Sunday, May 22, 2005

The circle is now complete. We have the full life story of one Anakin Skywalker from a precocious 9 year-old Jedi prodigy to fallen Jedi/Sith Lord to redeemed Jedi in the last few minutes of his life. And so ends a saga that took nearly 30 years in the telling.

June says Anakin led a wasted life. For someone so powerful to spend most of his power on causing pain, suffering and death to millions is unpardonable, especially when that power could have been used to do the complete opposite. That he chose his path out of his own impatience, pride, fear, arrogance, guilt and ultimately gullibility is tragic. Obi-Wan rails at him for not living up to being "the Chosen One," but perhaps the Jedi Council didn't quite understand the meaning of the ancient prophecy, as Yoda feared. Anakin was supposed to "bring balance to the Force," and that was exactly what he did.

How much more good could Anakin have done in a galaxy already watched over by the Jedi Council? The Sith in comparison were vastly outnumbered. Darth Sidious (Palpatine), Darth Maul (deceased), Darth Tyranus (Count "I will suck your blood" Dooku), and as far as the movies go, no one else. 3 Darths vs the hundreds of Jedi younglings, padawan, knights and masters doesn't seem quite fair odds even in our galaxy.

Against such overwhelming opposition, the Sith create an empire and all but wipe out their competitors in a single strike. Fine, they have the entire Clone Army behind them but that's just a matter of careful preparation, isn't it? Vader himself strikes at the heart of the Jedi organization and in the most heartless way demolishes it from the inside out. Result: The Sith rule, and 2 Jedi remain (Yoda and Obi-Wan) to rebuild the Jedi faith all over again. Balance achieved.

Episodes 1-3 is innovative in the retelling of a common myth -- hero triumphs over incredible odds and restores peace to a troubled land. In this movie series, it's just that the side that wins, the side that the hero fights for, isn't the side we like. Anakin rationalizes his actions under the banners of peace, security and stability for the galaxy but the peace that comes with his victory is a contrived one, one that exists simply due to the absence of war, and of course it doesn't last very long. And so, equilibrium has to be achieved again and from Episode 4-6 it's Luke who rebalances the galaxy. Anakin/Vader is again instrumental in achieving this rebalancing -- he is the fulcrum to Force balancing in both parts of the saga.

So Anakin fulfils his destiny as far as the prophecy goes. Just be careful how you read your prophecies. They may come true in ways you might not like.

Episode 3 was a blast to watch. A visual treat in the scale of the conflict, in the sense that whatever you were looking at, though huge by itself, is just a tiny cog when the camera zooms out to present a larger perspective of the battlescape. I guess it's that way with Vader too. His is a looming presence over the Star Wars franchise, and yet still a tiny part in the grand scheme of things. That's perhaps what's so great about this entire saga: it's an ensemble piece with every part living and breathing rather than being just a vehicle for any star in particular.

There are few surprises in the plot, since we all know how things eventually turn out but it's nice to have the gaps filled for a clearer picture.

I was also lucky enough to catch a complete screening of "The Clone Wars" vols. 1 and 2 in one sitting yesterday. This animated series chronicles the events between Episodes 2 and 3, tracing the exploits of the Jedi knights through the Clone Wars, the unorthodox promotion of Anakin from Padawan to Knight (hence answering how Anakin could aspire to the title of Master since the last time we saw him he was still just an apprentice), and finally leading up to the kidnapping of Senator Palpatine by General Grevious which is where Episode 3 opens. Many thanks to Cartoon Network for this unexpected bonus.

I guess all that's left is to propose a home screening of a Star Wars movie marathon with loads of popcorn and coke when all 6 episodes (in extended format maybe?) come out on DVD with my taped copy of "The Clone Wars" thrown in. Anyone interested?

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