Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Fixing the Prequels: Revenge of the Sith (part eleven)



Previously:

ten
nine
eight
seven
six
five
four
three
two
one

And now we come to it: the final scenes of Revenge of the Sith.

Most of what I would change here would be to touch up the emotional undercurrent of everything that’s going on, and to address a few issues that have given some people (but not me) pause over the years. Largely, though, I tend to be of the view that the entire second half of this film is extremely good across the board, and close to pitch-perfect in spots.

When we left off, Obi Wan had just confronted Padme with the truth of what’s happening to Anakin. Here Padme decides to try to intercede before things fall apart too badly, and she gets in her ship and flies off to Mustafar. She has a stowaway on board, though: Obi Wan.

The scene that unfolds on the Mustafar landing platform is, to my mind, one of the most underrated scenes in the entire Prequel Trilogy. I suppose that by this point in the film, people’s minds are long made-up about this entire exercise, so it might not even matter how good a scene George Lucas turns in at this point. But anyway, for what it’s worth, I love just about everything about this scene: the hellish red pall over everything, the smoke and ash in the air, Natalie Portman’s capturing of Padme’s desperate attempt to talk Anakin away from his path of hatred, Hayden Christensen’s efforts to make it all sound so reasonable and then his whip-like shift to rage when it fails, and Ewan McGregor’s grounding of Obi Wan, trying to reassert a kind of parental control over Anakin even though he knows it’s going to fail.




There’s also an interesting call-back to The Phantom Menace. Remember in that film, during the duel at the end, the bit with the cascading force-fields that separated the combatants? Qui Gon Jinn knelt and meditated, while Darth Maul paced back and forth like a caged animal. Here, when Anakin feels Obi Wan’s pressure, he begins doing the same thing. Anyhow, I would only make a few very minor changes to any of this:

PADME: Oh, Anakin!

ANAKIN: It's all right, you're safe now. What are you doing out here?

PADME: I was so worried about you. Obi-Wan told me terrible things.

ANAKIN: What things?

PADME: He said you have turned to the dark side . . . that you killed younglings.

ANAKIN: Obi-Wan is trying to turn you against me.

PADME: He cares about us.

ANAKIN: Us??!

PADME: He knows . . . He wants to help you.

ANAKIN: Is Obi-Wan going to protect you? He can't ... he can't help you. He's not strong enough.

PADME: Anakin, all I want is your love.

ANAKIN: Love won't save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that.

PADME: At what cost? You are a good person. Don't do this.

ANAKIN: I won't lose you the way I lost my mother! I've become more powerful than any Jedi has ever dreamed of and I've done it for you. To protect you.

PADME: Come away with me. Help me raise our child. Leave everything else behind while we still can. [An addition here] You wanted to teach our child to use the Force!

She holds up his original lightsaber, his Jedi weapon. ANAKIN ignores it.

ANAKIN: Don't you see, we don't have to run away anymore. I have brought peace to the Republic. I am more powerful than the Chancellor. I can overthrow him, and together you and I can rule the galaxy. Make things the way we want them to be.

[Now, this is fascinating right here. Anakin appeals to Padme in a very bizarre way: “Join me and we shall rule the galaxy as husband and wife.” That he thinks this can possibly work at all is a testament to how screw-up Anakin is. There is no way that Padme would ever choose to become a dictatress. The other interesting thing here is that in twenty-whatever years, Anakin will make the same offer to his son: “Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.” It fails then, too. For all the parallels between Anakin’s path and Luke’s, it’s telling that at the key moments, Luke is clearly also his mother’s son.]

PADME: I don't believe what I'm hearing . . . Obi-Wan was right. You've changed.

ANAKIN: I don't want to hear any more about Obi-Wan. The Jedi turned against me. Don't you turn against me.

PADME: I don't know you anymore. Anakin, you're breaking my heart. I'll never stop loving you, but you are going down a path I can't follow.

