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Happy Sith Day!

Darth Vader: If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough. He told me you killed him.
Darth Vader: No. I am your father.
Luke: No. That’s not true. That’s impossible.
Darth Vader: Search your feelings you know it to be true.
Luke: Nooooo. Nooooo.
– Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Happy Sith Day!

If you have been living under a rock for the last month or so, then you haven’t heard about the latest Star Wars movie opening today, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. If you’re like me, though, you’ve been anticipating this movie ever since Darth Vader uttered those immortal words above. Fans throughout the world have been waiting to learn just how it was that Luke’s father became the Rebellion’s worst nemesis. The talk for years was whether or not this was true: was Vader really Luke’s father? If for no other reason, Episode VI begged to be made just to answer that question.

And now, the long awaited prequel has arrived to answer the question that lingered after Return of the Jedi was released: how did it happen?

I remember well the summer of 1977. The closest theater to our house at the time was about a half-hour away. We loaded up in the car, and headed out with showtime listings in hand. It was my first experience of standing in line to see a movie.

I was quite young at the time (not yet a teen-ager), and to stand in a line for longer than the actual length of the movie was unheard of! But it was well worth the wait. I had never seen anything like it. I can still remember the opening sequence, with the scrolling text and slow pan down from the star field to the horizon of planet Tatooine. And then, the small ambassador space ship being chased by the massive Imperial Star Destroyer. The ship was huge! The action intense! Next was the capture of the smaller ship, and the boarding of the Stormtroopers… then Vader. His black garb in stark contrast to the white Stormtroopers, the smoke and the light-colored interior walls. He spoke no words; he only surveyed the damage done by the Stormtroopers, and with just the sound of his breathing apparatus, he waded through the defender’s corpses.

What a rush!

As we all know by now, the heroes win the day, and the evil Darth Vader escapes in his damaged TIE fighter only to regroup and reassert the awesome strength and power of the Empire in Episode V. By the end of Return of the Jedi, our hero has grown up, achieved his goal (“I’ll never turn to the dark side…I am a Jedi, like my father before me”), and set all things right in the universe.

And so it was, but the back story still needed to be told. Back in the 70s and 80s, I read every magazine and novel I could get my hands on to know more of the stories and the characters. I have a copy of the Star Wars comic book (issue #1!) still in my meager collection. From stories and rumors, we all knew how Vader became Vader, but until the prequels, we didn’t really know who he was before he became Vader, or even what caused the transformation. Sure, Obi-Wan gives us a hint in Episode V (“Your father… was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true… from a certain point of view”). Yeah, I agree that this was a weak explanation. We fans wanted more! And with the release of Episode III, we now have our answers.

Older now, I haven’t the urgent drive or desire I had in my youth for long standing vigils, curb-side at the local cineplex. I already know the characters, the plot and the resolution, so I can wait for the waiting lines to die down. The anticipation of the inevitable battle between Anikan and Obi-Wan is the climax of the prequels (as was the battle between Luke and Vader in Episode VI). Even so, these movies still hold a great deal of appeal to me. Some have criticized how Episodes I and II are more dumbed down than Return of the Jedi (ewoks — need I say more?), and that the story isn’t as well written, not to mention awkward dialogue. These points may have some merit; however, to me I encompass the story as a whole and how the parts each pertain to the others. I, too, could have done with a less annoying Jar-Jar Binks, and the unrealistic manner in which Anikan grows up, but Padme still appears to be the same age (and then they fall in love? Ugh. C’mon, George, you should’ve cast a new actress for Padme like you did for Anikan). But the action carries the story along, and with the release of Revenge of the Sith, all of the parts will finally fall into place.

Now, if we can just get those last three movies made, we’ll have Mr. Lucas’ complete vision.

You can always try your hand against the dreaded Sith Lords.

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