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May 19, 2005

Comments

Jay

Yeah, over all, I enjoyed the film, even though it felt ever bit of the 2 plus hours it was. I was disappointed that "Vader" didn't do more killing. I was walking in with the hope that he and Windu would have faced off some how. Instead, I get Sam Jackson being thrown out of a window portal by Force Lightning. *yawn*

My dad came up with Mom, and I finished the Star Wars series the way I started it, sitting next to the man who brought me into this world. I have to tell you, that was pretty dang cool. When we first hear the sounds of Aniken's breathing as the newly formed Darth Vader, I feel a nudge from my father. Ha, I thought that was neat. Even in his late fifty's, my dad is a film geek at heart.

Patrick

Dave, you forgot:

"Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn't allow it..."

and

"He thought you'd go off with old Obi-Wan on some damn-fool, idealistic crusade like your father did."

SuperPope

Jay: I did get a chill when Vader breathed through the mask for the first time. That was a nice touch.

Pat: The "your father wanted you to have this" line I'll give them. Obi-Wan knew that Anakin would have wanted him to have it, and I can believe that Owen wouldn't allow Luke to be trained. That's why he didn't get trained earlier. But if I were Obi-Wan and I knew Luke was the only hope for the galaxy, I would have just taken him. :)

But you're right: I thought about that other line yesterday. Anakin didn't go on any "idealistic crusade."

Another thing that bugs me about the movie that I forgot to mention is how Obi-Wan just watches Anakin catch on fire and burn before picking up Luke's heirloom and walking off. The scene would have shown more mercy on the part of Obi-Wan if Anakin had fallen onto a floating platform and burst into flames. At least then Obi-Wan could pretend he couldn't reach him, if only to put him out of his misery.

Matt-02

He's Obi-Wan Kenobi, not Jesus Christ.
I mean jeez, the guy just killed lots and lots
of innocent children over at the Jedi Temple,
nearly strangled his wife to death, betrayed
the entire Jedi Council, and allied himself with
the very man whose identity they sought to seek
and destroy for the past three years, a.ka, the
Lord of the Sith. Who did you expect him to show
mercy to? Anakin Skywalker? The entire premise
of Anakin Skywalker being dead was established
22 years ago in Return of the Jedi! It was clear to Obi-Wan at that point that he had been wrong: this boy wasn't the chosen one, and he was no longer the man he onced considered a brother. He was an empty shell of a person rambling on about wielding the power to control the galaxy and making it a better place. He HAD BEEN seduced by the dark side, Superpope! His fear of screwing up and letting down everyone he loved led him down the path of constantly lusting for more power and being just plain bitter towards anyone who placed any sort restriction on him. In the last forty minutes of the movie, he is finally given that power, and he goes far beyond simply wishing to wield it in order to resurrect his wife -- his hatred towards anyone who stands in his way actually led him to almost killing her when refused his offer to rule the galaxy at his side! If that's not to justify the claim that Anakin was seduced by the dark side, I don't know what is.

C'mon.....look back at your review. Aren't you being just a teensy bit cynical, having only seen the movie once?

Patrick

See what you do, Dave? You bring apologists out of the basement and into the open air!

For shame.

SuperPope

Matt: I can easily judge the movie based on its own merits, except for the fact that what happened didn't coincide with what other characters spoke of in episodes 4, 5 and 6. That's the real issue.

And I know he's not Jesus Christ. But Lucas did make him quote him, and then had Obi-Wan attribute the statement to the dark side.

Matt-02

I'm a Christian too, Superpope.
But I'm not all that offended, even
if Lucas did realize that he was quoting
Christ when Obi-Wan said that...
Star Wars theology doesn't always
agree perfectly with Christian theology.

SuperPope

The Force is a partial actualization of George Lucas' beliefs. That's no secret. And many people these days hold a "What's true for you is not necessarily true for me" philosophy. It's a self defeating belief, and I am stunned at the number of people who cling to it. I just hated seeing it in a Star Wars movie.

By the way, Anakin WAS the chosen one. I don't know why all the Jedi were too dumb to see it. The chosen one was supposed to "bring balance to the Force". Well, there were hundreds of Jedi and only two Sith. By the time Anakin put on the Vader helmet, he had whittled it down to only two Jedi and two Sith. That's balance.

