The Star Wars prequel films have been notoriously labelled as terrible films, but are they?
Well, lets break it down. The dialogue is laughable, any character development is non-existent and they suffer from a director who was far too reliant on technology.
Yet it is that same director who introduced the world to Star Wars in the first place, launching a multi-billion dollar franchise that has touched the lives of many; the vast majority of which felt let down by the prequels.
But is there redemption in the prequels?
Yes Star Wars fans, there is.
In Return of the Jedi, the final film in the original trilogy, Obi-Wan encourages Luke to kill Darth Vader, claiming that “he is more machine than man”. Later, with Vader at his mercy, Luke refuses to kill his father. He holds on to the hope that there is good in him, whereas Obi-Wan had all but given up saving his once good friend.
Rewind to Revenge of the Sith, and Obi-Wan is faced with a similar situation. He has discovered that Anakin has turned to the dark side and straight away sees killing him as the only option, not once considering that he could be turned back.
Many have put this down to lazy storytelling, but there is more to it than that.
Obi-Wan has just endured three years of the Clone Wars, which have thrown the entire galaxy into an intergalactic war. Up to the point he confronts Anakin, his experiences with the Sith are pretty bleak. His master was murdered by one, Anakin and himself were horribly wounded by another, and Palpatine has orchestrated a mass genocide of the Jedi as well as taking over the entire galaxy, just as a side achievement.
It is understandable that he wants to end this now.
To quote Attack of the Clones, Jedi are “keepers of the peace, not soldiers”. So why even enter into this raging war?
It is the Sith that have orchestrated the entire war – and the Jedi know. Hence why they are so quick to enter the fight on the side of the Republic, and not the impartial peace keepers they should be. Bear in mind the Separatists (the opposition to the Republic in this war) are not all evil, despite popular belief. The Clone War was very much political, with many Separatists opposing the corruption that had grown in the galactic senate, along with Palpatine’s growing power and influence. In fact, in much of the Clone Wars era media, there are Jedi that lose faith in their own order. Many of them leave or side with the Separatists.
The Jedi Order claim to be performing their duty by protecting the Republic and peace, but what really throws them into this conflict is their age-old crusade to eradicate the Sith.
Rewind now to thousands of years before the Clone Wars. This is a time where there were just as many Sith as there were Jedi, and wars were fought directly between the two factions. Once again these wars threw the galaxy into turmoil, creating chaos and suffering. In the final days of this war, the Sith were destroyed (a non-canonical novel, Darth Bane Dynasty of Evil, puts this down to something called a thought bomb). The Jedi had won and they believed the Sith were gone for good. However, two survived, Darth Bane and his apprentice. They kept themselves hidden, creating the rule of two, and laying the ground work for the Sith’s ultimate plan to wipe out the Jedi. This was ultimately brought to fruition by Palpatine’s masterful manipulation of the Republic into the Galactic Empire.
Novels set after the apparent extinction of the Sith depict the Jedi as arrogantly dismissing any possibility they could have survived. Granted these novels are not canon, but this attitude is alluded to in The Phantom Menace, where a council member (Ki-Adi Mundi) proclaims that “the Sith have been extinct for a millennium”. This denial originates from something that a Jedi is not meant to be ruled by; fear.
The Jedi feared the Sith.
This fear drove them to become soldiers in a war against an unknown Sith plot, putting them in a position of vulnerability, leading to their extinction. They sacrificed their values as peace keepers, even resorting to assassination as an obvious tactic. What else was Obi-Wan’s final message in the Clone Wars but an assassination assignment to destroy the leader of the Separatists (General Grevious) just to end this conflict? The Jedi Order was destroyed long before order 66 was given.
Return then to 30 years into the future, where Luke finally confronts the Emperor. Despite encouragement from Obi-Wan to kill Vader (a consistency sometimes overlooked between the prequels and the original trilogy) Luke refuses not only the dark side, but the flawed remnants of a broken Jedi Order. This concludes the entire six film saga with not only the redemption of Darth Vader, but the Jedi themselves, restoring balance to the galaxy.
It will be interesting to see how this develops in the highly anticipated seventh instalment, The Force Awakens.
From the trailers, both the Jedi and the Sith seem to have disappeared into myth. Luke himself has remained absent from the new trailers, leading to speculation that he is in hiding – not passing on the ways of the force to others. Maybe he sees that it is the Jedi and Sith that have thrown the galaxy into turmoil so many times, and believes it is in galaxy’s best interests that the force dies with him.
The title itself, and the presence of Kylo Ren (a dark force user) seem to imply that Luke will have no choice but to return balance to the galaxy once more.
Find out December 17th.