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|[Movie] Star Wars : The Empire Strikes Bush|
|05/16/05 at 14:29:20|
|The Empire Strikes Bush|
By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, May 16, 2005; 12:48 PM
"This is how liberty dies -- to thunderous applause."
So observes Queen Amidala of Naboo as the galactic senate grants dictator-to-be Palpatine sweeping new powers in his crusade against the Jedi in the final "Star Wars" movie opening this week.
It's just one of several lines in "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," that reveal the movie to be more than just a sci-fi blockbuster and gargantuan cultural phenomenon.
"Revenge of the Sith," it turns out, can also be seen as a cautionary tale for our time -- a blistering critique of the war in Iraq, a reminder of how democracies can give up their freedoms too easily, and an admonition about the seduction of good people by absolute power.
Some film critics suggest it could be the biggest anti-Bush blockbuster since "Fahrenheit 9/11."
New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott gives "Sith" a rave, and notes that Lucas "grounds it in a cogent and (for the first time) comprehensible political context.
" 'Revenge of the Sith' is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, 'If you're not with me, you're my enemy.' Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: 'Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.' "
AFP reports that the movie delivers "a galactic jab to US President George W. Bush."
It's been generating "murmurs at the parallels being drawn between Bush's administration and the birth of the space opera's evil Empire."
Are some people reading too much into the movie?
Filmmaker George Lucas insists that the genesis of his story dates back 30 years. But he pointed out that certain themes do seem to repeat themselves, whether here and now or a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Bruce Kirkland writes in the Toronto Sun: "Star Wars is a wakeup call to Americans about the erosion of democratic freedoms under George W. Bush, filmmaker George Lucas said yesterday.
"Lucas, responding to a question from the Sun at a Cannes Film Festival press conference, said he first wrote the framework of Star Wars in 1971 when reacting to then U.S. President Richard Nixon and the on-going events of the Vietnam War. But the story still has relevance today, he said, and is part of a pattern he has noticed in his readings of history.
" 'I didn't think it was going to get quite this close,' he said of the parallels between the Nixon era and the current Bush presidency, which has been sacrificing freedoms in the interests of national security. 'It is just one of those re-occurring things. I hope this doesn't come true in our country. Maybe the film will awaken people to the situation of how dangerous it is.' "
David Germain writes for the Associated Press: "Lucas never mentioned the president by name but was eager to speak his mind on U.S. policy in Iraq, careful again to note that he created the story long before the Bush-led occupation there.
" 'When I wrote it, Iraq didn't exist,' Lucas said, laughing.
" 'We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn't think of him as an enemy at that time. We were going after Iran and using him as our surrogate, just as we were doing in Vietnam . . . The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.' "
Lucas said he has long been interested in the transition from democracy to dictatorship.
"In ancient Rome, 'why did the senate, after killing Caesar, turn around and give the government to his nephew?' Lucas said. 'Why did France, after they got rid of the king and that whole system, turn around and give it to Napoleon? It's the same thing with Germany and Hitler.'
" 'You sort of see these recurring themes where a democracy turns itself into a dictatorship, and it always seems to happen kind of in the same way, with the same kinds of issues, and threats from the outside, needing more control. A democratic body, a senate, not being able to function properly because everybody's squabbling, there's corruption.' "
Harlan Jacobson writes in USA Today: "Since screenings began last month at Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, people have been discussing parallels between the final film in Lucas' six-film Star Wars saga and current political events. . . .
"Lucas said Darth Vader's saga is about how a good man turns himself into a bad one.
" 'Most of them think they're good people doing what they do for a good reason.' "
Marijke Rowland writes in the Modesto Bee: "Lucas' longtime producer Rick McCallum insists that the resemblances are coincidental.
" '(The film) was started well before we even knew this disaster was going to happen,' he said, referring to Iraq war.
"Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid, who plays the evil mastermind Chancellor Palpatine, who installs himself as emperor, said the film manages to reflect modern events while addressing timeless themes.
" 'It is a film about how easily (freedom) can disappear, how easily we can all be seduced into surrendering it while thinking we're having a good time,' he said. 'It chimes with the zeitgeist.'
Adds McDiarmid: "It's a film that reflects contemporary events, but it is a film. Enjoy the metaphor."
The Rise of Executive Power
Richard W. Stevenson writes in the New York Times: "The president has clearly been trying to harness and expand the clout available to him and to present his office as even more the seat of power than it was under many of his predecessors. By many standards he has succeeded, in part through the good fortune of having a Republican Congress to work with, in part because of his role as commander in chief at a time of threats to the nation and in part because of his aggressive style of advancing his agenda and political interests.
"The question that has yet to be answered is whether he has fundamentally altered the presidency in ways that will outlast his tenure and wipe out the remaining legacies of Vietnam and Watergate, which were taken as object lessons in the dangers of a too powerful, too secret executive."
AFP and pollingreport.com report that the latest Time Magazine poll has Bush's approval rating down two points since March, to 46 percent, with 47 percent disapproving.
Just 41 per cent of respondents say they approve of Bush's handling of Iraq, with 55 per cent saying they disapprove.
AFP reports: "Mr. Bush's popularity registered a particularly steep decline among the elderly, with 55 per cent of Americans aged 65 or older disapproving.
"He also had falling poll numbers among women, with just 42 per cent approval, down from 51 per cent before November's presidential election."
Recasting the Past
Mark Silva writes in the Chicago Tribune: "With American dissatisfaction over the conflict in Iraq reaching its highest level since the invasion two years ago -- and the initial reasons for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein undermined by the discovery that he possessed no weapons of mass destruction -- Bush has set out this year with carefully scripted tours of the recently liberated nations of Europe to cast all of these events as chapters of one great world saga.
"But the peaceful, homegrown movements of these nations bear little resemblance to what Bush has dubbed 'the Purple Revolution' of Iraq -- named for ink-stains on the fingers of Iraqis who voted in January for a new government.
"Critics contend that the president is masking the original, and later discredited, reasons for invading Iraq with his vow to end world tyranny, a theme Bush voiced in his second-term inaugural address and has repeated across Europe."
|star wars fer real...|
|05/22/05 at 03:18:22|
k so i went to see it... the theater was absolutely packed and we bought tickets for not the next one but the one after and went to our seats half an hour early! and it was still packed.. it was playing every 15 minutes and there were still people sitting on the floor waiting and lined up everywhere what a mess... we had to take the fire exit all the way out of the mall when it was done cause it was so crowded!
so i think that it was action packed and definitely the best of the new 3.. we didn't like the choppiness of the scene editing and i mean padme just seemed so weak sometimes which didn't go with her image earlier or the later daughter leah's character, but it was still good. it brought everything together like a missing puzzle piece and u definitely felt closure..anakin's transformation to the dark side is very believable. at the end of the movie ppl cheered and clapped in our audience as if to say 'good job george lucas' ;)
i didn't see the bush thing so much.. i don't think people will make the connection at all really..esp since the other side also wanted to take over power... but there was one point where the evil emperor says "they're either with us or our enemy" when i had this incredible urge to yell out "Bush!!" in the theater... but then remember what happenned to those who yell 'fire' in a theater so..;)
anyways i feel so much nostalgia watching these movies.. i really miss the 80s and all the innocent pleasures and fun we had...remember when we all wanted to be luke and leah and ran around our houses with our "light sabres"... man i wish i could go back to my childhood and start all over again...
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