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Fall to the Dark Side?

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So... in pondering how poorly and unconvincingly the Prequel Trilogy handled Anakin's "Fall to the Dark Side," it got me thinking: What stories have convincing depictions of a character's fall to a dark side of sorts? I quickly thought of 2:

1) Luke in RotJ (for all of 5 minutes) as he destroys Vader with the Dark Side

2) Lex Luthor in Smallville. Others may not agree, but he's been our favourite character on the show (early seasons, at least) and we really enjoyed seeing the seeds of his future dark side being sown. At some point it seems that he became the typical villain, but up until then he was really interesting.

Who/What else?

xhonzi

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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I've never watched Smallville, so I can't comment about that, but didn't Luke's flirtation with the dark side start in ESB when he disobeyed Yoda by leaving Dagobah?

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Even Superman's lame turn to the darkside in Superman 3 (it was part 3, right?) was more convincing than Anakin's.

I have never seen Smallville either, so likewise, I cannot comment, but just how you said things like "early season" and "seeds of his future" it sounds like this was a gradual turn, which I believe is the way any turn has to be to be convincing, unless it is something like brainwashing or mind control. Anakin had three movies to turn to the darkside during, and he only does it during the last few minutes of the final film.

Luke's "turn" in ROTJ was great because it was emotional, with him giving into his anger then realizing his mistake, rather than a retarded confused "should I do it? No I shouldn't! Or should I? Errr, what have I done?! NOooooooo!... huh? Okay, I'll be your loyal slave from here on out. Oh, what's that? Go kill a bunch of kids? Alright I am on it. I'll be back in time for dinner master, remember, I like the red table cloth with the little black zigzag design. And don't forget the candles!

Padme had to die anyway, I have no idea why that wasn't used as a device to get him to turn.

I can't think of any other examples of reasonable turns off the top of my head.

"Every time Warb sighs, an angel falls into a vat of mapel syrup." - Gaffer Tape

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Coppola showed in one movie, with a series of flashbacks, a more compelling character study as to how one rises to power and eventually kills to acquire that power in Godfather II (Vito Corleone). This is the ultimate storytelling as to less is more.
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I've never seen the Godfather movies, but after looking at them that way maybe I just will.

I remembered one other (sort of) Judas.

Also, it's not quite the same either, but the maddening of Rand Al'thor in the Wheel of Time Books is slow and gradual, like it should be.

xhonzi

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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Originally posted by: C3PX
Even Superman's lame turn to the darkside in Superman 3 (it was part 3, right?) was more convincing than Anakin's.

Yeah, it was Superman III. Not a very good movie, but worth seeing just for the sight of Chris Reeve swilling booze with a dirty cape and five o'clock shadow. A lot more interesting than seeing Anakin throw a hissy fit, for sure.

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Star Wars: Dark Lords of the Sith
The story introduced Exar Kun near the end of his training; he had mastered the lightsaber, and started poking around in Master Baas's Cabinet of Things Apprentices Do Not Need to See. From this, he learned of the Sith, and their power to destroy stars. He undertook an interplanetary personal research mission, falsely identifying himself as a Jedi archaeologist in order to gain access to Sith artifacts. In time he was contacted by a Sith spirit and led to their graveworld, where he was fatally injured by a collapsing temple. The Sith spirit offered to heal him, if he would only turn to the Dark Side. He did, and that selfish act started him down the dark path. He went on to discover more ancient Sith temples and the survivors of their slave race, and went about exploiting Sith technology and weaponry. By the end he had forgotten why he had started his research into the Sith, he only knew that he had more power than any Jedi alive and that he should use it somehow.

Meanwhile, Ulic Qel-Droma grieved the loss of his master, killed by a Krath ambush. (The Krath were a Sith-inspired cult that ruled a major mining system.) Against everyone's advice, he infiltrated the Krath to learn their secrets and destroy them from within. But once inside he enjoyed the comfort of their lifestyle too much, and twisted by his own use of the Dark Side--and the subtle and gross manipulations of the Krath--he turned on the Jedi and united with Exar Kun. However, until the very last moment, he kept telling himself that he was doing what he was doing to defeat the Krath and avenge his master.

In Star Wars: Dark Empire Luke Skywalker unwittingly retraced many of Ulic Qel-Droma's steps. He infiltrated the Empire's Berchtsgarden and pledged himself to the Dark Side in a ruse to access Imperial military command codes. But--probably due to coercion that takes place off-page--he was cast into utter despair, and became a Vader-like lackey until his sister set him free.

