May 22, 2005

How Democracy Ends

I have to admit, I am a Star Wars geek - saw the first movie when it originally came out, have seen it about 200 - 300 times. My godson Logan's father - big Star Wars geek. (He also could hurt me, so I don't mess with him). It's not just a casual thing, but it's also not the sheer obnoxious obsession that would, say, drive us to hang out with the Aint-It-Cool crowd. Yesterday, after working that morning, I decided to head on down and catch Revenge of the Sith.

To put it in perspective - I would much rather this movie be the end of the saga than Return of the Jedi. It's a satisfying, excellent conclusion that, hopefully, will let George Lucas move on and make other movies.

Unlike other bloggers, I don't think a fifth Star Wars sequel is a sign of creative bankruptcy - my only complaint was that, in twenty years, Lucas could have written a strong part 1 and a stronger part 2 (and that Attack of the Clones should have been part one). Part 3 had several goals - to serve as a link between trilogies, to set up the original film, and to show how "a democracy becomes an empire."

The movie swings between dogfights, both in space and in the political arena. Although the shift seems a little sudden, the whole "manipulator behind the scenes" motif seems a lot more realistic than, say, a guy shooting an alien as the beginning of an empire. As the tone becomes darker in the third act, we are not suprised - even though we know the Empire is the result, we sit powerless as things begin to disintegrate.

However, we see this through the eyes of various characters, both major and minor. This is a story less about the fall of democracy and more about individual corruption - how one person can manipulate a situation creating a shift of alliances, making good look like evil, and turning friends into enemies.

In other words, it sounds like my soon-to-be former employer. (Just kidding...or am I? I am. Really.)

Be sure to thank Mr. Lucas for paying for Hayden Christopher's acting lessons - he comes off a lot less wooden, the burdens of years of Jedi training, being denied his wishes, being involved in a secret marriage...the last half hour is his tour de force. (Kudos also to Ewan McGregor, who effortlessly channels Sir Alec Guiness and whose grief at the end is palpable). In fact, the only person who disappoints is Natalie Portman...but given the material she has to handle, it's understandable. (Lucas seems better able to write space battles than personal moments). Ian McDarmid is the star of the movie, slowly peeling back layers of darkness before our very eyes.

And luckily, only five minutes of Jar Jar, and he doesn't speak.

Dudes, you have got to see this movie. Honestly.

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