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Background information about Star Wars Episode III
is available at the Internet Movie Database
Any explanation of Episode III has to start with a single question: What was Mace Windu thinking?
As readers of my blog are aware, I've long believed that the Jedi council is run by idiots
. This judgement is only confirmed in Episode III when Mace Windu launches what can only be considered the most inept coup d'état
in cinema history.
In hindsight, the necessity for a Jedi coup is starkly apparent in the first moments of Episode I. To refresh your memory, Episode I begins with two Jedi ambassadors, the Master Qui-Gon Jinn and young apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, arriving on a starship of the Trade Federation to resolve its trade dispute with planet Naboo. Despite the expectations of practically everyone with knowledge of the Jedi mission, including the Naboo government, Naboo Queen Amidada, the Jedi ambassadors, Supreme Chancellor Valorum, and the Trade Federation leaders themselves, that the Jedi delegation could not possibly fail to resolve the crisis, the Jedi delegation utterly fails to resolve the crisis. With their ability to use the Force diminished by the Dark Side and the Galactic Senate applauding their failure on Naboo, the Jedi council apparently decided to immediately send one of their members (the infamous Sifo Dyas) to planet Kamino to begin preparations for the secret formation of a clone army.
With considerable sangfroid, the Jedi council allows a Jedi Knight that had not been recuited to the conspiracy to investigate their plots even though all available evidence points directly to the council's involvement. When Obi-Wan discovers planet Kamino, the Jedi council activates their double agent Jango Fett (i.e. the Lee Harvey Oswald of the Star Wars saga) to cover-up their involvement by throwing the blame for everything on Darth Tyrannus. Given the utter ridiculousness with which this cover-up would have been viewed by the only non-conspirator in a position to know the real facts, we can only assume that Obi-Wan was recruited for the coup attempt sometime after the battle of Genosha in Episode II. Given Anakin's orders to stay on impossibly romantic planet Naboo with the beautiful Senator Amidala (who is also the object of Anakin's idée fixe
) and do nothing, as well as the events of Episode III, we can assume that Anakin was never intended to know about the conspiracy.
By the beginning of Episode III, the success of the Jedi coup seems inevitable. Chancellor Palpatine's conduct of the Clone War has been steadily eroding his political support, the Jedi have followed Yoda's example and assumed operational command of the clone army, and all that remains is for the Jedi to "pull the trigger" and take over the Republic.
Except Mace Windu completely bungles the whole thing. After the Chancellor uses his influence to place Anakin on the Jedi Council, the Jedi try to recruit Anakin to spy on the Chancellor by refusing to promote him to Master rank! Windu then waits until the second most powerful Jedi, Master Yoda, is on a planet far far away before launching the coup. Windu first goes to arrest Chancellor Palpatine (aka Sith Lord Darth Sidious) and manages to defeat the Sith Lord at the cost of only a few pathetic second-rank Jedi that he brought along for backup. Anakin, who at this moment is still somewhat loyal to Jedi, then stumbles across the victorius Windu holding Dath Sidious at bay with a lightsaber and prompts Windu to make a fatal error: changing his plan from arresting Sidious to insisting that Sidious be killed, thus prompting Anakin to kill him
Anakin is inducted into the Sith as the new Darth Vader by a grateful Darth Sidious and proves his loyalty to Sidious by massacring the remaining Jedi. Those Jedi who are on Corruscant are all murdered in the Jedi Temple despite being ordered by Mace to "secure the Senate" while those Jedi who are off-planet are casually shot in the back by their own troops that are supposed to be commanding. The two remaining Jedi, Yoda and Obi-Wan, make a courageous bid to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but ultimately fail to stop Darth Sidious' counter-coup and the formation of the Galactic Empire.
Thus, we see that the ultimate reason for the formation of the Galactic Empire and the basis for the events of the original Star Wars is that Mace Windu f**ked-up, big time.
Aside from the clownshow that is the Jedi leadership, Revenge of the Sith is basically Lucas' capitulation to his fan base. The film focuses on the lightsaber battles, Obi-Wan's action sequences and the largest capital-ship space battle to be seen since Return of the Jedi, which is presumably due to large parts of Episode II being compared to C-SPAN by critics. Anakin's turn to the Dark Side is based on the deep-seated Oedipus complex established in previous episodes to keep the psychoanalysis in Episode III to a bare minimum, although even these additions to the plot are obviated when Anakin kills a surrendered adversary in the first 15 minutes of the film. Finally, such galling offenses to the fan base as the "prophecy of the chosen one", Jar Jar Binks and the midichloriants are essentially written out of the saga. After all, only a Sith believes in midichloriants.