One thing everyone forgets about Revenge of the Sith (which I suppose is fair enough, it was ten years ago) is how political and mildly controversial it was at the time.
reviews started coming out for it they all highlighted the point. The
Washington Post called the movie “a blistering critique of the war
in Iraq“, the New York Times reported that “Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing
his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders”,
and Slant Magazine called it “an anti-Bush diatribe”. Even Hayden Christensen jumped in there and said the film was “absolutely” a shot at Bush and other US presidents, and George Lucas took some time out during the press tour to explain his thoughts on US foreign policy.
Some people went as far as to recommend a boycott. (It didn’t work, obviously) To this day
I’ve heard people say that Anakin’s line “If you’re not with me, you’re
my enemy” is lifted direct from a Bush speech – it’s not, but it’s very very close. People went wild about it.
ROTS was absolutely a movie of its time, and that time’s gone now, and time hasn’t exactly been kind to the movie either. But it seemed quite important way back then, and it’s definitely as, well, as angry as a Star Wars film ever got.
I remember I first saw it in New York at the Ziegfeld, and there were gasps at the shots of smoke rising from the towers of the Jedi Temple, and Padmes line “you can see the smoke from here”, both very 9/11. It definitely helped put into focus a lot of what I think the movie is really about in the short term political sense– not Iraq necessarily, but the larger war on terror abroad and at home, with all thr talk of emergency powers and imperial declarations of security feeling more and more on the nose after the swift passage of the Patriot Act. The position that Anakin is put into by Palpatine and the Jedi alike is very apt for an age of surveillance and interdepartmental feuding– he’s basically an FBI profiler asked to spy on his people by the head of the CIA, while also being asked to spy on the CIA chief by the FBI.
I remember walking out of the theater in Westchester later in overhearing an angry woman who was also walking out of the theater, who was pissed that “he had to make them wear American unifoms”. I couldn’t understand what she meant at first, but I realized she must’ve meant the clone troopers that Yoda decapitates as they’re about to kill him on Kashyyk, as they’re wearing jungle camouflage armor. To think that a small detail like that could get under someone’s skin and offend them on that personal a level! That’s a type of filmmaking we won’t see again in Star Wars, and are only maybe barely seeing in blockbusters anymore thanks to it being commercially viable in the Captain America films. Sorta.
Bringing this back because today I read an article about (who else?) Donald Trump, describing his rise to power as an “election narrative that’s somewhere between Shakespeare and George Lucas”.
Who would have thought that eleven years on, liberty would still be dying in thunderous applause.