June 11th, 2005
|08:51 pm - Come to the Dark Side -- we have cookies!|
By now, those who've wanted to see Revenge of the Sith will have done so, so I don't think I'll be spoiling anyone's fun who reads this.
After having watched Revenge of the Sith, I thought a lot about why Anakin went to the Dark Side -- and it wasn't because they had cookies, either!
In the movie, it seems like a quick transition -- one moment he is a Jedi, the next a Sith. Short shrift seems to be given to the question of WHY the change occured.
One of the lines of the film is that "Only the Sith deal in absolutes."
I think that is the key to the change, albeit perhaps not in the way that one may think.
From various things in this and prior movies, it seems as though Jedi are taught a code of behavior to which they should adhere if they are to be Jedi. In some of the opening scenes of the movie, Anakin feels guilt and knows he has gone against the Jedi way by killing the unarmed Count Dooku. He knows what he is doing is wrong, albeit expedient, and also KNOWS that what he is doing is Not The Jedi Way.
Anakin knows Right from Wrong. Absolutely.
Later on, Obi Wan attempts to teach him the meaning of "nuance" and "grey", but Anakin Just Doesn't Get It.
To him something is either Right or it is Wrong.
When the Jedi Council wants him to spy on Palpatine, he knows that is Wrong. It doesn't matter that the request is coming from the Jedi, Upholders of All That Is Right and Good -- what they are asking him to do is Wrong. He knows it. They know it.
This, to me, is the start of Anakin's movement towards the Dark Side.
He has begun to learn about Power. And that as in all questions about Power, what is Right and what is Wrong depend very much on whose side one is on and Whose Ox Is Being Gored. That is the crux, right there. Evil, like Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Anakin has learned that to Do (supposed) Good, one must Do Evil. This runs counter to everything he had been taught since he became Obi Wan's pupil.
He has become confused about what is proper conduct for a Jedi and what is not. All the moral underpinnings of his life as a Jedi have started to unravel. Things he had thought were Right and Good -- things like Loyalty -- are being turned upside down. Betrayal of someone who has only done good for him has become a Good, not the Evil he had always thought it was. Loyalty has become an Evil act, not a Good one.
Obi Wan declares in the movie "Only the Sith deal in absolutes." Yet it is Obi Wan who has taught Anakin the Absolutes of Good and Evil. Were that not so, Anakin would have beheaded Count Dooku without a second thought, since it was expedient to do so. Anakin struggled with his conscience there -- a conscience that was instructed by Obi Wan in What is Right and What is Wrong.
It is Anakin's conscience -- and his outraged sense of Right and Wrong -- that turns him. When Jedi Master Mace Windu, held up to him all his life as a model of What a Jedi Should Be, does the very thing that Anakin knows in his heart to be Wrong -- the attempted assasination of the unarmed Palpatine -- then and only then does Anakin truly understand. Everything is about Power. Who has it. Who wields it.
Right is Good when it is good for you.
Wrong is Evil when it is NOT good for you.
EVERYTHING depends on Whose Ox Is Being Gored.
The force itself is neither Good nor Bad -- the Light is Light because it is proclaimed so by those whose deeds benefit by it. When things occur that do not benefit the Light Side of the Force, those things are declared to be part of the Dark Side.
Betrayal is Wrong for Anakin. When Obi Wan and Padme turn on him, those he loved and was loyal to become his enemy, since they have betrayed his trust.
Rebellion is Wrong for Anakin. When Mace Windu makes his assaination attempt in a coup to eliminate the duly-elected Chancellor of the Senate, the Jedi become his enemy, since they seek to overturn the established order.
The coup that the Jedi attempt -- and it IS a coup d'etat -- is their downfall. The enemy of the State must be destroyed -- utterly and completely -- and the seeds of rebellion crushed ruthlessly.
By trying to circumvent the established order and procedure of political power, the Jedi cause their own destruction.
Anakin, being loyal to the State, is the instrument of the Jedi's destruction. Loyalty counters Betrayal.
That is how one turns a Jedi into a Sith. Turn the moral compass upside down. Make Loyalty Betrayal, make Good Evil. Counter all previous moral training with "new" definitions of what is Right and what is Wrong. Teach moral absolutes then claim there are no absolutes.
Which is Good and which is Evil?
Depends on what side one is on.
Much has been made in the press of the supposed similarities with the current US political situation. For my part, I see a different model that Lucas might have used in writing this.
I was repeatedly struck by the many similarities in plot between the rise of Palpatine and the rise of Hitler. For those who are students of history, the comparisons will be easy -- Lucas even uses visual references to the work of Leni Riefenstahl -- particularly in the cinematography of Darth Vader's entrance into the Jedi Temple.
To me, Lucas has created an Ur-Text into how rule by the populace (usually a class of oligarchs, not the TRUE population at large) is overthrown in favor of the rule of one person. It happened in Rome, it happened in Germany -- it will happen elsewhere, again and again and again.
Is the chaos of rule by the many TRULY better than the order of rule by the one?
Dictators and kings bring order and stability. People crave stability. Stability enables commerce to thrive and people to feel safe in their beds at night. Lack of order and political/social/economic chaos creates (justified) anxiety in a populace.
Order makes the trains run on time.
Is it better? I'm not sure I know the answer to that -- since the above Jedi meme hands me an orange light saber, the color of the Sith, perhaps I'm the wrong one to ask . . .
Current Mood: thoughtful
Current Music: "Imperial March" by John Williams
|Date:||June 14th, 2005 08:07 am (UTC)|| |
Re: the question and the answers
Thanks for the compliment!
The emperor used the term "our Resolve will not falter" in the senate.
I took that as a Winston Churchill/FDR reference, personally -- more WWII referencing there, as well as archetypal political grandstanding. Hitler probably made a similar speech after the botched attempt was made on his life with a suitcase bomb. (Not that great a student of history, so I can't say for sure -- but he certainly made plenty of speeches along those lines!!!)
Amidala said "so this is how Liberty dies, to thunderous applause".
I thought of that more as a reference to Hitler, who rose to Chancellor of the Republic by legitimate political maneuvering, then became Fuehrer with emergency powers (that became permanent) granted by the people after an attempted assassination -- just as Palpatine did.
Hadn't heard about the re-write of Anakin's lines though -- but given the political climate in Hollywood, frankly I'm not surprised.
In Hollywood, whenever they need a villain, they just use the Nazi/Fascist/Hitler model as the stock template for Evil Incarnate.
The Republicans are the new Nazis, you see -- America's own home-made Fascists.
Or so Hollywood tries to tell us.
BTW, I'm a Republican too. Just so you know.
|Date:||June 14th, 2005 02:39 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: the question and the answers
Lucas in an interview didn't come out and say it, he said that the Emperor was supposed to be Hitler. However Lucas did state that could not see how he is not supposed to comment on what is going on in the world today. So he made Aniken/Darth into George Bush.