Thursday, May 1, 2008

Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes

As a companion to the previous post on Slavoj Zizek's Pervert's Guide to Cinema I suggest reading his article "Revenge of Global Finance" in which he incorporates an analysis of Star Wars Episode III: the Revenge of the Sith into his commentary on capitalist society. The article is a good example of how he uses popular culture to illuminate his commentary on more "important" subjects. In the article, Zizek leaves the obvious criticism of Revenge of the Sith's considerable flaws to lesser critics and offers up a more thorough critique of the film's shortcomings. A sample:

And—back to the Revenge of the Sith—the price for the film’s sticking to these same New Age motifs is not only its ideological confusion, but, simultaneously, its inferior narrative quality. These motifs are why Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader—the series’ pivotal moment—lacks the proper tragic grandeur. Instead of focusing on Anakin’s hubris as an overwhelming desire to intervene, to do Good, to go to the end for those he loves and thus fall to the Dark Side, Anakin is simply shown as an indecisive warrior who is gradually sliding into Evil by giving way to the temptation of Power, by falling under the spell of the evil Emperor. In other words, Lucas lacked the nerve to really apply his parallel between the shift of the Republic to Empire and of Anakin to Darth Vader. Anakin should have become a monster out his very excessive attachment with seeing Evil everywhere and fighting it.

I've always been of the opinion that the essential story of Anakin's downfall is more powerful and compelling than that of nearly any film or novel ever published and that the film's failure to even remotely live up to its considerable potential is possibly the greatest theoretical tragedy in modern art (imagine if Picasso had decided to go through a blind-folded period from 1901 -1912). Zizek's article goes on to examine the troubling ideology that is shaping modern capitalism, but I'm glad that he took time out of his undoubtedly busy life to comment on the grave artistic injustice perpetrated by Mr. Lucas on us all.

1 comment:

Alex Kotce said...

I like Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn's take on this more.