Saga Was Vader ever truly redeemable?

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by ObiAlKenobi, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. ObiAlKenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2012
    star 2
    Alright, bear with me on this one. But, was Vader ever truly redeemable?

    Think about our society.

    Was someone like Hitler or Stalin redeemable? I say no. Or how about a serial killer like Gacy or Bundy? Or Charles Manson? Even a dirtbag like Chapman only killed one person (John Lennon) and I still cannot see this guy ever being forgiven by society or redeemed.

    Vader was the ultimate henchman of the Empire. He took part in the destruction of a planet inhabited by millions (or more). He tortured, killed so many people. He almost killed his own son (or was the catalyst for events that would have led to his possible death). After watching ROTS, it got worse. He murdered countless Jedi, including children.

    Now, I realize the galaxy would never buy into the redemption after all this, but some things always bugged me about this.

    I remember seeing an interview with Lucas saying how Vader "became the hero." I do not agree with this. Yes, he saved his son (after a long while of thinking) but he also had his own motivations. He saw the Emperor was egging Luke on to kill him and take his place. He knew his time with the Emperor was up (and was probably seething for years about the Emperor lying to him and tricking him). And lying there dying, he tried to make amends with his son. This just does not make him a "hero" to me and does not redeem him (and all of his heinous acts).

    I know, I know....this is just a movie but I really like to look beyond the action and effects and really get into the characters.
  2. sharkymcshark Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 12, 2013
    star 2
    Redeemed isn't the right word - it suggests you've made up for what you've done or cleaned your slate. Which he hadn't, and which he couldn't.

    But then the whole 'oh yeah redeemed because he saved his son from being horrifically tortured to death by his boss who had just spent a while telling him to kill you and take your job' thing has never really held any water for me.

    Neither has the 'he restored balance to the force thing' ever taken me - suggesting he was redeemed for offing Palps and restoring balance to the force is the same as saying that setting someone's house on fire and then dousing the burnt out husk it after it has burned has redeemed you. No it hasn't. You can't unburn the house down.
    Last edited by sharkymcshark, Jan 22, 2014
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  3. Iron_lord Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    The young adult novelization has an interesting depiction of the scene:

    "Now, young Skywalker..." the Emperor snarled, "you will die."
    Luke had not imagined pain beyond what he had already suffered, but then he was hit by a wave of power that was even more staggering. His harsh screams echoed across the throne room.
    Beside the Emperor, Darth Vader continued to stand and watch. He looked to the Emperor again, then back to Luke.
    And then, in a moment, something changed. Perhaps he remembered something heard in his youth a long time ago: an ancient prophesy of the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. Perhaps the vague outlines of someone named Shmi and a Jedi named Qui-Gon struggled to the surface of his consciousness. The most powerful, the most repressed thought of all could have emerged from the darkness: Padmé … and her undying love for someone he once knew well. And despite all the terrible, unspeakable things he'd done in his life, he suddenly realized he could not stand by and allow the Emperor to kill their son. And in that moment, he was no longer Darth Vader.
    He was Anakin Skywalker.
    He grabbed the Emperor from behind. The impossibly wretched Sith Lord gaped and squirmed in his embrace, continuing to release blue lightning, but the bolts veered away from Luke and arced back to strike the Sith Lords.
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  4. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    "It really has to do with learning," Lucas says, "Children teach you compassion. They teach you to love unconditionally. Anakin can't be redeemed for all the pain and suffering he's caused. He doesn't right the wrongs, but he stops the horror. The end of the Saga is simply Anakin saying, I care about this person, regardless of what it means to me. I will throw away everything that I have, everything that I've grown to love- primarily the Emperor- and throw away my life, to save this person. And I'm doing it because he has faith in me; he loves me despite all the horrible things I've done. I broke his mother's heart, but he still cares about me, and I can't let that die. Anakin is very different in the end. The thing of it is: The prophecy was right. Anakin was the chosen one, and he does bring balance to the Force. He takes the one ounce of good still left in him and destroys the Emperor out of compassion for his son."

