Despite being a franchise now over 40 years old, STAR WARS continues to garner popularity. The sequel trilogy draws closer to the end and several spin-offs are set to arrive on its heels. With the franchise expanding, many fans are re-evaluating the previous films, trying to determine which ones hold up the most. While the prequels have long been the source of intense criticism, some are now recognizing that trilogy for its contributions. REVENGE OF THE SITH, in particular, has been noted as being significant due to its storytelling, character development and connections to the original trilogy. It’s also paved the way for the franchise going forward. Amongst the prequels, REVENGE OF THE SITH may very well be the most essential. Can’t believe it? Perhaps this Top 5 Countdown will convince you.

5. REVENGE OF THE SITH Gives Us The Birth of The Empire

One of the most infamous sequences of REVENGE OF THE SITH is where Order 66 is executed. This sequence allows us to witness the birth of the Galactic Empire, our primary antagonists in the original trilogy. REVENGE OF THE SITH effectively shows us the fall of the Jedi order, as well as the conditions that led the Empire to gain power. We see firsthand how Palpatine uses paranoia and fear to turn the Senate against the Jedi and how his rise to power was calculated right from the beginning. 

In the wake of Order 66, characters must confront the destruction of their personal beliefs system. It begins with Padme who, before her death, must confront the seeming end of the cause that she dedicated her life to. Obi-Wan and Yoda are forced to retreat to survive, unable to save anyone but themselves. We even linger with side-characters —  such as Bail Organa — as they grapple with the swift demise of the Republic. Most significantly, we see the government’s arc mirrored in the micro by Anakin’s personal progression. The Senate is the body that gives birth to the fearsome Empire. Anakin, in parallel, is the literal body that births the most potent symbol of the Empire’s tyranny, Darth Vader.

Revenge Of The Sith
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

4. The True Power Of The Dark Side

The Force, as befits it, has long been the energy that drove STAR WARS. In the prequels, we begin to understand the Sith’s role within that mystical power better. REVENGE OF THE SITH provides the clearest picture of both how alluring and destructive the Dark Side can be.

With Sidious and Anakin’s relationship, the audience witnesses for the first time the Dark as something more than an enemy. One can appreciate how a person — lost, confused, and drowning in complicated emotions — might be drawn to it. We have the advantage of seeing how the Dark Side will turn Anakin into a being more man than machine, seemingly damned to servitude. However, all Anakin can see is his own grief and the limitations of the philosophy he dedicated his life too. The story of Darth Plagueis is infamous but it also holds undeniable power for a man who thinks he has lost everything he ever cared for including the woman he loves. 

REVENGE does not satisfy itself with mere philosophy to make its point though. Action-wise it provides an incredible demonstration of how joining the Sith can empower you. In the duel between Yoda and Sidious, we see two initially evenly matched opponents. However, those tables turn quickly. Yoda has no choice but to admit that he cannot triumph. Moreover, while the film never directly says it, both he and Obi-Wan’s decision to run rather than fight — and the years that elapse after — indicate that the two came to fear the Dark Side in those final battles. And we all know what fear does to Jedi hearts.

Revenge Of The Sith
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

3. Obi-Wan and Anakin’s Dynamic

In A NEW HOPE, one of our earliest mentions of the Clone Wars comes from Obi-Wan where he recounts fighting side by side with Anakin. REVENGE OF THE SITH overs a more in-depth look at Kenobi’s vague bit of nostalgia. Before Anakin’s full turn we can already see the fraying between them. They debate politics and Obi-Wan is unable to satisfy Anakin’s frustrations. Meanwhile, Anakin withholds information from Kenobi unable to fully articulate even to himself why he feels compelled to betray his Jedi loyalties.

It, of course, all comes to a head in their climactic duel on Mustafar, Their mere political discussions have graduated to outright personal warfare. Now more brothers than master and apprentice, one can feel the weight of their relationship more intensely than at any other time during the prequels. It helps, too, that Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christian deliver their strongest performances of the film cycle. 

Revenge Of The Sith
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

2. The Birth of Darth Vader

Darth Vader is arguably the most iconic cinematic villain of all time. In the original trilogy, he predominantly exists as a force of nature: indomitable, omnipresent, and wholly inhuman. REVENGE OF THE SITH gives us the tragedy that is Vader. 

The fear, trauma, and anger Anakin experiences in REVENGE allow us to view Vader as more human. His relationships with Padme, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine showcase him struggling with his many loyalties. Ultimately, this leads to his temptation and downfall. When Anakin finally does become Darth Vader on screen, it feels not like the birth of a fearsome being but rather a sad, inevitable tragedy.

While the armor and breathing apparatus may be the most iconic elements of Vader, we truly appreciate, they are not the true evidence of his becoming. For the first time, the difference between his physical transformation necessitated by his horrific injuries and the psychological one that preceded it. Anakin, truly, became Vader before he put on that ebony armor. To experience that firsthand in REVENGE provides depth and dimension to the franchise’s most recognizable villain.

Revenge Of The Sith
Courtesy of Lucasfilm

1. Laying The Foundation For The Skywalker Saga

Star Wars revolves around the Skywalker Saga. REVENGE OF THE SITH arguably launches not only Anakin towards his dark future, but catalyzes the events that will define the rest of the series. We learn of the twins — Luke and Leia — and their separation. We realize how, even in retreat, Obi-Wan was looking to the future. A NEW HOPE may start almost two decades after REVENGE’s end but in many ways it begins in those closing moments.

Even more fascinating is how it effectively sets up the sequel trilogy, as well. Kylo Ren’s steady evolution and unraveling seems all the more dangerous, frightening, and inevitable given what SITH shows us. History, to borrow the expression, may not repeat but it rhyme and Ren seems to be every bit his grandfather Anakin’s rhyme.

Then consider the very unsubte hints that RISE OF THE SKYWALKER, could feature Palpatine’s return in some manner. One can feel the connection between SITH and the sequel trilogy tighten even further.

 REVENGE OF THE SITH Is Most Impressive

It’s no secret that the STAR WARS franchise is continuing to maintain success.  There’ll always be debate as to which film is the best. Amongst the prequels, however, REVENGE OF THE SITH’s rank seems obvious. Due to its storytelling, and significant ties to the saga, REVENGE stands the high ground.

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