Revenge Of The Sith: A Mind At War

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I know I said this earlier this week you guys but I just have to repeat myself, I cannot believe we’re already in the third month of our countdown to Episode IX!!! I don’t know about you, but it’s been a hell of a lot of fun exploring these films one at a time, and Revenge of the Sith is one of my all-time favorites — because let’s be honest, it’s dramatic as hell and I live for that kind of over-the-top madness in my mythic lore! What really drives home the tone and emotion of this prequel finale is our fallen hero: Anakin Skywalker himself. The little boy who escaped slavery and devoted his life to the people of the galaxy and became the the young Jedi we’ve come to love and care for now has to die so that Vader can be born in his stead. His ultimate fate was known since the very beginning but now it’s time for him to finally fall beyond our outstretched fingers and plunge into the place where only true villains dwell. And dear god, does Hayden Christensen deliver an emotionally devastating performance.

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The Anakin we meet in the beginningΒ  of Revenge of the Sith is definitely not the same as the reckless, eager-to-prove-himself-but-often-to-his-own-detriment one we left behind at the end of Attack of the Clones. A few years have passed and with the assurance of Padme’s love and support and a more confident and sedate maturity borne of experience and lessons learned, Anakin has settled in his role as a Jedi Knight despite the continued spite of the Masters of the Order. Within the first twenty minutes of the film we see Anakin calmly and resiliently save Obi-Wan’s life twice, council patience while urging greater kindness for those around him (specifically the clones and R2), and engage in combat with a previous enemy with far more control and level-headedness than was previously displayed. For all intents and purposes, Anakin has grown up into a kind, intelligent, compassionate human being and Star Wars goes to great lengths to establish that fact as soon as possible. So many fans and viewers identify Anakin as whiney, immature, and power-hungry but that’s not the character we’re given at all. That’s the Jedi’s tainted version of him, the propaganda slogan that’s hardwired into our perceptions as we watch our supposed heroes fall from grace. Yes, Anakin’s personality changes over the course of ROTS, and it’s important that we see it, but not for the reason so many of us think.

“I sense great fear in you, Skywalker. You have hate. You have anger. But you don’t use them.” — Count Dooku

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As I said, Anakin’s introduction in this film is as an unmistakable hero —Β  he saves his former Master from not only buzz-droids and a failing personal space-craft, but from being left behind unconscious on an enemy vessel, is willing to risk his own life and his Jedi-mandated mission to save the lives of his Clone troops, and even urges Obi-Wan to be kinder and more considerate to their droid companion and fan-favorite badass: R2-D2. This is a stark and immediate change from the nervous, uncomfortable-in-his-skin teenager we last saw — this is an adult and a leader taking charge to save lives. Lucas even goes so far as to show Anakin advocating patience instead of action, urging that they wait for help instead of surging ahead blindly fighting their way out of a situation… a far leap from the boy who rushed headlong into a fight against an unknown enemy and had the lower half of his arm sliced off within seconds. This is the man Anakin truly is, or is as close to that person as we’ll ever get without Jedi or fate involvement. This is Shmi’s son, the boy who thinks only of others, who knows nothing of greed, and who faced down almost certain death to help complete strangers stranded on a desert planet. This is the Anakin we mourn for when he makes that final fatal choice, and this is the Anakin that is stolen from us and from Padme by the Force itself.

“Something’s happening. I’m not the Jedi I should be.” — Anakin Skywalker

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But alongside this new maturity and growth is the sense that something is very wrong with our hero. We see it in brief flashes of unexplainable violence and even sense it in the quiet moments between he and Padme. The boy who spoke the truth of his feelings at every turn is suddenly more subdued, more uneasy with his thoughts and actions and words and doesn’t know what is happening to himself and the world around him. With each new outburst Anakin slowly begins shutting down, spiraling into himself, unsure of how to communicate what is happening inside of himself and no matter how he explains it to those around him, no one understands enough to actually help. Ultimately he is older, he is wiser, and sadly for him and everyone around him, he is closer than ever to succumbing to his fate.

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Moments after his defeat of Count Dooku, something unexplainable comes over our hero and in a fatal flash he beheads his unarmed opponent — to the urging of Chancellor Palpatine. It’s easy to dismiss this as evidence of Anakin’s already submissive state to his future Master of the darkside of the Force, but this shocking lack of control is shown directly after Dooku comments on Anakin’s refusal to connect to his darker and more human instincts. If Anakin was nothing more than a walking monster waiting to happen then there is no point in stating that he doesn’t fight with the most dangerous and effective aspects of himself, the audience would be all-too ready to watch Vader come out to play, but that’s the whole point. Vader is not wholly Anakin. Vader is the representation of the darkest part of Ani’s human nature and despite himself, his beliefs, and his own choices, that dark energy is being forced to manifest not only by the actions of those around him, but also by the Force itself. Anakin is destiny and fate made real. The Force has watched as it’s users misused it’s energy for thousands of years, as even the good fell prey to corruption and power-mongering and it has finally said enough… and sent Anakin to wipe clean the slate. These flashes are only the beginning of the Force making it’s will known.

“Something’s happening…”

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For Anakin, the small glimpse of happiness and peace that was granted to him is over. The Sith are taking over the government of the galaxy and the Jedi have proven complicit to their crimes, allying themselves with their mortal enemies to stave off the Force’s judgement, ultimately justifying the Force’s need to cleanse itself. Both the Jedi and the Sith are morally corrupt, tipping the scales towards intolerance, hostility, and even death. There is no balance to be found in the Force any longer, so Anakin must create it anew. But in doing so he will lose himself in the process because he is the balance. To wipe away the tarnished light, he will become darkness and death incarnate, and only when it’s time to destroy the dark will he find the light inside himself again. Until his fated task is complete, Anakin’s cries for help will go unheard and ultimately unanswered, even by the audience themselves. We can only watch, and suffer along with him, as he slowly descends into madness and step by painful step loses himself completely to the will of the Force.