Selfishness, self-delusion, and overconfidence. These compose a Dark Side Trinity more potent than even fear, anger, and aggression. If this model had been used for Anakin, we would've seen him quickly master the Jedi arts and look to anathematized teachings for further knowledge and skill. He would have begun acting like a Sith long before he took a Sith name, or even admitted to himself that he was more aligned with them than the Jedi.

In another universe, several humans were turned to the dark side by the One Ring. The Ring, unlike the Dark Side proper, was a sentient or semi-sentient thing with a will of its own. It didn't offer its bearer any real power, but it did offer possession of itself. This desire to have something was expressed most strongly through Sméagol-Gollum, who gave up the legendarily comfortable trappings of hobbit civilization for centuries of eating fish and orcs in a cave. But as long as he had the Ring he was, if not content, somehow sated. Others fell or nearly fell because they saw in the Ring power, an ability to reorder the world to their liking. Boromir would not have accepted such a pitiful life as Gollum's nor, when he was alive, did he plan the type of despotic regime favored by the Ring's original owner. Doubtless he wanted to claim the Steward's Chair, or even the Throne, and usher in the kind of golden age that he must have believed Numenoreans once enjoyed. Though even the Numenorean state was probably vastly different than the accounts preserved in the Red Book and other writings of the Eldarin and Dunedain civilizations.

Possession for the sake of possessing and an ideal-driven ends-justify-the-means mindset were the road to the dark side here. If this had been applied to Anakin, the Dark Side would have been symbolized in the films by some thing offering great power--maybe a Sith relic, an obscure teaching, or a military command--and Anakin's search for, use, and eventual reliance on this object would drive him into sympathy for the Dark Side. Anakin might've been seeking this goal or object because he believed it was the best way to restore some idealized form of government, or maybe just because it was something grand to possess. Either way, coveting and protecting it would drive consideration for others out of his thoughts.

The last great turn to the dark side I can think of off the top of my head is the Joker's. Sometimes he remembers it one way, sometimes he remembers it another. If there has to be a past, it should be multiple choice. But one way he remembers it is, he had a bad day. He had a bad day and everything went wrong and he saw how cruel, random, and petty the world was. And he got the joke. So he decided to help other people get the joke, too. He doesn't consider acts of cruelty and violence in any way wrong, they're simply the lead-up to the punchline that will free others from the ennui of their lives. Some would say the same thing happened to Batman.

If Anakin had simply been insane, he would've become Darth Vader because that seemed like the best way to accomplish some dubious goal by means of internal logic that is impenetrable to the viewer. For instance, he may have fallen in order to save his wife from dying while giving birth to a child like he saw in a dream.
"It's the stoned movie you don't have to be stoned for." -- Tom Shales on Star Wars
Scruffy's gonna die the way he lived.
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I actually think Anakin's journey to the dark side was "okay". His naïveté exploited by Palpatine who was obviously the wiser. His impatience with bureaucracy etc. Some of the implementation of that arc was a bit lame (sith eyes and "noooooooo", WTF?!), but the arc itself I thought stood up pretty well.
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Originally posted by: miker71
I actually think Anakin's journey to the dark side was "okay". His naïveté exploited by Palpatine who was obviously the wiser. His impatience with bureaucracy etc. Some of the implementation of that arc was a bit lame (sith eyes and "noooooooo", WTF?!), but the arc itself I thought stood up pretty well.


I never had a problem with the setup in TPM/AOTC of how Anakin was going to fall, and I didn't think at first that a dream was a bad idea for his eventual turn. The problem is all ROTS, and how Anakin just leaps to the darkside within seconds, as most people in the theater were like, "That was it?"

He has the dream at the starting of the movie and is looking for answers, then Palps tells him he can save people from dying to lure Anakin to his side. That was a pretty good setup in the first half hour. Then the whole thing falls apart when Anakin doesn't even question him about this trick, let alone this is the guy who has been lying to the galaxy for the past 10 years! Then he turns within seconds after killing Mace, and doesn't even question why he is killing kids 5 minutes later? It didn't make Anakin naive, it made him just come off as stupid, and in a movie, the viewer has to put himself in that persons shoes and say, "What would I do in that situation?" I know I would atleast ask Palpatine, "How does one accomplish this trick?" The ROTS Novel does a much better job of handling Anakins turn, as it is much longer then what is shown in the movie, and he does question Yoda, himself, and even Palpatine, but as usual in the PT, it wasn't the story that bothered me, it was the execution, and the turn is the key to the whole PT, and I was a huge defender of the PT after TPM/AOTC cause I thought they were setting things up great, and then once I saw ROTS and laughed at the whole turn scene, the whole trilogy fell apart for me.

