Australian Council on Children and the Media

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

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Not recommended under 15 due to violence, scary scenes and themes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • a review of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 May 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate science fiction violence
Length 140 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In the last days of the Clone Wars in the upper atmosphere of the planet Coruscant, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) fly their Jedi Fighters into battle against the droid army of the Separatist forces. The two Jedi Knights are attempting to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who is being held prisoner aboard a Star Ship by the evil Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). After fighting several battles and destroying numerous droid warriors the pair finally reach the captive Chancellor Palpatine and confront Count Dooku. After a fierce lightsabre duel Anakin manages to defeat the Count.

Following Palpatine’s rescue, Anakin is reunited with his wife Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), who is now pregnant. Anakin soon begins to have nightmares in which Padme dies during childbirth. At the same time Anakin finds himself torn between his loyalties to the Jedi Council and his loyalties to Palpatine, as both want Anakin to spy on the other. Eventually Anakin tells Palpatine of his nightmares and his fear for Padme. Palpatine suggests that salvation lies in the dark side of the force; if Anakin learns the dark side of the force he can bring Padme back from the dead. Anakin realises that Palpatine is the Sith Lord the Jedi Council have been hunting for, and renounces Palpatine to the Jedi Master Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). Mace with several other Jedi Knights approach Palpatine with the intent to arrest him, but Palpatine slaughters all Jedi but Mace in seconds. Mace and Palpatine continue a fierce battle with Mace eventually gaining the upper hand, but before Mace is able to deliver the fatal blow, Anakin arrives and begs the Jedi Master to spare Palpatine’s life. Palpatine pleads that Anakin’s wife will die unless he survives to teach Anakin the ways of the dark side, and Anakin turns on Mace killing the Jedi Master. Anakin now subverted by the dark side of the force submits fully to the will of Palpatine, who is now fully revealed as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious.

Darth Sidious convinces Anakin that all Jedi are enemies of the Republic and need to be destroyed. Anakin attacks the Jedi in their temple slaughtering all Jedi including the Jedi Council and the Jedi children. Simultaneously, Darth Sidious orders all clone warriors to turn on their Jedi masters and kill them. Jedi throughout the Galaxy are slaughtered to the point of extinction with only two surviving the genocide, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Now utterly consumed by the dark side of the force, Anakin kneels and swears allegiance to Darth Sidious, who claims Anakin for his apprentice and anoints him as Darth Vader.

Darth Sidious, no longer in need of his Separatist allies sends Anakin/Vader to the volcano planet Mustafar to eliminate the Separatist leaders. Padme, unable to believe Anakin has turned to the dark side, follows Anakin to Mustafar to confront him. As Padme’s Star Ship lifts off, Obi-Wan slips onboard. Padme arrives on Mustafar and confronts Anakin, horrified by the darkness that has consumed him. Anakin believes Padme has betrayed his love for her, and in jealous fit of rage, uses the force to strangle Padme to unconsciousness. Anakin and Obi-Wan attack each other mercilessly, the fight continuing across the volcanic surface of Mustafar until finally Obi-Wan gains the upper hand defeating Anakin. Anakin is ruined, losing both his legs and an arm. As Obi-Wan looks down upon what was once Anakin Skywalker lava washes over the ruined remains and Anakin is consumed by fire. Simultaneously Darth Sidious and Yoda fight out their own battle. Yoda is unable to defeat Darth Sidious and Yoda and Obi-Wan are forced into exile.

As the film draws to its conclusion, Obi-Wan takes Padme to the planet Alderaan where she gives birth to twins, who she names Luke and Leia. Shortly after the birth, Padme dies. On the planet Mustafar, Darth Sidious retrieves the burnt, ruined and barely alive body of Anakin/Vader. The ruined body is rebuilt and Anakin makes his final transformation into the cyborg Darth Vader.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Good versus evil; betrayal; jealousy

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith is best described as a blood bath of dismemberment, destruction and carnage. There are explicit images of violent and brutal acts throughout the course of the film. Some examples of violence include:

