Release Year: 2005
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Guy has it all. Guy gets scared of losing it all. Guy loses it all.
It's a tale as old as time, only George Lucas spruces it up with his patented Lucas magic. Instead of a guy for whom "having it all" means a nice job and a loving partner, Anakin's having it all means being a Jedi Knight who can command the power of the Force, has sway with the Jedi Council, is a hot-shot warrior in a war against evil, has a secret princess bride, and has two secret babies on the way.
Oh, yeah, and he can fly fighter jets. In space.
And the "losing it all" part doesn't mean getting fired and getting a divorce. It means turning completely evil, inadvertently getting your bride killed, being ostracized from your Jedi Knight community, becoming the lapdog of an evil emperor, and getting dismembered by your best buddy.
Oh, yeah, and getting rebuilt by robots. Into the cockroach-looking half-droid that is Darth Vader.
Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, the third prequel to the classic Star Wars trilogy, was released in 2005 to mixed critical acclaim. The fans loved it: it finally depicts the fall of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side and his infamous wheezing helmet. The critics loved to hate it: they claimed that the writing, directing, and acting were all surprisingly subpar for a movie of its caliber. (It cost an estimated $113,000,000 to make.)
So, Revenge of the Sith became a kind of Star Wars fan divining rod for controversy.
Part of the problem the prequels faced was exceedingly high expectations. The original Star Wars series defined the childhoods of an entire generation, and as such, it holds significant nostalgia value. The people who grew up with a jolting, stop-action Tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back preferred the less-than-perfect special effects and grainy film as long as nothing got too silly (we're looking at you, Ewoks). So, when Episodes I & II were released and the world met Jar Jar Binks & Co., even the meticulous attention to detail and flawless CGI couldn't save Lucasfilm from tons of critical ire.
But, Revenge of the Sith was the best-received prequel of the series, probably because it's so crazy dark. This movie is pitch black. There isn't room for silly antics or new alien characters because this is the film where we get to watch Anakin Skywalker descend into madness and become the iconic Darth Vader.
And, if Anakin becoming Darth Vader isn't reason enough to see this movie, well, we don't know what is.
Except maybe Samuel L. Jackson's purple lightsaber.
You like antiheroes.
No, that's not a question. You like 'em. Statistically (and sweeps week never lies), you like Gregory House. You like Dexter. You like Omar Little.
And you love Anakin Skywalker.
Let's face it: you probably loved him even when he was a capital-A antagonist in Star Wars. You ate up the daddy-issues buffet presented to you in The Empire Strikes Back. And you really loved him and his somehow-cuddly scarred face in Return of the Jedi.
But, just like you don't really know a friend until you've seen them do something less-than-noble (eating a tub of Rocky Road, crying at Upworthy videos, snotting themselves with laughter while watching Amy Schumer clips), you don't really get to love love Darth Vader until you've seen him go the antihero route.
Revenge of the Sith delivers.
When we meet Anakin at the beginning of this flick, he's got the world in the palm of his hand. He's buddying up with Obi-Wan. He's getting respect from the Jedi Council. He's a daddy-to-be. He's in love, and he's at the top of his game.
But, like all antiheroes before (and after) him, his fear begins to erode him and he becomes a man obsessed, and then a man warped by evil. And, we get to have the gleefully voyeuristic duty of watching it all go down.
It's a pleasure so messed up, there's an angry German word for it: schadenfreude. (It sounds even cooler if you yell it.) It means the enjoyment we take in other people's pain, and yes, it's pretty sick. But, schadenfreude is one of the reasons we adore antiheroes. We watch as Ahab's obsession with one albino sea mammal brings him down. We watch as Hamlet's immobilizing neurosis brings him down. We watch as Bigger Thomas' (justifiable) rage at the racism of 20th-century Chicago brings him, yup, down.
And, we come back for seconds and thirds.
But, it ain't just schadenfreude that makes us love watching everyone from Walter White to Annalise Keating break bad. It's because they're just so relatable.
There's something soppy about do-gooders like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Atticus Finch (pre-Go Set a Watchman, that is) or Marmee March. Where's the rage? The insecurity? The gnawing doubt? The jealousy and ambition and fear of loss?
We'll tell you where all of those emotions are: on the dark side of the Force. More specifically: within Anakin Skywalker's dark side of the Force. Even more specifically: within Revenge of the Sith's Anakin Skywalker's dark side of the Force.
And, oh, yeah, within all of us.
So, get your antihero on in the most epically cinematic way possible—by watching one of film history's greatest villains turn evil.
The images of the volcanic eruption on Mustafar was real-life footage of Mount Etna, which was erupting at the time of production. (Source)
In the opening sequence when the second Separatist ship is destroyed, a piece of debris flies into the clone Star Destroyer that shot it. That piece of debris is a kitchen sink. It was put in there by Industrial Light & Magic as a joke because someone said, "We're throwing everything in the sequence but the kitchen sink." (Source)
Episode VI was originally going to be called Revenge of the Jedi but was changed to Return as Lucas reasoned the Jedi don't "seek vengeance." The Sith, however ... they seek revenge. Lots of revenge. (Source)
The color palette of the movie was inspired by Mark Rothko, one of George Lucas' favorite artists. (Source)
George Lucas makes a cameo appearance during the opera scene. He is the blue-face being, named Baron Papanoida, whom you see outside Palpatine's box. It marks Lucas' first and only appearance in any of the Star Wars films; also in that scene is Lucas' daughter Amanda and her boyfriend. Lucas also reportedly provides the sound of General Grievous' coughing because he had a bad case of bronchitis during filming. (Source)
Revenge of the Sith's IMDB Page
You can't study a movie without at least checking out its IMDB page!
A.V. Club's Star Wars Week Tribute Page
Some people have way too much time on their hands. (And we, the viewers, thank them.)
Revenge of the Sith: the Book
Want to read Revenge of the Sith instead of watching it? You can get a copy.
Revenge of the Sith: the Graphic Novel
Want to read Revenge of the Sith, but with pictures? Check this out.
Star Wars: the Animated Series
In case watching the classic movies, or reading the book or the graphic novel, wasn't enough for you, they cover a fair amount of Revenge of the Sith territory in the animated series, which is pretty popular.
Hayden Interviews George
"Unscripted" lets the two interview each other with questions from some die-hard fans.
Roger Ebert Writes About Revenge of the Sith
A movie review from one of the most famous movie reviewers around.
What George Lucas Thinks of the New Star Wars Films
"Stop making me defend the Jar Jar Binks character!"
George Lucas, Revenge of the Sith, and Indian Cinema
Rajeev Masand interviews Lucas upon the completion of Episode III.
Various program interviews and criticisms upon the Cannes release of Revenge of the Sith. (Keep your eyes peeled for an Eddie Izzard cameo towards the end.)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: the Audiobook
Let someone else do the reading, for once.
Hayden Scowl. Hayden Scowl Real Hard.
A screenshot of our fallen hero.
We're pretty sure everyone in the movie got on this one.