[Padme’s line here, “You’re breaking my heart”, sometimes comes in for ridicule. I suppose I can kinda-sorta see where that’s coming from, but my general impression here is that Lucas is delving full-bore into his folkloric approach to storytelling. In fairy tales and stories based on them, such as Wagnerian operas, people are always dying of broken hearts.]

ANAKIN: Because of Obi-Wan?

PADME: Because of what you've done . . . what you plan to do. Stop, stop now. Come back! I love you.

ANAKIN: (seeing Obi-Wan) Liar!

PADME turns around and. sees OBI-WAN standing in the doorway of the Naboo Cruiser. 

PADME: No!

ANAKIN: You're with him. You've betrayed me! You brought him here to kill me!

PADME: NO! Anakin. I swear ... I ...

ANAKIN reaches out, and PADME grabs her throat as she starts to choke. 

OBI-WAN: Let her go, Anakin.

ANAKIN: What have you and she been up to?

OBI-WAN: Let her go!

ANAKIN releases his grip on the unconscious PADME and she crumples to the ground. The lightsaber in her hand, his old one, rolls beneath the ship. OBI WAN notes this, and then returns his gaze to ANAKIN. 

[Here I would have played up her choking, made it appear a lot more violent, a lot more visceral, than it appeared in the finished film. Maybe, instead of letting her crumple to the ground, Anakin could even throw her against the ship’s hull. More physical injury here might blunt the “She dies of a broken heart?!” criticisms.]

ANAKIN: You turned her against me.

OBI-WAN: You have done that yourself.

ANAKIN: You will not take her from me.

ANAKIN throws off his cloak. 

OBI-WAN: Your anger and your lust for power have already done that.

OBI-WAN flings off his cloak.

OBI-WAN: (continuing) You have allowed this Dark Lord to twist your mind until now . . . until now you have become the very thing you swore to destroy.

They circle each other until OBI-WAN is near PADME. He places his hand on her. 

ANAKIN: Don't lecture me, Obi-Wan. I see through the lies of the Jedi. I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, justice, freedom, and security to my new Empire.

OBI-WAN: Your new Empire?

ANAKIN: Don't make me kill you.

OBI-WAN: Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic ... to democracy.

[Here is where I would add something.]

ANAKIN: Your allegiance will destroy you.

OBI-WAN: Anakin, this isn’t how it has to be! Come back with me! It’s not too late for you. Help me destroy Palpatine and make things right!

ANAKIN: You don’t understand--

OBI-WAN: Anakin, I’ve raised you, taught you! This isn’t who you are, this can’t be who you are! Come with me! It’s the only way.

ANAKIN turns to face him, and there is real pain, real conflict on his face. But then he looks at the slumped form of PADME and hardens again.

ANAKIN: You don’t know the power of the Dark Side...the true nature of the Force. Palpatine is my master now.

OBI-WAN’s face falls. He knows what is about to happen.

OBI-WAN: My allegiance is to the Republic, Anakin.

ANAKIN: If you're not with me, you're my enemy.

OBI-WAN: Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.

(ignites his lightsaber)

ANAKIN: You will try.

And with that, the last battle begins. The duel between Obi Wan and Anakin really must be watched multiple times to see all its subtleties, the bits of strategy involved, and the way the setting itself plays into the duel. As they fight through the mining installation, they have to contend with the radiating heat, chunks of lava flying every place, and eventually, they wind up on the rivers of lava themselves. All of this is very intense, and it’s quite simply the most emotionally involving action sequence in the entire Prequel Trilogy. There is literally nothing I don’t love about this fight – well, maybe “love” is the wrong word, I “admire” it – from the intense look of business on Anakin’s face as he tries to kill Obi Wan when he has him pinned to the table, to the way Obi Wan barely keeps his balance as he crosses a thin length of pipe, to the way their fight disrupts the installation’s functioning in the first place.