    --George Lucas, The Making Of Revenge Of The Sith; page 221

    "In the Making of Book Lucas says that he is not redeemed. He can't be for the acts he commits, but he is able to take the last ounce of good left in him to stop the horror. He sees the compassion his son has for him in spite of what he's done, how he broke his mother's heart, etc. and realizes that he cannot let his son die. He sees the light so to speak. I guess that by letting go, the good man that was Anakin Skywalker becomes one with the Force."

    --George Lucas, The Making Of Revenge Of The Sith.

    "You learn that Darth Vader isn’t this monster. He’s a pathetic individual who made a pact with the Devil and lost. And he’s trapped. He’s a sad, pathetic character, not a big evil monster. I mean, he’s a monster in that he’s turned to the Dark Side and he’s serving a bad master and he’s into power and he’s lost a lot of his humanity. In that way, he’s a monster, but beneath that, as Luke says in Return of the Jedi, early on, “I know there’s still good in you, I can sense it.” Only through the love of his children and the compassion of his children, who believe in him, even though he’s a monster, does he redeem himself."

    --George Lucas, quoted in J. Windolf, “Star Wars: The Last Battle,” Vanity Fair, 2005

    "And obviously there are two sides to the redeemer motif in the Star Wars films. Ultimately Vader is redeemed by his children and especially by having children. Because that's what life is all about—procreating and raising children, and it should bring out the best of you."

    --George Lucas

    So yes, he is redeemable. He does what he does for a noble and selfless reason, which is the opposite of what he did that condemned himself in the first place.
    Last edited by darth-sinister, Jan 22, 2014
  5. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    You seem to be conflating redeemable with forgivable. The former is up to the individual, the latter is up to every single being that the individual wronged.
  6. Iron_lord Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    That's pretty much how it's portrayed in The Rise & Fall of Darth Vader- in which we actually see what Vader's thinking. Probably because the author read that interview and kept it in mind.

    Vader watched Luke curl into a fetal position as the Emperor hurled an even more staggering wave of lightning at his victim. Vader had no doubt that Luke was about to die. His son screamed.
    Not just my son …
    The Emperor unleashed another round of lightning.
    … or Padmé's son …
    Luke screamed louder.
    … but my son … who loves me.
    Luke's clothes began to smoulder as his body involuntarily spasmed. Suddenly, Vader realised he was no longer concerned about his own personal future. Despite all the terrible, unspeakable things he'd done in his life, he knew he could not stand by and allow the Emperor to kill Luke. And in that moment of awareness, he was Darth Vader no more.
    He was Anakin Skywalker.
    It took all of his remaining strength to seize the Emperor from behind. The wretched Emperor continued to release lightning bolts, but they veered away from Luke and arced back to crash down upon him and his insurgent apprentice.
    Last edited by Iron_lord, Jan 22, 2014
  7. MOC Yak Face Old Films' Curator

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    Jan 6, 2004
    star 4
    If it's redemption in the Christian sense then, yes, Vader, along with Hitler and Stalin, were redeemable. It's about what's genuinely in your heart. If it's a ledger squaring type of redemption, probably not.
  8. Cushing's Admirer Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    Yes. I sincerely believe all have the chance at redemption and it's not my place to infringe upon that moral standard. That includes such as Hitler and the others you mentioned. To me, the only one who truly can/will judge anyone is God.
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  9. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    Vader's redemption was granted through Luke's undeserved grace; tossing Palpatine down the reactor shaft was just icing on the cake. When Luke declared he was a Jedi, citing Anakin as an example, he'd already won. Even if the Emperor had killed him, Vader's humanity was restored.
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  10. Seagoat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2013
    star 4
    No, he probably wasn't redeemed in the eyes of the citizens in the GFFA. But that isn't what GL means when he says Anakin redeemed himself; he did so in the eyes of the Force, by bringing balance to it

    Yeah the Force is pretty egotistical
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  11. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    How does that work? He's redeemed in Luke's eyes, in his and in those of Obi-wan and Yoda. Pretty simple.
  12. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4
    I think a lot of this has to do with the conflation of redemption with atonement.

    Redemption is about being saved from sin or error. Anakin was redeemed -- he even says that Luke saved him.

