Lucas's 'dark side'

I just finished watching the end of Return of the Jedi on TV - the re-done version with all the new cuts Lucas put in years later. (For what it's worth, I think the trilogy looks much better in its "hybrid" form, than the prequels ever looked.)

What I saw at the end was a little shocking. Perhaps you remember the closing scene, as the heroes celebrate with the Ewoks, Luke sees apparitions of the three Jedis who helped him realize his destiny - Yoda, Obi-Wan, and his father, Anakin.

In the original, Anakin, sans Vader outfit, was portrayed by David Prowse, the bodybuilder who portrayed Vader physically throughout the trilogy. Prowse, had already been screwed by Lucas with the release of the original Star Wars, because Lucas had not told him that his voice would not be used.

In Jedi, of course, Prowse got his retribution. He was shown as the restored Anakin, both in the final death scene when he confirms to his son, Luke, that he has indeed been saved, and as the apparition, verifying his acceptance as sort of Jedi "saint."

In the prequels, Anakin was portrayed inimitably poorly by Hayden Christensen. In the re-do of Jedi, Lucas replaced Prowse as the apparition with Christensen. While it does make sense to connect young Anakin to the decrepit Anakin who "died" 15 years earlier, Lucas did not replace old Obi-Wan (Sir Alec Guinness) with young Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor).

Lucas further screwed Prowse by having him give fake lines in Jedi, telling Luke that Obi-Wan had killed Anakin - rather than the now famous "Luke, I am your father." (Mark Hamill knew the real plot, and had to react accordingly, despite what his co-star Prowse was actually saying.) Prowse, along with much of the crew and cast, did not know that Obi-Wan was innocent until the final screening.

Credit is due for managing a sensitive plot twist so well, but Prowse has been disabused by the Star Wars institution since the very beginning. He did promo appearances in the late 70s and 80s, though his identity was never revealed so as to maintain the menacing aura of the Vader character.

I had forgotten about that final snub, Lucas removing Prowse from the closing apparition scene more than a decade later. I wonder if he'd considered inserting Christensen into the death scene, too.

All in all, it's pretty shabby treatment of one of the greatest villain characters of all time.

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