What surprised me, though, when the film came out was that George Lucas intercuts the Obi Wan versus Anakin fight with a battle between Yoda and Palpatine. When I first saw this, it felt slightly wrong to me, but I got used to it over successive viewings. Obi Wan’s duel with Anakin is the Main Event of the Prequel Trilogy, so why intercut it with something else? Well, in terms of storytelling, I don’t think that Lucas had a choice. Palpatine is the main villain, after all, the big one, and Yoda is known to be one of the greatest of all Jedi. The notion that they would not confront one another simply doesn’t stand up, so confront one another they must. Lucas wisely doesn’t provide nearly as much footage of their battle as he does of Obi Wan’s, but he knows that there is simply no way that Yoda can vanish from the scene in the Old Republic era without at least attempting to deal with things.

And frankly, I wouldn’t change much of anything there, either. It’s interesting to me that the battle starts in a nondescript-looking room, a boring office, which then turns out to be a chamber underneath the great Republic Senate itself, as their battle takes to the central rostrum as it begins to rise up into the larger chamber. When Palpatine begins using the Force to hurl Senate debate pods at Yoda, the symbolism is hard to miss: he is quite literally destroying the mechanism of the Republic’s government.

The main change here that I would make is that I would make clear, in the end, that Palpatine has defeated Yoda. Yoda holds his own for most of the fight, and then when he flees, it needs to feel like he has been truly defeated, that he simply was not strong enough to win this fight. I would have Palpatine take control, landing blow after blow after blow, even as he gleefully cackles his way through the fight. That is one touch I love, the sheer glee that Palpatine shows as he finally unmasks himself in front of Yoda, his hatred of whom he has been burying for years.






Here’s what I think should have happened at the end of Yoda’s battle with Palpatine: Not only does he lose, but he loses very badly. Maybe he even takes a lightsaber blow...but when he flees, there is no question that he has to flee. Only by scurrying through a Star Wars equivalent of a Jeffries Tube can he survive. He has to look worn out, devastated.

And I would not have him rescued by Bail Organa. I would have Yoda flee Coruscant alone somehow. He could flee somehow to the Jedi Temple, dark and abandoned and smoldering, and wander alone through its halls, before finding a ship and flying away from Coruscant himself. Why? Because the Yoda at the end of Revenge of the Sith doesn’t quite match up to the Yoda we meet in The Empire Strikes Back. That Yoda doesn’t hold out much hope for things. He doesn’t think that Luke is going to be worth anything, he seems to have pretty much given up and has to be talked into training Luke by Obi Wan’s ghost. So in my view, Revenge of the Sith must end with Yoda almost broken. So he would fly away from Coruscant unseen by anyone at all, his destination unknown.

Back to Obi Wan and Anakin. Lucas wisely keeps this fight going, and going, and going. This fight isn’t shown in short bursts, like the Luke-versus-Vader battles of the Original Trilogy, or like Qui Gon and Obi Wan versus Darth Maul. There is nothing exhilarating about this fight, nothing exciting in the sense of an exciting action sequence. Instead, this fight will end everything and set the stage for everything to come in the Original Trilogy. It’s a deeply sad battle, as every single attack, every blow, every moment just cements the fact that these two men, friends for years, will be enemies for the rest of their lives. The two fight with differing styles: Obi Wan is trying to figure out the landscape, how to use it to his advantage, how to keep the fight going until he can spot a serious advantage. Anakin, on the other hand, is relentless. In this moment he just keeps coming and coming and coming, never questioning the need to fight, never backing away. There are moments when Anakin seems on the verge of defeat, only to manage another gigantic Force-leap, another acrobatic moment of evading doom. Thus we come to their final exchanges before the end:

OBI WAN: I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you.

ANAKIN: I should have known the Jedi were planning to take over!

OBI WAN: Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!

ANAKIN: From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!

OBI WAN: Then you are lost!

Simple, brutal dialogue there. Words shouted in anger over flumes of molten rock as these two onetime friends prepare to find out which one is going to kill the other. I’d change the dialogue a bit, though:

OBI WAN: I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you.

