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Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is a 2005 American epic space-opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Frank Oz. It is the final installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the third chapter in the Skywalker saga and the sixth Star Wars film to be released overall.

Revenge of the Sith is set three years after the onset of the Clone Wars, established in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002). The Jedi are spread across the galaxy, leading a large-scale war against the Separatists. Following the death of Separatist leader Count Dooku, the Jedi Council dispatches Obi-Wan Kenobi to eliminate General Grievous, the head of the Separatist army, to put an end to the war. Meanwhile, after having premonitions of his wife Padmé Amidala dying in childbirth, Anakin Skywalker is tasked by the Council to spy on Palpatine, the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic and, secretly, a Sith lord known as Darth Sidious. Palpatine manipulates Anakin into turning to the dark side of the Force and becoming his apprentice, Darth Vader, with wide-ranging consequences for the galaxy.

Plot

Above Coruscant, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker lead a mission to rescue the kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from the cyborg Separatist commander General Grievous. After infiltrating Grievous' flagship, Obi-Wan and Anakin battle the Sith Lord Count Dooku, whom Anakin overpowers and decapitates at Palpatine's urging. Grievous escapes the battle-torn ship, which the Jedi crash-land on Coruscant. There, Anakin reunites with his wife, Padmé Amidala, who reveals that she is pregnant. While initially excited, Anakin soon begins to have visions of Padmé dying in childbirth.

Palpatine appoints Anakin to the Jedi Council as his personal representative. The Council, suspicious of Palpatine, approves the appointment but declines to grant Anakin the rank of Jedi Master and instead instructs him to spy on Palpatine, diminishing Anakin's faith in the Jedi. Meanwhile, on Utapau, Grievous relocates the Separatist leaders to the volcanic planet Mustafar. Obi-Wan travels to confront Grievous and kills him, while Yoda travels to the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk to defend it from a Separatist invasion.

Palpatine tempts Anakin with his knowledge of the Force, including the dark side, and offers to teach him the power to prevent death in order to save Padmé's life. Anakin deduces that Palpatine is the Sith Lord behind the war and reports his treachery to Mace Windu, who confronts and subdues him. Desperate to save Padmé's life, Anakin severs Windu's hand before he can kill Palpatine, who sends Windu falling to his death. Anakin pledges himself to the Sith, and Palpatine knights him, Darth Vader. Palpatine issues Order 66, which commands the clone troopers to kill their commanding Jedi generals across the galaxy, while Vader and a battalion of clone troopers kill the remaining Jedi in the Jedi Temple. Vader then travels to Mustafar to assassinate the Separatist leaders, while Palpatine declares himself Emperor before the Galactic Senate, transforming the Republic into the Galactic Empire, and denounces the Jedi as traitors.

Having survived the chaos, Obi-Wan and Yoda return to Coruscant, where Obi-Wan learns of Anakin's turn to the dark side. Yoda instructs Obi-Wan to confront Vader while he faces Palpatine. Obi-Wan seeks out Padmé to find out Vader's whereabouts and reveals his treachery. Padmé then travels to Mustafar – with Obi-Wan stowing away on her ship – and pleads with Vader to abandon the dark side, but he refuses. Seeing Obi-Wan aboard the ship, and thinking that they are conspiring to kill him, Vader uses the Force to strangle Padmé to unconsciousness in a blind rage. Obi-Wan then engages Vader in a lightsaber duel that ends with Obi-Wan severing Vader's legs and left arm, leaving him at the bank of a lava flow. Obi-Wan picks up Vader's lightsaber, watches in horror as flames consume the fallen Jedi, and leaves him for dead.

