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|"Revenge of the Sith" is a dark end to the "Star Wars" saga.|
Luke, with a little help from his friends [see: Lennon & McCartney], defeats the Evil Empire by destroying the Death Star, and Darth Vader is sent hurtling into deep space.
|Check out our comparison of the two Evil Empires, our special look at fans waiting in line, and the secret script for Episode VII.|
In one rip-roaring good time, Lucas had given us the answer to an age-old epistemological question raised by that Danish party-pooper Kierkegaard. The existential contradiction between awe and dread could be solved by the power of positive thinking, belief in something called "The Force."And more specifically, there was an unmistakable message to our generation. Lucas was saying, "Expunge the stench of Watergate and Vietnam and reclaim your future." This is what we learned and tried to do. Now, of course, the Evil Empire does come back, but the Jedi returns and Luke saves his father from the evil that has consumed him. But this is not what our children will see when they watch "Revenge of the Sith." This is Episode III. And here, according to Lucas, we will learn of the dread: how Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker, turns to the dark side of "The Force." The evil of Darth Vader is incubated and comes to a boil.
Maybe Lucas knows exactly what he's doing once again. Maybe he wants to make a movie that reflects these times. All this generation has to do is turn on the TV and there are plenty of bad guys Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, pop icons on trial and going to jail. A new generation of real villains.
There is a lot of angst among the conservative movement that Lucas' new movie is an attack on the Bush administration, full of hidden left-wing politics. Of course, there is politics in these movies. But the politics is that politics often fails us.
Way back in the '70s, Lucas wasn't promoting an ideology, but a philosophy a belief system at a time when all the conventional institutions (belonging to our parents) were failing us. Just like in the movie.
In a brilliant review of "Sith," A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, "Taken together and watched in the order they were made, the films reveal the cyclical nature of history, which seems to repeat itself even as it moves forward. Democracies swell into empires, empires are toppled by revolutions, fathers abandon their sons, and sons find their fathers."
I don't want to shoehorn a sports metaphor in here just for the fun of it. But think of it this way: What if Kevin Costner decided to make a prequel to "Field of Dreams," filling in the back story with a tale of just how Ray Kinsella had a falling out with his father the dark side of the dream. And that's the only movie you saw. No pristine baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield. No magical appearance by Shoeless Joe. No storybook ending of Ray and his dad playing catch in the twilight. You would have to see the the first movie to complete the story, to capture the hope.Same with "Star Wars."
When we saw the first movie back in 1977, we didn't have to be told how Vader joined the Dark Side. We lived through it. We saw the dark side played out on the national stage. What we hadn't seen was how it could be vanquished. Lucas showed us that. But after seeing "Revenge of the Sith," our kids won't know that critical redemption. They see a massacre of women and children, and a fiery fight scene that looks like it takes place in the darkest depths of hell. Not a pretty picture of the future.
There is an easy way out of this dilemma. After taking your kids to see "Revenge of the Sith," do what I did. On Thursday night, my daughter and I immediately went home, curled up with a much cheaper bowl of popcorn and watched Episode IV, A New Hope. I wanted her to see how Darth Vader gets his. I wanted her to experience the hope. And she did. It was very exhilarating for her, and a little teary for both of us. I hope you do the same thing. Sal Paolantonio covers the NFL for ESPN.