[Before I continue, I really like this line and the sad way that Ewan McGregor delivers it. You can hear his sadness, but even more, his resignation that it’s over. Anakin is gone, his friend is now a Sith, and only one course remains. Here is when all thought of redeeming Anakin dies, and when Obi Wan realizes that in some way, he has played a role in allowing all of this to come to pass.]

ANAKIN: I should have known the Jedi were plotting against the Republic!

OBI WAN: Anakin, look around you! The Jedi are all dead, and the Republic fell because of Palpatine!

ANAKIN: He did what he had to do to save everyone. And I will serve my master.

OBI WAN: Then you are lost!

Anakin’s inability to recognize that the thing he swore to protect has now been destroyed, with a great deal of help from himself, just might be the key tragedy in Anakin’s conversion to the Sith. That’s how far gone he is at this point.

At this point in the battle, both Obi Wan and Anakin are tired and spent. Obi Wan is desperate for one more move, and he makes it, finally being able to leap to high ground on the side of a river of lava, and there he warns Anakin that he has the high ground and thus stands at a significant advantage right now. It might be hard to figure out, but this is actually a pretty interesting callback to Obi Wan’s battle with Darth Maul, when he managed to use the Force to propel himself up and over Darth Maul. He sees Anakin about to attempt the same thing, so he knows what move to make, and when Anakin leaps, he makes the move, dropping down and slicing Anakin’s legs off. Ouch. I’m not sure what result Obi Wan expected by warning Anakin not to attempt anything; was his plan to capture Anakin? Let Anakin commit the Star Wars version of seppuku? Not sure, but it’s not that big a deal.

Anyhow, here’s where I would make one fairly big change:

OBI WAN and ANAKIN continue dueling as their respective platforms come close to one another...and then in a spectacular leap, ANAKIN jumps from his across a wide gap of flowing lava to land on OBI WAN’s platform. The platform wobbles dangerously but stays upright, and ANAKIN presses OBI WAN in very close combat. ANAKIN holds nothing back, delivering a blinding series of attacks that tax OBI WAN’s ability to parry them to the limit. The outcome seems clear, and with one massive slash, ANAKIN sends OBI WAN’s lightsaber flying, where it lands in the lava river and immediately combusts. ANAKIN barely pauses to run OBI WAN through, and OBI WAN leaps backward, desperately flinging himself across the lava to land miraculously on dry ground. He pushes himself to his feet, weaponless, as ANAKIN swings his platform around.

ANAKIN: This is the end, Master.

OBI WAN prepares himself....

ANAKIN: I will hunt down the rest of the Jedi and destroy them. You were a Master once, but your time is at an end.

ANAKIN lifts his lightsaber high over his head. OBI WAN looks up...the landing platform is nearly directly overhead. He makes a motion with his right hand.

ANAKIN: Prepare to meet your destiny!

On the landing platform, underneath the ship, the lightsaber that PADME dropped twitches and then rolls away, dropping over the side. Down below, ANAKIN leaps in his last attack on OBI WAN. OBI WAN drops, holding his right hand up to snatch ANAKIN’s original lightsaber from the air. In one smooth motion, he ignites the weapon and uses it to cut off ANAKIN’s legs and left arm below the elbow. ANAKIN shrieks and tumbles in a heap to the black sand, where he starts to slide down toward the lava. He lashes out with his one remaining appendage, his already-mechanical right arm. His glove begins to scorch, as does the syntho-flesh beneath it, revealing the structure of his mechanical hand. ANAKIN screams. OBI WAN retreats and deactivates the lightsaber.

OBI WAN: You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would, destroy the Sith, not join them. It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness!

ANAKIN’s lower extremities, what is left of them, are beginning to smoke.

ANAKIN: I hate you!

OBI WAN: You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.

ANAKIN: I...hate....

ANAKIN cannot finish, as his lower body catches fire. Now he can only shriek in agony as the flames begin consuming him.

OBI WAN: I loved you, Anakin.

The flames reach ANAKIN’s head, and his shrieks become more and more terrible and pathetic. He reaches up with his remaining arm, partially to try to attack and partially a reach for help. OBI WAN can watch no more and starts back up the hill, leaving ANAKIN to burn.