    When we are talking about atonement, however, and making reparations for wrongs or injuries, Anakin did not atone for his evil actions. Given the scale of the evil he had done in his life, I don't even know if it would have been possible to right all the wrongs.
  13. Cushing's Admirer Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    That's where I think the concepts of forgiveness and mercy come in. It seems to me a lot of people condemn the person and not just the acts. Personally, I think that is in error.
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  14. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4

    I think people need to face the consequences for their actions and try to make reparations where possible. But, in my opinion, punishment and suffering are antithetical to justice, rather than an expression of it. They feed into the need for revenge, but do nothing to right wrongs.

    I agree with you, though, that it's more important to condemn an act rather than a person. I think it's a mistake to see a person solely through the lens of their worst actions, as much as it is a mistake to look at someone and see only their best choices.
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  15. Cushing's Admirer Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    Of course they need to face consequences but many equate revenge to justice when it is anything but.

    I think one ought to be reasoned and well informed. Be willing to face and accept flaws, errors but strive to focus on the positive aspects of a character or person.
    Last edited by Cushing's Admirer, Jan 25, 2014
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  16. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    This exactly.

    Vader would never be able to atone for what he did. But he had the choice to stop Dark Side behavior, and he made that choice.

    Had he lived and faced an Alliance trial, he probably would have faced the highest penalty for war crimes, and he should.

    But that doesn't mean he wasn't redeemed.
  17. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9
    The thing is the redemption, atonement, justice and vengeance all wind up being lumped together due in part to popular fiction doing so. As a result of this, they wind up getting confused when the definition that they've known for years turns out to be slightly wrong.

    Oh, indeed. That's why I loved the debates when it was done in "Highlander: The Series" and subsequently, "Highlander: Endgame". Justice and vengeance, along with redemption and atonement had played a big factor in the show's run and I had quite a few debates with another poster on the official "Highlander" forums, over the years about that. Particularly with two different episodes, which the person had trouble with why one action was justified and another wasn't. They had a hard time understanding why it was okay to let one live that had committed a serious, yet a lesser crime in his eyes wasn't given a free pass. They claimed it was inconsistency, while not understanding that it wasn't so simple as they thought it should be.
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  18. Darth Maul Apprentice Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2014
    star 4
    Yep. Redeemable, yes. Accepted, no.
  19. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    Was Anakin redeemable? Yes. Anyone can be redeemable.
  20. Minez01 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2005
    star 1
    I agree, the definition of 'redemption' is really critical here.

    Though one thing I will say is that when I read the OP, I tended to agree to some extent - the end of ROTJ for me really doesn't portray exactly what has happened - everyone is celebrating, we see the force spirits of Anakin and Obi Wan and Yoda etc. For me the real ending of ROTJ is Luke standing over Vader's burning body - it really shows the sadness of the ending and makes you reflect on exactly how pathetic and twisted Anakin became after all those years. The other parts of the ending tender to send a more lighthearted message which I thought was a bit out of place given the past 25 years of galactic history.
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  21. Darth Maul Apprentice Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2014
    star 4
    The sad part is the potential of what Anakin could have done with his life. The family he could have had, instead of the years of loneliness and suffering. Even though what he experienced with his mom wasn't so great (being a slave), he could have had the opposite with Padme and the kids.
  22. CommanderDrenn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2013
    star 4
    He was redeemed, so I guess in the GFFA he was redeemable, at least. One of my pet theories is that he brought balance t the Force by destroying himself and the Emperor. That may have actually been what happened for real, though.
  23. darth-sinister Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2001
    star 9

    Why? The war was over. The Empire was gone. It was time to celebrate the victory that had been achieved through cooperation and selflessness. Love and compassion. As soon as WWII was over, there was celebration in the streets in spite of what had been going on in Europe and Japan.
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  24. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    On his blog, Paul F. MacDonald gave his opinion of Anakin's death by using this quote from an American Zen priest named Brad Warner:

    “He (Anakin) isn’t concerned with some future state of enlightenment. He isn’t concerned with addressing whatever wrongs we may have committed in the past. We cannot act in the past or future. We can only act right now.”
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  25. The Supreme Chancellor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 4
    Any Fanfic on that?