On Coruscant, Yoda battles Palpatine until their duel reaches a stalemate. Yoda then flees with Senator Bail Organa and regroups with Obi-Wan and Padmé on the planetoid Polis Massa. There, Padmé gives birth to twins, whom she names Luke and Leia, and dies soon after, having lost her will to live but still believing there is good in Vader. Palpatine retrieves a barely alive Vader and takes him to Coruscant, where his mutilated body is treated and covered in a black armored suit. When Vader asks if Padmé is safe, Palpatine says that he killed her out of anger, devastating Vader.

Obi-Wan and Yoda plan to conceal the twins from the Sith and go into exile until the time is right to challenge the Empire. As Padmé's funeral takes place on her homeworld of Naboo, Palpatine and Vader supervise the construction of the Death Star. Bail takes Leia to his homeworld of Alderaan, where he and his wife adopt her, while Obi-Wan delivers Luke to his step-uncle and -aunt, Owen, and Beru Lars, on Tatooine before going into exile to watch over the boy.

Cast

  • Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Master, general of the Galactic Republic and Anakin Skywalker's mentor.
  • Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala, a senator of Naboo who is secretly Anakin's wife and pregnant with their children.
  • Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader, a Jedi Knight, hero of the Clone Wars and former Padawan of Obi-Wan, who turns to the dark side of the Force and becomes a Sith Lord. Christensen also plays Vader in his suit.
  • Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine / Darth Sidious, the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic who is secretly a Sith Lord, and later the founder and leader of the Galactic Empire. He takes advantage of Anakin's distrust of the Jedi and fear of Padmé dying to turn him towards the dark side, becoming Vader's master.
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, a Jedi Master and senior member of the Jedi Council.
  • Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa, a senator of Alderaan.
  • Christopher Lee as Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus, Darth Sidious' Sith apprentice and leader of the Separatists.
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Anakin and Padmé's personal protocol droid that Anakin created as a child.
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2, Anakin's astromech droid.
  • Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda, a Jedi Grandmaster and the leader of the Jedi Council.

Peter Mayhew, Oliver Ford Davies, Ahmed Best, and Silas Carson reprise their roles as Chewbacca, Sio Bibble, Jar Jar Binks, and Nute Gunray and Ki-Adi-Mundi, respectively, from the previous films. Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse also make cameo appearances, reprising their roles as Owen and Beru Lars respectively from Attack of the Clones.

Production

Writing

Lucas stated that he conceived the Star Wars saga's story in the form of a plot outline in 1973. However, he later clarified that, at the time of the saga's conception, he had not fully realized the details—only major plot points. The film's climactic duel has its basis in the Return of the Jedi novelization, in which Obi-Wan recounts his battle with Anakin that ended with the latter falling "into a molten pit". Lucas began working on the screenplay for Episode III before the previous film, Attack of the Clones, was released, proposing to concept artists that the film would open with a montage of seven battles on seven planets. In The Secret History of Star Wars, Michael Kaminski surmises that Lucas found flaws with Anakin's fall to the dark side and radically reorganized the plot. For example, instead of opening the film with a montage of Clone War battles, Lucas decided to focus on Anakin, ending the first act with him killing Count Dooku, an action that signals his turn to the dark side.

A significant number of fans speculated online about the episode title for the film with rumored titles including Rise of the Empire, The Creeping Fear (which was also named as the film's title on the official website on April Fool's 2004), and Birth of the Empire. Eventually, Revenge of the Sith also became a title guessed by fans that George Lucas would indirectly confirm. The title is a reference to Revenge of the Jedi, the original title of Return of the Jedi; Lucas changed the title scant weeks before the premiere of Return of the Jedi, declaring that Jedi do not seek revenge.

