Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Dark Side of the Force

Saw Revenge of the Sith today. It's an OK movie, definitly better than episodes 1 and 2. But its still lacking that something-something that made New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.

Not sure what exactly to say about this movie, though. I mean...its OK, I guess. It was pretty good. The fight scenes seemed a bit too long, though, and there was a LOT of stuff sqashed into its 2+ hour run time.

I found that the evolution of Anakin was rushed to the point of being unrealistic. I honestly can't figure out how no one had realized previously that he was THIS unstable. Also, the naming of Vader was just too staged. I dunno.

This is a movie that tried to tie off all the lose ends that they hadn't bothered to tie off in the previous two, to the effect that a third of the movie was spent just getting ready for the original trilogy.

Two interesting things came out of this movie.

First off, its the only movie I think I've ever seen where I want to go see EVERY movie that had a trailer leading up to it. I was overjoyed to see that Sue Storms powers are now based on force field manipulation rathern than turning invisible AND forcefields. And the new Narnia movies look, whiel probably not very true to the books, quite neat.

The second is that I have decided that the Sith rock. Not becuase they're the bad guys, but because of the fact that they don't HAVE to be. The Sith and Jedi operate under the following basic dichtomy:
-The Jedi prize self control and ascetic discipline to enforce a selfless lifestyle. They value duty to a nebulous higher ideal and aschew all personal, social, and emotional attachments as clouding the path to that ideal. They acheive control over the force through self discipline, and having perfect self mastery and self knowledge. However, that self knowledge is used to know how to repress themselves so that they can dedicate their lifes to a higher ideal.
-The Sith prize individuality and expression of emotion. Each Sith worries about himself. They know themselves in the same way that the Jedi do, but embrace their passions rather than denying them. They seek power through personal release and expression rather than repression and rigorous self discipline. Sith do not follow a higher ideal espoused by a group, but rather follow their own ideals. What this means is that Sith don't have to be evil. They're selfish, yes, but they can see themselves as noble protectors as easily as heartless power mongering villains. The reason that so many Sith ARE villains is the fault of their masters, not the source of their power. The problem with the Sith master training is that it tends to emphasize personal ambition. And the Sith lords generally choose students who are already very ambitious...and then give this idiotic training exercise of murdering people to prove you're "worthy", so its only natural that the apprentice is going to chafe under them and slaughter them as soon as they get the chance.

Thus a Jedi will appreciate fine music becuase of the way it is composed and the skill with which it is played. He will deny that the music evokes any emotions in him. A Sith will enjoy the music because of how the composition makes him feel, and the pleasure he takes from a skillfull performance.

The problem arises when a Sith gets to like certain things. He doesn't have to be a villain...unless he decides that he really likes the taste of power over others, or murder. But the Sith have the option of tempering their emotions with logic and consideration, and thus it is not nessecary for them to completly surrender themselves. Being a Sith is about understanding and accepting, rather than repressing, your emotions...but it doesn't mean they have to be slaves to them.

This is mainly what Revenge of the Sith taught me. It also taught me that most of the Sith don't understand the logical point of their own philosophy, but rather justify it for a hedonistic lifestyle of pleasure, murder, and manipulation. I think that the Emperor understands it much better than Mal, Dooku, or Vader...but at the same time, even he falls to his own hubris.

ANd that's the main downside of the Dark Side of the Force: Hubris. With the full power of the Force at their disposal its only natural for the Sith to become prideful and overconfident over time without careful discipline. That's the one place where the Jedi have them: the Jedi training regime works to keep its students remembering that they're mortal. It means that Jedi are far more likely to consider a situation, its pros and its cons, before a Sith will. This is also why the Jedi are in charge: they're less prone to reactionary decisions and prideful actions.

And that's all I have to say about that.


Blogger Alexander Lambert said...

I have to disagree with Derek's assessment of why the Jedi are the setting's socially accepted Force-using religious order. It's not so much because they're more responsible in the use of their mojo, but rather because they've already driven the Sith nearly into extinction.

Comparing the two orders on a level playing field, the Jedi insist on their apprentices learning to stave off their emotions rather than risk summoning up more mojo than the apprentice can definitely control, while the Sith encourage their apprentices to cultivate their passions, so that they can call up as much mojo as possible, creating an emotionally truer application of the Force, with less regard for the innocent bystanders.

Put both these options to a potential apprentice; either spend years learning to have absolute control of basically no power before you're allowed to do anything significant with your gifts, or push yourself as hard as you can to keep meeting, exceeding, and discovering new limits for your powers. On a level playing field, there's very little reason for children (and less reason for for adolescents) to choose the slow careful disciplined path of the Jedi when a faster slicker sexier option is readily available.

Thus, although these two religions almost certainly developed separately, once they coexist in the same social environment, the Sith "social organism" will inevitably prove to have the greater ability to expand its numbers. And since that invariably constitutes a direct threat to the continuing existence of the Jedi "social organism", a war of extinction was called for.

A war which the Jedi won for three reasons. First, as Derek said, they're much more restrained in their mojo, which makes them far more approachable to the teeming masses of Force-blind sentients out in the galaxy, and no matter how deadly the Sith, having an entire planet convinced that you're only there to rape and pillage is going to put a cramp in your style.

Second, the Jedi's philosophy of application of the Force is much more suited than the Sith's to introspective research of new technologies, giving them a concrete edge in military hardware (such as thermal scanning equipment to locate enemy units who've learned to mask their Force signature).

And third, the Jedi are much less suited to pushing oneself beyond one's physical limits, which means they are far less likely than the Sith to physically burn themselves out (::minor spoiler:: as Palpatine did while trying to call up enough energy to penetrate [the Jedi]'s defenses in his office) in the use of their mojo, giving them a drastically lower number of non-enemy-involved casualties.

So, when the war between Jedi and Sith inevitably erupted, the Jedi were in a position to win.

And history is always written by the victors.

2:23 p.m.  

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