Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars Episode III:
Revenge of the Sith

Theatrical poster
Directed by George Lucas
Produced by Rick McCallum
George Lucas (executive)
Written by George Lucas
Starring Ewan McGregor
Hayden Christensen
Natalie Portman
Ian McDiarmid
Samuel L. Jackson
Christopher Lee
Anthony Daniels
Kenny Baker
Frank Oz
Music by John Williams
Cinematography David Tattersall
Editing by Roger Barton
Ben Burtt
Studio Lucasfilm
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) May 15, 2005 (2005-05-15) (Cannes)
May 19, 2005 (2005-05-19)
Running time 140 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $113 million
Box office $848,754,768[1]

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a 2005 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the sixth and final film released in the Star Wars saga and the third in terms of the series' internal chronology.

The film takes place three years after the onset of the Clone Wars. The Jedi Knights are spread out across the galaxy leading a massive clone army in the war against the Separatists. The Jedi Council dispatches Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to eliminate the evil General Grievous, leader of the Separatist Army. Meanwhile, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, separated from Kenobi, his former master, grows close to Palpatine, the Chancellor of the Galactic Republic and, unbeknownst to the public, a Sith Lord. Their deepening friendship proves dangerous for the Jedi Order, the galaxy, and Anakin himself, who inevitably succumbs to the Dark Side of the Force and transforms into Darth Vader.

Lucas began writing the script before production of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones began. Filming took place in Australia with additional locations in Thailand and Italy, and lasted over three months. The film was released in theatres on May 19, 2005, and received generally positive reviews from critics, especially in contrast to the previous two prequels.

It broke several box office records during its opening week and went on to earn over $848 million worldwide,[1] making it the second highest grossing film in the Star Wars franchise (not adjusting for inflation). It was the highest grossing film of 2005 in the US, the second highest grossing film of 2005 worldwide behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.[1] It is the only Star Wars film to be rated PG-13 by the MPAA, M[2] by the ACB and 12A by the BBFC.

Contents

Plot

The Galactic Republic have suffered major setbacks in the Clone Wars against the Separatists. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi infiltrate the flagship of General Grievous (Matthew Wood) — the cyborg commander of the droid armies — and defeat Count Dooku in a lightsaber fight ending with Anakin singlehandedly decapitating Dooku. Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine attempt to escape Grievous' flagship, but are trapped inside, forcing Anakin to crash-land the ship on Coruscant. There, Anakin reunites with his wife Padmé Amidala, who reveals that she is pregnant. Anakin is troubled by visions of Padmé dying in childbirth.

Palpatine places Anakin on the Jedi Council as his representative, but the Council orders Anakin to secretly monitor him and denies him the rank of Jedi Master. Frustrated with the snub, Anakin begins to lose faith in the Jedi and also learns from Palpatine about the ability to prevent death, which can only be used by the dark side. Obi-Wan is sent to the planet Utapau, where he engages and kills General Grievous. Having learned that Palpatine is Darth Sidious and controls both sides for the war, Anakin reports Palpatine's treachery to Jedi Master Mace Windu. Over Windu's objections, Anakin follows Windu to the chancellor's office.

Windu engages Palpatine in a lightsaber duel and manages to disarm him, but Anakin intervenes and severs Windu's right hand before he can execute Sidious. Sidious uses Force lightning to send Windu to his death, and appoints Anakin as his new apprentice—Darth Vader—after he submits to the dark side. Sidious orders the clone troopers to kill their Jedi Generals throughout the galaxy, and has Vader travel to Mustafar, a volcanic planet, to kill the Separatist leaders. Meanwhile, Sidious transforms the Republic into the Galactic Empire, with himself as Emperor.

Obi-Wan and Yoda discover Anakin's treachery, and split up to confront Vader (Anakin) and Sidious. Padmé travels to Mustafar, while Obi-Wan sneaks on her ship, and Padmé eventually realizes the truth of Anakin's (Vader's) actions. Horrified and shocked, Padmé attempts to take Anakin back with her, but Vader—thinking that she had brought Obi-Wan to kill him—uses the Force to choke her, rendering her unconscious. Obi-Wan and Vader engage in a lightsaber duel that leads them to a lava flow in Mustafar. Obi-Wan severs Vader's legs and left arm, disarming him, and Vader is immolated. Obi-Wan takes Vader's lightsaber and leaves the planet. Meanwhile, Yoda confronts and fights Sidious, but is forced to escape when their duel ends in a stalemate.

