Friday, May 20, 2005

Very brief thoughts on "Sith"

I'm working on a piece for TFJ on the Star Wars saga, so I'll be brief: Revenge of the Sith is a masterpiece. It shows Lucas as a filmmaker ferociously at the top of his game. Sith is, perhaps, the greatest bridging film in the medium's history. Never has a single film so decidedly wrapped up an entire mythology in one swoop. It is a heartbreaking, poetic, haunting, beautiful, powerful film. The political strategizing of the first two prequels which Lucas was so harassed for come together in such a gosh-wow explosion of sociological precision, the prescience of the director's vision is startling.

The Old Hollywood narrative conceits (theatrical dialogue, grandiose staging) are ever-present, but they've never been more charming. Nor has a Star Wars film ever featured better acting. Christensen and Portman make the doomed romance of their leads palpable and tragic. McGregor is extraordinary in one of the most heartbreaking of all the Star Wars trajectories: the man who must destroy his best friend...his brother.

As Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious), Ian McDiarmid is astonishing, giving a showboating, grandly affecting portrayal of political and ideological power run amuck (he comes off as a supernatural Karl Rove/Dick Cheney hybrid). It's certainly an award-calibar performance, but, you know...yeah right.

Lucas may forever remain a whipping boy...for always doing it his way. He's the most successful independent filmmaker of all time. Perhaps it's why he's so resented. He's also one of the most skilled formalists in the world, and Revenge of the Sith is his great Star Wars swan song. It is, and will likely remain, the best film of the year... a true masterpiece.


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