Saturday, July 28, 2018

Star Wars Episode III: The Sith, The Clones, and the Jedi

“A Kansas City Shuffle is when everybody looks right, you go left.” – Mr. Goodkat, Lucky Number Sleven

I remember going to the theatre to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith for the first time, and kind of being blown away by the opening sequence. I couldn’t shake the feeling that George Lucas had completely pulled the rug out from under the audience in the best of ways. As Lucas himself has pointed out, Star Wars and its subsequent sequels and prequels have always been essentially modern-day fairy tales with the requisite binary morality. Revenge of the Sith still falls along this spectrum, but if all of the previous Star Wars films were the sanitized Disney versions, then Revenge of the Sith is straight up, motherfucking Brothers Grimm. Revenge of the Sith is the version of Cinderella where her stepsisters cut off their own toes in order to have their feet fit the glass slipper only to be found out due to the copious amounts of blood easily visible in transparent footwear.

After two prequels worth of the typical Star Wars fare, Revenge of the Sith takes a dark turn early on that I don’t think a lot of people expected despite knowing where the story had to go. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is still hands down today the highest regarded film out of the saga among nearly any group of fans that you ask and is touted as being dark, but I think that Revenge of the Sith takes the mantle for the darkest entry any day of the week. The moment that indicated that this was going to be a different kind of Star Wars was the confrontation between Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) that ended in Anakin not just dismembering the good Count by cutting off both of his hands but then by brutally decapitating him once he is subdued and no longer a threat. Watching Dooku’s head bounce away like a tennis ball being chased by your pet nexu signalled a turning point in both the film and the series. In a film series that never shied away from casual dismemberment, there is something a lot more sinister here, something that “Oh shit” just doesn’t quite cover.