Having lost her will to live, Padme dies aboard a medical ship after giving birth to twins—Luke and Leia. Sidious resuscitates Vader with cybernetic limbs, black armor and a respirator. Palpatine tells Vader he killed Padmé in his own anger. Tormented by this revelation, Vader screams, destroying objects around him with the Force. Senator Bail Organa adopts Leia and takes her to Alderaan, while Obi-Wan takes Luke to Tatooine in the care of his stepfamily, Owen and Beru Lars. Yoda goes into a self-imposed exile in Dagobah, but promises Obi-Wan to teach him how to return from the netherworld of the Force — with help from the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn. Obi-Wan and Yoda go their separate ways to wait for a time when they can challenge the Empire again.

Elsewhere, on an Imperial Star Destroyer, Palpatine, Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin watch the construction of the Death Star.

Cast

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith.
  • Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi: Obi-Wan is a General for the Galactic Republic and is a Jedi Master who sits on the Jedi Council. He often travels and performs missions with his best friend and former Padawan, Anakin.
  • Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader: Anakin is a recently-knighted Jedi and hero of the Clone Wars. Upon learning of his wife's pregnancy, he begins to have recurring visions of her dying in childbirth. Because similar visions accurately foretold the death of his mother, he swears that he will do whatever it takes to save her, and in his determination, he falls to the Dark Side of the Force and becomes the evil Lord Darth Vader. While many assume that James Earl Jones is the uncredited, briefly heard voice of Darth Vader at the film's conclusion, Jones, when specifically asked if he had supplied the voice, either newly or from a previous recording, told Newsday, "You'd have to ask Lucas about that. I don't know".[3] However, the commentary on the DVD release states that, while the voice will always be uncredited, any true Star Wars fan "should know the answer".[4]
  • Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala: Padmé is Anakin's secret wife; she has recently become pregnant with twins. As Senator of Naboo, she is deeply concerned about Palpatine's growing power, and her husband's increasingly disturbing behavior.
  • Ian McDiarmid as Darth Sidious / Chancellor Palpatine: As the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, Palpatine enacted the start of the Clone Wars against the Separatists. As a result, the Senate has voted him vast emergency powers, effectively turning him into a dictator. By this time, he becomes a sort of mentor to Anakin, manipulating him into distrusting the Jedi. In reality, Palpatine is the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who finally steps from the shadows to destroy the Jedi Order and the Republic it serves, and lure Anakin to his side.
  • Frank Oz voices Yoda: The wise old leader of the Jedi Council. He is a friend and mentor to many Jedi. He plays a major role in the Battle of Kashyyyk.
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu: Windu is a Jedi Master who sits on the Jedi Council and is also a Jedi General in the Clone Wars.
  • Matthew Wood voices General Grievous: Grievous is a fearsome cyborg and General of the Separatists' droid army. He is responsible for kidnapping Palpatine at the beginning. He is also skilled in lightsaber combat, having been trained by Count Dooku, wielding two green and two blue lightsabers taken from Jedi he has killed.
  • Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa: Bail Organa is a Senator in the Galactic Republic and friend to the Jedi, who grows concerned at Palpatine's growing power.
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: C-3PO is Padmé Amidala's personal protocol droid, created by Anakin Skywalker.
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2: R2-D2 is Anakin Skywalker's astro-droid and C-3PO's counterpart.
  • Silas Carson as Nute Gunray and Ki-Adi-Mundi: Gunray is the Viceroy of the Trade Federation, who is at odds with Grievous and dares to question his leadership. Ki-Adi-Mundi is a Jedi Master who sits at the Jedi Council and General in the Clone Wars.
  • Temuera Morrison as Commander Cody and Clone Troopers: Cody and the clone troopers are part of the army for the Republic. As seen in Attack of the Clones, they are the clones of the bounty hunter Jango Fett.
  • Christopher Lee as Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus: He is a Sith apprentice to Darth Sidious, Leader of the Separatists, and Grievous' superior.
  • Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca: Chewbacca is a Wookiee who is friendly with Yoda, and fights alongside him in the Battle of Kashyyyk.

