From Jedi to Vader
By Tina R. Araneta
I’m sure that, by now, a rather large percentage of the world’s population has flocked to the nearby movie theater to catch a glimpse of Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
. Unless, of course, you’ve never heard of the Star Wars© series, are not a sci-fi enthusiast, or haven’t had time to catch the flick yet. In any case, I’m hoping that this review will be as reader-friendly as possible, regardless of one’s opinion towards the series. A note first, before going in-depth here, I confess that I am no expert on the Star Wars series. I have watched all six films, yes, but I can’t remember in which Episode Naboo was featured, for example. Or who lived in Tatooine. Truth be told, I watch Star Wars not for the complexities that usually come along with most sci-fi films; my goal is to sift out the basic plot that intertwines all six films together. Star Wars, despite its all too futuristic connotation, is actually very human, if all six films are looked at more closely. Underneath layers and layers of masks in the form of light saber fights and indescribable-looking entities inhabiting the multitude of neighboring planets, that is. In a nutshell, Star Wars is about the shift from bad to good. The destruction of mankind (and in the case of Star Wars, other alien-like races as well) and their salvation (enter the naïve Luke Skywalker in Episodes IV to VI). It’s about learning to trust the ones closest to themselves and at the same time, being wary of jealousy and of eventual betrayal. It’s about love, and how wrong notions of it can turn out to be blinding and misleading. It’s about realizing that even the worst of the worst still have some good within them. Ultimately, it’s about hope in the face of darkness. However, in Episode III, we see a drastic shift from light to dark first. In Episodes I and II, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) realizes that a young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) has the makings of a Jedi and takes it upon himself to train Anakin. Along the way, Anakin (now played by Hayden Christensen) falls for the beauty of Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) and they marry in secret. Now, in Episode III, we learn that Padme is pregnant and the couple agrees to hide it from everyone else. Anakin, while less supervised by Obi-Wan, is still undergoing training as a Jedi. We also see that he is befriended by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who holds a rather important position in the Senate. The Jedi, who foresee evil dwelling in the Chancellor, tell Anakin to do some espionage work and give regular updates of the Chancellor's plans. The Chancellor, in turn, grants Anakin permission to sit in the Jedi Council sessions and equally update him on the Jedi’s forthcoming strategies. Anakin is now caught in the middle, and the Chancellor uses this to his advantage. Anakin has had visions of Padme dying in childbirth, and the Chancellor has sensed this. He tells Anakin that it is possible to prevent a loved one from dying. Curious, Anakin decides to learn more about this secret. At the same time, Anakin becomes more resentful towards the Jedi as he is not yet given the title “Jedi Master” and this leads to jealousy and to his eventual downfall. The Chancellor, as it turns out, is a Dark Lord and Anakin, disillusioned with his thoughts towards the Jedi and of saving Padme from death, turns to the dark side. He becomes the Darth Vader we fear in Episodes IV, V, and VI. By now, I’m sure you’ve come to realize that we could all be Anakin. In fact, we are, most of the time. And here are three things we can learn from…Episode III! 1) The world we live in is only temporary. The Bible tells us (you did know it would lead to this sometime, didn’t you?) that we are to be not of the world, but in the world. We are to get our feet wet while we are still living on earth but this doesn’t mean that we have to be consumed by sin – materialism, immorality, lust, greed, gossip, hatred, vices, and the like. As Christians, we are called to act as Ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) and this means that we are called to represent the Place from where we came. We should represent God and manifest His attributes. More than being influenced by the world, we are to influence it for Christ. Because we know that we won’t be living here for long. The world in which we live is but our temporary dwelling (2 Cor. 5:1 and 5:4) but our real address is Heaven, in the presence of God. We realize that the things of the world (even the people dearest to us) will fade eventually, which is why we shouldn’t cling on to them so tightly. In fact, Yoda (yes, that little green being) himself summed it up perfectly: “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” 2) False prophets abound. More, I couldn’t help but remember this verse: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly, they are ferocious wolves.” (Mt. 7:15) Chancellor Palpatine here served as a false prophet to Anakin and he used deception as his weapon of choice. Very much reminiscent of the serpent in Genesis, I believe. Day by day, we hear of so many truisms, so many different versions of the same story that it becomes almost impossible to distinguish the real from the fake. In this day and age of tomfoolery, it is of utmost importance that we also turn to Him for discernment and guidance. Sometimes we can be so gullible and believe what we need to hear. Our emotions can cloud our better judgment and this is when we should seek God most. 3) There is reason behind the principle of accountability. Good intentions don’t always translate to doing the right things. Now, this is tricky. We know that Anakin turned to the dark side because his original intent was to save Padme from dying in childbirth. (As to whether she did or didn’t, find out for yourself; go and see the movie!). It’s tricky because his intention was good – he loved his wife and didn’t want his premonition to come true. However, did his actions (believing in the Chancellor and becoming Darth Vader) also turn out to be good? Anakin’s mistake lay in the fact that he took on his decision alone. “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend's countenance.” (Proverbs 27:17) He had zero accountability with the Jedi. Had he turned to them for advice, he would have realized that he was being lured the wrong way. He would have been told otherwise, and this is the importance of keeping close contact with our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially the ones who are more spiritually mature than we are. Furthermore, need I reiterate the wisdom of God as well? “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) It goes without saying that His counsel far outweighs anything in this world, as explained in the previous point. At the end of the day, we can deduce that, as it is with all great films, Star Wars is didactic. It imparts nuggets of wisdom to us if we look past the intricacies of that world which existed a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. It sheds some light on to the mystery that is being human and even manages to reach us in a biblical sense, at times. The Jedi had to seek the Force in order to succeed, and therefore, we, in turn, are also reminded to connect to the Force at all times, because we are incompetent and sorely lost without it. Our Force is God. “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) May the Force be with you.