Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Darth_Articulate, Dec 5, 2012.
I thought you were referring to TPM.
Nope. He said the kids didn't figure it out during TPM, but one of them claimed to have caught it during AOTC.
I have to disagree with this. Going back to my original viewing (in theaters) the father revelation stood the entire franchise on its side. Up to that point, Vader was just the pure embodiment of evil, the bad guy to end all bad guys, and you just knew the saga was going to culminate in Luke killing the bad guy. Vader was just a pure bad guy in a black suit, a symbol of evil. He may as well have been a robot, it didn't matter.
Then two things happened in Empire.
(1) We saw the emperor for the first time. Wait, ultimate bad-ass Vader gets on his knees to a master? There's someone more evil than Vader?
(2) As soon as Vader starts pleading to Luke to join him (even before the revelation), he was NOT just a bad guy in a black suit anymore. Suddenly There was more to the story, a horrible twisted corruption behind it, and killing Vader no longer meant destroying a robot, a symbol of evil. It went from being idealistic to being intensely personal.
The course of the saga changes from that moment.
The characters change as well. Was Luke saying "Ben, why didn't you tell me?" 37 times not significant? Luke realizes his mentor Ben Kenobi lied to him, Yoda lied to him, his aunt and uncle lied to him... Everyone in his life lied to him, except, ironically, the bad guy. Luke's entire world is destroyed and everything he believed is stood on its ear. Luke's entire life has just been blown up.
Vader changes too. He's no longer a bad-ass killer at this point. His selfish pleas for his son to join him in overthrowing the emperor open the door. The ruthless mass-murdering Sith doesn't kill his son when he is rejected. The Vader we see in ROTJ is resigned to his fate (that Luke will kill him and take his place) and timid, full of self doubt for the first time in 25 years.
So how you can say the characters don't change escapes me.
In ROTJ I was waiting for Vader to get nasty on Luke, except he never did. Especially when Luke surrenders on Endor and Vader is examining his light saber. I got chills, he's going to injure him, cut off a limb, something. And then he didn't.
It reminds me of Terminator, where Arnold is just the baddest-ass unstoppable killing machine in cinematic history. Then T2 comes out and he's a good guy -- which is actually kept intentionally ambiguous until the shootout in the mall. I know in my case I was always waiting for the Terminator in T2 to spring a trap and revert to his natural pure evil state, it couldn't be trusted. Only it never did.
This is exactly how I felt about Vader in ROTJ. You can't just take a hyper villain and turn him into a good guy.
Not to mention it's pretty much given away in TPM with the "I will make it legal" line, let alone the other hints like "I will watch your career with great interest". It was pretty much nailed in place at the end of AOTC when Sidious is revealed to be on Coruscant.
I think you misunderstand what I meant earlier. I agree with you that our perception of Vader changes greatly with the revelation that he's Luke's father. From a story-telling perspective, it's a very dynamic twist that adds yet another layer to the conflict. And yes, the character himself does undergo a stark change from ESB to ROTJ. There's very good character development that is driven by the reveal.
What I'm arguing though is that the revelation doesn't fundamentally change the character himself.
It's a distinction that needs to be emphasized because what I'm saying is essentially this:
The "I am your father" scene is essentially like finding out one of your friends is related to Stalin. It doesn't change anything about your friend or Stalin himself. Their actions are still the same -- they are still the people they were. Now, of course, this might have an impact on their future behavior (as it does in the case of Star Wars) but the revelation itself, though shocking, doesn't fundamentally change who your friend is. Your friend was still related to Stalin before knew this and being related to Stalin does not, in and of itself, have to change him in any significant way. It's something he is not responsible for and he can't help it in any real sense.
Contrast this to watching your friend slowly lose it and then commit a crime. This is much more shocking because it forces you to re-evaluate who your friend is and everything about them. How you define that friend (whether it be as a good person or a stable influence in your life) must also be examined.
The "I am your father" scene doesn't change anything about Luke -- he's still Luke and he's not more evil/more good simply because of who his father is. On the contrary, watching Anakin turn to the Dark Side is essentially watching him succumb to his worst impulses and it does fundamentally change who he is.
ROTJ never really addresses Luke's decision to redeem his father. There must have been some struggle there, but we never see it. At least after hearing Padme's words it's less jarring.
"There is good in him, I felt it." What more needs to be addressed? If you see a chance to redeem the father you never knew as an alternative to having to kill him, why WOULDN'T you take it?
I should add that I didn't ask them questions until we had gone through the entire series, and we watched it over the course of a weekend (sleepover party). It's entirely possible that they kind of forgot when exactly they figured what out, or what exactly happened in which movie.
But from the beginning of the movie (it could be said that even in the last scene of Empire) Luke somehow knows that Vader has good in him. We never see how he decided to try to turn him back. He goes from "noooooo" to "there's good in him" without any on-screen transition.
