I hope that title is accurate enough. In my opinion, this is another ridiculous accusation. Star Wars has always parallelled real life, and this being the prequel, we pretty much already knew what was going to happen. Did they think that after all these years Lucas would now decide that Palpatine isn't such a bad guy, and that episodes 4-6 were just dreams that Anakin had?
By César G. Soriano, USA TODAY
Since early screenings of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith began last month, film critics, commentators and Internet bloggers have been debating whether filmmaker George Lucas is comparing President Bush and the Iraq war to the Dark Side of the Force. The conservative film site Pabaah.com has called for a boycott. The topic even made NBC's Today show.
Lucas said Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival that the movie was written before the Iraq war. "We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction," he said, adding, "The parallels between Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."
Still, some see echoes of Bush in the film.
In one scene, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader tells his onetime mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." The line is seen as a reference to Bush's post-Sept. 11 threat "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
The White House declined to comment on the controversy.
Josh Griffin, a self-described "conservative Star Wars fan," says he cringed when he heard the dialogue at a recent advance screening of Sith. "Star Wars is meant to be a children's movie ... not to be a political statement about someone's liberal ideology."
Even a perception of bias could hurt a film's bottom line, some say. The crucial summer moviegoing season usually makes up 40% of a year's box office revenue; this year, ticket sales are down 7% from 2004.
"If people feel Lucas is pushing a parallel between the Galactic Empire and present-day America, I think people will be turned off," says filmmaker Jason Apuzzo, co-editor of the conservative film blog Libertas (libertyfilmfestival.com/libertas).
But others applaud Lucas for taking a stand.
"As a liberal and a Democrat, it was comforting," says Slant magazine film critic Ed Gonzalez. "Star Wars is created by real people, starring real people, so it's inevitable it will reflect real-life issues," even if it is sci-fi fantasy.
Freelance writer Craig Winneker, who accused Sith of bias on the webzine Tech Central Station, says he nonetheless loved the film. "I'm not going to hold a grudge against the movie or base my opinion on world events because of something Yoda says."
People who have seen early screenings of Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith are noting parallels to the Bush administration:
• Sith plot: Seeking to strengthen security during wartime, Chancellor Palpatine persuades the Senate to give up civil liberties and elect him emperor for life. "So this is how liberty dies — to thunderous applause," Senator Amidala laments.
• Bush plot: Seeking to strengthen security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush urged legislators to pass the Patriot Act, which opponents say infringes on civil liberties.
• Sith's war: Palpatine starts a war to divert attention from his true political motives.
• Bush's war: Bush persuades Congress to go to war with Iraq based on evidence that has now been largely dismissed.