Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Tragedy Of Anakin Skywalker

So, Revenge of the Sith will be released this Tuesday. This really should have been the best movie for the Star Wars saga, as it was the climactic point at which the hero falls to darkness (where Anakin becomes the monster, Darth Vader)… but it wasn’t… because George Lucas was too caught up in special effects that he completely forgot about the importance of the story!!! I digress…

Anyway, the entire Star Wars saga, can be viewed not just as a mythic story of heroes and villains, but more so as a tragedy… the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. There is a general pattern that tragic heroes typically follow, or at least in the stories I’m familiar with (i.e. Shakespeare, Roman & Greek Mythology, comic books, etc…)
  • The hero usually has some sort of high social status (like a king, prince, knight, etc…) The important thing with this attribute is that you can clearly see that this person has the makings of greatness, potentially. The Force, according to Qui-Gon and the Jedi council, is extraordinarily strong with young Anakin. Though Yoda has his doubts, Anakin is granted permission to be trained as a Jedi.
  • The hero will have a flaw (the tragic flaw.) In Anakin’s case, his lust for power and control… even control over life and death!
  • Something happens in the story that creates a sense of urgency! Anakin’s mother is captured by Tusken Raiders. He haphazardly ignores Obi-Wan’s orders to stay put and journey’s to find his mother.
  • Then there’s some sort of accident. Things happen a split-second too late… the hero operates on what he believes to be the case rather than what he actually knows to be the case. Upon rescuing her at Tusken Raider encampment, Anakin’s mother dies… so Anakin decides to slaughter all the Tusken Raiders (even the women and children!!!)
  • Conflicts arise which cause the death or alienation of all of the hero’s former friends, allies, and/or mentors, eventually removing all forms of support for the hero. He must now face things all alone. Well, Anakin demolishes the Jedi Temple, including all of the occupants (mostly children.) Oh yeah… he chops off Mace Windu’s hand too, essentially declaring his support to Darth Sidious! (on a side note... what the hell is up with George Lucas's fascination with all of the chopping off of limbs.? Darth Maul is chopped in half, Jango Fett's head is chopped off, Anakin's arms is chopped off, both of Count Dooku's hands are chopped off, Mace Windu's hand is chopped off, Luke's hand is chopped off, and Darth Vader's hand is chopped off... it's like a Monty Python flick!)
  • Now that the hero is isolated there are new problems… sleeplessness, rage, confusion, hallucination, and violence! Through episodes 4 – 6, Darth Vader is isolated from everyone… everybody is scared shitless of this guy because he is pure evil, killing those who fail or even disappoint him!
  • At some point, the opposing forces must mobilize against the hero in order to bring the tragedy to its conclusion. This is easy… the Rebel Alliance proves this point! They want Vader and the Emperor out of power!
  • At some point, the hero must realize the mistake he has made that is bringing about his demise. He must know that he, and he alone, is to blame for his downfall. Unfortunately (or more appropriately, tragically,) this recognition always comes to late to save the life of the hero. Though ordered to do so by the Emperor, Darth Vader does not kill Luke. He realizes in the final battle that he does have feelings for his son… he’s not completely a monster.
  • While the hero's life is forfeit, he does receive some chance to redeem himself, at least a little… a display of courage, nobility of the heart, self-sacrifice, something to show us that while he was someone who needed to be defeated, brought down, or even a monster, he had good in him. Darth Vader saves the life of his son by killing the Emperor (which in turn hastens his own death as the Emperor’s Sith lightening is short circuiting all of Darth Vader’s circuitry.)
  • We must recognize what a tragic waste the death of the hero is, what kind of person he could have been had it not been for his mistakes and downfall (back to the beginning… recognition of the hero’s potential for greatness!) In Darth Vader’s last few moments alive with his son, we see and feel that Anakin was worth saving.
  • The tragic hero must die! So yeah, Anakin dies on Death Star II. Very tragic!


drunkbh said...

I think you just summarized every hero's tale I've ever heard.

Revenge of the Sith was the greatest tragedy. I actually fell alseep in the theater mid-day.

Elemmaciltur said...

Nope, not going to buy it yet, but will wait for some kind of special edition with all the I-III on it to come out.

We bought ourselves the 'Star Wars Battle Front II' game for our PS2 on Friday. Loads of fun!

Frank said...

Drunkbh - That's what I was aiming for... to show that the underlying tragic plot of the story has a universal message.

At least the movie wasn't as boring as The Phantom Menace... I swear, George definitely should have let someone else direct these films (like he did with The Empire Strikes Back!)

Elemmaciltur - I would wait for some kind of entire package, but I already have everything else... wait, what the hell am I saying? I'll still buy the entire Star Wars box set when it's released! Hehe!

Also, can't wait for the XBox360 and all of the high definition games. It would be sweet if they released some awesome Star Wars games for it like the Battle Front series! :-P