Like the prophecies that haunt the characters, this movie has been foretold for a long, long time. The events of "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" have been the stuff of pop mythology since 1977. "We meet again," Darth Vader rasped in the original film (now "Episode IV A New Hope") before he crossed lightsabers with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness). Now, after a series of uneven but always inventive sequels and prequels, the six-film saga comes full circle, and George Lucas stages the duel with operatic glory: at the film's climax, Vader and Kenobi (now played by Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor) face off in an apocalyptic river of molten lava. "Revenge of the Sith" is, in every sense of the word, the ultimate "Star Wars" film. Almost thirty years later, Lucas pays off the most elaborate setup in film history. He succeeds so completely that anybody who doesn't just love movies but The Movies will find reason for celebrationwith or without Ewoks. As it turns out, the film also carries a clear message for George Bush's America.
Self-respecting cineastes generally show fashionable disdain for "Star Wars." "Derivative," they snort, pointing out that the films recycle all sorts of folk motifs and stock characters. But the happy resurrrection of classic themes is precisely what gives "Star Wars" its iconic power. Sure, the writing is deliberately campy, and by realistic standards, the acting is often wooden. Like all "Star Wars" movies, "Revenge of the Sith" has some deliciously cheesy moments.
But to complain about the lack of realism in movies set "in a galaxy far, far away" is missing the point: "Star Wars" has always been perfectly artificial, and not just since digital technology allowed George Lucas to craft individual frames in layers like oil paintings. "Star Wars" does not care for subtleties: this is cinema that projects eternal archetypes on a very large canvas and combines them with 1930s Sci-Fi serials, the ideas of Joseph Campell, the history of Rome, Eastern Philosophy and visual clues swiped from Akira Kurosawa into a techno fairy tale dressed in cutting-edge visual effects.