Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- "Star Wars III" redirects here. For the third film in theatrical order, see Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. For the video game, see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (video game).
|Star Wars Episode III:
Revenge of the Sith
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||George Lucas|
|Produced by||Rick McCallum|
|Written by||George Lucas|
Samuel L. Jackson
|Music by||John Williams|
|Editing by||Roger Barton
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox1|
|Running time||140 minutes|
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 film released in the Star Wars saga and the third in terms of the series' 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, unknown to the public, a Sith Lord. Their deepening friendship proves dangerous for the Jedi Order, the Republic, and Anakin himself who inevitably succumbs to the dark side of the Force and becomes Darth Vader, changing the fate of the galaxy forever.
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. Revenge of the Sith premiered on May 15, 2005 at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France and had its general release on May 19, 2005. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, especially in contrast to the previous two prequels.
Revenge of the Sith 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 U.S., and the second highest-grossing film of 2005 worldwide behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.1 As of 2013, it is the 34th highest-grossing film. In 2012, following the acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, the Star Wars sequel trilogy was announced, with Star Wars Episode VII being planned for release in 2015.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Releases
- 5 Reception
- 6 Cinematic and literary allusions
- 7 Soundtrack
- 8 Novelization
- 9 Video game
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi initiate a plan to rescue the abducted Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Infiltrating the flagship of Separatist commander General Grievous, the Jedi are confronted by Count Dooku, who engages them in a lightsaber duel. After Dooku knocks Obi-Wan unconscious, Anakin fights and kills Dooku at Palpatine's urging. Following a skirmish with Grievous, who then flees, the Jedi crash-land the ship on Coruscant. There, Anakin reunites with his wife, Padmé Amidala, who reveals she is pregnant. Initially excited, Anakin begins to have premonitions of Padmé dying in childbirth.
Palpatine places Anakin on the Jedi Council as his representative, but Anakin is denied the rank of Jedi Master and ordered to secretly monitor the Chancellor. Frustrated at being excluded from the Council, Anakin begins to lose faith in the Jedi and becomes more attached to Palpatine, who tells him that the dark side of the Force holds the power to prevent death. On the planet Utapau, the last major haven for the Separatists, Obi-Wan leads a clone army and engages and kills Grievous. When Palpatine reveals himself as the Sith lord Darth Sidious, Anakin reports his treachery to Jedi Master Mace Windu. In the ensuing lightsaber duel, Windu subdues Palpatine by deflecting his opponent's Force Lightning back at him. Anakin intervenes on Palpatine's behalf, allowing Palpatine to kill Windu. Desperate to save Padmé, Anakin becomes Palpatine's apprentice and is rechristened Darth Vader.
Palpatine orders the Clone Troopers to kill their Jedi masters, and sends Vader and a legion of clone troopers to kill everyone in the Jedi Temple. Vader then travels to Mustafar to assassinate the Separatist leaders hiding there. Palpatine addresses the Senate and reforms the Republic into the Galactic Empire, declaring himself Emperor.
Discovering Anakin's treachery, Obi-Wan and Jedi Master Yoda split up to confront Vader and Sidious. Oblivious to Obi-Wan's reasoning that Anakin has turned to the dark side, Padmé travels to Mustafar. When Padmé discovers what Vader has done, she tries to take him back, but Vader accuses her of betraying him and uses the Force to choke her into unconsciousness. Obi-Wan, having stowed away on Padmé's ship, engages Vader in a fierce duel that ends with Obi-Wan severing Vader's legs and left arm. Vader falls down to the volcanic river's edge and is immolated. Taking his former apprentice's lightsaber, Obi-Wan goes to help Padmé. Meanwhile, Yoda confronts Palpatine, but is forced to retreat when their duel reaches a stalemate.
On Polis Massa, Padmé gives birth to twins Luke and Leia. With her dying breaths, Padmé tells Obi-Wan that there is still good in Vader. Meanwhile, Palpatine finds Vader barely alive on Mustafar and brings him back to Coruscant, rebuilding his apprentice's ruined body with cybernetic limbs and a respirator. Tormented by the discovery of Padmé's death at his own hands, Vader screams, the last vestige of humanity driven from him. As Vader supervises the Death Star's construction, a funeral is held for Padmé, her body dressed to continue the illusion of pregnancy. Knowing that the twins must remain hidden from the Empire, Senator Bail Organa adopts Leia and takes her to Alderaan, while Luke is to be taken to his stepfamily on Tatooine. Organa allows the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 to remain aboard the Tantive IV and has C-3PO's memory erased. Yoda teaches Obi-Wan how to commune with the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn before going into exile on Dagobah. Obi-Wan takes the infant Luke to Tatooine and gives Luke to his uncle and aunt, where Obi-Wan intends to watch over Luke until the time is right to challenge the Empire.
