Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith ★★★★★


It's all so tragic, isn't it? "War!", the opening crawl proclaims, but Lucas captures battles in multiple spaces besides the physical, evoking primal feelings through ancient tragedy and the void of conflicting ideologies haunted by personal agenda. While the conclusion of Attack of the Clones - highlighted by a smash cut from the early Empire to Anakin and Padme's secret wedding - sings to where our heart lies, Revenge of the Sith orchestrates a symphony of broken, corrupt civilization and shattered relationships around a protagonist who we cannot help. His arc - the inevitable shift into Darth Vader - is set in stone, a myth passed down by the fans of its creator, but it isn't celebratory or portrayed as fan service. Anakin's downfall, along with the searing collapse of the Jedi Order and the death of liberty, is cataclysmic in every facet, and Lucas bows to its inevitability.

It isn't a happy story, but it is a necessary one, with the short-lived moments of humorous banter between Anakin and Obi-Wan souring with each viewing, knowing what's ahead. You just want Anakin and Padme to live in harmony, raise the child, and love each other, but it wasn't meant to be. And so it begins; the path to the Dark Side - betrayal, anger, hate, death, rebirth - cries out in a devilish tune, John Williams's score festering into something inhuman, evil, disastrous. Lucas weaves this painful chapter of the saga as a dissolving ode to the stories we tell, and to see it alive is both visceral and moving. It plays out like a horrible nightmare, scene after scene of destruction and crumbling finality grasping cinema's passion to its fullest extent, and yet, it's impossible to look away.

In fact, it moves me and takes me away to a place where words are meaningless. All that's left are images, clashing and balletic, tender and poignant. Writing about Lucas's masterpiece does it a disservice, frankly, as it's so inevitably tied to compositions and moments. The way Padme and Anakin reach out to one another across a sunset or how Anakin runs to her after she spots him on Mustafar, the lava dancing in the background. How Natalie Portman sells the grief and the hope of losing her love to evil, "there's still good in him" echoing across time and space, lingering in the air. And Obi-Wan's final glance to Aunt Beru before wandering into hiding, a new hope being raised among two setting suns. It is an entertainment of heartbreak and melancholy, and undoubtedly one of the greats.

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