Remember Vader says to Luke in ROTJ, "You don't know the power of the darkside, I must obey my master!" I always thought that meant something big in the grand sceme of the PT as maybe Palps electrocuted Vader when he disobeyed him, but again it is another great line from the OT that means nothing in the PT. Vader didn't obey his master because of the darkside, he just used him to learn the trick of saving his wife, and then after his wife dies, why would he still obey him?

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Great post Scruffy. That's a lot to read but your examples are sound. I'm not a fan of the EU, but those falls-from-grace sound better than the one we got for Anakin. Taking examples from the Lord of the Rings and Batman universes worked well in ways that I wouldn't have thought of.


Originally posted by: C3PX
Luke's "turn" in ROTJ was great because it was emotional, with him giving into his anger then realizing his mistake, rather than a retarded confused "should I do it? No I shouldn't! Or should I? Errr, what have I done?! NOooooooo!... huh? Okay, I'll be your loyal slave from here on out. Oh, what's that? Go kill a bunch of kids? Alright I am on it. I'll be back in time for dinner master, remember, I like the red table cloth with the little black zigzag design. And don't forget the candles!


Hilarious. That's a good way to describe the turn as a whole. While at first RotS was compelling in the way it convinced me of Padme and Anakin's love for each other, that, as CO described, eventually went nowhere and, if anything, became ridiculous by the end. Anakin's turn was completely arbitrary and involved no internal motivation that I could discern. Perhaps we're just not smart enough to see it?


The biggest thing that tends to kill my enjoyment of a piece of art would be flaws that are difficult to overlook in relation to that piece of art's best qualities. In other words, if I am forced to focus on flaws because they penetrate to the heart of a given work, I'd rather not waste my time even trying to enjoy it anymore. At best I'll just pick and choose what might have worked had the flaws been missing, but I'm not going to waste my time with that work of art when I have better things I could be enjoying.

Anakin's fall in the prequel trilogy is a perfect example of a flaw that ruins everything else. George Lucas made AotC and RotS both hinge on this event, but he screws it up by portraying Anakin as a whiny, amoral jerk. I don't want to pretend that Darth Vader, one of the most amazing villains ever, fell that way!

While the original trilogy's movies had big flaws, none of those flaws directly intersected what made those movies great and can easily be ignored. The prequel trilogy's flaws make it rotten to the core (as it were).

"Now all Lucas has to do is make a cgi version of himself.  It will be better than the original and fit his original vision." - skyjedi2005

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For me, the whole turn to the dark side bit was ruined by the prequels. In the OT, the Dark Side is like a drug. Once you use it once or twice, your hooked on it and it comsumes you, and controls you. So for me, thats why Vader said things like that he "must obey his master" because he was a slave to the dark side at this point. In ROTJ, the emperor and vader are both pretty sure that all it won't take much to turn Luke dark, with Vader simply telling Luke to 'join us', or make him mad enough to use the dark side once or twice and the emperor wanting Luke to get angry enough to kill Vader. So at this point, it looks like to me that it doesn't take much to make a person dark side.

Now enter the PT. Anakin pretty much is always angry, slaughters a whole tribe of Sandpeople in a blind rage, and cold-bloodedly killing Count Dooku, and he stays light. Throw in the EU with him also using the darkside to defeat Assaj Ventress multiple times, and it seems like it is really hard to actually fall to the dark side. I guess it helped draw out the movie, but I was expecting something more quick, sudden, and not this drawn-out process that it became. I mean, something slower makes sense for something like Smallville, were we are talking about personal choices and personallity, but in Star Wars, the dark side seems to be much more of a controlling force.
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Originally posted by: Number20
For me, the whole turn to the dark side bit was ruined by the prequels. In the OT, the Dark Side is like a drug. Once you use it once or twice, your hooked on it and it comsumes you, and controls you. So for me, thats why Vader said things like that he "must obey his master" because he was a slave to the dark side at this point. In ROTJ, the emperor and vader are both pretty sure that all it won't take much to turn Luke dark, with Vader simply telling Luke to 'join us', or make him mad enough to use the dark side once or twice and the emperor wanting Luke to get angry enough to kill Vader. So at this point, it looks like to me that it doesn't take much to make a person dark side.