EXTERIOR: Landing platform

OBI WAN arrives back at the ship, where C-3PO awaits him at the bottom of the ramp.

C-3PO: Master Kenobi! We have brought Miss Padme on board. She is hurt very badly. We must leave this dreadful place!

OBI WAN: Start up the ship, 3PO.

C-3PO: Will Master Anakin be joining us?

OBI WAN: No, he won’t.

OBI WAN strides up onto the ship. He is walking slowly, painfully.

C-3PO: Oh dear....

C-3PO follows OBI WAN on board. Behind them, the mining installation is starting to succumb to the lava blasts. The ship’s ramp closes and the engines begin to glow.

INTERIOR: Naboo ship – cabin.

OBI WAN leans over PADME as a concerned R2-D2 whistles sadly nearby. PADME is very weak. An oxygen mask is on her face.

PADME: Obi Wan....

OBI WAN: Relax, Padme. Save your strength.

PADME: Anakin...

OBI WAN: Shhhh....

PADME: Anakin...why?

She lapses into unconsciousness. OBI WAN looks at R2.

OBI WAN: Stay with her.

He exits.

A special shoutout to the next shot, which has an exhausted and overwhelmed Obi Wan slumping into the copilot’s chair as C-3PO flies the ship away from Mustafar. The music at this point in the film is very sad and bleak, in keeping with what has happened.





In the film, at this point Anakin is somehow still alive, and Palpatine arrives to rescue him. I’d change this slightly by having the resident droids of Mustafar intercede, collecting Anakin and putting him on a stretcher. I would assume that they have some kind of programming for if a human handler gets into trouble. The main problem here is that the sudden arrival of Palpatine makes it seem as if Mustafar and Coruscant are right next door to one another. Still, I love the imagery Lucas used here: the closeup of the fine, ash-like sand as Anakin’s machine hand tries to drag the rest of his body up the slope. It’s pathetic and sad, but it also shows the drive that Anakin still possesses, which he will channel over the next twenty years as Darth Vader.

What’s left is mainly wrapping everything up, isn’t it? Palpatine’s rescue of Anakin from Mustafar is intercut with Obi Wan’s arrival at some medical station with Padme. I wouldn’t have Yoda there, but virtually everything else in this entire sequence works for me. I would have the medical droids work to save Padme from the injuries Anakin inflicted upon her, but I would still keep the sense that what is killing her is her broken heart. A lot of people have complained about this over the years since the film came out, but it’s never bothered me in the least. First of all, dying of a broken heart is a very common thing to happen in mythic storytelling; it happens all the time in opera. Second of all, it happens in real life. Yes, I would have Padme be grievously injured, but I would also have the medical droids flummoxed because her injuries should be survivable...but aren’t.

The birth sequence, intercut with Anakin’s conversion into a cyborg, is in my opinion nearly perfectly done in the film. This entire sequence is visually stunning as it switches from the gentle lighting of Padme’s maternity room to Anakin’s droid-run facility, starkly lit and with no hints of warmth at all as the droids attach things to Anakin’s body with almost no regard for his comfort. When the mask is lowered over Anakin’s face, the transformation is complete, and the moment is very troubling. I love the POV shot as the mask is positioned, and there’s a tiny shot of Anakin’s face, the last time we see his eyes, and his eyes widen with fear just as they disappear from view. The mask is pressed into position and there is a hissing sound as the air is sucked out, Anakin is sealed within, and aside from whatever rare moments he takes to himself inside his meditation chambers, his face will not see the light of day again until he is near his own death.






Meanwhile, Padme names the babies “Luke” and “Leia”, begs Obi Wan to save Anakin, and then she dies. Again we cut to Anakin, who is now fully Darth Vader. For some reason this scene always gets made fun of, but it’s never bothered me. I like how Palpatine lays the guilt for Padme’s death right at Anakin’s feet. It’s the masterstroke that will keep Anakin stoked toward the Dark Side for many years to come, this knowledge that he destroyed the love of his life himself. It amazes me that Palpatine is often able to use the truth to get what he wants. Nothing he says here is a lie: “In your anger, you killed her.” He is stoking the same old guilt in Anakin’s heart, which guarantees that Anakin will never embrace his own heart again. As Anakin screams that infamous ”Nooooo!” (which I have never had a problem with anyway), Palpatine grins evilly in the background.