Basically, we're missing the "Padme's ruminations" scene of the OT.
/tongue in cheek
The "I am your father" is what "confirms" the good in Anakin, to Luke, anyway.
/sounds as good as any other theory, at least at the moment.
"I can't kill my own father" could be considered a transition from "I must kill him" to "maybe there's another way" and then when he senses him on the star destroyer is probably the moment when he feels Vader's conflict, particularly since Vader lets them go.
I see what you're saying but the characters do, in fact, change.
Vader is never a bad-ass again at this point. We've watched this guy murder his own lieutenants throughout the whole film... Then when he reveals the truth to Luke, he suddenly becomes wistful while we are still in the end of ESB.
I'll present some arguments in favor of this:
He could simply kill Luke but he spares his life.
When he retreats to his Star Destroyer, he is solemn, not furious. He does not kill anybody (Piett is in fact bracing for brutality when the Falcon gets away but instead Vader simply sulks away. This is after watching him murder people all film. )
He moans for his son while they are escaping in the Falcon. JEJ's voice performance was obviously directed to be as such as it's so out of character. Luuuuuuuuke. Virtually like a crying housecat.
This behavior continues into Jedi...
He dispatches some friendly advice to Jerrjerod instead of killing or choking him.
Vader is unusually subservient to the Emperor
Vader has become wistful, resigned to his fate... He knows Luke will kill him and take his place. Who could have imagined Vader solemnly declaring "it is too late... for me, son." This is not the guy screaming and throwing rebels agains the wall in a rage.
Vader's character very unquestionably changes after the revelation to Luke. He is never the menace we know the character to be after that point again.
Luke's character changes as well... While most of his growth is off-screen and between movies, his character in ESB has had his world shattered and is stunned. Not sure how you can say he is the same character after this point either.
Everybody talks about the pussification of Han Solo in his character arc but the same happens to Vader at the end of ESB and the course of ROTJ. He is de-fanged and mopey and is basically commiting suicide-by-Jedi.
Again, though, I'm arguing that while the father-Vader revelation changes the narrative of the OT, it doesn't change the character. In ESB, for example, Vader was still Luke's father even as he was choking his lieutenants left and right, and he knew it. He knew it and yet he still behaved in such a manner. The revelation, though, changes the way the film treats him. He himself, though, is changed by meeting Luke and being rejected by him -- but the "I am your father" revelation in and of itself did not prevent him from murdering the officers.
That's what I'm getting at -- Vader himself isn't changed by the revelation. It's only our perception of him and the narrative structure that changes.
Contrast this to ROTS where not only does our perception and the narrative treatment of the character change, but the character himself also changes. When Anakin turns to the Dark Side, he gives in to his worst impulses and begins to justify his atrocities. He stops fighting for what is right and instead fights for what he wants. There is a significant difference in the character's outlook before and after the plot twist (in this case, Anakin's turn) but, in this case, it is precisely because of the plot twist. Which is not the case in ESB.
In ESB, it is Luke rejecting Vader that induces his subsequent reaction because he already knew, even at the beginning of the film that Luke was his son.
Plus, to be honest, I disagree with you that Vader is never again an badass after the revelation. Sacrificing yourself to save your son is far more "badass" than any of Vader's vile actions throughout ANH and ESB. It strikes me as rather more pathetic that the man kills his subordinates for such minor infractions.
Edit: To sum up my argument more succinctly, it's essentially this:
It's not who we are, but what we do that defines us.
The "I am your father plot twist" is related to the former -- it has to do with who Luke is, something that he can't help or change and that he doesn't bear responsibility for.
Anakin's turn to the dark side relates to the second portion of that statement -- it's what he does, what he chooses to do, that defines him as a character. And that, to me, is far more powerful.
Anakin goes from good to evil in ROTS. Luke goes from good to good in ESB
Did anyone else think of Vader's redemption as a major plot twist? I know I did
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. From my certain point of view <wink> Vader changed and it's a titanic shift in the character. As I alluded to before with the Terminator -> Terminator 2 analogy, it's almost impossible to see a character so iconically evil believably change his stripes. And maybe that's why you think the character didn't change because it's so hard to change perception of the character when his behavior changes. It's not just our perception of the character that changed (and this certainly changed too as we now saw this ultimate villain as a tragic human being) but his behavior as well.
IMO going into the confrontation with Luke, the two options for him were (a) kill or (b) convert him. What actually happened, the third option, was not even on the table. This leaves Vader stunned -- what now? Almost as badly as Luke is stunned by the revelation and the fact that everybody in his life has lied to him.