It was announced in 2004 that Gary Oldman had been approached to provide the voice of General Grievous,[5] however, complications arose during contract negotiations after Oldman learned the film was to be made outside of the Screen Actors Guild, of which he is a member. He backed out of the role rather than violate the union's rules.[6] Matthew Wood, who ultimately voiced Grievous, disputed this story at Celebration III, held in Indianapolis. According to him, Oldman is a friend of Rick McCallum, producer of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and recorded an audition as a favor to him, that was never chosen.[7] Wood, who was also the supervising sound editor, was in charge of the auditions and submitted his audition anonymously in the midst of 30 others, under the initials "A.S." for Alan Smithee.[8] Days later he received a phone call asking for the full name to the initials "A.S."[9] An internet hoax said John Rhys-Davies was considered for the role.[10]

Cameo appearances

Lucas makes an appearance at the Coruscant Opera House as a blue-faced being named Baron Papanoida; he can be seen outside Palpatine's box. It marks Lucas' only appearance in any of the 'Star Wars' films. His three children also appear in cameos: his son, Jett, as a young Jedi-in-training named Zett Jukassa who is killed defending the Jedi Temple against clone troopers; his daughter, Amanda, as a character called Terr Taneel, seen in the security hologram; and daughter Katie as a blue-skinned Pantoran named Chi Eekway, visible when Palpatine arrives at the Senate after being saved by the Jedi, and talking to Baron Papanoida at the Opera House. When Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine arrive via shuttle to the Senate docks after crash landing on Coruscant, the Millennium Falcon can be seen landing on one of the lower platforms as the shuttle approaches.[11] While not a direct cameo, it was confirmed in the Revenge of the Sith online text commentary that Tarfull's growl in the scene of Yoda's departure from Kashyyyk is actually Itchy's growl from The Star Wars Holiday Special.[12]

New Zealand actress Keisha Castle-Hughes appeared as Queen Apailana of Naboo. She is seen during the funeral scene.

Much of the crew also make cameos in the film. Nick Gillard, the stunt coordinator, plays a Jedi named Cin Drallig (his name spelled backward, without the k).[13] Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett in the original trilogy), appeared in a speaking role as Captain Colton, the pilot of the Rebel Blockade Runner Tantive IV.[14]

Production

Writing

In 1973, Lucas claimed to have written the Star Wars saga's fundamental story in the form of a basic plot outline. He would later profess that at the time of the saga's conception, he had not fully realized the details—only major plot points throughout the series.[15] He began working on Episode III even before the previous film, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, was released, proposing to concept artists that the film would open with a montage of seven battles on seven planets.[16] Lucas reviewed the storyline that summer and radically re-organized the plot.[17] Michael Kaminski, in The Secret History of Star Wars, surmises that Lucas found flaws with Anakin's fall to the dark side, and made massive story changes. For instance, instead of opening the film with various Clone Wars battles, Lucas decided instead to focus on Anakin, ending the film's first act with his murder of Count Dooku, an action that signals his descent to the dark side.[18]

A significant number of fans speculated online about the film's subtitle; rumored titles included Rise of the Empire, The Creeping Fear (which was also named as the film's title on the official website on April Fool's 2004), and Birth of the Empire.[19] Eventually, Revenge of the Sith also became a "guessed title" that George Lucas would later announce to be true.[20] The title is a reference to Revenge of the Jedi, the original title of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi; Lucas changed the title scant weeks before the premiere of Return of the Jedi, declaring that Jedi do not seek revenge.[21]

Since Lucas refocused the film on Anakin, he had to sacrifice certain extraneous plot points relating to Attack of the Clones. Lucas had previously promised fans that he would explain the mystery behind the erasure of the planet Kamino from the Jedi Archives.[15] However, Lucas abandoned this plot thread in order to devote more time to Anakin's story, creating an unresolved plot hole in the process. As a compromise, Lucas permitted author James Luceno to explain the mystery of Kamino's erasure and the origins of the Clone army in his novel Labyrinth of Evil.

Lucas had originally planned to include even more ties to the original trilogy. Lucas wrote early drafts of the script in which a 10-year-old Han Solo appeared on Kashyyyk, but the role was not cast or shot. He also wrote a scene in which Palpatine reveals to Anakin that he created him from midichlorians, and is thus his "father," a clear parallel to Vader's revelation to Luke in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, but Lucas tossed this scene as well.

