- At the Cannes Film Festival, U.S. filmmaker George Lucas discussed blockbuster-to-be Revenge of the Sith and its apparent Iraq War parallels.
- More from Cannes: Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas’ sexually explicit drama Battle in Heaven is a top contender for the Palme d’Or, while 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 Forsaken Land, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and Me and You and Everyone We Know, 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.”
What Iraq War parallels?
Why would anyone in their right mind think that Revenge of the Sith features analogies to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq?
Well, perhaps lines like “This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause” and “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.”
The former is spoken by Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) while the (Ancient Rome-inspired) Galactic Senate cheers ambitious totalitarian leader-in-the-making Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) when he declares that he’s waging an assassination spree against the Jedi.
The latter is spoken by Darth Vader-in-the-making Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) while having a conversation with former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
And here’s one real-world connection: During a congressional address held shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York City and Washington, U.S. President and Iraq War hawk George W. Bush declared, “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
Revenge of the Sith cast
Besides Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman (also seen in Cannes’ Official Competition entry Free Zone), Ewan McGregor, and Ian McDiarmid, the Revenge of the Sith cast includes Jimmy Smits, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Bruce Spence, Joel Edgerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and veteran Christopher Lee (She, The Gorgon).
As for the movie’s Iraq War parallels, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether world events that took place during filming somehow influenced the final product.
A notable aside: George W. Bush was chosen last year’s vilest movie villain for his performance in Michael Moore’s controversial blockbuster documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
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.
“Iraq War Parallels in Revenge of the Sith?” endnotes
Cannes Film Festival website.
Revenge of the Sith quotes via CBS News.
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?” last updated in September 2021.