Having taken a little break from posting in the blog due to my little geek being born, I felt it was a good time to post again. Today is a topic that I have thought a good amount about. I will discuss Anakin Skywalker, sometimes better known as Darth Vader. The things I say are based off of my understanding of human nature (potentially a very limited understanding) and things I picked up through the movies and shows in the Star Wars Universe.
To put it out there…I do NOT think that Anakin Skywalker was ever truly evil. Even as Darth Vader, I never associate him with evil. I wont talk too much about this, but when I think of evil, I think Emperor Palpatine. That is evil in its purest form. Darth Vader was never that way…at least not that I have ever seen. There are moments where he would do something evil, but never was he evil. Let’s discuss…
The very first time we ever see Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars timeline is in episode I. We see him as an innocent boy with extreme potential. His whole life is that of a slave, which he doesn’t like but also doesn’t associate with hatred. He has a strong connection with his mother. He is extremely courageous. All of these are great qualities. There is no way I would ever look at this boy and predict that he would do anything terrible. Aside from these small things, we don’t learn much about him in episode I.
Where we really see him take shape is in episode II. As a teenager, Anakin is undergoing a lot of growing, particularly it would seem in his emotional state. Ever since he met Padme, he has constantly thought about her and in this movie he is given the opportunity to actually spend time with her. There are some strong feelings in play here and Anakin forms a very powerful connection with Padme which will heavily influence his decisions later on in life. We also see how his relationship with his mother plays a large part. Due to his visions of his mother suffering, he returns to Tatooine to find her. When he finally finds her, she dies in his arm. I would imagine a good word to describe his state is devastated. It is as if his entire world fell apart in his arms and he couldn’t do anything about it. As would seem normal, his devastation turned into anger towards the ones who not only caused his mother so much pain and suffering, but him also. He did next what I think many individuals would do if put into a similar situation…he sought revenge. He killed every single Tusken Raider in that camp…everyone. Was this an evil act? The act of killing just to kill is evil in my opinion. In this situation, I do not think he was killing them just to kill. He was killing them because he had no clue how to handle what had happened. Does this make what he did right? No way. Does it make him evil? I also say no way. We can see though in this moment just how much his personal connections with those he loves affect his decisions in life.
Episode III is where we see the real transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. His transformation was not something that happened overnight. It was one that had been happening ever since he left his mother. I do not think at all that it was an easy choice to become Darth Vader, and I do not think it happened right in that moment when he saver Palpatine from Mace Windu. No, the thoughts and feelings Anakin had been having since a child were what pushed him to where he went, and it was a long process. I do not think that human beings “evil” things spur of the moment. The choices people make are based off of a thought process that has been happening for a while. This thought process of mine will also play a part later on. The entire movie, we see not only Anakin and his concern for Padme dying, but Palapatine, gently at first and gradually in a more intense way, manipulating these feelings to eventually control Anakin. Anakin had lost his mother and blamed himself for not being able to save her…there was no way he was going to let Padme die. So when Palpatine offered him the chance to learn how to save Padme from death, how tempting that must have been. There have been times in my own life where I have wanted something bad enough that some things that I might never consider were suddenly justifiable in my mind. This was the case with Anakin. When he became Darth Vader, I am sure his main thought process was “I am going to save Padme.” That became his only thought and he started to follow Palapatine’s orders blindly…all because he loved Padme. When Vader killed all the Jedi in the temple, including the younglings, he committed a terrible act. But I still don’t see him as evil. I see him as blindly following the one person who he thought could help him save the one he loved more than anything. How many of us would be willing to do possibly extreme things to protect the ones we love? I am not saying I would kill younglings or something like that, but I would do almost anything to protect my family. I think it is a natural human reaction. Does that make me or anyone else evil? I still say no.
