The Redemption of Darth Vader
Star Wars! You either love it or hate it, don't you?
Personally, I love the effects and gung ho action. I'm less enthusiastic about the pop philosophy that has come to surround it.
Less than enthusiastic is an understatement when it comes to David Brin's opinion. He has incorporated the Star Wars myth into his ongoing rant against the creeping tide of anti-modernist views. In this piece, he tried to salvage the major problems with the SW saga for the modernist cause, by taking up a pub challenge and tinkering with the plot of 'Revenge Of The Sith'. Driven by agenda, a deadline and, no doubt, an insufficient beer supply, he eventually threw up his hands in disgust.
Now, while I don't claim to have Brin's writing experience, or grasp of prose (nor Lucas' directing skills), I've had a germ of an idea about this, ever since SW II.
So, I have been inspired by Brin's attempt, and have developed what I thought was an original and interesting plot twist that could be applied to 'Revenge of The Sith' to produce:
The Redemption of Darth Vader
The first half of the movie is pretty much unchanged, apart for some minor setups. These would depict Anakin as alternating between enlightened jedi (albeit a troubled one) and brooding brat. In particular, I would add a scene wherein Anakin and Palapatine are indulging in some ambiguous exercise. Palpatine expresses mild pleasure in progress, yet seems vaguely disappointed.
The first major change in the action is that pivotal scene where Mace Windu, after his tipoff from Anakin, confronts Palpatine in his chambers:
- The fight ensues
- Cuts between the action, and Anakin's agonising in his chambers.
- Finally, Anakin, with his head in hands, intoning 'What have I done?' *
- Palpatine hesitates: 'he's not coming!'
- Windu presses the advantage and has P pinned, and stripped of his disguise.
- Suddenly, a dark figure enters. Anakin! Looking very dark. He surveys the scene crying 'Master!?'
- P says W is going to kill him
- W says darn right! P is too dangerous
- P screams no!
- A attacks W, and W is slain by P.
- P, clearly shaken, recovers sufficiently to tell Anakin he has done well, but that they must move quickly. Bidding A go dispatch clones to deal with the academy, P invokes command #66. (NB: P has *not* yet invested A as a Sith Lord)
- Scenes of clone troops entering the Jedi academy.
- Confused fight scenes.
- In Padme's apartment, a desparate call for help is received. Anakin, apparently interrupted from a reverie, reacts quickly. Briefly reassuring Padme, he leaps on his speedster.
- Anakin arrives on academy terrace and quickly enters the building.
- In the chambers, frightened younglings cower. A enters. They come out of hiding. A unsheathes his *red* light saber. And grins.
- Youngling screams
- Anakin runs through corridor.
- More cries.
- Anakin enters the chamber to confront carnage... and himself!
- Anakin: (stunned) 'What have you DONE!!?'
- From the shadows, a voice: 'My bidding!'. There is a blast that disorients Anakin.
- Thereafter, Anakin is backed into a corner: even he is outclassed by a Sith Lord and his apprentice.
- Meanwhile, P intones: 'Oh, Anakin! You would not come when I needed you!. *zap* I had such hopes for you. Yet, you would not come!' *zap*
- Anakin: 'Palpatine! But...why!? I admired you. You had such wisdom! Why this?'
- Palpatine:'Wisdom? Perhaps. Yet you clearly found greater wisdom at the feet of Master Yoda!' *zap*
- Anakin: (weakening fast) No...! I admired you... both! You each had..ways that...together made things...much clearer!'
- A finally manages to disarm Anakin: severing his artificial hand.
- Palpatine: (gloating) Oh, Anakin! Surely you do not believe that the dark side of the force can coexist with the light? I am truly disappointed! (moves off camera) Yet, this outcome was not wholly unanticipated, and I was prepared for it! (A moves into view) See? My apprentice: your cloned offspring. (A raises sabre), in whom I find the potential of the father has been more than fulfilled!
- Palpatine(to A): kill him!
- A flash of red light. And darkness.....
P now praises A, admitting that his doubts were misplaced. He invests A, and Darth Vader *now* arises. Looking down at the body of Anakin, P comments that a final memory scan will be useful if Vader is to take on Anakin's role. He bids Vader to go to Mustafar to dispatch the Trade feds. Vader does his bidding. (He does not revisit Padme)
Meantime, Kenobi and Yoda evade the clone betrayal, and return to Coruscant and the Jedi academy. Carnage, and the security cameras displaying A as the cause (naturally, they assume it is Anakin). Yoda confronts Palpatine, while Kenobi goes to see Padme and find A. Padme cannot believe Anakin has betrayed the Jedi and, tracing him via R2-D2, goes after him (with Obi Wan stowed away).
Vader has slain the Trade Fed dupes. Palpatine tells him to stand down clone armies, and take time out to assimilate the memory downloads from Anakin. It is partway through this process that Padme arrives. The sight of her reinforces Anakin's downloaded memories of Padme, and Vader is confused: torn by how his actions conflict with his/Anakin's feelings and hopes for Padme and the unborn child. Vader regains control when he sees Obi Wan emerging. Angrily casting aside Padme for her 'betrayal', he confronts Kenobi. The fight ensues as per the film and ends with Obi Wan leaving Vader for dead.
As does the aftermath: Padme dying, after claiming she still senses good (in Vader). Obi Wan and Yoda find homes for the twins and go into exile.
And Vader is rescued and reconstructed by Palpatine. Due to the shock of seeing Padme, and the trauma of his injuries, he can no longer distinguish Anakin's memories from his own and spends his rehabilitation in flashbacks. The grief and rage he feels at being told that he has killed Padme is genuine, and he feels the first stirrings of resentment of his master.
The final scene fades with Vader's signature voice:What have I done?**lights up*
So what does all this achieve?
It sidesteps the trivialising issue of having a young upholder of good who so easily casts those cherished values aside. Anakin may be tempted and intrigued by what the dark side may offer, but ultimately rejects what it stands for. In light of this, and in considering who everyone believes Darth Vader to be, his death is truly tragic.
Vader can now be portrayed, not as a fallen angel with no hope of redemption, but as a product of Palpatine's machinations who, having never been on the moral high ground, might yet be able to stumble onto it. The good that Padme sense in him is a seed, not a remnant. And, if that seed can be nurtured, there will, indeed, be 'A New Hope'.
Best of all, the twist needs only minimal tinkering with the original script!
Of course, this is all hypothetical. The world knows it ended differently.
Still, in writing this, I feel able to quote the last words of a hero from another franchise:
*This line is the only bit of real pathos Anakin gets to utter. I think it has a nice twist in emphasis here. The original ruins it by having it after he's helped dispatch Windu, and then submits to the dark side with the same dopey logic as a catholic school girl waking up in her first double bed, and promptly replacing 'nun' with 'hooker' in her CV