Now enter the PT. Anakin pretty much is always angry, slaughters a whole tribe of Sandpeople in a blind rage, and cold-bloodedly killing Count Dooku, and he stays light. Throw in the EU with him also using the darkside to defeat Assaj Ventress multiple times, and it seems like it is really hard to actually fall to the dark side. I guess it helped draw out the movie, but I was expecting something more quick, sudden, and not this drawn-out process that it became. I mean, something slower makes sense for something like Smallville, were we are talking about personal choices and personallity, but in Star Wars, the dark side seems to be much more of a controlling force.



This is so true, as I have always contended if you really watch the movie, Anakin never turns to the darkside, he just uses Palps to get info on saving people from dying. He is never stronger, which the darkside does to you as it did Luke when he was kicking Vader's ass in ROTJ, witness the lame battle between Obiwan/Anakin on Mustafar. Think of it, ObiWan gets his ass handed to him twice by Dooku, Anakin beats Dooku in ROTS, and then they pretty much have an even fight all the way on Mustafar, yet Anakin is supposed to be consumed by the darkside?

Zombie has talked about this before, and he can go into greater detail, the reason why the turn makes no sense in ROTS, is cause Lucas changed the whole context after shooting the original turn scene where he is protecting Palpatine instead of just doing for this trick of saving Padme. That is the dirty little secret that the PT gushers don't talk about, all of the stuff that was suppose to be built up from TPM/AOTC on Anakins turn is literally thrown away after Lucas thought the original turn scene was too quick and held no emotional weight.

From the first time I saw the turn scene in the movie theater, I always thought something didn't make sense, and once Zombie exposed Lucas for rewriting/reshooting the turn scene, I realized it wasn't me.

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Originally posted by: Number20
For me, the whole turn to the dark side bit was ruined by the prequels. In the OT, the Dark Side is like a drug. Once you use it once or twice, your hooked on it and it comsumes you, and controls you. So for me, thats why Vader said things like that he "must obey his master" because he was a slave to the dark side at this point. In ROTJ, the emperor and vader are both pretty sure that all it won't take much to turn Luke dark, with Vader simply telling Luke to 'join us', or make him mad enough to use the dark side once or twice and the emperor wanting Luke to get angry enough to kill Vader. So at this point, it looks like to me that it doesn't take much to make a person dark side.


That was always my interpretation as well. But, apparently, killing one of your superior Jedis while overpowered by the emotion of WIMPY INDECISION is enough to enslave a man enough to where he'll instantly have no trouble performing the most disgustingly evil actions (killing children). From the addiction theory, the evil control of the dark side should increase in different steps from truly heinous decisions, not wimpy, angst-y decisions.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Anakin makes no sense unless he's a psychopath. Starting with the beginning of AotC, George made it extremely clear that Anakin was a character that only cared about himself. Killing children and murdering his wife make no sense in terms of the Dark Side's controlling influence, but they make perfect sense for a man who's a psychopath.

The most hilarious part is how the one, single version of himself that truly displays any self-sacrifice (Darth Vader at the end of RotJ) gets replaced by the force ghost of his younger, psychopathic self! George Lucas really should have stopped the saga before he got in over his head. It's sad.

"Now all Lucas has to do is make a cgi version of himself.  It will be better than the original and fit his original vision." - skyjedi2005

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when thinking about this topic, I actually went back and reread all of the Tales of the Jedi comics in search of a better tale of falling to the Dark Side. And why I'll admint Exar Kun and Ulic Qel'Droma are better versions of this than the PT Anakin, I was still looking for something more and something deeper.

I have also thought of the Dark Side like a drug. Maybe not instantly addiciting as was mentioned above, but definately something that the user would crave and go through withdrawals if not used for a time. I always liked the term "seductive" in connection with the Dark Side. So, I was trying to find literary examples. I know some Shakespeare and was trying to think through the tradgedies but couldn't come up with any characters that I thought were a good analogy.

Then I tried to think of any of the mythologies I know and again was coming up a little blank.

In Plato's Republic, Socrates explains how a man goes from being a hero of the people to a tyrant. That was actually pretty interesting.

xhonzi

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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I read all of the EU until about '99, so I've never read the New Jedi Order or other books in that vein. Are any of the characters that explore the Dark Side in those books done well?

xhonzi

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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Even Luke's lame fall to the darkside in Dark Empire was a lot more convincing than Anakin's, and that isn't saying much.

