Ever since I saw Revenge of the Sith in cinemas (2005), it has been my favourite Star Wars film.
Now, is it the best Star Wars film? Well, that’s debatable. For one, I thought Empire Strikes Back had a better screenplay. Yet I believe Revenge of the Sith is an underrated beast of a film. Whilst it is considered to be the strongest of the prequels, that doesn’t necessarily translate into positivity. It seems that many have the attitude of: ‘it’s the best prequel, but that isn’t saying much.’
I understand why people say this. After all, the dialogue in the prequels leaves alot to be desired. Adding onto that, the prequels do seem different to the original Star Wars trilogy. For one, there is more of an emphasis on politics and corruption. Personally, I rather like that but I understand that not everyone will.
The prequel trilogy was also marked by a Shakespearean sense of tragedy. Whilst the original trilogy had tragic moments, it was more defined by a ‘heroic quest.’ Whereas the original trilogy saw its protagonists triumph over hardship, the prequel trilogy depicted a downfall of sorts. The only winner in the prequel trilogy is Palpatine, who just happens to be the bad guy.
Personally, I’m more drawn to tragedy than heroism. And I’m glad Star Wars explored the territory of tragedy. Why? Because when tragedy is done well, it’s highly engaging and spellbinding.
So, in this blog post, I will argue the merits for Revenge of the Sith. Let’s begin!
Reason One: No Star Wars Movie Is Like It
I love most Star Wars movies, and there is nothing wrong with a film being like the original trilogy. This point isn’t meant to diss any Star Wars film, but to appreciate a film that dares to do something that is different.
What makes Revenge of the Sith different from other Star Wars movies is the emphasis on tragedy. Let’s face it- no Star Wars movie has a greater sense of hopelessness than ROTS.
We know that eventually, Luke and Leia will grow up to be heroes and the Empire will be defeated. However, when I watched Revenge of the Sith for the first time, I didn’t feel that. Yes- ROTS ends with Owen and Beru looking into the sunset. Parallel scenes shows Padme’s funeral, Anakin (now Darth Vader) looking out at the Death Star and Leia on Aldeeran.
However, all of these scenes are depressing. Here’s how.
- Owen and Beru are eventually murdered
- Padme is dead.
- Anakin will be Darth Vader for well over twenty years. This means that he is trapped within a metal body and in pain for that whole time.
- Aldeeran eventually gets blown up, with Leia’s adoptive father, Bail Organa.
None of these scenes feel hopeful. When you add the wider context of Star Wars, the ending of Revenge of the Sith is more depressing. It’s a film that argues that there is only one winner, and that’s Palpatine. Everyone else is doomed to be dead or miserable.
Reason Two: The Villains
Count Dooku. General Grievous. Palpatine. And of course, Darth Vader himself. As someone who enjoys villains, ROTS offers a fantastic experience.
However, these are not cartoonish villains. What I like about ROTS is that George Lucas gives humanity to the villains.
For instance, I remember the look of horror on Dooku’s face before Anakin beheads him. George Lucas could have easily given him a sassy line, or some foreshadowing. But instead, Lucas chose to make Dooku vulnerable and fearful. I thought that was rather remarkable. No matter how much the audience may have loathed Dooku, George Lucas wasn’t going to let the audience take satisfaction with his death.
That’s good storytelling.
On the other hand, Grievous and Palpatine do not seem to have humanity. After all, Grievous is a shell of a person with darkly comedic lines. However, Greivous is so thematic it is hard not to enjoy him.
Palpatine and Darth Vader will be discussed in later points. Overall, I found the villains in ROTS to be fascinating, with unique motives and characterisation.
Reason Three: It’s Visually Spectacular
The visuals in ROTS are awesome.
I particularly love the following scenes:
- The battle on Coruscant
- Execute Order 66 (especially in Felucia)
- The duel on Mustafar
- Padme’s funeral on Naboo
All of these scenes are terrific. I think with the prequel trilogy, George Lucas wanted to create something epic and ambitious. To an extent, I think he was successful.
