Preparing for The Rise of Skywalker – Part III: Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith is the final Star Wars film in the oft-discussed prequel trilogy, and is widely seen as the best of the three. To this, I agree. In this, George Lucas plays on all strings when it comes to mythic storytelling, in a film that is both intimate, emotional and epic.
The story of Revenge of the Sith revolves strongly around the theme of “despair”, and in it, we see the fall of Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side of the Force.
Manipulated by the scheming Chancellor Palpatine, Anakin is drawn into his grasp to become his student, puppet and a tool to consolidate power. As with the two previous films in the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith has strong political themes, but unlike Attack of the Clones, it doesn’t become preachy. In fact, many of the political jabs in this film is spot on, especially in its criticisms of the government the time of its release. Anakin’s line, after falling hard to the Dark Side, “If you are not with me, then you are my enemy” will sound eerily familiar to those with even a passing knowledge about American politics.
Revenge of the Sith also has acting of a much better quality than the two films before it. George Lucas is back to form with the theatrical and over-the-top acting from The Phantom Menace that fits into the mythic narrative style, but where that movie was much lighter and child friendly, Revenge of the Sith is as dark as it can be.
Anakin Skywalker is halfway down the hero’s journey in Revenge of the Sith, having hubris hit him square in his face in his quest to save his wife from death. Redemption and katarsis will follow later, but for now we learn that everything might not have been so coincidental as Anakin might have believed. Palpatine was the Phantom Menace. He manipulated the Force to create Anakin. He sent the dreams to stoke his despair and the fear of losing those he loved. And lose them he did.
With a mythic narrative this strong, it might not be that interesting to write too much about the technical sides of the film. But, it should be mentioned that Revenge of the Sith sees a real improvement to the special effects, including the CGI. The opening shot, for instance, is iconic to Star Wars fans, where it follows Anakin and Obi-Wan in small starfighters through a raging battle above the planet Coruscant. Also, the final battle between the two of them is one of the best and most epic lightsaber duels in the Star War saga. Fun fact: this scene was actually very influenced by Steven Spielberg, a good friend of George Lucas, who was brought on as a guest director.
I have not mentioned the music of the prequel trilogy in my two previous reviews, so I thought I’d do it now. John Williams might be the most iconic film music composers in modern cinema, and the score of Revenge of the Sith is a strong reminder of this, as its themes tie together the prequel and the original trilogy.
The Revenge of the Sith is the best of the prequel trilogy, and one of my favorites of the Star Wars franchise. It is a film about loss and despair, about ends, but also about beginnings.