Above Coruscant, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) lead a mission to rescue the kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine from General Grievous, the four-armed cyborg Separatist commander on his flagship. They battle Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). Anakin overpowers him and the Chancellor urges him to decapitate his helpless prisoner, which he does, but Grievous escapes the damaged ship, which the Jedi crash-land on Coruscant. Anakin re-unites with his wife Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), who is pregnant. Anakin begins to have nightmares about her death.
Palpatine appoints Anakin to the Jedi Council. The Council complies but declines to grant Anakin the rank of Jedi Master. It sends him to spy on Palpatine, causing a rift between Anakin and the Council. Palpatine impresses Anakin with his power with the Force, telling him he can prevent death. Obi-Wan goes to Utapau, where he kills Grievous, and Yoda goes to Kashyyyk, the home world of the Wookiees, to defend it from the Separatists. Palpatine reveals his knowledge of the Dark Side to Anakin and states that he can save Padme’s life, but Anakin realizes Palpatine is a treacherous Sith Lord and warns Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). Mace Windu subdues him, but Anakin disarms Windu and Palpatine kills him. Anakin pledges himself to the Sith and Palpatine re-names him Darth Vader.
Palpatine issues Order 66, commanding the clone troopers to kill Jedi commanders. Vader and clone troops kill the remaining Jedi in the Jedi Temple. Vader travels to the volcanic planet Mustafar to kill the separatist leaders. Palpatine declares himself Emperor in the Galactic Senate, creating the Galactic Empire. All Jedi are denounced as traitors. Obi-Wan and Yoda return to Coruscant and learn of Anakin’s treachery. Yoda orders Obi-Wan to confront Vader as he confronts Palpatine. Padme travels to Mustafar to convince Vader to reject the Dark Side, but Obi-Wan has stowed away on her ship and Anakin senses his presence. He believes she has turned against him and chokes her. Obi-Wan comes to her defence in a long, powerful lightsabre duel on the volcanic surface, and finally severs Vader’s legs and left arm, leaving him to die in the volcanic eruption.
On Coruscant, Yoda fights Palpatine to a stalemate. Yoda flees with Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) and joins Obi-Wan on the planetoid Polis Massa. Padme gives birth to twins—Luke and Leia—and dies, while Palpatine finds Vader more dead than alive and takes him to Coruscant, where his body is encased in a black armoured suit. He tells Vader that Padme and the children are dead. Obi-Wan and Yoda conceal the twins. At Padme’s funeral on Naboo, Palpatine and Vader overlook the construction of the Death Star. Organa adopts Leia on Alderaan, and Obi-Wan hides Luke with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru Lars (Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Pliesse) on Tatooine. C-3PO has his memories erased.
And I thought The Empire Strikes Back was dark. Steven Spielberg directed parts of the film as guest director. Some American Conservatives claimed the film had Liberal bias and was a commentary on George Bush and the Iraq War. Lucas’ defence was that the story was written during the Vietnam War and was inspired by that. It’s just that the Iraq War is the same thing all over again. He’s my fucking hero.
The original movie ran close to four hours, the opening battle over an hour long, and it all had to be cut down to the 2 hours and 20 minutes it ran in theatres. The film opens with Jedi dying at the hands of clone warriors on four planets: Mygeeto, Felucia, Saleucami, and Cato Neimodia. All the clone troopers were CGI. The Wookiee army consisted of ten men in Wookiee suits, repeated with CGI. The Wookiee costumes had ice-water pumps inside to keep them cool. The giant lizard Obi-Wan rides is named Boga—the name of a soft drink in Tunisia. Political scientists call Palpatine’s strategy continual war. Sir Christopher Lee is in the movie for three minutes and Count Dooku speaks four lines. He worked for two days. He was working on Lord of the Rings: Return of the King at the same time.
General Grievous is trained in the Jedi Arts, meaning swordplay, but he is not Jedi. He has two thumbs on each of four hands. He resembles the Shekmak Skeksis in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. His coughing was that of George Lucas, who recorded himself when he had a cold. Grievous has six minutes of screen time. Palpatine announces the Rise of the Empire while Darth Vader kills the separatist leaders in a scene purposely modelled after the Baptism Sequence in The Godfather. George Lucas was assistant editor on that film and the infant was Sofia Coppola. Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen trained for two months in fencing and fitness for the confrontation on the volcanic planet of Mustafar, which was played by Mount Etna, blowing its top at the time. 910 artists spent 70,441 man-hours to create 49 seconds of swordplay.
Hayden Christensen ate six meals a day to gain 24 pounds. A Darth Vader suit was created for him at his urging, but he had to look out through the mouthpiece. Anakin commits all these crimes to prevent his nightmare of Padme’s death from coming true, but she dies of a broken heart because of him. James Earl Jones became the voice of Vader when the mask is put on and he rises like Frankenstein’s Monster. Padme’s heart and Anakin’s heart stop at the same time, then his starts again. This is both highly romantic and creepy as hell. It is a tragic Gothic love-story. The final scene on Tatooine, where Obi-Wan delivers the infant Luke to his aunt and uncle under the twin suns is often called the “Harry Potter scene.” John Williams added a touch of the music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Revenge of the Sith puts the opera in space opera. The story is Faustian, if not Miltonian in scope. The battle in the hellish volcanic landscape to the music of John Williams and Obi-Wan’s tearful cry of despair at Anakin’s treachery must be the most powerful scene in all of Star Wars. The first two prequels received seven Raspberry Awards, this film only one, and it received the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. It is definitely not a kid’s movie or a romance: Anakin is burned alive, Dooku is decapitated and Grievous’ internal organs burned out. On top of this, Anakin slaughters the Jedi Children in the Temple with a glowing sword, which is not just horrible, it’s Biblical. You do not come back from that, and it marks Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side.