"A long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away ..." With those words, an outer space adventure began 28 years ago; and now, with the same introduction, the saga is complete with the sixth and final film in the series from writer/director George Lucas. Alan Silverman has a look at Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of The Sith.
It may start out with fun, but the story goes progressively darker as young Anakin Skywalker shifts his allegiance from the the noble Jedi council to the seductive and power-hungry emperor.
Star Wars fans everywhere know of the Force, the Jedi knights, Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance and the evil Empire and its most
feared warrior, Darth Vader. Those were the elements in the first Star Wars in 1977 and its sequels The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and 1983's Return of The Jedi. Of course, fans also know those were labeled Episodes 4, 5 and 6. In 1999, creator George Lucas launched a second trilogy to tell the back-story of events that led up to the original films.
"I'm glad now that it's all finished because I think [at least] some of the fans will see it as one piece," Lucas says. "They won't see it as six different movies. They'll see it as one movie that has some good parts and some not-so-good parts, but that it's a complete story."
While this final film, Episode III, completes connections with the first Star Wars film (Episode 4, A New Hope), Lucas says it also puts the focus on the character around whom he built the entire saga.
"The series was really about Darth Vader. People have thought that it's about Luke, but it is not and never was," he explains. "People would ask me back then 'what is it about?' and I would say 'it's about Darth Vader.' In the first film, they didn't even know who Darth Vader was. Is he a monster? Is he a man? What is he? You have to remember that, originally, the first three was actually one movie; that whole thing that is now three movies should be told in one piece, so a lot of the things like 'you are my father' and the fact that he kills him ... that's the climax of the movie. It's a movie. I never really intended for the back story to be told, but later on I said 'if I did the first three, then it would sort of give you a stronger sense of where this is all coming from. I kind of told it backwards. You don't feel sorry for Darth Vader until the very end, but if I tell you the back story, then you're sorry for him from the very beginning, because it is his story."
Hayden Christensen played young Anakin Skywalker as a petulant teenager in Episode II: Attack Of The Clones; but in Revenge Of The Sith apprentice Jedi Anakin chooses the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader. Christensen says that's why he wanted to take the role.
"Absolutely. From the moment I got the part, that's what I've been waiting to do," he says. "It was great fun making this last film because I sort of had free rein as far as how dark I wanted to go and that was the joy. I've always thought it was more fun to play the baddies and this time I actually got to play a proper baddy."
Scottish-born English actor Ian McDiarmid played the Emperor Palpatine in the original films. To achieve that power, the renegade political leader needs young Anakin to carry out a plot against the elected leadership of the galaxy.
"That voice appeared one day when I saw the makeup all those years ago in Return Of The Jedi. I thought 'he looks like such a reptile ... such a toad.' So I knew it had to be low and the Dark Side is way down there, isn't it? (It's) From the bowels of the Earth," he says.
George Lucas says his intention has always been to entertain and that any parallels between his saga of "a long time ago" and today's geopolitical events are - and should be - in the mind of the beholder.
"All art ... all mythology ... is metaphor. It's not about the words written on the page or the paint on the surface or how they got there," he says. " It's about your emotional impression of being there: how does it renew your faith or your spirit? Art is communicating to the emotions of human beings. Whether it's music or writing or graphics or cinema, all you are doing is telling a story that is meaningful to people in one way or another and that you're striking an emotional chord."
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of The Sith also features Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, Ewen MacGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda - the leadership of the Jedi Council. Natalie Portman returns as the ill-fated Padme. As in all six films, John Williams provides the musical score and the technical wizardry of Industrial Light and Magic creates the amazing worlds in that "galaxy far, far away."