After principal photography was complete in 2003, Lucas made even more massive changes in Anakin's character, sharpening Anakin's motivations for turning to the dark side. Lucas accomplished this "rewrite" through editing the principal footage and filming new scenes during pick-ups in 2004.[22] In the previous versions, Anakin had a myriad of reasons for turning to the dark side, one of which was his sincere belief that the Jedi were truly plotting to take over the Republic. However, by revising and refilming many scenes, Lucas emphasized Anakin's desire to save Padmé from death and submerged many of Anakin's other motives. Thus, in the version that made it to theatres, Anakin falls to the dark side primarily to save Padmé.

Art design

After the earliest draft of the screenplay was submitted, the art department began designing the various ways that each element could appear on screen.

For the Kashyyyk environment, the art department turned to The Star Wars Holiday Special for inspiration.[23] Over a period of months, Lucas would approve hundreds of designs that would eventually appear in the film. He would later rewrite entire scenes and action sequences to correspond to certain designs he had chosen.[22] The designs were then shipped to "pre-visualization" to create moving CGI versions known as "animatics". Ben Burtt would edit these scenes with Lucas in order to previsualize what the film would look like before the scenes were even filmed.[22] The pre-visualization footage featured a basic raw CGI environment with equally unprocessed CGI characters performing a scene (typically an action sequence). Steven Spielberg was also allowed to assist both the art and pre-visualization department's designs for several action sequences in Revenge of the Sith.[22] Later, the pre-visualization and art department designs were sent to the production department to begin "bringing the film out of the concept phase"[22] by building the various sets, props and costumes. To determine the required sets, Lucas analyzed each scene with the staff to see which moments the actors would come in most contact with the set, warranting the set to be constructed.

Filming

Although the first scene filmed was the final scene to appear in the film (shot during the filming of Attack of the Clones in 2000),[24] principal photography on the film occurred from June 30, 2003 to September 17, 2003. The film was shot entirely on sound stages at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, although practical environments were shot as background footage later to be composited into the film. These included the limestone mountains depicting Kashyyyk, which were filmed in Phuket, Thailand (they were later damaged by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami). The production company was also fortunate enough to be shooting at the same time that Mount Etna erupted in Italy. Camera crews were sent to the location to shoot several angles of the volcano that were later spliced into the background of the animatics and the final film version of the planet Mustafar.[22]

While shooting key dramatic scenes, Lucas would often use an "A camera" and "B camera," or the "V technique," a process that involves shooting with two or more cameras at the same time in order to gain several angles of the same performance.[22] Using the HD technology developed for the film, the filmmakers were able to send footage to the editors the same day it was shot, a process that would require a full 24 hours had it been shot on film.[22] Footage featuring the planet Mustafar was given to editor Roger Barton, who was on location in Sydney, Australia cutting the climactic duel. All other footage was forwarded to lead editor Ben Burtt at Skywalker Ranch in California.

Actors Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor began rehearsing their climactic lightsaber duel long before Lucas would shoot it. They trained extensively with stunt coordinator Nick Gillard to memorize and perform their duel together. Like the previous two prequel films, McGregor and Christensen performed their own lightsaber fighting scenes without the use of stunt doubles.[25] The speed at which Anakin and Obi-Wan engage in their duel is mostly the speed at which it was filmed, although there are instances where single frames were removed to increase the velocity of particular strikes. An example of this occurs as Obi-Wan strikes down on Anakin after applying an armlock in the first half of the duel.[15]

Revenge of the Sith eventually became the first Star Wars film in which Anakin Skywalker and the suited Darth Vader were played by the same actor in the same film. As Christensen recounted, it was originally intended to simply have a "tall guy" in the Darth Vader costume. But after "begging and pleading" with Lucas, the Vader costume used in the film was created specifically to fit Christensen. The new costume featured shoe lifts and a muscle suit.[26] It also required Christensen (who is 6 feet 1 inch/1.85 metres tall) to look through the mouthpiece of the helmet.[27]

Special effects

The post-production department began work during filming and continued until weeks before the film was released in 2005. Special effects were created using almost all formats, including model work, CGI and practical effects. The same department later composited all such work into the filmed scenes—both processes taking nearly two years to complete. Revenge of the Sith has 2,151 shots that use special effects, a world record.[28]

As the DVD featurette Within a Minute illustrates, the film required 910 artists and 70,441 man-hours to create 49 seconds of footage for the Mustafar duel alone.[22] Members of Hyperspace, the Official Star Wars Fan Club, received a special look into the production. Benefits included not only special articles, but they also received access to a webcam that transmitted a new image every 20 seconds during the time it was operating in Fox Studios Australia. Many times the stars, and Lucas himself, were spotted on the webcam.[29]

Deleted scenes

During the process of shaping the film for its theatrical release, Lucas and his editors dropped many scenes, and even an entire subplot, from the completed film.

