Monday, April 15, 2013

Adoption Movie Guide: Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Part Three in a Series about something that happened A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Away…
You might also want to visit part one and part two

 Anakin and Padme married at the end of the last film, and now Padme is pregnant! Anakin is still bothered by the death of his mother, and continues to profess that he will never let anyone he loves die. He soon has dreams of Padme dying. In the meantime, the politician who studied Anakin in the last film has become Emporer. He seeks a private meeting with Anakin where he reveals that he practices a dark art which can prevent Padme from dying.

Although the Jedi have become Anakin’s family, the Emporer invites Anakin to betray the Jedi and serve at the Emperor’s side in order to save Padme. Anakin follows the Emperor, but in doing so alienates Padme. He is badly injured in a fight with Obi-Wan, who considered Anakin a brother. While Anakin is recovering from his injuries, Padme dies in childbirth.

The Emperor tells Anakin that Padme's death was a result of Anakin’s rage. Anakin cries out. Left with no one to love, he continues to serve the Emperor as Darth Vader. Two children were born to Padme, but they are hidden from Anakin. Their names are Luke and Leia.

How is This Relevant to Adoption? 
Anakin never had a father and is faced with the prospect of becoming one. We aren’t told his thoughts. Throughout the first three movies, Anakin seems to have been looking for a father figure – first attaching to his owner, Watto; then to Qui-Gon, the Jedi who rescued him; then to his trainer, Obi-Wan;  and finally to the Emporer.

The people close to Anakin become fearful of him because of his anger. As a result, they choose to keep his children hidden from him. To Luke and Leia, Anakin will become a mysterious, absent, unknown birth father.
The children's mother dies in childbirth. One of the children is given to a senator, who explains that he and his wife “always dreamed of adopting a baby girl.” The other child is sent to live with his extended family. The siblings are not told of each others’ existence.

Strong Points
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith can serve as a cautionary tale: about being controlled by fear and about thinking in absolutes. It’s a darker, heavier movie than others in the series, but it sets the stage for much redemption in episodes IV, V, and VI.

In a previous movie, Yoda cautioned Anakin that fear would lead to anger, hate, and suffering. In this film, dark-art practicing Count Dooku tells Anakin, “I sense great fear in you... You have hate, you have anger, but you don’t use them.” This reminds me of a scene in Meet the Robinsons, where a villain encourages a boy to hold on to his anger and be driven by it. This movie does show the negative impact of Anakin’s anger, but because Anakin has been the protagonist for the first two films, the message could be confusing for some viewers.

Anakin gets advice from a Jedi master. Yoda starts by admirably challenging Anakin’s pervasive fear, “The fear of loss is a path to the dark side. Death is a natural part of life.” But then Yoda tells him not to mourn or miss for those who have died, because “attachment leads to jealousy” and is “the shadow of greed.” To avoid evil, Anakin must “train… to let go of everything [he fears] to lose.” Many children in foster care and many adopted children can relate to feelings of loss and grief. The first part of Yoda’s counsel is good: don’t be controlled by your fear of loss. 

The second part (don’t attach to anyone) could be dangerous advice. Children who have experienced loss and abandonment often have difficulty forming attachments. This advice, given by the wisest of the good guys, seems to reinforce a lack of attachment. More balanced advice would be, “Anakin, attachment is important. Without it, you are alone. But it is also important to understand that with attachment comes loss. You must choose not to let the losses destroy you.”

Yoda’s advice resonates with Anakin, who thinks in absolutes. He tells Padme that the Dark Side is for those who are only selfish, and that the Jedi are purely selfless. Later, A Jedi advises Anakin that thinking in absolutes leads to the dark side.

Anakin feels excluded – or at least underestimated – by the Jedi. His anger at feeling slighted and his fear of loss, make him more likely to side with the Emperor. It could be helpful to explore the multiple motivations for Anakin’s action.

Weak Points
There are some violent scenes which could traumatize some viewers: Anakin’s legs are bloodlessly hacked off in a duel; he is left disfigured. Anakin decapitates a defeated opponent. He attacks Padme. Many Jedi are betrayed and murdered.  Perhaps the most disturbing scene is not shown on camera: Anakin kills a roomful of children


Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is geared towards teenagers. It’s a violent, dark, and deep movie which could lend itself to some valuable conversations. It’s particularly worthwhile because of the redemption which occurs over the next three movies – Anakin is reunited with his son, and their relationship is ultimately healed. The issues of loss will likely be relevant to many children, but could be quite painful to explore. The violence in the film surpasses the violence in the previous film. The movie would be best suited to kids 13 and up.  

Questions for Discussion after the movie

Yoda tells Anakin that attachment leads to fear of loss, which leads to anger, hate, and suffering. What do you think? Is there a way to attach to people or care about them without being brought into hate?

Why did Anakin side with the Emperor? What do you think of his logic? Of his choice?

Who did Anakin think of as his father? How do you think he felt about getting ready to become a father?

Which parts of the movie disturbed you the most? Which did you like the most?

You might also enjoy

Adoption Movie Guide: Star Wars Episode I

Adoption Movie Guide: Star Wars Episode II

Adoption Movie Guide: Jack the Giant Slayer

and why not follow Adoption at the Movies on Facebook :)


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lori. Yoda has such awkward sentence structures that he probably couldn't get out anything more nuanced than what he said :)


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