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The cycle of Star Wars films which began in the late 70s is now complete, and it ends on a truly dark and down note. The Revenge of the Sith, which is the name of this particular episode is indeed all about the apparent triumph of evil. While this would have been fine if, as with the Lord of the Rings, we finish where the cycle properly ends, this is not the case with this film. It is the last of the three prequels and the little children who go to see this film will leave with foreboding images in their heads, having not seen the previous films, particularly not the first three which came out so very long ago. This is not a case of all’s well that ends well.

The film is well put together, the plot makes sense, and the stuggle between good and evil goes on, but my concern is with the portrayal of evil in this film. Towards the end of the film there is a tell-tale remark— “Only the Sith believe in absolutes”. The ‘good guys’as it turns out, are relativists. After Anakin Skywalker busily slaughters the Jedi innocents, we still hear his girl friend/wife urging– “there is good in him”. Not really in fact– he even puts the choke hold on her at one point and accusers her of collaborating with his betrayers. He is a very Dark Darth Vader indeed by the time this movie is over.

But even the good guys believe in a continuum of good and evil. In fact they don’t believe in dualism of any sort. There is simply the one force which has a dark side and a good side, and one can be lured or attracted to either side of the force. From a Christian point of view, this is not a philosophy that we should be blithely endorsing. For one thing it involves a denial not only of absolutes but also of an absolutely good God. The philosophy is rather like ancient pantheistic Stoicism that believed some impersonal power or force was really running the universe, and that there was a bit of it in everyone. Now when you have a force running a universe you may be able to feel it, or get in touch with it, but you can’t have a personal relationship with it, and of course this is a movie without any praying persons. It is a very secular vision of good and evil, and good and evil are always being exercised by sentient beings– there are not even any angels or demons, only mortals of one sort or another.

And as for the resident philosopher Yoda, he serves up the following message “death is just a natural part of life. You should not grieve or mourn the loss of loved ones.” Its all a natural part of this great big impersonal life cycle in the universe. This could hardly be less like a Christian approach to death or mourning for that matter. There is nothing natural about human death. As Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 15, death is the wages of sin.

I have no problems with sciene fiction, and I have enjoyed much these imaginative Star Wars films have to offer, but Christians should not be beguiled into thinking that these films are value neutral. They are not, and so should be critically sifted. This is all the more important in a post-modern culture where we imbibe and even come to inhabit and imitate the stories we admire. As one wise man, not named Yoda, once said— “You become, what you admire.”

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