Now, Obi Wan and Bail Organa have to return Padme’s body to Naboo, whereupon they must have the discussion as to what should happen with the children. Remember, in my version, Yoda’s whereabouts are unknown....

Interior: Alderaan cruiser – hold.

OBI WAN and BAIL ORGANA watch through a window as Padme’s coffin is taken away by Royal Naboo Guards.

BAIL: We have heard nothing from Master Yoda.

OBI WAN: Yoda lives. More than that, I do not know. I will find him, in time.

BAIL: I have made arrangements to adopt the girl. My wife and I have been talking about children for some time. She will have a good home and she will be loved.

OBI WAN: I will take the boy to his family on Tatooine.

BAIL: We’ve just learned that Anakin Skywalker is still alive...as Darth Vader. You don’t think he will find his son?

OBI WAN: He’s Darth Vader now, not Anakin Skywalker. He’ll never go back there. There’s nothing for him on Tatooine anymore. Luke will be safe.

BAIL: I must go to pay my respects to Senator Amidala’s family. Will you join me?

OBI WAN looks outside at the gathering funerary procession and shakes his head.

OBI WAN: It’s best that no one knows I am here.

BAIL: Very well.

BAIL turns to go, and then stops and faces OBI WAN again. He steps in closer so he won’t be overheard by anyone.

BAIL: This is not the end, you know. The fight will continue.

OBI WAN nods, and BAIL leaves. OBI WAN walks into a tiny cabin where LUKE and LEIA are asleep. He sits down beside them, and dabs a cloth to one of their mouths.

OBI WAN: The Force is strong in your family. Perhaps one day....

VOICE: (from the air) Obi Wan.

OBI WAN: What...Qui Gon?

VOICE OF QUI GON JINN: Obi Wan. All is not lost. I have things to teach you...many things...about the true power of the Force....

OBI WAN is stunned.

A very common complaint about Revenge of the Sith that I’ve never understood is that it’s dumb for Obi Wan to take Luke to Anakin’s own family, because then Anakin will find Luke, and that it’s doubly dumb to not even change Luke’s name. This has always sounded dumb to me. The Lars family isn’t Anakin’s family. His only connection to them is that his mother married Cliegg Lars, and now she is dead. Under what possible circumstance is Darth Vader going to drop by the Lars homestead for a visit? The complaint makes absolutely zero sense to me.

I do like withholding the idea that Qui Gon has somehow managed to live on as part of the Force until this moment, too, when it seems that the Dark Side stands completely triumphant over everything. Obviously I have Yoda disappearing into apparent exile, so I have to have Qui Gon personally manifest himself to Obi Wan. There is dialog in the original scripts which indicates that Lucas originally intended to have Qui Gon’s voice be heard again, but obviously that never happened. I don’t know if it was because Lucas decided not to do it or because Liam Neeson refused to do the voice work, but in my version of Revenge of the Sith, that happens.

At this point I would cut to:

Exterior: Space – Dagobah.

A tiny ship emerges from hyperspace and approaches the swamp planet.

Exterior: Dagobah – swamp.

The ship descends and lands in a clearing by the side of the swamp. As its engines cool and go dark, the ship opens, and YODA emerges. He moves slowly, perhaps limping. He walks out onto the land and looks across the swamp, to a tiny hut made of mud. YODA breathes out a deep and heavy sigh, and then he turns to his little ship and lifts his hand. The ship levitates, and then YODA uses the Force to move it to the middle of the swamp, where he releases it, allowing it to sink. Then he begins hobbling in the direction of the hut as his ship sinks into the water.

