STAR WARS Episode VI : Return of the Jedi -- Death of Vader

I don't wanna get way into talking about the Prequel Trilogy -- if for no better reason than I'm as tired of hearing people bitch about it as you are, let alone write about it myself. But, when discussing this particular scene in this particular movie, it's necessary. It's necessary because, yes, in their heartbreaking inadequacy, they gave even more weight to the already heavy climax of Return of the Jedi - if only a teensy bit.
The death of a villain is a delicate thing, & should be as loud and theatrical as the characters they are; not audibly loud, but echo in the metaphorical sense. It's hard to think of the Wicked Witch or Hans Gruber without getting an image in your mind of their demise. Darth Vader is no exception, & rightly so, arguably being the greatest cinematic villain of all time (certainly top 5 for me). & on the long list of bad-guys-dying, I'd be comfortable placing his at the top of the list.
When I was little, I thought the coolest part of it was that we got to see the different parts of his helmet - or even that his helmet came in parts. Now that I'm older, well, that still is a pretty cool thing. But I'm now better able to appreciate the scene on several other levels. The first being that it's refreshing to see something other than a firey helicopter land on his head, or see him get sucked into some kinda super computer, or any other boring, faux-brutal manner. In fact, other than the out-and-out simplicity of it, there's also an ambiguity in its softness -- was it the force lighting that killed him, or the removal of his mask, or the exhaustion in the finality of bringing balance to the force like he was 'chosen' to do. & in this case, the showiness & theatricality of the villain's death is that very subtlety: he goes out with words. & even more so, it's not any kinda big, eye-rolling soliloquy -- it's written, performed, & directed with scrupulousness; the way a villain's death should be.
After the mechanics of the costume & the overall somber tone, the other great detail is the ultimate reveal -- much greater, to me, than what put him in the suit, or overthrowing the Emperor, or even the "I am your father" thing. Because, after 6 movies, it's the only surprise left: what's become of him under that mask. In addition to acquiring a vaguely European accent in A New Hope & losing a considerable amount of lightsaber skill, the one major difference we have to wait to see is what an aged, burnt Anakin looks like - & it pays off in full.

- Paul


Jacob Spickelmire said...
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Taylor said...

This used to be my favorite scene when I was like five. Then I saw the Hoth battle.

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