Matt-02

Are you sure that's the balance that was prophecied?
What you say makes perfect sense, but for whatever reason I always sort of thought the balance referred to was Anakin's redemption at the end of the Return of the Jedi, when he personally killed the Emperor and put an end to the Sith.

But anyway, how could the Force be a partial actualization of Lucas' beliefs? He would be contradicting himself, then. We're taught all throughout the old trilogy that there are absolutes: good versus evil. You're right. What Obi-Wan said *is* bothersome, but I just can't see how Lucas can just contradict his own theology like that.

SuperPope

Well, I'm pretty sure that Lucas is basically a pantheist. That's as far as The Force demonstrates his beliefs. But I believe he is a moral relativist, too. I agree with you...it's contradictory. Star Wars is about Light and Dark. Those are absolutes. Believing in absolutes doesn't place you on the side of evil. Quite the opposite, actually!

I once read the back of a "Lucas Learning" game that I saw at a garage sale, and it had George's philosophy of teaching on it. It said something like, "I don't want to teach children that there is a 'right answer' or a 'wrong answer' to a problem. I want them to find a solution that works for them."

Isn't that horrible?

Jay

I'll bet when Lucas's adopted kids brought home report cards with "F's" on them because their math problems came out as "2 plus 2 equals Chair!", George must have thought that "You know, the kid's just finding his own answer..."

As much as I am an advocate for free thinking, I think Lucas is way nutty. I believe in absolutes too, and for whatever reasons there are, sometimes a gray area just isn't needed.

Hey! I believe in absolutes! Does this make me a Sith Lord? I'm sitting here flicking my fingers at Pat, trying to use Force Lightening on him but it ain't workin'...

Patrick

You did make the hair on the back of my neck stand up though...good job!

SuperPope

I don't know...can creeping somebody out technically be considered a Dark Side power? ;)

Patrick

The way he does it? Most definitely.

DarkSol

You know, honestly, I gave up all hope on George Lucas making a good prequel as soon as I saw Phantom Menace. One word sums it all up: "midichlorians." What in the heck? So this means that everyone is Force aware because they have these symbiotic organisms inside of them? Furthermore, what makes a Jedi or a Sith so special then? Just a higher concentration of the things?

I walked into the theater with low expectations, and I walked out with the feeling that those expectations weren't even met. When I saw it, a good majority of the crowd in my theater were laughing at pretty much every serious scene.

Furthermore, why did they have to introduce characters that, unless one saw the Clone Wars cartoon, they would have no clue who they were? Grievous, for example. I was totally lost. Or show so little of the Darth Vader we all knew? Other than the cold, collective, deadly one we all know, we end up with this whiney, little baby when it's all said and done.

Total stinker of a movie. Maybe all that flannel sucked the creativeness out of George?

counterpoint

I thought that Obi-Wan's line was the best in the entire movie.

Obi Wan didn't say only a sith would think in absolutes..he said only a Sith deals in absolutes.
Even absolutes are relative. A suicide bomber may well believe in absolute good or evil, but his idea of absolute good is blowing up a bus full of people.
Yes, relativism is shaky ground, but we're labouring under an illusion if we believe that there are absolutes that all human beings share. A person's viewpoint of what is absolutely good or evil IS relative.
Now, I've got no beef with Jesus (I actually believe in Jesus), but I thought Obi-Wan's line was extremely apt. Saying "If you are not with me, you are against me" excludes everyone who does not take sides and in Anakin's case, makes anyone who does not believe you a sworn enemy. This kind of mentality has washed the world in blood.
We can go round and round in semantic circles here, but Lucas has a point- many people in the world have a different view of what is right and wrong, and consequently their polar extremes/absolutes of what is good or evil can change drastically.
If you watched Star Wars hoping to have Lucas spoon-feed you your own theology back to you in a world where many people hold beliefs and absolutes we find awful- a world where relatives are absolute- then you will be disappointed. Life isn't that simple and I'm glad Lucas gave people something to think about.

SuperPope

You don't seem to agree with the suicide bomber's idea of good and evil. So what do you think? Is he misguided, or are his beliefs just as correct as yours and mine? Are you saying that it is okay for the suicide bomber to kill people since he believes it secures him a place in heaven, but it is not okay for me since I don't believe that?

There IS an absolute standard of right and wrong that is written on the hearts of every human being. People may deny it; they may suppress it; their actions may contradict it; but their REACTIONS reveal that they know it.

