Thursday, May 19, 2005

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

It's Friday, but Sunday's coming.

With apologies to Tony Campolo, who coined that phrase, this is the matra to say to yourself when searching for God in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. This remarkable third film can truly be called the "Good Friday" of the Star Wars saga.

(Spoiler alert! If you don't want to know what happens, go ahead and skip the next three paragraphs)

Beginning with a frantic space battle in the orbit above Coruscant, Revenge starts the action on a hyperdrive-level intensity which never seems to let up until the closing credits. Through the
course of this roller coaster, we see the horrors of a Star Wars universe:
  • The horror of Jedi Knights being killed in cold blood by the very clones they have fought alongside in the Clone Wars.
  • The horror of democracy thrown away by the members of the Galatic Senate for the supposed security of imperial control.
  • The horror of innocent Jedi children being massacred by Anakin Skywalker because of the potential they represent.
  • The horror of seeing the face of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine being horribly deformed by his own Sith lightning.
  • The horror of seeing the great and powerful Yoda crawl away in shame and fear (!) from his battle with Darth Sidious, sadly saying, "I have failed."
  • The horror of Padme dying in childbirth.
  • The horror of Anakin Skywalker, the chosen one who Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan placed all their hopes on, turning to the Dark Side to become Darth Vader because it's simply the easiest, most seductive answer to his fears and ambitions.
  • The horror of the armless, legless Darth Vader burning to cinders on the hardened lava islands on Mustafar, left to die in pain by his former master and friend Obi-Wan.
These are the horrors of the Galatic Republic's Good Friday. That is what George Lucas has given us in Revenge: a series of horrible, Good Friday events strung together in a nearly two and a half-hour movie ...but Sunday's coming.

(the spoilers end here...)

In the final moments of Revenge, there lies a promise. In those final moments, there lies an echo of what the prophet Isaiah said in the midst of the horror of exile: "Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors" (Isiaiah 37:31-32).

Lucas has given us a remnant, a band of survivors, on which we can redirect our hope after this Good Friday: Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, and Leia, who will together give us that exciting Easter Sunday experience on the Forest Moon of Endor.

We have all had our Good Fridays. We have all had those days when it all falls apart. We have all had those days when we feel like we are misunderstood by our bosses, our teachers, our parents, our superiors, the Jedi masters of our life. We have all had those days when we are face-to-face (lightsaber to lightsaber) with a friend or colleague. We have all had those days when we feel ashamed, defeated, saying, "I have failed."

If we let the saga end there, and often times in our own lives we do, we are left without God. Unless we put our hope in the remnant, the silver lining of our Good Fridays, we are left without God. In the midst of our worst days, we are always given a remnant, a silver lining on which to hang our newfound hope.

Between Episodes III and IV, George Lucas gave the Star Wars universe the hope of Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, and Leia. In your worst days, ask yourself... What does God give you?

May the force be with you.


Anonymous said...

As a young adult, I resonate with the scenes of Anakin being dismissed by Jedi Council, since often times I feel neglected at the office by my superiors; at the same time, I saw how nice it would be to hear Palpatine's words "I know you're better. They're just jealous of you. Let me help you."

I can see how easily Anakin could turn to the dark side, especially when we young adults crave to hear Palpatine's words from someone in their life.

So is God in the form of Palpatine, offering comfort to the neglected and easily dismissed? Obviously, it cannot be since he is the "bad guy." So where is God in the midst of the harsh critique of Macu Windu and the Jedi as seen in this movie? Is he in Mace, especially when they want him to spy and live a double-agent life?

I'd love to hear your perspective.

Jarzembowski said...

Even Jedi aren't perfect (even Yoda says in this movie that he himself "failed."). Mace Windu did indeed not treat Anakin as compassionately as he could have.

When fear has led to anger, anger to hate, and hate to an internal suffering and vulnerability, you are open to any comfort you receive. This is human.

However, to know the good from the bad when it comes to getting our comfort and understanding, we need to be "calm, at peace, passive," as Yoda tells Luke in "Empire Strikes Back." When we pray over our hurt feelings and take time to "let go" as Cardinal Bernardin advised us to do in "The Gift of Peace" (as well as in this new movie when Yoda tells Anakin to "free yourself from all attachments."), then we can see clearly to know the good from the bad, and not fall into the easy way out of hurt.

Where is God? God is in the quiet moments of reflection, just as in the Book of Ezekiel when God appears as the quiet, calm breeze instead of the fire, rain, and thunder. Hopefully this helps.

Rae said...

I liked your review of the movie better than the movie itself. I would like to take a good digital editor and put together a 1/2 hour movie that showed the gist of your review, which hit all the high (dark) points of the movie.

Thank you for redeeming the movie for me a bit. As a lover of Episodes IV, V and VI, episode III at least gave back some of the original magic, even if not enough.

As for anonymous' question: is God in the form of Palpatine offering comfort to the neglected? God does offer comforts, but He doesn't do it by telling us that we are better than others and they are jealous of us. The comforting he gives Anakin is God-like, and remember that Lucifer was the Light-Bearer before he fell. Evil is always similar to good, because we are by nature attracted to the Good. Anakin was too inexperienced, perhaps, to realize that the comforts offered by Palpatine twisted the truth. The Father certainly knew that His Son, Christ, was better than the others. But the Son emptied himself of his divinity, his betterness, and became like us.

All that said, the Jedi were incredibly obtuse in this movie. Who gave them stupid pills? Who turned them into insensitive jerks?


dunhamtribe said...

As far as the Jedi's treatment of Anakin, we can learn something important about God's perfect timing. Anakin may have felt ready to move to the next step but the Jedi felt that he needed more seasoning. Instead of complaining or finding a way around the system, we ought to rejoice in our current situation and seek God's wisdom. Is it not God that knows where we best should be? If we are looking ahead we oftem miss the blessings of our current situation.

Anonymous said...

I watched it, it's similar to what's gonna happen in the future predicted in the bible. Jesus will return, but first the evil dictator(Satan in the flesh) comes to bring false peace and freedom, then later break it and hunt down and kill anyone who won’t accept his religion and make terrible wars, famines, trials, and persecutions, but God is always in control, the reason why he lets Satan run around and attack us is because he wants to get us together, because we were all created in his image to have a loving relationship with him, just like a father-child relationship, but you have to get converted to be a member of his family. In the beginning, God created first 2 humans named Adam and Eve, and placed them in the garden to live on, but they later ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that God told them not to eat, they joined the dark force like Anakin did, and so did we, but we have to accept Jesus’ charity to live with him forever, it's that simple. Satan, his angels, and the wicked are cast into the lake of fire for eternity. We are all in a spiritual warfare, but the good will win. Read the word of God, I can’t wait.