Lucas excised all the scenes of a group of Senators (including Padmé) organizing an alliance to prevent the Chancellor from receiving any more emergency powers. They were discarded to achieve more focus on Anakin's story.[15] The scene where Yoda arrives on Dagobah to begin his self-imposed exile was also cut, but is featured in a deleted scene in the DVD release, although McCallum stated he hopes Lucas may add it to the release when and if he releases a six-episode DVD box set.[15]

Many scenes concerning Jedi deaths during the execution of Order 66 were cut. The deaths of Barriss Offee and Luminara Unduli were either cut from the film or not filmed in the first place. The death scene of Shaak Ti aboard the Invisible Hand (which can be viewed in the DVD deleted scenes section) is considered non-canon, as she was later confirmed to be alive and featured in The Force Unleashed multimedia campaign.

Bai Ling filmed minor scenes for the film playing a senator, but her role was cut during editing. She claimed this was because she posed for the June 2005 issue of Playboy, whose appearance on newsstands coincided with the movie's May release. Lucas denied this, stating that the cut had been made more than a year earlier, and that he had cut his own daughter's scenes as well.[30]

Releases

Revenge of the Sith premiered at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival (out of competition) on May 16.[31] Its theatrical release in most other countries took place on May 19 to coincide with the 1999 release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (the 1977 release of Star Wars and the 1983 release of Return of the Jedi were also released on the same day and month, six years apart). The global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas claimed one week before the premiere that it may have cost the US economy approximately US$627 million in lost productivity because of employees who took a day off or reported in sick.[32] Grauman's Chinese Theatre, a traditional venue for the Star Wars films, did not show it. However, a line of people stood there for more than a month hoping to convince someone to change this.[33] Most of them took advantage of an offer to see the film at a nearby cinema, ArcLight Cinemas (formerly the "Cinerama Dome").[34] On May 16, the Empire Cinema in London's Leicester Square hosted a day-long Star Wars marathon showing of all six movies: an army of Imperial stormtroopers "guarded" the area, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra gave a free concert of Star Wars music.[35]

Leaked workprint

A copy of the movie leaked into peer-to-peer file sharing networks just hours after opening in theaters. The movie was a time-stamped workprint, suggesting it may have come from within the industry rather than from someone who videotaped an advance screening.[36] Eight people were later charged with copyright infringement and distributing material illegally. Documents filed by the Los Angeles District Attorney allege that a copy of the film was taken from an unnamed Californian post-production office by an employee, who later pleaded guilty to his charges.[37] The illegal copy was passed among seven people until reaching an eighth party, who also pleaded guilty to uploading to an unnamed P2P network.[38]

Shortly after the above-mentioned print was leaked, it was released in Shanghai as a bootleg DVD with Chinese subtitles. The unknown producer of this DVD, for unexplained reasons, also elected to include English subtitles, which were in fact translated back into English from the Chinese translation, rather than using the original English script. This translation was particularly inept, translating many characters literally and losing the meaning of words, leading to unintentional humor; the title of the movie, for example, was given as Star War — The third gathers — Backstroke of the West. One error in translation that recurs several times in the film is that the phrase "it seems" (好象) was rendered as "good elephant". The mis-translation also caused the word "fuck" (a mis-translation of "work") to appear three times in the subtitles, and rendered Darth Vader's cry of "Noooooooo" (不要) as "Do not want."[39][40] This last translation error would later be popularized as an internet meme.[41]

Rating

Revenge of the Sith is the only Star Wars film to receive a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, officially for "sci-fi violence and some intense images," namely for the scene in which Darth Vader is set aflame by lava and molten rock. Some critics, including Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, later responded that children would be able to handle the film as long as they had parental guidance, hence a "PG rating".[42] At the same time, Lucas had stated months before the MPAA's decision that he felt the film should receive a PG-13 rating, because of Anakin's final moments and the content of the film being the darkest and most intense of all six films.[43] All previously released films in the series were rated PG. The PG-13 rating had not existed when the films in the original trilogy were released; however, the films in the original trilogy were later re-submitted to the MPAA due to changes in the re-released versions and once again received PG ratings. When Revenge of the Sith was released in Canada, it was given a PG rating in most provinces, excluding Quebec, where it was rated G. In the United Kingdom it received a 12A rating. In Australia the film was rated M for mature audiences (similar to PG-13).

