to save his wife.
These aren’t even the children of the sand-people, who killed his mother and were therefore savagely slaughtered because of it. These kids did nothing more than try to follow the path of the great Jedi before them, including Anakin. All because he got a new name and felt bad about killing Mace Windu. Apparently logic and reason aren’t something they teach in the Jedi Academy, which you think they would considering how those two methods of thinking can often trump anger and fear. Which happen to be the two scariest emotions in the Light Side-world.
What I mean by logic and reason is that Anakin was duped by a method of persuasion from Senator Palpatine called “appealing to consequences.” Palpatine tells Anakin that there is a power that can save his wife, but it cannot be learned from a Jedi. This implies, obviously, that it can only be learned from a Sith, because Palpatine just told the story about how a Sith Lord Plagueis created this power. So, without any proof of Palpatine’s claims, or any research checking to see if Darth Plaugueis was a real person or not, Anakin murders one of his mentors on a hunch. Not even a hunch he had a dream about, merely a whisper of a possibility. Immediately following, as if he’d already seen the original Star Wars trilogy, Senator Palpatine puts a hood over his head, and renames Anakin “Darth … Vader.”
A quick side-note, there is absolutely no explanation as to the naming process of the Darth titles given in the films. Anakin merely accepts the name much as a dog would. This is also recognizing that a dog does not speak a phonetic language, which Anakin clearly does. Had Palpatine’s line been “I now call you Darth … Bum … Rust,” there might have been a questioning look from Anakin. I suppose he thought Vader sounded cool enough.
This interaction and series of events make Anakin one of the most unstable and dangerous people in the galaxy. Not dangerous as in the kind of person you wouldn’t want as your enemy, but dangerous as the kind of person you don’t want on your side. Everyone was able to see what Anakin did to the society of people that raised him, fed him, and sheltered him since he was a youth; turning him into a very effective peacekeeper, and giving him abilities that most normal people/life forms could only hope for. He is then taken in by Palpatine, aka, Darth Sidious. Sidious had previously murdered his master while he slept in order to become the new master of what Sith culture has called “The Rule of Two.” This implies that there will be a master, and an apprentice, but no more. There can be more pairs out there, but at no point will the Siths create a council or anything along those lines.
In other parts of the Star Wars continued universe there are other Sith factions that toy with this idea, but for the sake of length in this article I won’t dive into those. How could Sidious not think that he would eventually be betrayed by Vader? Why even toy with the power of eternal life (which is never touched on again according to the original Star Wars films) when history suggests that the Rule of Two always ends up with the master being killed by his/her apprentice? Not to mention that Sidious saw what Vader was willing to do to the entire Jedi population for just an opportunity to continue talking about there maybe being a power that could save his wife/lover.
Another example of not paying attention to the earlier films is the death of Padme. As previously stated, there was no reason Padme should have died on that operating table outside of murder. Despite that poor bit of plot propulsion, there is a line in Return of the Jedi that completely renders the death of this woman as false. Allow me to share the conversation:
Princess Leia: Luke, what’s wrong?
Luke: Leia, do you remember your mother? Your real mother?
Princess Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.
Luke: What do you remember?
Princess Leia: Just… images really. Feelings.
Luke: Tell me.
Princess Leia: She was… very beautiful. Kind, but sad. Why are you asking me this?
Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.
According to Revenge of the Sith, Leia should have no memory of their mother either. Perhaps she is speaking of her adoptive mother, which could easily explain away this entire conversation. However, it would also render this very important conversation to be utterly pointless.
Obviously, I have some personal issues with the film, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken the time to write this article. Despite this, I feel that the issues I have brought up should have been something that a person with a deep respect and love for their original creation should have been concerned about when creating a set of prequels. Recently, George Lucas has stated he is retiring from making blockbuster films in the future. This has led some people to believe that he won’t make a seventh Star Wars film in the franchise for the big screen. I don’t think I’m the only person who, after examining his previous attempts to showcase his CGI and not his directing or narrative abilities, thinks that this might not be a bad thing. As long as Lucas doesn’t hoard the rights to this wonderful and expansive universe, and allows for a different set of creative hands to mold a new story from long long ago in a galaxy far away.