- 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 his mother's death, 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 Sith 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".2 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".3
- Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala: Padmé is Anakin's secret wife, who 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 Chancellor Palpatine / Darth Sidious: 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 Jedi Council's wise old leader. 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 former 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 distrusts 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;4 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.5 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, but was not chosen.6 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.7 Days later he received a phone call asking for the full name to the initials "A.S."8 An internet hoax said John Rhys-Davies was considered for the role.9
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 (she also has a brief speaking role in one of the deleted scenes where Padmé is meeting in secret with other senators). 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.10
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).11 Jeremy Bulloch (who played Boba Fett in the original trilogy), appeared in a speaking role as Captain Colton, the pilot of the Rebel Blockade Runner Tantive IV.12
Lucas has stated that he conceived the Star Wars saga's fundamental story in the form of a basic plot outline in 1973. He later made it clear, however, that at the time of the saga's conception, he had not fully realized the details—only major plot points throughout the series, and these would evolve over time.13 He began working on Episode III even before the previous film, Attack of the Clones, was released, proposing to concept artists that the film would open with a montage of seven battles on seven planets.14 Lucas reviewed the storyline that summer and radically re-organized the plot.15 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 killing of Count Dooku, an action that signals his descent to the dark side.16
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.17 Eventually, Revenge of the Sith also became a "guessed title" that George Lucas would later announce to be true.18 The title is a reference to Revenge of the Jedi, the original title of 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.19
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.13 However, Lucas abandoned this plot thread in order to devote more time to Anakin's story, leaving the matter unresolved on film. 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 expanded universe novel Labyrinth of Evil.
Lucas had originally planned to include even more ties to the original trilogy, and 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 The Empire Strikes Back, but Lucas ejected this scene as well.
After principal photography was complete in 2003, Lucas made even more 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 2004.20 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 plotting to take over the Republic. Although this is still intact in the finished film, by revising and refilming many scenes, Lucas emphasized Anakin's desire to save Padmé from death. Thus, in the version that made it to theatres, Anakin falls to the dark side primarily to save Padmé.
After the screenplay's earliest draft 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.21 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.20 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.20 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.20 Later, the pre-visualization and art department designs were sent to the production department to begin "bringing the film out of the concept phase"20 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.
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),22 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.20
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.20 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.20 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. As in the previous two prequel films, McGregor and Christensen performed their own lightsaber fighting scenes without the use of stunt doubles.23 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 duel's first half.13
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.24 It also required Christensen (who is 6 feet 1 inch or 1.85 metres tall) to look through the helmet's mouthpiece.25
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.26
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.20 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.27
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, Bail Organa, and Mon Mothma) organizing an alliance to prevent the Chancellor from receiving any more emergency powers. Though this is essentially the Rebel Alliance's birth, the scenes were discarded to achieve more focus on Anakin's story.13 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.13
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 and its 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 film'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.28
Revenge of the Sith premiered at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival (out of competition) on May 16.29 Its theatrical release in most other countries took place on May 19 to coincide with the 1999 release of The Phantom Menace (the 1977 release of A New Hope 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 U.S. economy approximately US$627 million in lost productivity because of employees who took a day off or reported in sick.30 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.31 Most of them took advantage of an offer to see the film at a nearby cinema, ArcLight Cinemas (formerly the "Cinerama Dome").32 On May 16, the Empire Cinema in London's Leicester Square hosted a day-long Star Wars marathon showing of all six films; an army of Imperial stormtroopers "guarded" the area, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra gave a free concert of Star Wars music.33
A copy of the film leaked onto peer-to-peer file sharing networks just hours after opening in theaters. The film was a time-stamped workprint, suggesting it may have come from within the industry rather than from someone who videotaped an advance screening.34 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.35 The illegal copy was passed among seven people until reaching an eighth party, who also pleaded guilty to uploading to an unnamed P2P network.36
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 chose 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 film, for example, was given as Star War — The third gathers — The 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". Jedi Council becomes Presbyterian Church. The mis-translation also caused the word "fuck" (a mis-translation of "work") to appear four times in the subtitles, and rendered Darth Vader's cry of "Noooooooo" (不要) as "Do not want."3738 This last translation error would later be popularized as an internet meme.39
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".40 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 film's content being the darkest and most intense of all six films.41 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 original trilogy's films 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).