Home video

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released on DVD on October 31, 2005 in the United Kingdom, on November 1, 2005 in the United States and Canada and on November 3, 2005 in Australia. It was also released in most major territories on or near the same day.[44] The DVD was a two-disc set, with picture and sound mastered from the original digital source material. Unlike any other films directed by Lucas, Revenge of the Sith was released on DVD without any noticeable alterations from the film's original theatrical cut. The only alteration made was the change of a scene transition near the end, which involved the change from a wipe to a straight cut.

The Story of Star Wars alongside the Revenge of the Sith DVD

The DVD included a number of documentaries including a new full-length documentary as well as two featurettes, one which explores the prophecy of Anakin Skywalker as the Chosen One, the other looking at the movie's stunts and a 15 part collection of web-documentaries from the official Web site. Like the other DVD releases, included is an audio commentary track featuring Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett. Six deleted scenes were included with introductions from Lucas and McCallum. An Xbox game demo for Star Wars: Battlefront II along with a trailer for the Star Wars: Empire at War PC game was featured on the second disc.

Also, a special two-pack exclusive, that was only sold at Wal-Mart stores, included another bonus DVD, The Story of Star Wars.

This release is notable because, due to marketing issues, it was the first Star Wars film never to be released on VHS in the United States.[45] However, the film was released on VHS in Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries in the world.[46]

The DVD was re-released in a prequel trilogy box set on November 4, 2008.[47]

The Star Wars films were released on Blu-ray Disc on September 16 2011 in three different editions.[48]

3D re-release

On September 28, 2010, it was announced that all six films in the series will be stereo converted to 3D. The films will re-release in chronological order beginning with The Phantom Menace in early 2012. Revenge of the Sith is scheduled to re-release in 3D in 2014.[49]

Reception

Critical reception

Critical reaction towards Revenge of the Sith was generally positive. Film review site Rotten Tomatoes calculated an approval rating of 80% based on 250 reviews, making it the highest rated out of the prequel trilogy and the third highest-rated film of the entire Star Wars saga: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Return of the Jedi are rated 61%, 67%, and 79% respectively, while A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back are rated 94% and 97% respectively.[50] Some critics considered it the best of the prequels,[50] while other reviewers judged it to be the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. A. O. Scott of The New York Times concluded that it was "the best of the four episodes Mr. Lucas has directed," and equal to The Empire Strikes Back as "the richest and most challenging movie in the cycle". In a 2007 summary of the 100 Best Science-Fiction Films on Rotten Tomatoes, Revenge of the Sith was placed 51 out of 100, making it the only prequel film in the Star Wars series to earn a ranking.

Much of the criticism for the film was directed towards the dialogue, particularly the film's romantic scenes, and for Hayden Christensen's performance (which won him his second Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor). Critics and fans alike were quick to jump on such lines as "Hold me, Ani. Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo...where there was nothing but our love..."[50] Critics have claimed this demonstrated Lucas' weakness as a writer of dialogue similar to David Koepp, a subject with which Lucas openly agreed when receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.[51]

Though many critics and fans saw it as one of the best of the series, or at least, the strongest of the three prequels, some saw it as more or less on par with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.[50]

Some American conservatives criticized the film, claiming it has a liberal bias and is a commentary on the George W. Bush administration and the Iraq War. Some websites went so far as to propose a boycott of the film. Lucas defended the film, stating that the film's storyline was written during the Vietnam War and was influenced by that conflict rather than the war in Iraq. Lucas did note, however, that "The parallels between Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable".[52]

Box office performance

Revenge of the Sith was released in 115 countries. Worldwide gross for the film eventually reached nearly $850 million—ranking the film second worldwide in 2005, behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.[1] The film earned an estimated $16.5 million from 2,900 midnight screenings in North America upon its release. In total, it earned a record $50 million on its opening day.[53] It was surpassed the following year by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest which earned $55.5 million on its opening day.[54]