At any rate, Obi-Wan was not neutral in any way. His actions always showed a severe desire to do what was selfless and moral. He fought Anakin because he knew that he must. And he knew that he must because what Anakin had done was ABSOLUTELY WRONG. I fear that George Lucas just found himself in the position of expounding a philosophy that even he didn't believe, and took all of the punch out of the Force while trying to correct his error.

H.M. Stryx

Good versus evil, assuming absolute definition in a binary fashion, is a state of mind. What remains nearly impossible to grasp is that the choice of one does not cancel out the other exclusively. Other writers, under license, go into detail through several views in the pre and post movie fiction answering a good many questions which Lucas totally ignores in the prequel (doctrine) films.

H.M. Stryx

Comic pulp relates that Luke returns to the dark side after the momentary death of the Emperor and masters both the Dark Side and the Force - thus fulfilling the balance promised in the prophecy. This, like the story of the mandalorian armor immunity to force powers and their war against the Jedi, are completely ignored in the standing fiction of film.

From a psychological view, as Maslow would point out, the inability to see the charactes of our story as more than puppets driven by unseen forces of 'good' and 'evil' does a great disservice to the eventual 'acceptance and self realization' similar to Bhuddism that was -once- a major part of the Star Wars Universe. Poor script writting, terrible acting, bad direction, and a genuine disavowment of the mature themes and elements for pure commercial puproses strike a finishing blow in this dynamic of growth and awareness by increassingly 'keeping it simple' for the mass audience. Like the Matrix, the powerful themes of psureality which serve as a medium for new awareness and self-discovery collapse into familiar parables (quoting the bible, making the motions of Jesus, the archtypical scream of anguish without feeling or body language) that undermine the initial breakthrough created by this media. Journalists call it self-censorship, but psychologists would call it simple denial - a fundamental desire to cling to what we understand rather than acknowledge 'mistakes were made' in the multi-million-dollar process of carrying the project on for nearly 30 years. Worst yet - mistakes were made by the author, whom we have all diefied and then learned to dispise mildly over the course of our adult lives. The simply fact that he personally and unapologetically 'dropped the ball' seems harder to come to grips with than rationalizing the nitty-gritty details piece by piece looking for less unpleasant answers.

In summary, all I can say for Lucas is "There is Good in Him Yet"... though I doubt I will see it express itself in ways that could make up for my expectations in this film.

Counterpoint

Superpope,

I happen to agree with you completely on what you have said.
The only thing that I cannot fully agree with is the notion that all human beings have the same absolutes buried within them. A part of me does agree with you because it would be very tragic if such a morality did not exist in human beings. A better way of saying it in my mind is through Buddhism, which teaches that everyone wants happiness and does not desire to suffer. I suppose you could formulate absolutes based on that standpoint- that good is what causes least suffering and evil is what causes the most, and that people are aware of this. On this I would agree, although, in the case of my example with the suicide bomber, people can have different ideas of what does the most good and consequently they form their moral absolutes based on those beliefs. So you could say that the suicide bomber has the same innate sense of right and wrong but for whatever reason has completely messed up in implementing it wisely. To a suicide bomber absolute good is ridding the world of people they deem unfit to be in it according to their worldview or God. You have to be pretty darn sure you're doing the good thing to kill a whole bunch of people. Now I find it utterly evil, but for reasons I don't have a clue about the suicide bomber does not.

I certainly don't believe in giving concessions to others who cause great suffering merely because their strongest ideals of what would make a good world differ from mine. I believe in absolute good and evil, so to speak, but I also recognise that others have different standards of good and evil based on their upbringings, cultural influences, and experiences.

Obi-Wan's line "only a sith would deal in absolutes" did strike a chord with me because it highlighted to me the danger of Anakin's line "If you are not with me, you are my enemy." Aside from the criticism this line will receive from some Christians, and I agree it can be directly paraphrased from Jesus (even though Lucas calls himself a "Methodist Buddhist"), it was useful to me in pointing out the dangers of "I am completely right and you are completely wrong," which causes a lot of suffering in the world. I also found the line apt in a world where religiously speaking this kind of mentality can be extremely damaging, and historically there are far too many examples of men who have done terrible things because they were absolutely convinced of the merit of their actions.

