I just got back from running a few errands,* and on this rare, sure-to-be-short-lived, 40-degree day when the piles of snow are experiencing a rapid melting – causing a good amount of wetness to be sprayed across my windshield – I couldn’t help but think about the topic that is foremost in my mind – Anakin Skywalker. Why would Anakin be swimming around in my brain, you ask? I had just finished listening to Coffee With Kenobi’s fascinating chat with Becca B. (podcast #10), that’s why! I am not going to rehash everything about which they discussed. I encourage you to give it a listen (http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/2624491 or you can listen to it, as I do, over at ITunes) so you can be privy to what the most recent podcast was all about. To further the discussion, Dan and Cory have given me the green light to weigh in on the heavy subject of Anakin, his fall to the Dark Side, what led to it, and was it credible. (I try to stay clear of podcast topics. Variety is the spice of life.)
As I continued along my merry way this morning, I’d clear the grime off my windshield. Voilá, I could see clearly! Of course, conditions being what they were, it wasn’t long before the dirty spray began to cloud my ability to see everything around me. After a few miles, I flicked the switch again to clean the windshield. What a wonderful feeling to be able to see clearly once again!
All this time, I was thinking about Anakin, and it occurred to me that his passion – skewed as it was – led him down that dark and dangerous path. If only he had a cleaning solution and a pair of wipers to cleanse his soul of that blinding passion that drove him. And led him to the Dark Side.
Every time I watch – especially – Revenge of the Sith, I want to take Anakin aside, and make him – yes, make him – open his eyes to everything that is happening around him. “Anakin, follow the ways of the Jedi! Do not go down that path Chancellor Palpatine wants to lead you! Don’t you realize you are being manipulated? Listen to Obi-wan! Listen to Padmé! You know what is right. You are a Jedi!” I long to drive home to him. If only I could reach through that silver screen, grab hold of Anakin by the scruff of his neck and pull him to where I am, and say all this to him – and then send him back to that galaxy far, far away – there might be a good chance he’d make some different choices. Oh, not that I have all the answers. This is just what goes through my mind when I view ROTS.
The thing is here was a young man with so much potential, with so much promise. What happens? All that potential, all that promise go to waste … go down the reactor shaft.
Throughout most of his young life, Anakin really was driven to help others. While impetuous, impatient, sometimes rash, he really had an altruistic heart. We see this most concretely in “The Clone Wars” animated series. Remember the adage actions speak louder than words? We watch Anakin helping others and guiding Ahsoka (in much the same way Obi-wan guided his padawan, I’d like to point out). He is maturing into the Jedi he always saw himself becoming.
But even before his all-consuming love for Padmé gets the better of him, Anakin strays from his intended path. He masacres a Tusken village, and he allows himself to be goaded into killing Count Dooku. Anakin knows he should not take such a drastic step as slaying his foe. He even goes as far as to aver, “It’s not the Jedi way” when a bound Chancellor Palpatine bids Anakin, “Kill him.” In this scene, we actually witness the demons (Sith-like leanings) battling the goodness (Jedi-like forces) within Anakin’s psyche. This is a switch from the scene on Tatooine when he slaughtered the Tuskens. In that instance, he acted out of pure revenge, and only afterward did he show regret for his actions. But on General Grievous’ ship, Anakin clearly knows he shouldn’t kill Count Dooku. He listens to the devil on his shoulder, giving into his baser desires.
As ROTS progresses, Anakin’s selfishness emerges. It’s what ultimately leads him to make the poor decisions he makes. He is selfish, plain and simple. Above all, Anakin wants what he wants – to save Padmé, deciding that her life is more important than anyone else’s. I can understand Anakin’s deep love for his wife. I can understand his desire to save the love of his life. However, if he knew Padmé as well as I think he did, he knew Padmé never would want Anakin to make such a choice. She was selfless. She understood what it meant to look out for the greater good. (And let’s face it, not even Yoda could determine exactly what Anakin’s dreams [about Padmé] meant. Always in motion the future is.)
The bottom line is Anakin made the choices he made, and he had to live with them. He was responsible for his actions. Yes, we can say that Chancellor Palpatine manipulated him by taking advantage of Anakin’s weaknesses and needs. We can say being taken away from his loving mother at such a tender age – and losing her the way he did – left a deep hole in his heart. We can say loving Padmé – and having to keep it a secret – put a strain on his relationship with the Jedi. As much as Anakin may have professed his desire to be a Jedi, his actions ran contrary to what he professed. Actions speak louder than words. I know I am not alone in this line of thinking.
“Anakin can blame no one but himself,” Kevin Hearne, author of an upcoming installment in the Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion series, says in a recent Star Wars Insider article. “We may not get to choose the circumstances of our lives, but we are always free to choose how to react. … Anakin reacts to his personal tragedies with unholy killing sprees.”
Authors Aaron Allston and John Jackson Miller concur. “…Anakin was ultimately responsible, because at every stage of his process of corruption, he could have chosen to say ‘enough’ – to suffer loss or even to die rather than to perpetuate the tragedy he was living,” Allston explains. Adds Miller: “…Anakin is ultimately the one who acted. He could have turned back.”
“… Anakin made his own decisions, and what is man who can’t be measured by his own actions?” artist Douglas Wheatley states in the same article.
Issue 145 of the Insider included the outstanding eight-page spread delving into Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side, who was responsible, and whether Anakin was more of a hero or villain. If you’d like, check out the magazine at http://titanmagazines.com/t/star-wars-insider/
If Anakin had a set of windshield wipers to swipe away the fog that – mostly – Sith Lord-in-Chancellor’s-Clothing Palpatine was creating, would Anakin make different choices? If I could reach into the movie screen to grab the young Jedi to talk to him, would he heed my warnings? I’m not altogether sure he would. Like I said earlier, Anakin was selfish. He was driven to appease his own desires. He never asked Padmé if she wanted him to save her at all costs. (And don’t forget – there was no definitive reason to believe she would die. Anakin’s dreams never showed her in an expired state.)
Anakin most definitely was a tragic character. To my reckoning, he was no hero. The way he was portrayed, I think his fall to the Dark Side was credible. Did he bring balance to the Force? I know most fans think he did. However, I have a different slant … that will wait until my next post. I’ve already bent your ears long enough. Until then, MTFBWY.
(*I wrote this on Monday. Hoth-like conditions have returned to this winter wonderland we call Wisconsin. I knew the warm up couldn’t last.)Powered by Sidelines