Star Wars is one of the biggest franchises ever to grace the screens. Roughly 40 years ago Star Wars changed cinema and helped pave the way for the blockbuster phenomenon. George Lucas continued the saga in 1999 by exploring the events that led to the rise of the Empire and the origins of Darth Vader, arguably one of the most iconic film villains of all time.
Before I defend the prequel trilogy I will say that The Phantom Menace (1999) and Attack of the Clones (2002) are not cinematic masterpieces; these films feature some wooden acting (looking at you Natalie Portman in The Phantom Menace) and are cheesy. However I would defend these films, maybe that’s due to nostalgia and the fact I grew up with these films, but they still feature the evolution of the Empire and Darth Vader.
Star Wars: Revenge of the Prequels
The crown jewel in the prequel trilogy has to be Revenge of the Sith (2005) and I would go on to say that this has to be my favourite Star Wars films. Objectively speaking Revenge of the Sith is the culmination of everything that has been bubbling under the surface in the previous two prequel films and now everything is revealed.
If you watch the film back you can see the seeds that are being sown into the downfall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of the Empire. During the course of Revenge of the Sith you’ll most likely find yourself screaming at the screen telling certain characters to do things differently and that is why I love this film, it emotionally engrosses you and keeps you invested.
Revenge of the Sith also features one of my favourite fight sequences in the entire franchise: Anakin Skywalker vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. This is a tragic moment as the little boy on Tatooine is no more, he has thrown away all chances to become a great Jedi Master and thrown away a brotherly bond all for selfish gain. This is why Revenge of the Sith is my favourite film of the franchise because the emotion is ripe and conventions are broken regarding the fate of our heroes and those who fight for justice and peace.
You Were The Chosen One
The themes and character relationships in Revenge of the Sith are powerful and engrossing. It’s rare for a film to show the evil side taking power and conquering good, and that is why I love this film. Because at the end of the day you know the end result and that evil does not win forever, but I love how unconventional the film is in showing that sometimes it is hard to resist your natural emotions.
Relationships is a strong theme. Relationship of husband and wife, master and padawan and obviously evil vs. good. Anakin encompasses all of these themes and despite the mediocre acting from Hayden Christensen, the character exploration is one of the strongest points of the film. I loved how he struggles with his conflicting emotions and to a degree repressed them because he is going on a journey, unfortunately he ends up at the wrong destination. Anakin allows fear, greed and jealousy to consume him to the point where he is too deep in affiliation with the Sith.
It reminds me of a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth:
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”
It brings up the theme of forgiveness and redemption. The thing that gives the audience hope is that by destroying the Emperor and saving Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi, there is redemption for Anakin. However, at the time of the events of Revenge of the Sith, there questions about whether people can turn back from their evil ways. As an audience member i’m begging Anakin not to listen to the Chancellor, even though it has to happen and even though there is some small moment of redemption in the end.
The Chosen One. The prophecy spoke about an individual who would destroy the Sith and bring peace to the galaxy. Up to this point no one has doubted that destiny over Anakin's life, until Yoda says a subtle yet impactful statement: “A prophecy misread, perhaps.”
When Obi-Wan shouts, “You were the chosen one!” after his fight with Anakin on Mustafar, It breaks your heart. Little do they know he actually fulfils the prophecy at the end of Return of the Jedi, however at this point in the film it’s quite a shocking moment thinking all this time has been wasted and in fact they could be back at square one, in trying to find the One who would destroy the Sith. Also referring back to Phantom of the Menace (1999) the Jedi council initially reject the request to train Anakin as they sensed great fear in him, unfortunately how right they were.
Anankin, You’re Breaking My Heart!
The most tragic relationship breakdown is between Padmé and Anakin, after everything they had been through it was all thrown away due to the paranoia of Anakin. Gone was the little boy she met on Tatooine, as she states, “I don’t know you anymore, Anakin, you’re breaking my heart!” before Anakin acts out and despite the fact he was trying to prevent her death, ironically he was the cause of her death. There is a subtle moment during the funereal of Padmé when you see the necklace (that was given to her when they first met) clutched in her hands, for a single moment you remember they innocence of their relationship. How they had a true and deep love for each other that was sacrificed due to Anakin’s pursuit of power.
To conclude my case for the Star Wars prequels, don’t write them off as they give an insight into the tragic fall of a Jedi with great potential and the beginnings of one of the most sister forces in the Universe. Revenge of the Sith is a release of all the frustration, angst and fear that has been present throughout the entire prequel trilogy. So whilst the original trilogy may be more iconic and considered classics; make sure you watch the prequel trilogy to get the full story.