"Every time Warb sighs, an angel falls into a vat of mapel syrup." - Gaffer Tape

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I guess I never thought Luke was wholly turned to the Dark Side in Dark Empire; I thought it was always an act. I think that was the case for Ulic from Tales of the Jedi until it one day ceased to be an act and was then reality. But Luke to me never seemed in any danger. Maybe, as someone else said, it was because it happened off page.

xhonzi

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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xhonzi: I think Lex is still an interesting bad guy; even though he's slipped so far and has embraced immoral means to his ends, there is that glimmer of desire to be good, to somehow do the right thing; even if he has "fallen", it's interesting to see the torment that sometimes grips him and how he seems to defend other characters from harm at points.

In the Star Wars novel DARTH BANE: PATH OF DESTRUCTION by Drew Karpyshyn you get an awesome view into a fall to the darkside that should have been what Anakin's fall was. It's also a great treat to see the Force more deeply explained (albeit the dark side mostly) and used! I can't recommend it highly enough.

The sequel's coming out at the end of this month: DARTH BANE: RULE OF TWO.
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The one thing this thread has convinced me of is this:

Storytelling has provided 1000 examples of redemption for every tale of its opposite. And, at least to me, I have a much easier time believing tales of redemption than the examples of falling from grace we've listed here. I guess that shows how storytelling has its roots in morality tales and how optimistic we as a people remain.

What historical figures would you most compare the Original Trilogy Darth Vader to? Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great, Hitler, Lenin, Enver Hoxha (C3PX will know who that is )?

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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Originally posted by: darkhelmet

In the Star Wars novel DARTH BANE: PATH OF DESTRUCTION by Drew Karpyshyn you get an awesome view into a fall to the darkside that should have been what Anakin's fall was. It's also a great treat to see the Force more deeply explained (albeit the dark side mostly) and used! I can't recommend it highly enough.

The sequel's coming out at the end of this month: DARTH BANE: RULE OF TWO.


I looked for this in audio and was surprised it doesn't look like it's available. Yeah, I'm lame like that recently, only have time for audio books.

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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Originally posted by: xhonzi
What historical figures would you most compare the Original Trilogy Darth Vader to? Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great, Hitler, Lenin, Enver Hoxha (C3PX will know who that is )?



Sorry Xhonzi, I meant to respond to this comment earlier, but didn't have time when I first read it, then I forgot about it. I would compare Darth Vader as he is seen in the original Star Wars to Vlad the Impailer, but choosing from your list I would go with Genghis Kahn. Evner Hoxha is a lot more like the original concept of the Emperor.

"Every time Warb sighs, an angel falls into a vat of mapel syrup." - Gaffer Tape

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if we take lucas on his word, he was retelling milton's paradise lost when lucifer fell because he wanted more power than god and wanted to rule the heavens.

“Always loved Vader’s wordless self sacrifice. Another shitty, clueless, revision like Greedo and young Anakin’s ghost. What a fucking shame.” -Simon Pegg.

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That's the second reference to Paradise Lost that's come at me today...

Time to buckle down and read it, I guess. Does it come on tape?

xhonzi

IT'S MY TRILOGY, AND I WANT IT NOW!

"[George Lucas] rebooted the franchise in 1997 without telling anyone." -skyjedi2005

"Yeah, well, George says a lot of things..." a young 1997 xhonzi on RASSM

"They're my movies." -George Lucas. 19 people won oscars for their work on Star Wars (1977) and George Lucas wasn't one of them.

Rewrite the Prequels!

 

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Originally posted by: xhonzi
Does it come on tape?



I am sure it does, it is a popular work. If you can find it on it audo tape then you'll have found yourself one of the worlds best sleep aids.

"Every time Warb sighs, an angel falls into a vat of mapel syrup." - Gaffer Tape

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Originally posted by: CO
Coppola showed in one movie, with a series of flashbacks, a more compelling character study as to how one rises to power and eventually kills to acquire that power in Godfather II (Vito Corleone). This is the ultimate storytelling as to less is more.


I'd add to that the fall of Michael Corleone in The Godfather. He's an honest guy at the beginning of the film. He's college educated, serves his country in the military, etc. He turns to evil completely by the end of the film.
He doesn't even resemble the person he was earlier in the story.

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