With only the May 19 earnings, the film broke four box office records: midnight screenings gross (previously held by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, $8 million), opening day gross (Spider-Man 2, with $40.4 million), single day gross (Shrek 2 with $44.8 million) and Thursday gross (The Matrix Reloaded with $37.5 million).[53] Its single day gross record and opening day gross record were later surpassed by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on July 7, 2006, when that movie grossed $55.5 million on its opening day,[54] and midnight screening gross was broken by The Dark Knight on July 18, 2008 with $18.5 million.[55] It still retains its record for Thursday gross, however. According to box office analysis sites, Revenge of the Sith set American records for highest gross in a given number of days for each of its first 12 days of release except for the seventh and eighth, where the record is narrowly held by Spider-Man 2. On its fifth day it became the highest grossing movie of 2005, surpassing Hitch ($177.6 million). The film earned $158.5 million in its first four-day period, surpassing the previous four-day record held by The Matrix Reloaded ($134.3 million), and joining Spider-Man, The Matrix Reloaded and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as the only movies to make $100 million in three days. In eight days, it reached the $200 million mark (record tied with Spider-Man 2) and by its 17th day, Sith had passed $300 million (surpassing the record of 18 days of Shrek 2). It was eventually the third fastest film (after Shrek 2 and Spider-Man) to reach $350 million.[1]

The film ended its run in American theaters on October 20, 2005,[1] finishing with a total gross of $380,270,577. It ranks 10th in all-time domestic grosses and is the highest-grossing movie of 2005 in the U.S., outgrossing second-place The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by nearly $90 million.[1]

International grosses that exceeded $10 million include Australia ($27.2 million), France and Algeria ($56.9 million), Germany ($47.3 million), Italy ($11.3 million), Japan ($82.7 million), Mexico ($15.3 million), South Korea ($10.3 million), Spain ($23.8 million), and the United Kingdom and Ireland ($72.8 million).[56]

Awards and nominations

Despite being the best reviewed and received film in the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith received fewer award nominations than the previous films. It became the only Star Wars film not to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects; however, it was nominated for Best Makeup (Dave Elsey and Nikki Gooley), losing to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.[57] It also won "Favorite Motion Picture" and "Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture" awards at the People's Choice Awards,[58] "Hollywood Movie of the Year" award at the Hollywood Film Festival,[59] Saturn Awards (Sci-Fi Film),[60] Empire Awards (Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film),[61] and the Teen Choice Awards (Action/Adventure Movie).[62]It also was nominated for best original score in the Grammy Awards.

The film did, however, receive the fewest Golden Raspberry Awards nominations: only one, for Christensen as Worst Supporting Actor,[63] which he won.[64] (The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones received seven nominations each, with one and two wins, respectively.) It is the only Star Wars prequel not to receive a Razzie nomination for "Worst Picture". Christensen did, however, win the "Best Villain" award at the MTV Movie Awards.[65]

Cinematic and literary allusions

Throughout Revenge of the Sith Lucas refers to a wide range of films and other sources drawing on political, military, and mythological motifs to enhance the impact of his story. Perhaps the most media coverage was given to a particular exchange between Anakin and Obi-Wan, which led to the aforementioned controversy: "If you're not with me, then you're my enemy", Anakin declares. Despite Lucas' insistence to the contrary, The Seattle Times concluded, "Without naming [President George W.] Bush or the Patriot Act, it's all unmistakable no matter what your own politics may be."[66]

McDiarmid, Lucas, and others have also called Anakin's journey to the dark side Faustian in the sense of making a "pact with the devil" for short-term gain. Midway in the film, Lucas intercuts between Anakin and Padmé by themselves, thinking about one another in the Jedi Temple and their apartment, respectively, during sunset. The sequence is without dialog and complemented by a moody, synthesized soundtrack. Lucas' coverage of the exterior cityscapes, skylines and interior isolation in the so-called "Ruminations" sequence is similar to the cinematography and mise-en-scene of Rosemary's Baby, a film in which a husband makes a literal pact with the devil.[67]