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17 thoughts on “Revenge Of The Sith: A Mind At War

  1. This post is awesome Tara πŸ™‚ I see a lot of fans discussing Anakin turning to the dark side but most of those posts aren’t very good or just lack something that would make them interesting to read. Your post is the opposite of that, it’s exactly what I think about Anakin as well. Even though they dedicated an entire film to Anakin turning to the dark side, there is still so much to discuss about him. I read something about Obi-Wan’s continuous guilt over the loss of Anakin to the dark side and it really hit home. To lose someone you were so close to, someone almost like a brother must have ripped Obi-Wan apart. This is never really shown in the films but it is covered in other media very well. The one thing that the force and star wars, in general, has taught me is that everyone and everything is connected, regardless of whether that be dark or light. In the end, we are all sharing each other’s fate, and in the Star Wars universe, it is undeniably so.

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    1. Thank you Xen!!! I really think Ani himself gets lost in the fandom shuffle sometimes or is lazily relegated to a role that really doesn’t suit him, so I love exploring his character! And omg, I love his and Obi-Wan’s relationship, trust me there are posts coming up about that one!!! And yes, your last sentence sums it up perfectly, everything and everyone in the SW universe in connected and the sooner people realize that, I think the sooner they can find empathy for those characters that most people just label as *dark* and unforgivable.

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      1. I can’t remember where I read this but there is a saying “To forget is human, to forgive, sublime” lol, I dunno why I just thought of that now but I think with some fans they’re too caught up in the shipping stuff which is fine, but that has never been nor will it ever be my reason to enjoy a fandom. I’ve never shipped a single character in all the time I’ve spent on Tumblr or social media. I just don’t think it has anything to do with the franchise unless it’s official. But I do believe that the main gist of any star wars story is that everyone is connected (or disconnected as the case may be) and until they recover that connection again, they’re lost – much like Anakin was and Kylo Ren is for the sequel trilogy πŸ™‚

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      2. I was never a SW shipper until this latest trilogy because the couples have always just been together or we’re already intended for each other so there wasn’t anything really to ship. But this trilogy isn’t showing its hand to the full extent just yet so it allows people to form their own couplings and pairs and I admit I enjoy my ship and will be disappointed if it doesn’t end up being canon but it won’t destroy my love and understanding of the series 😊

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      3. Oh you’re a Reylo shipper? Oh wow – honestly, I’d be disappointed if this happened only because it means that at some level, the writers have given into what the fans want rather than writing their own story for these characters. I am hoping for more of a tragic ending, not unlike that of Romeo and Juliet because at least that way, the Reylo’s will get their romance (albeit fleeting) and those fans who don’t want Reylo to happen will also be somewhat satisfied if one of them or both of them die. But like you, I don’t really care either way, it’s not going to stop me waking up in the morning lol or make me do anything dramatic like some fans out there (seriously scary how much they can hate on anyone that doesn’t share their opinion or views). I’m good with whatever happens. I’ve made my peace with the Luke Skywalker thing, there is nothing that could possibly happen now that could be worse than that for me anyway πŸ™‚

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      4. Well I don’t look at it as fan service if Reylo happens, I mean they’ve been laying the foundation for it for two movies now, the undertones have been there since TFA so it’s not like they altered the story to make fans happy. They just would be going in the direction they’ve been heading in since the beginning. But like I said, if I’m wrong or it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to then that’s fine, they’ll just have to make everything make sense 😊

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      5. Hmm, yeah, I guess but who knows what they’re aiming for really. Now there’s another supposed plot leak that the love Kylo has for Rey is “brotherly” or something lol…. I am hoping the title reveal this week will give us something to clear up all of these stupid rumours πŸ™‚

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      6. Yep, we won’t know until December I guess lol, but at this point if they make those two related they will have to explain a helluva lot because it makes no sense with the information we’ve been given. But SW loves a good plot twist so here’s hoping they don’t pull a Luke and Leia bit at the last second and call it original.

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      7. Well, the galaxy is always at peace when a Skywalker has a family around him, or did I get that wrong? Kylo Ren / Ben Solo identified Rey as “his” even since the first Force vision, and she’s a girl who wishes for nothing more than a family. The whole set-up would make no sense if they wouldn’t have one in the end.
        And besides, a tragic ending after 42 of telling the saga? And having sold the rights to Disney of all movie studios? Come on. It would be dissatisfying to say the least. In any case, I’m rooting for them. πŸ˜‰

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  2. Han to Chewie in Return of the Jedi: “Luke is crazy! He can hardly look after himself, how is he to save someone else?! – He’s a Jedi now…?”
    An interesting parallel in both the first acts of the third instalment of the trilogies. Like son, like father. πŸ™‚

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    1. Yeah I think a lot of fans miss the similarities between these two, but Luke is definitely his father’s son! I think the original trilogy really showed how Luke was similar to all of Ani’s positive traits, but TLJ finally showed that he’s just as capable of making massive life-altering mistakes as his father. It’s easy to look at Vader and see a villain, but so many people miss out on the fact that even for just a moment, Luke was as much as villain as his father was!

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  3. Yes, the Force is never “either – or”. You can’t say you made a decision and will stick to it no matter what: you wil always be tempted by the other side from time to time. That’s what the Jedi never understood, causing the imbalance.

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