I remember how enigmatic Yoda is when we first meet him in The Empire Strikes Back, how ambiguous he is. His refusal to train Luke, his deep skepticism – it’s almost as if he has given up on the very idea of a new hope at all. That’s what I would hope to convey here: that Yoda is hiding not so much to rise again, but because he’s failed and genuinely doesn’t know if there is anything else he can do.



After this, all that’s left is the last arranging of the pieces: First, the burial of Padme. This is a beautiful sequence, again intercut with Vader and Palpatine. Padme’s funeral is extremely well-done, ending on the little wooden pendant in her hand, the one made for her by a young Anakin. I would change the last shots of Vader and Palpatine, though: I’d keep Palpatine on the bridge of the Star Destroyer, but I’d ditch the construction of the Death Star, and instead have him looking over the beginnings of the Imperial Fleet, with the first real incarnations of the Star Destroyers. Then I’d cut to Darth Vader, somewhere on some planet, confronting a straggler Jedi Knight and destroying him as a couple of stormtroopers look on. This seems to me more likely: first of all, I'm not sure what to make of the apparent suggestion that the first Death Star took twenty years to build; was the second one built at the same time, or was it one of the greatest "rush jobs" in Galatic history?

Also, I think we need to see Darth Vader in some kind of action, in the armor, looking like the classic Darth Vader. Obi Wan later tells Luke that Darth Vader "helped the Emperor hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights", and it seems to me that seeing him do just that might be a good place to leave him. He has no regret by this point; he has given himself fully to the Dark Side and is content to do evil.

In the original script, Lucas included Yoda's arrival on Dagobah here; he later cut it on the basis that it doesn't tell us anything we don't already know. Still, I'd show it. There's little better sense of how far the Jedi have fallen than to show Yoda's final destination, as far from the glorious marble of the Jedi Temple as you can get.





And then, at the end of it all, two sequences I wouldn’t change at all: Bail Organa arriving at home on Alderaan and presenting their adoptive daughter to his wife, and Obi Wan turning young Luke over to Owen and Beru Lars. That ending brought the entire Star Wars saga full-circle...and that’s where everything ends.


If there was a better way to end the story, a better final shot to look upon before the final smash to the credits, I can't imagine what it is. There is "A new hope", and he's growing up right there...until his own saga can begin.

Another thing I like is that there is no dialogue in the film at all after the final scene in the ship's hold. Lucas relies on his images and his music to bring it all together

With that, we reach the end of Revenge of the Sith. I will have one more post in this series, tying everything together and addressing a few issues that apply to the Prequels as a whole and thoughts on this entire project, which ended up taking longer than I ever expected. Tune in, Star Warriors!

1 comment:

Jason said...

Bravo, sir. As ever, your changes are insightful and help immensely. I like your take on Yoda being broken very much... although I've got to say, his line in the filmed version -- "Failed, I have" -- broke my heart.

A couple of thoughts:

I think the reason why Padme dying of a broken heart and Vader's "Noooooo....." provoke laughter is that audiences these days are no longer receptive to intense displays of sentiment. The ironic '90s made wearing your emotion on your sleeve seem corny and old-fashioned, or unrealistic in some way (as if anything int he Star Wars saga is especially realistic!) Fanboys, in particular, seem to be resistant to this sort of thing, because they're so enthralled with the Grim 'n' Gritty as the only legitimately "cool" mode of storyline.

I'm seeing signs that the pendulum might be swinging back the other way on that. Guardians of the Galaxy was certainly sentimental and old-fashioned in places, and it did gangbusters. And Interstellar all revolves around the power of true love, about as corny an idea as they come.

The problem is that Sith came out several years ago, before the pendulum swung backwards. And I think the notion that the prequels were lame had already crystalized to such an extent, that many viewers were just looking for something they could mock.

Finally, I personally would've loved to hear Qui Gon's voice speaking to Obi Wan, or even better, had him appear as a Force ghost... although I suppose that would've stolen some of Obi Wan's thunder when he appears to Luke in Empire for the first time...