Bright Lights Film Journal Article Says ROTS Might Be Lucas’s Best

Linda sent along a link to this article from Bright Lights Film Journal, which asserts that ROTS is George Lucas’s greatest artistic achievement:

Given the newly expansive potential afforded by digital technology, Lucas is no longer limited to simple filmic references. In Revenge of the Sith, he boldly visualizes his interests in classical mythology and literature; to be sure, the prequels recall the tragedies of Shakespeare, perhaps most evidently in Palpatine’s similarities to Othello’s Iago. However, Lucas digs deeper and further into the past when he depicts Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi duelling across the volcanic vistas of Mustafar. When discussing this scene, it is crucial to acknowledge Camille Paglia’s wonderful and laudatory piece in Glittering Images. Indeed, it is in this scene that the film’s awe-striking and unprecedented anachronism totally takes over: painting his images digitally, Lucas taps into our knowledge of Dante, of the legend of Faust, the Christian Hell and the Greek Hades, of the metaphoric burning of Icarus’s wings in the form of Anakin’s smoldering body. Appropriately, John Williams’s score moves further from Korngold-echoing whimsy with each successive prequel, and in Sith it acquires operatic overtones. Never one to divide “high” art from “low,” Lucas draws from every available well of visual representation to craft this uniquely digital genre entertainment, a film that is broadly drawn in its emotional strokes but rigorous in its cinematic grammar.

Go read this from someone who apparently really knows cinema and appreciates it.


8 Responses to “Bright Lights Film Journal Article Says ROTS Might Be Lucas’s Best”

  1. Anthony Echevarria Says:

    I’m always on the fence whether my favorite Star Wars film is ‘Revenge of the Sith’ or ‘Return of the Jedi’. I like the second half of ‘Sith’ more than almost anything else in the SW series, but yet I also like the redemption story in ‘Jedi’, and the battle is just plain awesome. I guess I can kinda put them side-by-side, even though that’s not often possible [on a list]. 🙂

    However, people in certain circles would be surprised to learn that my favorite SW movie is not ‘A New Hope’, or ‘Empire Strikes Back’, for that matter.

    I like all the little touches that Lucas sprinkles throughout the movie, like Obi-Wan telling Anakin that only the Sith deal in absolutes, while he himself is being consumed by the absolutes of the Jedi. Or Anakin missing the subtle detail that the only way Palpatine could know about the visions of Amidala’s death is if he ‘sent’ them. Little touches like that, here and there.

    All this advanced critic talk is almost beyond me, with its fancy metaphors and comparisons, but I get the gist of it. 🙂 It’s nice to see someone celebrate the movie, for the artistic touches George Lucas put in it.

    It reminds me of the Matrix commentary, where they’re talking about Keynisian philosophy and Manaecian philosophy, and the philosophers are going on and on about the different levels in the film, and you kind of understand what they’re telling you, because you see it playing out on the screen, but they make it sound like they’re on another planet in terms of thought. Heh. (They also whoop at all the action scenes, in their less dignified moments, which I’m sure this critic did for ‘Sith’ as well. 🙂 )

    (And I’m sure I got some of those philosophy terms wrong. What can I say, I’m not a philosophy major. *shrug* 😉 )

  2. Artiom Deyev Says:

    It’s a very good review – very detailed, and touches many aspects of George Lucas artistic approach. Also, more appraisal for the prequel trilogy – those who are unbiased (its a majority, actually), they see how beautiful these movies are.

  3. Tony Ferris Says:

    Always a pleasure to read something that respects and understands Lucas’s intentions.

    It needn’t be as effusive as this wonderful piece from Mike Thorn (balanced criticism is perfectly acceptable), but it’s a real pleasure to find writing so much on my own wavelength regarding these movies, and Revenge of the Sith in particular.

  4. Nariel Says:

    I think this is a brilliant analysis of ROTS. Very interesting to read and I agree with the assertion 🙂

  5. Michael Says:

    First off all: this is a must read. Seriously. This is the best thing written about Star Wars in years; I’m honestly jealous of how confidently and persuasively he makes his arguments and of the observations and insights he brings to the table.

    Secondly, things are looking up, guys and gals. I sense a tidal shift in opinion. More and more people are coming out in support of these films, and the importance of someone with film knowledge and credibility writing so passionately and positively about the prequel films simply can’t be overstated.

    We’re not the minority opinion. We never have been. And one day we’re going to be loud enough to silence even the noisiest haters’ voices.

  6. Simon Maxwell Says:

    Bright Lights Film Journal produced a good piece about Attack of the Clones back in 2002, a few months after the film’s release. Have a search for it on the site. It’s easy to find.

  7. davidbreslin101 Says:

    I finally re-watched the prequels this summer. This was with an eye to appreciating them objectively, since the first time round I had already been primed to hate them. Somehow, I had managed to enjoy RoTS on its release despite this, but my impression of the first two definitely suffered. Witnessing the ongoing storm of hate bugged me- they couldn’t be THAT bad, since George Lucas isn’t actually Hitler.

    I and II: enjoyable, well above average SF films. Yes, fanboys, some major criticisms do stick, but frankly, SF + film USUALLY = a glorious mess of things that don’t quite work but we enjoy anyway. The vast majority of SF films have very similar problems, and considerably less else going for them.

    Seeing Episode III again knocked me flat.

    A widescreen historical tragedy of immense power and relevance. Palpatine’s corruption of Anakin is for my taste the best written and acted dialogue in the entire series. Now I’m older and better informed, the details of the fall of the Republic have even more resonance. False-flag proxy wars? a democracy eagerly voting for the enemy within? These things shaped our own world, and continue to shape it. (This was also the strongest part of AotC, where we witness the awesome might of the new Grand Army of the Republic with a sick feeling that this is not actually a Good Thing.)

    The visuals are stunningly lush, and it’s not “all empty spectacle.” The hunting of General Grievous gives us the plausible SF setting of a world where everyone lives in gigantic sinkholes. And there is the heartbreaking, beautiful “Order 66” sequence.

    …so, count me a convert.

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