Yeah I decided to go into Bryan a bit more after skimming the morning cut of my blog stuff and not finding something I really like.
Someone specifically called me out on the fact that I couldn’t let my son learn lessons from a movie where the principal character is evil. I would argue that this is a wonderful lesson to teach my son. Darth Vader is evil, truly and wholly. But should we hate him blindly? Or should we learn why he’s evil and come to know and love thine enemy? The commenter took issue with the idea that I would use evil people to teach my children any lessons, but the bible is filled with evil people to learn lessons from.
Hmmmmmmmmm More bellow the fold
I want to ask you a challenging question. Is Vader EVIL? assuming a chronological basis for the storytelling I am not sure you can make that argument, nor from what we see Lucas putting ON CAMERA.
Vader kills various functionaries killed who fail to achieve their goals, but I don’t recall vader himself ordering evil acts like the Destruction of Alderon (which if we brought it down to an earth like size would be an equivilenth to the firebombing of Dresden or the Hiroshima/Nagaskai event)
an event that while horrific we do not get to see in the larger context. what has the rebellion accomplished prior to this point? We know they have limited arm forces of a handful of planets but thats all we know. So unless we accept the argument killing is evil (which makes every character in this film evil) or large scale killing is evil (which our rebels may be doing off camera far worse)
He seize’s leia’s ship but Leia is a leader of a rebellion, and carrying stolen documents about military technology. again this is hardly evil.
Fighting battles against Rebel forces in the middle of a civil war… again not evil.
Projecting Power (hard power) is that evil though? I am sure FDR would disagree (as sadly would Stalin) and that Hard power was never directed by Vader but by other functionaries.
arraigning to trick the rebel leadership into getting kidnapped
His battle with Luke over the clouds? Luke was a rebel leader he was trying to turn to help strengthen the imperial side. Notice he could have killed Luke rather brutally many times and didn’t (he tells the emperor “he will join us or die” but never kills him.)
Final movie more of the civil war we can’t judge only that its a dictatorship with vague Nazi like symbolism vs a rebellion thats good because it is for Democracy because..umm they say they are
In this the Emperor clearly is evil, and when he seeks to do evil to Luke Vader defends his son and dies.
So in the original films I think the case of Vader as evil is weak other then the fact he is the #1 henchmen (in title, but note many military officers operationally are superior until they have failed and vader executes them and promotes the next guy)
Anikin is just a kid here. Who is told he will be dangerous because he will miss his mommy. (This is again something you and many other Lucas defenders assert is a kids movie.. thats a pretty scary thing to tell kids) But he is just a Kid. He is given to a young and inexperienced Jedi for training outside the norms and conventions of the Jedi Order
He has weird troubling visions about his mother which he is given no guidance or help with. He feels he is indestructible (Anakin as a teenager certainly) so he goes off half cocked with a bad bit of mystical enlightenment and runs off to find his mommy. We don’t know from the movies (or even the micro-series which I applaud how we get Anakin here. Did Anakin here from the gods among men Jedi leaders that his love for his mommy would turn him evil. did he keep have re-enforced the mantra that you are dangerous and also our chosen one?) He commits genocide against a race which kidnaps and tortures humans on a regular basis and that is deemed by the movie as evil, yet when he attacks sentient machines and creatures of mustafar -who are fighting for freedom and self-determination as far as they know- brutally murdering them in a war his actions are deemed good
and the only thing thats been implied on Camera that is evil about the rebels is they tried to kill Natalie Portman
But the Jedi authorities are telling him he is being good for doing that, and his repression about killing creatures which brutalize Jawa’s and Humans on Tatooine he feels secret guilt and shame about what of the two was probably the more altruistic slaughter
So we have Ani confused, Receiving no guidance from the people who claim to have his best interests at heart (The Jedi Order, Padme, or Obi Wan) very confused and feeling deep guilt (which is what you could argue turned him to the dark side/ not fear as the Jedi Council says)
Do they help him with his guilt, which one of them knows about, no they don’t
Then Anakin precociously wants to be a Master with his Council seat, something no Jedi has ever ever had, and he gets angry when he doesn’t get it. Something he doesn’t seem to have wanted until he gets it. Anakin has the “Oh.. your pregnant” face to the woman he loves deeply and truely which further suggests their is not something mentally right about Anakin.
The third movie suggests deeply that Anakin is seriously mentally unstable in the opening acts. Gregarious, likable, but some one who does what he is told by those in authority (who he seems overly eager to please). And yet at the demand of the Chancellor he executes some one… and doesn’t know why he did it. and Later when some one makes the same argument for summary execution of the Chancellor he argues for the process and the judiciary and not establishing a dictatorship of the Jedi.