  • In the opening battle between a Republican army and an army of droids there are many violent images: ships exploding, pilots tumbling through space, pilots consumed by cockpit fire, dozens of droids consumed by an oil fire, buildings in the air destroyed by explosion, bodies hurled against walls, Obi-Wan pinned unconscious underneath a section of wall.
  • Count Dooku’s hands are severed and he kneels in front of Anakin, holding the stumps of his wrists in the air (minimal blood and gore). Enticed by Palpatine, Anakin decapitates the Count and there is an ecstatic look on Palpatine’s face. (Actual images of the decapitation are not shown. Dooku’s body falls to the ground and his head is seen rolling away in the background.)
  • Obi-Wan battles the leader of the droid army, General Grievous. At one point, Grievous tosses Obi-Wan around like a rag doll. Later Obi-Wan rips open Grievous’s chest to reveal a beating heart, and then shoots Grievous with a lazar gun. Flames erupt from his chest cavity and eye sockets.
  • The scene where Mace Windu and the Jedi attempt to arrest Palpatine is dark and brutal. Palpatine resembles a rabid animal as he leaps from his chair, attacking the Jedi with his lightsabre. He impales one Jedi, and slices another through the chest (minimal display of blood and gore). Later in the scene, Palpatine’s body is consumed by bolts of electricity, his face distorts taking on a horrifying mummy like appearance as the electrical current consumes his body.
  • There is a scene where Anakin (implicitly) kills numerous defenseless Jedi children. Anakin stands in front of a room full of young children with his lightsabre blazing and a very dark and possessed look in his eyes. A boy of about five years if age, who seems worried, asks Anakin what's going on. Anakin’s response is to fire up his light sabre. It is obvious that he is going to kill the child. This scene is potentially very distressing to a child. There are later images of the same room littered with the bodies of dead children.
  • Anakin/Vader ruthlessly slaughters several Separatist leaders. The scene is particularly brutal, with Anakin/Vader portrayed as completely void of all remorse. One Separatist begs Anakin/Vader to spare his life, but Anakin cold bloodedly looks at him taking his time to draw out the scene before he commits the murder.
  • Anakin uses The Force to strangle Padme into unconsciousness. Anakin stares at Padme with a very dark and hateful look in his eyes, then raises his hand as though pinching the air. Padme grabs her throat gasping for breath, and several seconds later she collapses to the floor.
  • The final lightsabre battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan is brutal and vicious, with images of Anakin/Vader strangling Obi-Wan, Anakin and Obi-Wan punching and kicking each other in the face and body, both striking blows at each other with their lightsabres. At the end Anakin/Vader lies on the ground at the edge of the river of lava. Both of his legs have been severed and one of his arms. As Anakin uses his one remaining arm to crawl up the bank, the remains of his ruined torso catch fire; the fire starts at the bottom and works its way up until his ruined body is engulfed. Finally a wave of lava washes over his burning torso. The last image is of a completely ruined body with the flesh left raw, burnt and smouldering.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the film’s portrayal of violent acts, many of the loud explosions, gunfire and sounds or raging battle are capable of scaring young children.  Also, some images and scenes could scare or even traumatise children under the age of five, including:

  • many alien creatures
  • the leader of the droid army, General Grievous, is a metal skeletonised droid with four arms and human internal organs. He resembles a giant insect and transforms from a human like posture to that of a spider. His overall appearance is repulsive, threatening and scary.
  • the humanoid Tion Medon has sharp pointy teeth, a very high forehead, and ornately colourful skin with an overall appearance that resembles something like an alien vampire.
  • a monstrous creature resembling a giant dragon / frill neck lizard, which Obi-Wan rides like a horse. Rather than being fierce, the creature resembles a friendly dog, however, the creature may still be worrying to younger children
  • very disturbing visual images of Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. At one point, after being defeated by Mace Windu, Palpatine crawls away from Mace in a very unnatural, crazed, frenzied manner that resembles a rabid animal. These images are very, very creepy, and leave a disturbing after-impression. Also of concern is the transformation of Palpatine’s face, which at one point begins to rapidly age taking on a shrivelled up, burnt, grotesque, toothless, mummified appearance. Palpatine’s face is left permanently, grotesquely disfigured; the face of Darth Sidious.
  • Padme’s death following childbirth. Darth Vader is clearly heartbroken when he learns that Padme has died. This paradox could be very confusing for children
  • Young children may find the visual images of Anakin transformation to Darth Vader scary and disturbing. Anakin’s growing addiction to the dark side is not dissimilar to a narcotic addiction. As the dark side consumes Anakin, his appearance becomes more sinister, evil and darker. He skin becomes shadowed, he wears darker clothing with his head covered by a cloak, his eyes become darker until eventually they take on a demon like appearance.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned images

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned images

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned images

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith is a classic battle between the forces of darkness and light, and in this movie the forces of darkness triumph over light. This occurs both on an individual level, as with the transformation of Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader, and a Galactic level, with the overthrow of the Galactic republic to a Galactic empire.

If parents do allow their children to see this movie, they could discuss, particularly with older children and adolescents:

  • how and why the dark side of the force corrupted Anakin, turning him into the exact opposite of what he valued and believed to be true
  • the internal struggle Anakin suffered as a result of the dark side’s influence
  • Anakin’s reasoning to justify his betrayal of his closest friends and the murder innocent people
  • how Anakin was used and manipulated by the dark side and Palpatine

Parents may also wish to discuss how violence was used throughout the film to dominate and solve conflict, and in particular Anakin’s use of violence against Padme.

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