Since Lucas refocused the film on Anakin, he had to sacrifice certain extraneous plot points relating to Attack of the Clones.[citation needed] Lucas had previously promised fans that he would explain the mystery behind the erasure of the planet Kamino from the Jedi Archives. However, Lucas abandoned this plot thread in order to devote more time to Anakin's story, leaving the matter unresolved on film.[citation needed]

Lucas had originally planned to include even more ties to the original trilogy, and wrote early drafts of the script in which a 10-year-old Han Solo appeared on Kashyyyk, but the role was not cast or shot. He also wrote a scene in which Palpatine reveals to Anakin that he created him from midichlorians, and is thus his "father", a clear parallel to Vader's revelation to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, but Lucas ejected this scene as well. Another planned scene by Lucas that was written during the early development of the film was a conversation between Master Yoda and the ghostly Qui-Gon Jinn, with Liam Neeson reprising his role as Jinn (he also hinted his possible appearance in the film). However, the scene was never filmed and Neeson was never recorded, although the scene was present in the film's novelization. Neeson finally reprised the role in an episode of The Clone Wars in 2011.

After principal photography was complete in 2003, Lucas made even more changes in Anakin's character, rewriting the entire "turn" sequence. Lucas accomplished this "rewrite" through editing the principal footage and filming new scenes during pickups in London in 2004. In the previous versions, Anakin had myriad reasons for turning to the dark side, one of which was his sincere belief that the Jedi were plotting to take over the Republic. Although this is still intact in the finished film, by revising and refilming many scenes, Lucas emphasized Anakin's desire to save Padmé from death. Thus, in the version that made it to theaters, Anakin falls to the dark side primarily to save Padmé.

Art design

For the Kashyyyk environment, the art department turned to the Star Wars Holiday Special for inspiration. Over a period of months, Lucas would approve hundreds of designs that would eventually appear in the film. He would later rewrite entire scenes and action sequences to correspond to certain designs he had chosen. The designs were then shipped to the pre-visualization department to create moving CGI versions known as animatics. Ben Burtt would edit these scenes with Lucas in order to pre-visualize what the film would look like before the scenes were filmed. The pre-visualization footage featured a basic raw CGI environment with equally unprocessed character models performing a scene, typically for action sequences. Steven Spielberg was brought in as a "guest director" to make suggestions to the art designers for the Mustafar duel, and oversee the pre-visualization of an unused version of the Utapau chase scene. Later, the pre-visualization and art department designs were sent to the production department to begin "bringing the film out of the concept phase" by building sets, props and costumes.

Filming

Although the first scene filmed was the final scene to appear in the film (shot during the filming of Attack of the Clones in 2000), the first bulk of principal photography on the film occurred from June 30, 2003 to September 17, 2003, with additional photography occurring at Shepperton Studios in Surrey and Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire from August 2004 to January 31, 2005. The initial filming took place on sound stages at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, although practical environments were shot as background footage later to be composited into the film. These included the limestone mountains depicting Kashyyyk, which were filmed in Phuket, Thailand. The production company was also fortunate enough to be shooting at the same time that Mount Etna erupted in Italy. Camera crews were sent to the location to shoot several angles of the volcano that were later spliced into the background of the animatics and the final film version of the planet Mustafar.

While shooting key dramatic scenes, Lucas would often use an "A camera" and "B camera", or the "V technique", a process that involves shooting with two or more cameras at the same time in order to gain several angles of the same performance. Using the HD technology developed for the film, the filmmakers were able to send footage to the editors the same day it was shot, a process that would require a full 24 hours had it been shot on film. Footage featuring the planet Mustafar was given to editor Roger Barton, who was on location in Sydney cutting the climactic duel.

Hayden Christensen says Lucas asked him "to bulk up and physically show the maturity that had taken place between the two films." The actor says he worked out with a trainer in Sydney for three months and ate "six meals a day and on every protein, weight gain supplement that man has created" to go from 160 lbs to 185 lbs.

Christensen and Ewan McGregor began rehearsing their climactic lightsaber duel long before Lucas would shoot it. They trained extensively with stunt coordinator Nick Gillard to memorize and perform their duel together. As in the previous prequel film, McGregor and Christensen performed their own lightsaber fighting scenes without the use of stunt doubles. The speed at which Vader and Obi-Wan engage in their duel is mostly the speed at which it was filmed, although there are instances where single frames were removed to increase the velocity of particular strikes. An example of this occurs as Obi-Wan strikes down on Vader after applying an armlock in the duel's first half.