Again, Vader before the revelation is a ruthless attack dog determined to get his way. Even isolating it to Empire alone, the title credits tell us Vader is "obsessed with finding young Skywalker". The Hoth invasion -- to find Luke. Capturing Han Solo and indeed the whole occupation of Bespin -- to find Luke. Vader after the revelation is meek, resigned to his fate, sullen, wistful. Even while we are still in-film, Vader is sulking and literally crying for Luke to come to him. He stops being relentless (letting Luke jump off the tower in the first place and then letting him escape in the Falcon without further pursuit later), he stops murdering his own subordinates... Piett is bracing for the retributive horror when Vader just sulks away defeated. Remember this is after watching him kill officers throughout the film to that point. They don't pursue the Falcon into hyperspace at the last known trajectory although it is the end of the film, after all.
How does Vader react when Luke jumps off the tower? A stunned "WTF?!?". Does he yell, does he throw his light saber, does force crush the tower, does he dive after him, does he start screaming for his troops to find him and tear the station apart? No, he lets him go. Even in the extended SE changes he is returning to his ship, not mounting a pursuit. That's completely un-Vader.
Due to the limits of storytelling through films we don't find out what happened in the intervening time between ESB and ROTJ, but even in the EU Vader doesn't seem to be hunting for Luke the way he did between ANH and ESB. I don't read much EU but I did read SOTE a while back and my memory there was that Vader was trying to improve himself and breath without the aid of the suit and beginning to realize the futility of his hate. For what that's worth.
The Vader we see in ROTJ is more of the same -- sullen, defeated, a shell of his former self. The worst thing he does in Jedi before the climax is point his finger at Jerrjerod. The rampaging villain we saw screaming and throwing bodies against the wall in ANH and murdering subordinates in most of ESB is gone. He is a beaten dog. He is no longer following his own agenda but the Emperor's even though it will lead to his destruction.
None of these are simply our perception of the character, but changes in the character's behavior. Unless you think behind closed doors in ANH and ESB Vader was mopey and resigned, and/or he continued murdering subordinates in a furious rage and pursuing his own agenda before and during ROTJ. In which case he was bi-polar.
In ROTS, Anakin changes allegiance. In TESB, he does not. Significant difference. Vader's character may have changed in TESB, but that's not what's shocking for the audience
I understand where you're coming from. The thing is, though, that (for me) the difference is really that Vader's change in character is not due to the fact that he is Luke's father. Rather it's in regards to Luke's reaction to this. Vader doesn't behave differently because he finds out he is the father of Luke Skywalker -- he was aware of this information for all of ESB. Rather, what begins prompting his change of heart is Luke's rejection.
I agree with you that the character changed. But what I'm arguing is that it's not a result of "I am your father" -- it's the result of Luke choosing to fall to his death rather than take his father's hand.
And I agree with you that Vader undergoes character change following the revelation. What I'm saying though is that this change is not a result of the revelation (because Vader was already aware of his son's existence since the beginning of ESB). Rather, it's a result of Luke's rejection. When Vader invaded Hoth, he was just as aware that Luke was his son as he was in ROTJ. Had Luke taken his father's hand, I doubt Vader would have been as diminished as he was in ROTJ. But it's how the narrative chooses to play on this that is important.
Right, but I'm arguing that these changes in character aren't due to the fact that Vader is Luke's father. The reveal itself, while shocking for the audience, was already known to Vader at the beginning of ESB. What breaks him is Luke's rejection -- which is an action rather than a revelation. And Luke's choice isn't really a plot twist, since I don't think anyone seriously expected him to embrace Vader's side.
That's largely what I'm getting at: "I am your father" is shocking to the audience but, in and of itself, it is not a pivotal turning point for Vader. It takes Luke's reaction to fully change the character.
I like it, 1-6 is a great story
I wonder about the value of TESB I am your father scene, if I was showing it to somebody who somehow didn't know who either Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader is, because they had been kept away from western culture.
I would show them in the order they were made. If however the person is 10 years old and has been around popular culture, and they know through causal conversions at school who these characters are but never saw the movies, you lose the power of the TESB scene, then I would show them 1-6. To me the person has to be screened and asked a few questions before you decide what order to watch the movies.
Bottom line is everything hinges on that TESB scene. It is that powerful, and I saw it in theater for the first time in it's original run, and nobody had spoiled it for me. If the person can have that experience, there is no doubt they should.
I will add imagine having to wait for three years to find out the answer to this, when it is confirmed by Yoda in ROTJ. For three years you wondered if Vader was lying because he is the bad guy.
PiettsHat I have been reading your posts all day, and I am very jealous that you have been able to watch the saga 1 to 6 with out any preconceptions.
To me this video speaks for itself, in which order to show them to younger ones, for the ones who don't know.
Each new generation reacts with the same level of shock, it is truly one of the greatest cinematic twists of all time.
4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 6
You meet the characters
The "No, I am your father" bomb is dropped.
Flashback, learn about how we got there
Conclusion...soooo much better