Episode II – Redeaux III

I watched episode II again this past weekend (to Tracy’s dismay) and will wrap up the Anakin quandary.

I never formally stated the problem, so here it is.

Problem: Christensen doesn’t come across as having bad seed potential. You know he becomes Darth Vader and you look for the warning signs. They are there, but the signs all seemed contrived.

Solution: First off, let’s clear up why I believe a Matt Damon type is perfect for this role. Orange Jumper. Every role I’ve ever seen Damon in, his character would be right at home in a County Orange Jumper. I don’t know. Damon may be an alter boy in real life. On the silver screen, he comes across as a criminal. Even when he’s trying to be good.

But I can’t think of a Damon type and Matt’s a bit old for the role. Too bad. He’d of been perfect. OK. So Hayden Christensen stays. But for him to be believable, there’s gotta be some changes.

One problem I have with Anakin is not so much Christensen’s fault but Lucas’. There was a seminal moment, a crossing when Anakin offs the entire sand people village. Yet, we see none of it. The set up was good. When Shmi Skywalker dies in the arms of Anakin, I can feel myself pulling for Anakin to waste them all.

That’s the point. The pull of the dark side. Vengeance.

Webster’s defines Vengeance as

Vengeance \Venge”ance\, n. [F. vengeance, fr. venger to avenge, L. vindicare to lay claim to, defend, avenge, fr. vindex a claimant, defender, avenger, the first part of which is of uncertain origin, and the last part akin to dicere to say. See Diction, and cf. Avenge, Revenge, Vindicate.]
Punishment inflicted in return for an injury or an offense; retribution; — often, in a bad sense, passionate or unrestrained revenge.

That you’re sucked in to feeling what Anakin’s feeling at the time of his mother’s death is brilliant. But Lucas drops the ball and leaves Anakin looking awkward and unconvincing.

Simply stated, when Skywalker offs the village, I want to go through the emotional acrobatics of first empathizing with him. Yet, it’s important to depart from Anakin during the battle. Come on, did anybody really believe Anakin went over the top? No.

I’m thinking 13th Warrior. I’m thinking Gladiator. I’m thinking Fellowship of the Ring (mines of Moria battle scene). Not a couple {{whhooomp-whoomp}} light saber swipes and scenes over. The hell is that? That moment defines Anakin’s future, the rest of his life. He starts down that slippery slope towards the dark side. When the battle’s over, I want to have made the transition to “Dude, you’ve gone too far.” I want to feel that Anakin going bad.

That’s why I believe a Matt Damon type would have worked within the existing framework of the film. He’s already believable as ‘going bad’. But, Christensen could have worked if the sand people massacre left you with that Pulp Fiction ‘dragged through the sewer’ feeling and Anakin showed some genuine cruelty in the subsequent battle scene.

And that bring up another thing. When Anakin gets his arm whacked off, you just feel bad. It’s inconsistent with the slippery slope speeding Anakin towards the darkside angle. Anakin needs to do things that make you feel torn. On the one hand, his arm’s whacked off. Makes you feel bad. On the other hand, he’s a really bad guy who’s soon to help plunge the entire galaxy into darkness. Makes you feel anxious.

With that, Christensen can stay.