Thursday, May 19, 2005

The last trip to a galaxy far, far away

This blog entry contains spoilers about the latest Star Wars film. Stop reading if you didn't buy the script at Border's, or the novelization of the movie at Barnes & Noble, or go to the midnight showing like...uhh...some sad people (me).

Well, if there was any remaining doubt that Buddhism had a large influence on modelling the Jedi Order of the Star Wars films, that can be remedied by watching Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Anakin is counciled by Yoda over the danger of attachment, the corresponding fear of loss, and the incorrect view of inordinately fearing death. Yes, Yoda does actually use the word "attachment".

The less credible claim is that Sith is an anti-Bush propaganda film. The accusation is based on two parts of the film. One has to do with Padme Amidalla's reaction to Chancellor Palpatine lying to the Senate about the betrayal of the Jedi Order and insisting that they approve a piece of sweeping legislation which would transform the Republic into an Empire in order to assure peace and security. Padme mourns "So this is how liberty dies--to thunderous applause." Obviously, some suggest, this is an attack on Bush's warmongering and the Patriot Act. Except that Star Wars deals in archetypes, composites from human history. Let's see, a situation in history where an old Republic is transformed into an Empire. Gee, hmmm, that must be original, it's not like that's the story of Rome. Hmm, a demagogue using fear and prejudice and scapegoating to rise to power as a dictator. Gosh, I cannot think of any example in the last few thousand years of human history where that happened. It certainly hasn't happened hundred of times, nor should we think that a more appropriate comparison might be made between the use of shock forces and storm troopers in the Star Wars films and...hmmm...Nazi Germany? Plus I think Ben Franklin must have invented a time machine, because he must have been referring to George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, and the Patriot Act when he wrote "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." What a liberal Democrat weenie!

Of course, the real clincher is when Darth Vader says "If you are not with me, you are my enemy." Surely that must be mocking Bush's well-known message to nations that were known to sponsor or harbor terrorists: "Whoever is not with us is against us." I mean it's not like "If you're not with me/us you're against me/us" is a well-known and common phrase. Nope. Nor are the many derivations of it, such as "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." No way. It clearly has to be intentionally aimed at Bush. Except, of course, the part where the movies were written long before Bush took office. Of course, for that small crowd that believes that Hollywood is the temple of the anti-Christ and that most directors and producers are liberal-Jewish-atheist-feminist-homosexual-antiChristians who hate Bush, it is easy to see how Sith is a way of taking a swipe at Bush. For the rest of us it's just a really fun movie.

As for the plot, everything proceeded exactly as I had foreseen (no, I didn't read the story beforehand, I just speculated on how they would manage all the necessary plot points). Everything except the death of Padme, which I didn't realize would be shown in this film. Of course, the irony that Anakin goes to the dark side to save Padme then fatally injures her in a fit of anger is just about perfect plot wise. Some folks found the newly minted mechanical version of Darth Vader screaming "NO!" and tearing apart the surgical bay in a rage of Force to be out of step with their normal view of the mechanical monster, but I found it entirely appropriate as a part of the transition, as the last of his humanity dies along with person he cares about most.

If you watched the really well-made animated microseries Star Wars: Clone Wars, series one and two, the plot picks up almost exactly where they leave off. I think seeing those little episodes enhances Sith enough to recommend renting them, but either way you're in for one last trip of a lifetime.

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