Soundtrack

The soundtrack to the film was released by Sony Classical on May 3, 2005, more than two weeks before the release of the film. The music was composed and conducted by John Williams (who composed and conducted the score for the other five films in the Star Wars saga), and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices.[68] A music video titled A Hero Falls was created for the film's theme, "Battle of the Heroes", featuring footage from the film and was also available on the DVD.[69]

The soundtrack also came with a collectors' DVD, Star Wars: A Musical Journey, at no additional cost. The DVD, hosted by McDiarmid, features 16 music videos set to remastered selections of music from all six film scores, set chronologically through the saga.[70] This album was chosen as one of Amazon.com's Top 100 Editors' Picks of 2005 (#83).[71]

Novelization

The novelization of the film was written by Matthew Stover. It includes much more dialogue than the film, including a conversation between Count Dooku and Darth Sidious, where the reader learns Palpatine lied to Dooku about what the Empire would truly be; and a conversation between Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi where Kenobi expresses self-doubt about whether he is the right Jedi to battle General Grievous, only to be told by Windu that while many consider him (Windu) to be a master-swordsman due to his creation of the Vaapad fighting style, he considers Kenobi the superior swordsman in that he took an existing style (Soresu) and mastered it to the highest degree. The novel includes many minor details. For example, during the Battle of Coruscant, Anakin's callsign is Red 5, a reference to Luke's callsign in the climactic battle of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and one of the Republic capital ships is commanded by Lieutenant Commander Lorth Needa, who becomes Captain Needa in The Empire Strikes Back. There are also references to the Star Wars: Republic comic book series, such as the Battle of Jabiim (Volume 3). In addition to this, the siege of the Jedi Temple is much more violent and far more graphically explained than the cinematic version.[72]

Some unseen or unheard-of elements to the Revenge of the Sith story were fleshed out in the course of the novel. Such examples include more discussions between Anakin and Palpatine, in which Palpatine explicitly says that Darth Plagueis was his master; in the film, it is merely hinted at. Not only is Saesee Tiin revealed to be a telepath, but his horn, lost in the Clone Wars, is revealed to have grown back. These are a few examples of many descriptions of characters' feelings and inner narrative. There are even some humorous lines added in, including extra dialogue in the battle between Grievous and Obi Wan — Grievous says that he was trained by Count Dooku, and Obi-Wan replies, "What a coincidence; I trained the man who killed him".[72]

Video game

A video game, based on the film, was released on May 5, 2005, two weeks before the film. The game followed the movie's storyline, for the most part, integrating scenes from the movie. However, many sections of the game featured cut scenes from the movie, or entirely new scenes for the game.[73] The style of the game was mostly lightsaber combat and fighting as Obi-Wan or Anakin.[19] It also has a form of multiplayer mode, which includes both "VS" and "Cooperative" mode.[19] In the first mode, two players fight with characters of their choice against each other in a lightsaber duel to the death. In the latter mode, two players team up to combat increasingly difficult waves of enemies.[19]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=starwars3.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  2. ^ http://www.classification.gov.au/www/cob/find.nsf/d853f429dd038ae1ca25759b0003557c/dd77d94e3bfb345fca25776d005d6db4?OpenDocument
  3. ^ Newsday: "Fast Chat: James Earl Jones", March 16, 2008
  4. ^ Quoted on Jedi Council Forums, November 14, 2005
  5. ^ "Gary Oldman in talks for Star Wars: Episode III". MovieWeb. http://www.movieweb.com/news/74/4274.php. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  6. ^ "Oldman Out of Sith". IGN. 2004-09-04. http://movies.ign.com/articles/544/544480p1.html. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  7. ^ Wood, Matthew (2005-04-19). "Voicing Grievous". Indianapolis, Indiana: Celebration III. 
  8. ^ "General Rumblings: Matthew Wood on Grievous and Sound". StarWars.com. 2005-04-19. Archived from the original on 2007-05-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070527090348/www.starwars.com/community/event/celebration/f20050419/indexp20.html. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  9. ^ Walters, Mark. "The voice of GENERAL GRIEVOUS". Big Fanboy. http://www.bigfanboy.com/pages/interviews/mattwood/mw.html. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
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References

  • Kaminski, Michael (2008). The Secret History of Star Wars. Kingston, Ontario: Legacy Books Press. ISBN 978-0-9784652-3-0. 
  • Rinzler, Jonathan W (2005). The Making of Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith. New York City: Del Ray. ISBN 0345431391. 

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