Yes, even though the Jedi do believe in absolute good and evil, Obi-wan had to fight Anakin because his own absolutism excluded anyone who did not believe in him and his new path, even if they loved him. On the dark side there is no "I understand what you're saying, but"...so they have really taken to the extreme their mentality, whereas the Jedi believe that the great majority of people are not beyond redemption and don't go around killing people for disagreeing with them. In other words, most of the time they do not judge people by absolutes, although they believe in them, but the Dark Side deals in absolutes- you are either an ally or a threat, and to be disposed of if you're the latter.

I don't think that Obi-Wan's line was that out of character for him. In Return Of The Jedi, when Luke speaks about Darth Vader having some good left in him, Obi Wan disagrees with him, saying he is "more machine than man." Obi Wan has obviously given up on Vader due to his own absolutism. As Luke doesn't pigeonhole Vader into an absolutist mindset, he is able to redeem him. Which goes allll the way back to Anakin's line and the danger of
thinking of human beings in terms of absolute good or evil. Besides, "It's typical of a Sith to think like that," doesn't pack the melodramatic punch of "Only." And the line might have been a tad contradictory for a Jedi, but as Anakin shows so well they're not past making mistakes.

The problem is that when it comes to the concept of moral absolutes we can argue that everyone shares them, but then again so many have a different idea of which actions and beliefs fall into those categories. Here we come to the reciprocity of this mindset where other people we say innately hold these values may say that it is we who innately share theirs. It is like saying everyone, deep down, knows Christianity is the right religion for them but they ignore it, forgetting that other people are saying the same thing.

Anyway, I've rambled:) I like this discussion! Email me if you want to continue it further?

Karl

1) Obi-Wan: “Vader was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force.” Was he?
Yes he was, he kept asking for more, more power, higher rank, place in the council, etc. He was seduced by the promise of absolute power, omnipotence..

2) Obi-Wan: “…and he was a good friend.”
Was he?
Yes he was, they lived together more than we see in the movies. Anakin is said to have saved Obi-Wans's life 9 (or 10) times

3) Obi-Wan: “Vader hunted down and murdered the Jedi.”
Yes he did, between the 3rd and 4th episodes

4) Luke: “What do you remember of your Mother?” Leia: “Mostly images, really. My mother died when I was very young. She was very beautiful, but sad.”
When Luke asks the question to Leia, Leia replies considering her adopted mother in ALderaan, not her real mother.

Karl

"Anakin turned to the dark side because he had a dream in which Padme died in childbirth. The problem with this is that she only died in childbirth because he joined the darkside in order to find a way to save her because he had the dream! That’s a paradox. The fact that he saw the vision couldn’t be the cause of the vision coming to pass."

No, it is not a paradox. It is called "self-fulfilling prophecy" in social science. You take actions to prevent a perceived outcome, and your actions end up causing it.

Karl

One more think about the "absolutes" discussion here. The Jedi do not believe in "absolute good"... They recognize the shades of gray (eg: they ask Anakin to spy on Palpatine, they plan to take over to ensure safe transition.) Light side has shades (shades are created by light, if you think about it), but the dark side is pitch black.

SuperPope

Karl,

You're really just adding to the fiction in order to defend the movie's shortcomings. You're not really formulating arguments.

If you want to like the movie, that's just fine. But don't add to the mythos and pretend it's an argument.

H.M. Stryx

I have one statement to sum it all up:

"The Metaclorians made me do it."

EoL

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Favorite Books

  • Ravi Zacharias: Can Man Live Without God?

    Ravi Zacharias: Can Man Live Without God?
    An amazing book that makes the case for God not by citing the Bible or great theologians, but by analyzing the philosophies of famous atheists and showing their flaws.

  • C. S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

    C. S. Lewis: Mere Christianity
    C.S. Lewis was an atheist for much of his life. Appropriately, this book makes the case for the existance of God first and Christianity second with carefully outlined and surprisingly simple reasoning. I consider this required reading for anyone searching for meaning.

  • C. S. Lewis: Space Trilogy

    C. S. Lewis: Space Trilogy
    Religious Sci-Fi Fantasy: A very tiny genre. In "Out of the Silent Planet", "Perelandra", and "That Hiddeous Strength", C.S. Lewis manages to tackle difficult theological questions as we follow Dr. Ransom in his adventures on Mars, Venus, and back on Earth. My favorite science fiction series by far.