Star Wars Is a Commentary on Empire and Isn’t Racially Offensive Anymore

I saw Return of the Sith on Saturday and I haven’t been able to get the plot lines out of my head. It’s really good. Anakin’s fall to the dark side and his manipulation by the emperor is truly epic. I’m repeating what I’ve read from others, but one of the strengths of the movie is that even though you know he will go bad, there are moments when it seems he might not, and you root for him.

Also, the Phantom Menace‘s despicable racial stereotyping of black, Japanese, and Jewish people is completely gone.

One nice thing is that, in a thoughtful way, the movie really does seem interested with what is happening right now, here on earth. Much has been made of Padme Amidala saying “This is how liberty dies…with applause” when the emperor claims sweeping powers in the senate. The whole movie, and it with it the whole cycle of movies, is about the rise and fall of empires and the way democracies destroy themselves by engaging in total war and overreaching. The emperor says stuff that could be directly taken from a certain president’s speeches, such as a claim that this war will bring us peace. Also amusing is the search for General Grievous. The Emperor assures everyone that once the general is found the war will be over. It echoes another search being conducted by our own country.

So what does it mean that this was the biggest grossing movie of the weekend, and has broken all sorts of box-office records? Do the majority of fans get, or care for, these political implications? It’s also a plainly entertaining and awesome movie, the first of the new trilogy that seems to belong to the first trilogy. It’s encouraging that it includes a biting commentary on our own country’s follies, but, in the end, will that snap anyone into political consciousness?

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