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Star Wars Episode III: The Death of Anakin and the Rise of Darth Vader
When the Star Wars series first came out back in the late 1970s, I never would have thought the whole storyline was about Anakin Skywalker, the man behind the Darth Vader facade. Many years later, having seen the full story conclude, including being let in on the back-story, I have found that the whole saga hinges on the life of Anakin and his struggle over life and death. The hero, the protagonist, in the Star Wars epic, is Anakin Skywalker, the true Darth Vader.
The beginnings of the upheavals in the Galactic Republic can be found in Anakin's rise to power. Surely the seeds were planted before his rise, but his prominence triggered the complete disruption of the Republic, turning it over to tyrannical forces.
But what I would like to examine here is not so much the political implications of the Star Wars series, but the psychological undercurrents of the story; it is, after all, a psychological basis that creates the social and political atmosphere. In proceeding with this examination, I will consider Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It is the story which reveals how Anakin made a wrong turn, which turned the whole Star Wars galaxy upside down.
Background From Episodes I and II
Anakin clearly was a gifted child, having strange and wonderful quality, unusual presence; the Jedi would say that the Force is strong with him. Having been discovered by Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin was taken under the wing of the Jedi master to be trained in the ways of these warrior priests.
After years of training and service to the Republic, Anakin begins to have strange premonitions about his mother Shmi, whom he had left behind on their home planet of Tatooine after taking up his Jedi training. It turns out his premonitions were based in fact, as he goes to investigate his mother's whereabouts and discovers she had been kidnapped, tortured and killed by Tusken raiders. Outraged, Anakin slaughters the whole Tusken camp.
Here we see the beginnings of Anakin's rage. But certainly there's more.
Revenge of the Sith
After some time, Anakin and Obi-Wan are trusted with protecting Senator and Queen, Padme Amidala, who had survived an assassination attempt. Anakin and Padme fall in love and soon marry. And Padme is pregnant with their child (or children: Could be twins, you never know!).
Again, Anakin is troubled with premonitions of tragedy for a loved one. Having seen in his mind's eye Padme dying during childbirth, Anakin is vulnerable to the promises of the corrupt Chancellor Palpatine who had risen to power during the Republic's troubled times: Anakin is promised control over death by virtue of the dark powers of the Sith Lords. Anakin comes under the sway of the corrupt Chancellor and ends up murdering a mass of Jedi in the process.
In the middle of his fear, confusion, and rage, Anakin attacks Padme for trying to persuade him from the Dark Side; this strange paradoxical twist shows how in our fear of loss, we will even destroy those we fear to lose.
Having resolved that Anakin is completely immersed in the Dark Side, Obi-Wan goes to end Anakin's move to the Sith regime. Distraught, disheartened, Obi-Wan proclaims that his hope was shattered by Anakin's move to the Dark Side. It seems Jedi master Obi-Wan had his own fear of loss, his own hope in promise for the young Anakin which had been dashed in one fell swoop.
See also, Lessons from the Karate Kid movie series.
So, it is seen in Revenge of the Sith, how Anakin's fear of loss, of death, left him vulnerable to follow the promises of a corrupt leader; and his fear turned to confusion and rage, a desire for control and power leading to more illusion, extreme violence, destroying the very person he promised to save. While Obi-Wan had put his hope in the young Jedi, his Messiah, only to have that hope crumble under the weight of Anakin's fear and corruption. This shows Obi-Wan also fell prey to false hope and attachment, in the heart-breaking conclusion of this part of the saga.
The film is a fine illumination of what humanity fears, the struggle for control, and the futile attempt to delay the inevitable: Death and loss.