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Light Sabers and Self-Sacrifice

Two recent films—a blockbuster and an unknown—show two ways of confronting evil

Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones
directed by George Lucas
Twentieth Century-Fox
To End All Wars
directed by David L. Cunningham
Argyll Film Partners

With Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones, George Lucas recaptures an essential element of his epic series: foreboding. After Episode I—The Phantom Menace, many critics and even some fans worried that Lucas had lost his director's mojo. The special effects and fight choreography were still dazzling, but too much of the story dwelled on the frivolous Jar Jar Binks and on entirely digital characters like Watto the junkyard slaveholder.

In Episode II, Anakin Skywalker grows from a dimpled boy to a surly 20-year-old (played adequately by Hayden Christensen), Jar Jar (now an interim senator, against all odds) becomes a dupe of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, and Zen master Yoda wields a light saber with ferocity.

In short, Episode II leaves Star Wars fans feeling the same way we felt in the early 1980s: Lucas is a gifted storyteller, and it's a privilege to live in the time when he is creating new films. Lucas is one of the best filmmakers of his generation—not because of his often-stilted dialogue and the sometimes flat emotional range he draws out of actors, but because of his audacious vision. How many other directors have dared to commit so many of their most creative years to a serial drama, much less one that asks questions about good and evil?

Episode II renews the question of whether Lucas was crazy (or crazy like a fox) to start his saga midstory with what he eventually called Episode IV—A New Hope. The 25-year difference between the special effects of Episode IV and Episode II is striking; the past looks more technologically advanced than what follows it. But Lucas ...

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Light Sabers and Self-Sacrifice
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