Way too much thought and analysis will no doubt swirl around Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, the last installment in the epochal Star Wars series, but it will be particularly interesting to see what Jedi mind tricks emerge from its unmistakable political undertones. Unlike 2002's disappointing Attack of the Clones, the politics in Revenge arrive amid plenty of lightsaber-fueled action.
Some politicos will surely be intrigued by George Lucas' veiled critique of the Bush administration. When Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is on the cusp of spiraling off into the dark side of the Force, he tells his one-time mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) that "if you are not with me, then you're my enemy." It rings familiar for a reason; you can almost literally hear the echoes of Dubya's infamous warning to the countries of the world that "either you are with us or you're with the terrorists." Anakin's words enrage Obi-Kan, who sputters that "only a Sith deals in absolutes!" (Who would have guessed that the Force embraced relativism and situational ethics?)
Demagoguery, albeit the kind gussied up in the wardrobe of patriotism, receives a rebuke later on by Anakin's wife, Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). As Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) addresses the Senate with a fire-and-brimstone speech, Padme — in a moment of typically George Lucas non-subtlety — remarks "this is how liberties die — with thunderous applause." The inference seems obvious.
At last, a space opera that Michael Moore could love.
No, I'm not going through some sort of grad school delusion about the picture's subtext. The political currents in Revenge of the Sith were even all the buzz at the Cannes Film Festival, and have been acknowledged by Lucas himself.
Still, politics is hardly center stage in Revenge (thank the Force). The crux of the film, frankly, is s a mixed bag, in spite of all the critics who have been wetting themselves coming up with superlatives for Lucas' swan song.