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Star Wars Episode III

Star Wars Episode III

By Arpad Lukacs • January 19th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
STAR WARS EPISODE III: RENGEN OF THE SITH (MOVIE)
20th Century Fox

Original release: May 19th, 2005
Running time: 140 minutes

Writer and director: George Lucas
Composer: John Williams

Cast: Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode I
Star Wars Episode II

In the opening events of Revenge Of The Sith, Chancellor Palapatine’s dubious morals are demonstrated when Anakin overcomes Count Dooku in a lightsaber duel. Palpatine urges Anakin to kill his opponent by saying: “He is too dangerous to be left alive”. This is exactly the sort of “free market” justification for murder we would expect from a Sith Lord based on what we know about this world from the original trilogy.

The scene is however mirrored on the other side later in the film. When the Jedi eventually realise that the Sith Lord they’ve been looking for has been right in front of them all along, Mace Windu sets out to make an arrest. After a brief fight, Anakin arrives as Palpatine appears to have been overcome by Mace Windu, but arrest doesn’t seem to be an option on the table:

MACE WINDU:
I’m going to end this once and for all!

ANAKIN:
You can’t, he must stand trial!

MACE WINDU:
He has control of the Senate and the courts. He is too dangerous to be left alive.

Mace Windu then raises his lightsaber to do what would’ve been a summary execution without Anakin’s intervention. The justification for his intentions “He is too dangerous to be left alive” is identical to that of the Sith Lord under the same circumstances. The scene strongly implies that those who turn to the dark side of the Force might be right when saying there’s no fundamental difference between the two sides from a moral point of view.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

The Jedi’s willingness to abandon their moral code in order to survive is also a common trait of religious groups; a well-known example of this is the Catholic Church’s treaty with Nazi Germany on July 8, 1933 in what was the very first diplomatic accord undertaken by Hitler’s government, and to which the Führer referred to as “especially significant in the struggle against international Jewry”. Time and time again, these groups within which due process is vague and only enforced when it’s convenient, survival at all cost ends up being the most prevalent collective instinct over all else.

By the final film in the prequel trilogy, it’s crystal clear that the unfolding conflict is not one between the Galactic Republic and the Trade Federation, or one between separatists and unionists, but between two religious sects that together corrupted the democratic process from the inside in their attempts to hold onto power. The final confrontation between Yoda and Palpatine visualises this theme beautifully: the two Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sithof them end up fighting each other inside the Senate Chamber in a highly symbolic scene where two religious zealots destroy the place where the business of democracy should be conducted – because they’re trying to destroy each other.

The reason I’ve come to accept the flaws in these films is the strong subtext they have to offer on the consequences of organised religion interacting with modern democracy while gaining excessive power in the process. Master Kenobi making a transition and being referred to as “General Kenobi” in Revenge Of The Sith was something that shook me out of my childhood admiration for the Jedi. There’s nothing more frightening than military action guided by religious belief; I still remember my horror when I heard George W. Bush claiming he received divine permission to authorise the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The prequel trilogy makes a really strong case for Thomas Jefferson’s famous 1802 letter, in which he writes about “building a wall of separation between Church and State”. This remains true in our present and even “A Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Arpad Lukacs

Arpad Lukacs

Arpad is a Film Studies graduate and passionate photographer (he picked up the camera and started taking stills just as he began his studies of moving pictures). He admires directors that can tell a story first of all in images. More or less inevitably, Brian De Palma has become Aprad’s favourite filmmaker.

Then there’s Arpad’s interest in anime. He was just a boy when he saw Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on an old VHS and was hypnotised by the story of friendship, devotion and sacrifice. He still marvels at the uncompromising and courageous storytelling in Japanese anime, and wonders about the western audience with its ever growing appetite for “Japanemation”.

Have a look at Arpad's photography site, and you can follow him on Twitter @arpadlukacs.

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