For me, the "Star Wars" saga faded with "Episode VI: Return of the Jedi." It wasn't the cutesy Ewoks, although the teddy-bear warriors were irritating beyond belief. No, the big problem was the fact that Darth Vader, who had killed countless souls without hesitation and destroyed an entire planet just to make a point, nonetheless wholly redeemed himself by refusing to kill his own son. Thus Vader won a coveted spot in the afterlife sitting by the eternal campfire with Jedi good guys Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda.
The dead Darth-turned-Anakin looks happy, too. You can imagine him turning to his old chums, and saying, "Sorry about Alderaan. Have a nice day."
If only Hitler had sired a son. Then, after the Blitzkrieg and the Holocaust, Hitler might have had that redefining moment that would have gotten him in touch with his paternal inner self, and taken up gardening. Or origami.
The problem is, George Lucas has written a saga about evil, featuring the most infamous villain in film history, but he doesn't understand evil. As evidenced in the new release of "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," Lucas may not even know what "really bad" is.
Think of Lucas as one of those muddled liberals who think George Bush is evil, while Saddam Hussein is a piker. In an act that should be, but isn't, campy self-parody, the left-wing fanatics at Moveon.org have produced a new TV spot that depicts Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist "as a hooded villain who seeks absolute power over our courts." (Need I remind you, gentle reader, that if conservatives compared blocking the filibuster for appellate court nominees to mass annihilation, talking heads in tweed coats would be dismissing the analogy as dangerously over the top?) To round things out, let me add that Lucas' view on the very bad is analogous to conservatives whose darkest fear isn't Osama bin Laden, but Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Reviewers have been quick to note the nexus between President Bush's statement, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," to Anakin Skywalker's pronouncement, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." A coy Lucas told an audience in Cannes that he started writing "Star Wars" when Richard Nixon was president, and he sees strong "parallels" between Vietnam and Iraq.
Let me credit Lucas with this much. "The Phantom Menace" produced complaints that he engaged in facile racial stereotypes that demeaned Asians, Arabs and Africans. Since then, it is clear, Lucas learned that there is only one facile stereotype that is safe in Hollywood: Republican equals evil. Bush bad.