- At the Cannes Film Festival, U.S. filmmaker George Lucas discussed blockbuster-to-be Revenge of the Sith and its apparent Iraq War parallels.
- Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas’ sexually explicit drama Battle in Heaven is a top contender for the Palme d’Or.
- Also at Cannes, Japanese filmmaker Masahiro Kobayashi used strong words to describe his native country’s current status quo.
Cannes Film Festival news: George Lucas dismisses Iraq War parallels in Revenge of the Sith
Set in a galaxy far, far away from low-budget Cannes Film Festival fare like The Child, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Me and You and Everyone We Know, and The Forsaken Land, George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith was screened out of competition at this year’s festival.
While at Cannes, the two-time Best Director Academy Award nominee (American Graffitti, 1974; Star Wars, 1977) asserted that any apparent Iraq War parallels in his latest Star Wars entry are coincidental.
“When I wrote [Revenge of the Sith}, Iraq didn’t exist. We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t think of him as an enemy at that time. We were going after Iran and using him as our surrogate, just as we were doing in Vietnam. … The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we’re doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.”
Revenge of the Sith cast
The Revenge of the Sith cast includes Hayden Christensen as Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill in the original trilogy), Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness in the original trilogy), and Natalie Portman (also seen in Cannes’ Official Competition entry Free Zone) as the new prequel(s) character Padmé Amidala.
Also in the cast: Jimmy Smits, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels, Samuel L. Jackson, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Bruce Spence, Joel Edgerton, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and veteran Christopher Lee (She, The Gorgon).
As for the Iraq War parallels, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether world events that took place during filming somehow influenced the final product.
Top Palme d’Or contenders
In other Cannes 2005 news, the Parisian daily Le Monde calls Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas’ Battle in Heaven / Batalla en el cielo – not the Mexican version of Stars Wars – “a magnificent film about the mystical erotic pleasure of lost souls in the megalopolis of Mexico City.”
The sexually explicit Battle in Heaven is the first Mexican film in half a century to be included in Cannes’ Official Competition. Along with Michael Haneke’s psychological/political thriller Caché / Hidden, Reygadas’ drama is the odds-on favorite for the Palme d’Or.
Battle in Heaven stars Marcos Hernández and Anapola Mushkadiz.
Caché stars Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, and three-time Prix César-winning veteran Annie Girardot (as Best Actress for Docteur Françoise Gailland, 1976; as Best Supporting Actress for Les Misérables, 1995, and Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher, 2001).
‘Japan is sick’
Another Cannes tidbit: Japanese filmmaker Masahiro Kobayashi used harsh words while talking about the “conservative Japanese media” and the government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
One example: “I think that Japan is sick. There is a tendency to try and take revenge, to attack the weakest.”
The story of a former Iraq hostage ostracized upon her return to Japan, Kobayashi’s Bashing is one of the contenders for this year’s Palme d’Or.
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Cannes Film Festival website.
Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith image: 20th Century Fox.
“Iraq War Parallels in Revenge of the Sith: Political Statement or Coincidence?” last updated in October 2020.