Monday, October 31, 2005

America's Greatest Star Wars Apologist

That's not totally true, but Alexandra DuPont's review of the Revenge of the Sith DVD is almost enough to convince you that the movie's pretty good. A sample:
But in Sith, McDiarmid also gets to lay out a coherent philosophy to Anakin during one of their many confrontations. "Anakin, if one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all its aspects, not just the dogmatic, narrow view of the Jedi," he says, quite sensibly (in a line that may well have been script-doctored by Tom Stoppard, if the rumors are true). "If you wish to become a complete and wise leader, you must embrace a larger view of the Force. "

You know, who wouldn't get behind that?

Please notice that I keep bringing up the non-action bits as fine moments in the film. Given what's come before, do please note how incredible that is. One of my favorite scenes is the one where Palps begins working his seductive magic on Anakin in an opera house. It's like something out of The Godfather — and McDiarmid (who was suffering from some sort of laryngeal infection when they shot this scene, and used it) knows precisely how much fun to have with every melodramatic syllable.

(Nor is this the only blatant Coppola reference in the film; there's a moment where a grim-faced Yoda is talking to Anakin in front of some closed shades, with sunlight slatting the wee Jedi Master's face in chiaroscuro, and I half-expected Yoda to mutter "Fuckin' Saigon.")

I also love that Anakin is caught by both pride and a lie. He wants to learn the Dark Side of the Force to give Padme eternal life, but he's also fooled by Palpatine into believing there's a genuine Jedi conspiracy against the Chancellor. When Anakin bursts into the room at one crucial moment, all he sees is Mace Windu holding a lightsaber to an unarmed Palpatine's throat — and after what follows, no one really gets a chance to dissuade him from the notion that Mace was about to assassinate the man who runs the galaxy. For all I know, when he meets Obi-Wan again on the Death Star a couple of decades later, Anakin still thinks the Jedi hatched a plot to kill his boss. The overall sense is of a set of tumblers clicking into place, locking Anakin into his destiny. It's surprisingly tidy, and kind of merciless.

If only Sith had been a good as this review.


Anonymous said...

Check this out:

Steven Den Beste said...

How about an Ewok Gun?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm crazy, but I basically liked Sith. It wasn't brilliant or anything, but it was a far better way to spend 2 hours than, say, Phantom Menace.

Then again, Serenity completely dusts it.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Sith an extraordinary morality play. The physical degeneration of both Palpatine and Aniken as the story progressed brought to mind Chaucer while the turning of Aniken to the dark side reminiscent of a medieval passion play.

I know, I know...the dialogue sucked at times. But the story was brilliant and Aniken's trasnformation - which could have been an absolute disaster given the limited acting skills of Hayden - was one of the more remarkable events in the history of film.

Think of it...Everyone in the audience knew what was going to happen! What an awesome challenge for Lucas and the fact that he carried it off is something I don't see him getting much credit for.