These visual scenes come with fantastic music, which add to the sense of ‘epicness.’ Does Lucas overdo it at times? Of course! Yet what sets ROTS from an average blockbuster is that the visuals have meaning.
Not once did I feel I was watching a mere spectacle. When I watch ROTS, I believe I am watching a movie with meaning and depth.
Say what you want about the prequels, but I wouldn’t call them shallow.
Reason Four: Some of the Greatest Star Wars Scenes Are In ROTS
Need examples? Okay.
Palpatine Explains His Point Of View To Anakin
I’ve argued prior that this is the greatest Star Wars scene. Everything about it is perfect- the acting, the visuals, the dialogue. Casting Ian McDiarmid was a stroke of genius. His delivery of lines ‘not from a Jedi‘ brings chills every single time I watch ROTS.
It’s a scene dense with political philosophy and character. Not only that, but it brings depth to Sidious. The spooky implication that Palpatine is related to Darth Plagueis somehow is powerful. Everything- and I mean everything- about this scene works.
Padme & Anakin Get Dramatic, Anakin Muses over his choices.
This scene has sparse dialogue, and features a couple becoming more estranged out of insecurity and fear. There is a quiet tragedy about this scene that is rather underappreciated. Adding onto that, both Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen bring their A-game to this scene.
We feel Padme’s increasing sense of loneliness and Anakin’s moral anguish. This scene is proof that sometimes, it’s the quiet moments in cinema that work the best.
Execute Order 66
What can I say about this scene that hasn’t been said already? From the iconic, bone-chilling ‘Execute Order 66’ to seeing the Jedi being massacred, Star Wars has never been more heartbreaking.
This is a terrifc scene that is well directed and emotional. I particularly like Ki-Adi-Mundi’s facial expressions in this scene. He expresses the feelings of betrayal so damn well.
Reason Five: ROTS Shows The Characters We Love At Their Most Defeated And Powerless
This is more of a personal preference.
However, it is probably the key reason why Revenge of the Sith is my favourite Star Wars film. As I said in a prior point, George Lucas was not interested in glorifying Dooku’s death, or by evoking a cheap gimmick.
The truth is, ROTS is full of moments where the characters in question are vulnerable and weak. This is true of Anakin Skywalker, who is more emotionally on edge and vulnerable. Even Yoda- who we are used to seeing as a wise being who can control a hard situation, is defeated and down. Two scenes that demonstrate this is his reaction to Order 66 and when he decides to go into hiding.
So, why is this so effective? Because it feels like new territory for the Star Wars series. Whilst Empire Strikes Back had a similar reaction, I don’t think ESB went to the extremes that ROTS did. Adding onto that, by making beloved characters vulnerable, it also made them more human and relatable.
From a storytelling perspective (and as a writer myself), I admire George Lucas’ willingness to wear his heart on his sleeve. So often, writers fear appearing emotional or human because they may get mocked. I think that’s why the current crop of Disney movies try really hard to subvert tropes, because Disney doesn’t want to see their movies get ridiculed.
And I think that’s a shame. Give me honest, emotional storytelling any day over fiction that tries to ‘appear cool.’
ROTS, thankfully, gives us the former.
Other Reasons & Conclusion
I’ve covered the crucial reasons why ROTS is my favourite Star Wars movie. I thought I’d end this list by outlining some other reasons why ROTS is a stand-out movie. They include:
- Obi Wan’s snarky remarks
- It’s the only SW movie that made me cry.
- I liked hearing more about the Wookies.
- The serious tone works for ROTS.
- Everything about Palpatine
- Palpatine versus Yoda
- Everything about Mustafar
Overall, I hope I’ve argued why ROTS is such a great film. Sure, some of my reasons are more personal than others. However, I believe that ROTS stands up so well.
Anyway, that’s enough from me! What do you think about Revenge of the Sith? What is your favourite Star Wars film, and why? Comment below!