Last night, I bought and watched “Revenge of the Sith” on DVD. I neglected to catch the film when it originally came out in theaters, so this was my virgin viewing experience. Overall, I found it an enjoyable film.
I think the thing that stood out to me was how Annikan’s transition from up-and-coming Jedi to the monstrous Darth Vader was portrayed. Lucas’s decision to make the combination of Annikan’s pain over losing his mother and fear of similarly losing Padme the fulcrum and primary motivator for Annikan’s change was masterful. It created something that we could grasp as the hero fell and was reborn as a villain. Personally, as someone who prefers a villain whose motives I can at least understand if not support over a villian who’s just plain evil for no apparent reason, I appreciated Lucas’s mostly masterful explanation.
Of course, that’s not to say there wasn’t a rough spot in that part of the story. Lucas did lose me during the pivotal scene. I was with the program right up through the point where Annikan stopped Mace from killing Palpatine. But when Annikan immediately turns around and begins to follow Palpatine’s order to kill all the Jedi at the temple wihtout question, I felt Lucas had dropped the ball. The transition from a confused Annikan who just wanted to spare an admittedly evil man who could save his love to a dispassionate killer of younglings was just too rough for me. There needed to be something more to smooth out that last stage of the change.
The other thing I liked is how Lucas skillfully slipped the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy into the movie. During the entire movie, Annikan was motivated by his fear brought on by the knowledge that Padme would die if he didn’t find a way to intervene. But in the end, it was his actions, and his realignment with the Sith that directly led to the fulfillment of his nightmarish foreknowledge. As in the case of MacBeth and the visit with the Oracle in the first Matrix movie, it begs the question: Would Padme have lived if he hadn’t had those dreams in the first place?
I also liked the moments of insight into the mentality of the Sith that Palpatine offered from time to time. With the story of Darth Plagaris (Sideous’s own mentor, perhaps?), we learn why that the relationship between the student and teacher is a treacherous one which must inevitably lead to the death of one of them. This is brought on by the combination of fear and lust for power. Either the master must destroy the pupil before said pupil becomes too powerful, or the student must kill the master so that he might survive and ascend to mastery himself. It leaves me wondering why Sith would take a pupil in the first place. But it does explain why there are only two of them. In such a cutthroat relationship, there’s never time to teach a second pupil as long as the first survives.