Inordinate attention is drawn to the more juvenile and whimsical flourishes to the Prequels, which often leads to disparaging Lucas as a sellout, who sacrificed his artistic vision at the altar of mass appeal. And yet, when taking even a cursory look at the underpinnings to the PT?-and even the critiques of such?-one can't help but marvel at just how dark this story is. Think for a moment what was required of the PT: the ascendancy of Palpatine and the downfall of Anakin. Grim subject matter, to be sure, but in what manner did Lucas opt to fill in the blanks? Did we see much of the sacrosanct Republic? No. The corruption was already deep-rooted at first exposure. Did we see the hallowed exploits of the Jedi Knights? Hardly. The principal hero of TPM was revealed to be a maverick, set aside from a cadre of obtuse monks in an ivory tower, who would sell their souls to be Palpatine's ?useful idiots? and consequently pay the price for their lack of vision. Did we see heroism? Not really. Each and every protagonist possessed a fundamental character flaw that enabled Palpatine and helped destroy Anakin. Did we see a romanticized Clone War? Not in any sense. From its very inception, the conflict was presented as a mordant joke. Engineered by a villain playing both sides. A crumbling government. A spiritually bankrupt religious order. Lovers harboring murderous secrets. A false flag operation. Toy soldiers. Lucas didn't have to go this far-?not for something like Star Wars. And yet he did. Look beyond the Gungan antics and CGI gloss, and you're left with a decidedly darker fantasy than anything offered up by the competing franchises. (Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? Heck, most of those characters have their acts together, save for a little moping.) How did you respond to this vision? Was this the right sensibility for the series? What might the PT tell us about Lucas as an artist, philosopher, and citizen?