REVENGE OF THE SITH. My “Star Wars” guilty pleasure

A work whose imperfections I notice at first glance, accepting them at the same time – because I get so much pleasure from watching it.

Jan Brzozowski

26 May 2023

If someone asked me about my favorite episode of Star Wars, not so long ago (in middle school and high school) I would probably answer that it is Revenge of the Sith. It was the finale of the third prequel I watched countless times, torturing the unfortunate TV recording into unconsciousness. It was the lyrics and scenes from Revenge of the Sith that stuck in my mind the most – not “I have a very bad feeling about this” from A New Hope, not “I am your father” from The Empire Strikes Back, but the absurd, highly meme “Hello there” was one of my all-time favorite movie quotes.

Is this something to be ashamed of? I don’t think so – after all, it’s hard to blame one’s own childhood, tastes and choices (in any field) of that time. Yesterday, however, I decided to throw off the rose-colored glasses, look at Lucas’s work with a cooler, slightly more critical eye. I watched Revenge of the Sith again after a decent break of at least several years. It turned out that I still like this film very much, despite all its flaws that I see only now – I see and accept it.

But let’s be precise – what exactly is it about? The biggest problem with Lucas’ film is, and here I would rather not surprise anyone, the joint scenes of Christensen and Portman. The scenes are bland, verbally off-putting (the dialogue finds a worthy elaboration for the infamous discussion of sand from Attack of the Clones), killing (or at least seriously hurting) the fast-paced action. Unfortunately, it is necessary to properly emphasize the motivation of the characters (especially Anakin). The second problem is Christensen himself, who, admittedly, pales in comparison to much more talented colleagues in the industry – especially McGregor and McDiarmid (excellent as Palpatine). It’s a bit silly for me to write about this actor in such an unpleasant way, considering how nice he seems on the behind-the-scenes recordings from the set. I will add that after switching to the dark side of the Force, the Canadian, who has been using mainly computer-enhanced eyes for a while, looks much better, definitely more credible.

But let’s leave Christensen alone, dedicating a little more space to the two Scots who absolutely dominated Revenge of the Sith with their roles. Ewan McGregor is definitely the funniest point of the film – practically every appearance of him on the screen (except for the final duel, when the actor, following the script, hits a more serious note) is accompanied by a humorous commentary, aptly concluding the situation. There are plenty of cult texts among them, just to mention the most famous and most frequently repeated ones: “Hello there”, “Another happy landing”, “So uncivilized”, “Flying is for droids”, “Siths Lords are our specialty” (after moment – a harsh slapping from Count Dooku) or the mysterious “I have a high ground”. Excellent casting, which the performer himself was also extremely pleased with. The role of Palpatine was equally well cast – a role much more serious, and therefore, in a sense, complementary to the comic Obi-Wan. It is worth noting that Anakin for a large part of the film tosses between these two heroes (mentors), alternately succumbing to their influence. Ultimately, he chooses a much more serious Palpatine, who, starting from a more difficult position (the dark side of the Force), devoted much more time and attention to the young Skywalker. Besides, the power of McDiarmid’s acting suggestion. It is hardly surprising that Anakin finally succumbs to the Emperor, since we ourselves, having a much wider perspective, feel like it.

What else seduces me in Revenge of the Sith? Certainly its political layer – Palpatine’s intricate machinations are almost as interesting to me as the spectacular scenes of lightsaber fights. Free references to Greek myths, perhaps unintentional. Anakin, who tries to avoid the realization of dream visions at all costs, and unconsciously leads to their realization, is none other than the masked Oedipus. In addition, he remains in the finale of the film, like the mythical hero, physically mutilated. Another example – the father-son relationship of Obi-Wan and Anakin as a reflection of the myth of Daedalus and Icarus. In the final analysis, Anakin, like Icarus, loses pride, too much faith in his own abilities. He tries to spectacularly jump over Obi-Wan (and therefore rise as high as possible), for which he is severely punished. Significantly, just before the jump, Kenobi warns his student in a fatherly voice – in a similar tone, Daedalus reprimanded his son against getting too close to the sun. Finally, the last thing I value very much in Revenge of the Sith – excellent, action-oriented editing. It was he who once chained me to the TV, making me watch the sequence of execution of Order 66 and the climactic, parallel fights with flushed cheeks. A first-class film job.

So there are more advantages than disadvantages here – at least in my perspective. Revenge of the Sith will forever remain one of my favorite episodes of the star saga, and at the same time the definition of a movie guilty pleasure. A work whose imperfections I notice at first glance, accepting them at the same time – because I get so much pleasure from watching it.

Janek Brzozowski

Jan Brzozowski

Permanently sleep-deprived, as he absorbs either westerns or new adventure cinema at night. A big fan of the acting skills of James Dean and Jimmy Stewart, and the beauty of Ryan Gosling and Elle Fanning. He is also interested in American and French literature, as well as soccer.

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