Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is regarded by some as one of the most emotional films in the Star Wars saga. Filled with lots of symbolism, a powerful score and gorgeous cinematography, fans finally got to experience Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side.
Recently, the scene where Anakin is taken down by Obi-Wan on Mustafar has become the center of an interesting discussion thanks to a post that was made on the /r/StarWars subreddit regarding how Lucas had original envisioned this scene. This post is based on the book The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith by J. W. Rinzler which documented the behind the scenes process of the film and goes in-depth regarding some unknown aspects of the film. Luckily, I own said book and I thought I’d re-read this section in order to see what else I could find.
Like all blockbuster films, many scenes get shot multiple times so that the actors can get fully immersed in the action and portray their characters as best as they can. The scene on the shore of the lava river on Mustafar was no exception. On the first shot, once Anakin lays on the shore completely immobilized, Obi-Wan says, “I loved you. But I will not help you” (Rinzler, 136). Lucas explains that Obi-Wan is truly trying to tell Anakin that he was “our only hope-and you blew it. Now we don’t have any hope” (Rinzler, 136).
The next take of the scene has Anakin imploring Obi-Wan for help, but George tells McGregor to say, “I will not …” softer, almost to himself. Then, once Anakin goes up in flames “Lucas direct, “it’s as if you’re talking to a dead person. To a piece of toast” He suggests, to drive home this point, that McGregor change the words in the script to the past tense, “I loved you.”” (Rinzler, 136) This then leads to another change in Obi-Wan’s dialogue were he must alter the second line to a past-tense version where he says, “But I could not help you.”
I would like to stop here for a moment and point out how this change in time adds much more meaning and suffering to this scene. Though none of these lines made it to the final scene, the change is still meaningful. Changing everything to past-tense portrays the idea that Obi-Wan had fully lost all hope in his apprentice. By saying the he loved him and that the couldn’t help him conveys the idea that Obi-Wan feels defeated. It directs all of this attempts of helping him to the past and how they all didn’t add up to anything. If he couldn’t do it then, how could he do it now. This would’ve had been further accentuated with yet another take of the scene which was deleted where Obi-Wan was meant to take a step forward when Anakin slides down to the lava, but he stops himself when he realizes there’s nothing he can do. I can’t avoid thinking that Obi-Wan took along this feeling of defeat with him when he went to Tatooine. It would make his isolation much more harder to deal with.
Moving on, the book then states that “Christensen groans to get into character, and then gives an emotional delivery of the two lines, “Help me, Master,” and “I hate you!”” (Rinzler, 136). This is perhaps the most interesting events of the deleted takes of the scene.
In the final cut of the scene, we only get the “I hate you!” phrase, but the one prior to it would’ve, in my opinion, made the scene much more emotional for both Anakin and Obi-Wan. Having Anakin’s plea for help immediately overturned by demonstrating full hatred towards his former master serves the purpose to fully seal his fall to the dark side. It is through that last cry of help that we see the last remains of the “light side” being consumed and trapped by the dark. The delivery of said line would’ve also tied in perfectly with the change in color of his eyes, which go from blue to yellow (pictured above). The yellow eyes give of the impression that there is a storm within Anakin and what remained of good in him is now clouded and can’t make it through. In other words, there is still good in him, but it’s wrapped by a veil of hate and suffering.
On the other hand, some people might say that the cry for help actually takes away from the scene. Some believe that Anakin should be totally broken at this point of his arc and that there must not be a single bit of light in him. After all, he is now about to become a machine, which are not capable of feeling compassion. Though I can agree with this posture, I feel it would make sense for there to be one last attempt of the light to fight the dark.
As a closing thought, I’d say I was pretty impressed by these deleted lines from Revenge of the Sith. A new layer would have been added to the film with the simple addition of these lines and it begs the question: what other things were taken away from the film that could have, in reality, added more depth to it? Though I’m quite pleased with the final product that we got, it would be interesting to get a special edition (*triggered*) or ‘Director’s Cut’ that adds these extra takes. I would love to know what you have to say regarding this idea.
I’ll leave this here in case you feel the need to re-watch the scene:
Rinzler, J. W. Star Wars The Making of Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Del Rey Books, 2005.