Yet when it was clear the Chancellor was a Sith he dutifully reports it to authority and is given a light pat on the head, but not the “your a good dog” pat
So he kills Mace Windu who goes off on his own, without the authority of the rest of the council, for attempting a coup-de-ta. He is then told by his super best friend the Jedi will not accept him back. Well why the heck not? Windu went a little nuts here. But he accepts this on the notion Padme might die because I have a vision which suggests she might die for some reason and the Chancellor says (before these events he has a cure) and then after he kills windu says “if we work togther we can find that solution to your problem.
So he kills some one on the basis they might help him save his wife. If he were evil he could finish the Job Windu started and say the Chancellor turned on him and see the dictatorship of the Jedi
He doesn’t do that. Heck if he was good he could kill him and accept his responsibility in all of it. But anakin has another insane response “Gee Boss your right.” and he goes off to kill the kids in the Jedi Temple. And Lucas makes it clear that Anakin killed the Kids. You may say “aha… Killing Kids thats gotta be evil.” but leave it to me the “evil conservative” to point out the nuance.
Anakin loses his mother (twice)
He looses a Father figure and is raised by a big Brother.
He has great destiny and great doom cast on him by an authority he is eager to please
an authority that for the most part rejects him.
and in the council chambers it comes full circle. Kids who just as he was Victims of the Jedi system calling him “Master” giving to him the addoration and praise he sought from the Jedi Order this whole time. Acceptance and forgiveness he had not by crossing this rubicon truly lost to himself.
This whole movie shows Anakin is mentally unstable, Schizophrenic and worse. so without seeing more character acting into his duty or some sense of feeling about it later on in the film we can’t know if his actions were evil or “Not Guilty by Mental Disease or Defect”
Anakin then goes off to execute the CIS leaders who are portrayed as Evil without any really good reason (except for maybe the Trade Federation leaders) and he does this in the name of the new authority of Empire which we know to be evil cause… well George Lucas says so. We aren’t given a reason its evil other then that. But its Evil killing evil, that was tricked by the first evil. does that work out to Anakin being evil though or (as the whole film shows) he is clearly out of his mind
We see is crazed tirades blaming Obi-Wan who was consistantly the only Jedi to treat him well, although he treated him as a kid brother he ended up having to raise as his own. He then crazed turns on Padme and injures her but does not kill her and we have the big and very cool looking Obi-Wan vs Anakin Light Saber Dual. Where Anakin has Obi Wan outmatched and makes sound (albeit aggressive) tactical moves until Obi-Wan gets higher ground which he again for reasons inconsistent with the combat fails to follow as simple combat logic and gets Pwned in the face. Here he again decides he hates Obi-Wan (furthering the statement of Insanity)
Wounded and Half Dead he finally receives “His Masters Voice” from Palpatine. He is told that he is “a Very Very good dog” and is repaired. and has what has to be one of the worst lines of dialog ever as he is told he killed Padme, a lie, and he finally has the sense of rage as a man who ends up in a cyborg suit because of his own stupid, insane, and inconceivable actions should have when his head clears
Episode III suggests far from being Evil that Anakin is insane, and unable to think right. Something which was suggested in Episode II and I to be the work of “The Dark Side” instituted by Palpatine.
So the only movie where his actions could be deemed evil clearly and truly he seems more to be the victim of mind control. Which to my mind dehumanizes Anakin.
The Vader of the original three movies was a hard man who given what had happened to him was understandable working for a state that we are seeing from the rebel view is oppressive, without any offical word yea or nay by Lucas. We can’t even make a fair judgment that the Empire is evil albeit their bureaucracy (the people with names, faces, and british accents) does things that are ruthless to enforce order. Certainly they are mean and one of the lessons of Star Wars Brin Cites as a positive and I can agree with “mean people suck”
we have a rebellion hearkening back to the days of a democracy that was vectoring for collapse and separation into tens of thousands of sovereign planets which hardly seems like given the prequal movies something anyone could or should support. The Prior leader of the rebellion (Jimmy Smits character) was seen in the second movie among the Palpatine Cronies but in the third movie for some reason never really explained he turns against all of it. So is he like W.E.B. Dubois and Charlie Chaplin who liked Stalin until they saw how Stalin made sausage? again hardly a ringing statement for the rebellion.
So Vader is a mean guy with power. Who if you look deep at the film doesn’t seem to suggest he is evil at all. Now if we look at the EU works we do see evil in Vader and in the empire. In works Lucas can and does disregard as will (while profiting from them a great deal) so we can’t cite them as proof of Vader’s Evil or the Evil of the empire as the original storyteller can and will throw them out when it suits him
and sadly had I made the right questions in my mind when I was 12 (which was in 89) I’d have turned on Star Wars then… I was a very weird 12 year old.