The film 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.42 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 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 film's stunts and a 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.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. were included with introductions from Lucas and McCallum. An
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.43 However, the film was released on VHS in Australia, the U.K. and other countries in the world.44
The DVD was re-released in a prequel trilogy box set on November 4, 2008.45
On September 28, 2010, it was announced that all six films in the series were to be stereo-converted to 3D. The films would be re-released in chronological order beginning with The Phantom Menace on February 10, 2012. Revenge of the Sith was originally scheduled to be re-released in 3D on October 11, 201347 (later pushed up to October 4, 2013).48 However, on January 28, 2013, Lucasfilm announced that it was postponing the 3D release of episodes II and III in order to "focus 100 percent of our efforts on Star Wars: Episode VII" and that further information about 3D release plans would be issued at a later date.495051
Critical reaction towards the film was generally positive. Film review site Rotten Tomatoes calculated an approval rating of 80% based on 253 reviews, making it the prequel trilogy's highest-rated film 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 57%, 67%, and 80% respectively, while A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back are rated 94% and 97% respectively. Some critics considered it the best of the prequels,52 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".52 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. Jonathan Rosenbaum, a critic who disliked A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, gave the film a positive review saying that it had a "relatively thoughtful story." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3½ stars out of four, writing "If [Lucas] got bogged down in solemnity and theory in "Episode II: Attack of the Clones", the Force is in a jollier mood this time, and "Revenge of the Sith" is a great entertainment."53 Camille Paglia praised the film, comparing some of its scenes to works by modern painters.54
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.52
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..."52 Critics have claimed this demonstrated Lucas' weakness as a writer of dialogue, a subject with which Lucas openly agreed when receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.55
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".56
In November 2012, art critic Camille Paglia wrote in her book Glittering Images that analyzed 29 works throughout art history that the film was the greatest work of art in recent memory. Paglia explained, "The long finale of Revenge of the Sith has more inherent artistic value, emotional power, and global impact than anything by the artists you name. It's because the art world has flat-lined and become an echo chamber of received opinion and toxic over-praise. It's like the emperor's new clothes -- people are too intimidated to admit what they secretly think or what they might think with their blinders off. Episode III epitomizes the modern digital art movement, more so than other piece from the last 30 years. I had considered using Japanese anime for the digital art chapter of the book, but it lacked the overwhelming operatic power and yes, seriousness of Lucas's Revenge of the Sith."57
The film was released in 115 countries. Its worldwide gross eventually reached nearly $850 million—making it the top film of 2005.58 The film earned an estimated $16.91 million from 2,900 midnight screenings in North America upon its release. In total, it earned a record $50 million on its opening day.59 It was surpassed the following year by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which earned $55.5 million on its opening day.60
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).59 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,60 and midnight screening gross was broken by The Dark Knight on July 18, 2008 with $18.5 million.61 It still retains its record for Thursday gross, however. According to box office analysis sites, the film 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 film 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 films 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, the film 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 20th in all-time domestic grosses and is the highest-grossing film 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).62
Despite being the prequel trilogy's best reviewed and received film, 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.63 It also won "Favorite Motion Picture" and "Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture" awards at the People's Choice Awards,64 "Hollywood Movie of the Year" award at the Hollywood Film Festival,65 Empire Awards (Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film),66 and the Teen Choice Awards (Action/Adventure Movie).67 It also was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack Album at the 48th Grammy Awards in 2006.
As every film of the original trilogy, the film won the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film.68 Williams also won Best Music. The film was nominated for ten Saturn Awards overall, including Best Director and Best Writing for Lucas, Best Actor for Christensen, Best Actress for Natalie Portman and Best Supporting Actor for Ian McDiarmid.
The film did, however, receive the fewest Golden Raspberry Awards nominations: only one, for Christensen as Worst Supporting Actor,69 which he won.70 (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 further won the "Best Villain" award at the MTV Movie Awards.71
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 his story's impact. 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."72
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 through 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-scène of Rosemary's Baby, a film in which a husband makes a literal pact with the devil.73
The film's soundtrack was released by Sony Classical on May 3, 2005, more than two weeks before the film's release. 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.74 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.75
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.76 This album was chosen as one of Amazon.com's Top 100 Editors' Picks of 2005 (#83).77
The film's novelization 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, 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 because he took an existing style (Soresu) and mastered it to the highest degree, and a conversation between Anakin and Palpatine in which Palpatine promises to give Anakin anything he wants - whether it be a new speeder or the star system Corellia. 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 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.78
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. Additionally, it is revealed that the primary reason for Anakin's outrage over not becoming a Jedi Master is that only Masters have access to the holocrons in the Temple Archives, which is where Anakin had hoped to find information about how to prevent Padme's death. Not only is Saesee Tiin revealed to be a telepath, but his horn, lost in the Clone Wars, is revealed to have grown back. The book explains that Palpatine purposely manipulated the Council into sending Obi-Wan to fight General Grievous, because he knew he needed to get Obi-Wan off Coruscant before he could turn Anakin to the Dark Side - this later proved necessary when Anakin's reaction to learning that Palpatine is the Sith Lord is to think "If only Obi-Wan were here - Obi-Wan would know what to say. What to do. Obi-Wan could handle this. Right now, [Anakin] knew he [couldn't]." The novel also reveals Mace WIndu's rationale for not bringing Anakin along to the fight with Palpatine - he could sense Anakin's fear and distress, and did not believe he was in any mental state to be fighting a Sith Lord. 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, "I was trained by Count Dooku," and Obi-Wan replies, "What a coincidence; I trained the man who killed him".78
A video game based on the film was released on May 5, 2005, two weeks before the film. The game followed the film's storyline for the most part, integrating scenes from the film. However, many sections of the game featured cut scenes from the film, or entirely new scenes for the game.79 The style of the game was mostly lightsaber combat and fighting as Obi-Wan or Anakin.17 It also has a form of multiplayer mode, which includes both "VS" and "Cooperative" mode.17 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.17
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