Skipping ahead, we see the fight between Vader and Obi-Wan. Vader hates Obi-Wan because he simply sees him as trying to take away Padme. When he screams the words “I hate you” to Obi-Wan, they are words born from extreme emotional pain and confusion. Still, not evil in my mind. Palpatine shows what true evil is shortly after he saves Vader and puts him in his suit. He tells Vader that he killed Padme…and as we see an emotional outburst from Vader and the power coursing through the room, we see Palpatine smile. He is clearly feeling joy in knowing that he has secured his hold over one of the most powerful individuals in the galaxy which in turn means he will have as much power as he wants. He smiles at the loss that Vader had. He smiles knowing so many people were killed so he could be the ultimate authority of the galaxy. That is evil. And at this point, we see another transformation of Vader…he has just lost everything he loves. His wife, his friends and his life as a jedi. Everything he knew is now gone…all he has is Palpatine, the one who has always been there for him. This is the final transformation into Darth Vader. Not someone who is evil, but someone who is loyal to the only thing he has left.
Enter episode IV. We see Darth Vader basically being the super bad guy we all know. Killing rebels, threatening to kill imperials who doubt in the force, and basically a guy commanding others with an iron fist. Darth Vader is now someone who no longer remembers his life as Anakin Skywalker. He has been the Emperor’s puppet for so long now, that is who he is and what he knows. We see him remember a small part of his past when he fights Ben Kenobi, but it is not really enough to cause any emotional stirring inside him. But closer to the end of the movie, he senses a different presence…he senses the presence of Luke Skywalker. And at this point, some serious changes start to take place. We don’t see it too much in episode IV, but we see it a lot in episode V.
It has now become Vader’s goal to find Luke. Since he found out that Luke Skywalker was alive, he has started to remember some of his time as Anakin. He is feeling some feelings he has not felt in a long time. He has a child…a child he thought died when Padme died. He has an emotional connection to this child simply because of the fact that he is his child. When he finally has a chance to have a meeting with him (better called an encounter) he is not seeking to kill him. Even though he had killed so many Jedi before, he was hesitant to kill this one since he was his son. So instead of killing him straight up, which he could have easily done since Luke hadn’t been completely trained yet, he offered him a chance to join him to rule the galaxy. Now this offer is interesting…this offer is not an evil offer, it’s actually one of affection, even though that is a limited feeling for Vader to have. He wants to give his son a chance to join him in the only thing he really knows. The Dark Side. Being a Sith Lord is all he knows, so he offers that to his son. I think at this point, Luke was a little devastated about the news, but as he continually thought about it, he came to a realization that Vader himself had started to see…Darth Vader was not evil. He had some very small pieces of Anakin starting to show…very small, but they were there. Just like the process of becoming Darth Vader took a lot of time and thoughts and feelings, the process of becoming Anakin Skywalker again was taking a lot of time, thoughts and feelings.
Episode VI is where we see the final transformation from Darth Vader to Anakin Skywalker, the good person we had known in the beginning. Vader was directed by Palpatine to secure Luke and bring him to him, but I think that Vader had his own motives for bringing him. He was starting to have feelings of love for Luke. He tried to deny that the name Anakin Skywalker meant anything to him because of one simple truth…change is difficult. How could he go from being so involved in the dark side to being a father and a good person…that is a difficult switch. He probably was trying to hide any feelings he might have been having since they were extremely foreign to him. The final fight between Vader and Luke was the final turning point. We see once again, Palpatine trying to manipulate Luke into becoming a part of the dark side…not out of love or any good feeling, but because he knew Vader was growing old and he needed someone new to be his iron fist. As Vader and Luke fought, Vader finds out that he also has a daughter…man right in the feels. He has two kids. Two people who connected him to his lost love, Padme. The feelings started to become consuming and he had a harder time fighting them. Palpatines manipulations were what got him into a position of power, and they were what got him killed as well. We see him torturing Luke after he refused to join the dark side. We hear the cries for help from Luke saying “Father, Please.” And even though he is wearing a mask, we can see the internal conflict in Vader’s mind…do I continue to remain loyal to the one who has always been there, or do I help someone who is a part of me, a part of Padme, who I love? He has gone through so many changes since he first found out about Luke, and at this point, Darth Vader no longer exists. Anakin Skywalker picks up the Emperor and throws him to his death. The transformation is complete.
It was a long journey, with a lot of bad things along the way. But even though he did bad things, Darth Vader was never evil. He was never motivated by evil desires, or desires for power. He was always motivated by love or loyalty. Those things made it possible for him to be brought back to the light side and to help him experience happiness in his life once more.