Revenge of the Sith eventually became the first Star Wars film in which Anakin Skywalker and the suited Darth Vader were played by the same actor in the same film. As Christensen recounted, it was originally intended to simply have a "tall guy" in the Darth Vader costume, but after "begging and pleading" Christensen persuaded Lucas to have the Vader costume used in the film created specifically to fit him. The new costume featured shoe lifts and a muscle suit. It also required Christensen (who is 6 feet or 1.8 metres tall) to look through the helmet's mouthpiece.

In 2004, Gary Oldman was originally approached to provide the voice of General Grievous; however, complications arose during contract negotiations after Oldman learned the film was to be made outside of the Screen Actors Guild, of which he is a member. He backed out of the role rather than violate the union's rules. Matthew Wood, who voiced Grievous, disputed this story at Celebration III, held in Indianapolis. According to him, Oldman is a friend of producer Rick McCallum, and thus recorded an audition as a favor to him, but was not chosen. Wood, who was also the supervising sound editor, was in charge of the auditions and submitted his audition anonymously in the midst of 30 others, under the initials "A.S." for Alan Smithee. Days later, he received a phone call asking for the full name to the initials "A.S."

Visual effects

The post-production department (handled by Industrial Light & Magic) began work during filming and continued until weeks before the film was released in 2005. Special effects were created using almost all formats, including model work, CGI and practical effects. The same department later composited all such work into the filmed scenes—both processes taking nearly two years to complete. Revenge of the Sith has 2,151 shots that use special effects, a world record.

The DVD featurette Within a Minute illustrated the film required 910 artists and 70,441 man-hours to create 49 seconds of footage for the Mustafar duel alone. Members of Hyperspace, the Official Star Wars Fan Club, received a special look into the production. Benefits included not only special articles, but they also received access to a webcam that transmitted a new image every 20 seconds during the time it was operating in Fox Studios Australia. Many times the stars, and Lucas himself, were spotted on the webcam.

Removed scenes

Lucas excised all the scenes of a group of Senators, including Padmé, Bail Organa, and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly), organizing an alliance to prevent Palpatine from usurping any more emergency powers. Though this is essentially the Rebel Alliance's birth, the scenes were discarded to achieve more focus on Anakin's story. The scene where Yoda arrives on Dagobah to begin his self-imposed exile was also removed, but is featured as an extended scene in the DVD release, although McCallum stated he hoped Lucas would have added it to the new cut as part of a six-episode DVD box set.

Bai Ling filmed minor scenes for the film playing a senator, but her role was cut during editing. She claimed this was because she appeared in a nude pictorial for the June 2005 issue of Playboy, whose appearance on newsstands coincided with the film's May release. Lucas denied this, stating that the cut had been made more than a year earlier, and that he had cut his own daughter's scenes as well. The bonus features show an additional removed scene in which Jedi Master Shaak Ti is killed by General Grievous in front of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. The bonus features also show Kenobi and Skywalker running through Grievous's ship, escaping droids through a fuel tunnel, and arguing over what R2-D2 is saying.

Music

Main article: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (soundtrack)

The music was composed and conducted by John Williams (who has composed and conducted the score for every episode in the Star Wars saga), and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices. The film's soundtrack was released by Sony Pictures Classical Records on May 3, 2005, more than two weeks before the film's release. A music video titled A Hero Falls was created for the film's theme, "Battle of the Heroes", featuring footage from the film and was also available on the DVD.

The soundtrack also came with a collectors' DVD, Star Wars: A Musical Journey, at no additional cost. The DVD, hosted by McDiarmid, features 16 music videos set to remastered selections of music from all six film scores, set chronologically through the saga.

External links

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