Preamble: Any skillfully made film with enough craft and popularity can be interpreted in a variety of ways, so it stands the highest grossing film of 2005, which is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary today gets its ride. We’re talking identity politics, social and political commentary, unwanted scientific takes, needless and thin arguable subtext, and general over analysis because this is my favourite movie of all-time.
For Star Wars Day I rewatched Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker’s Duel on Mustafar for the 1000th time. It itself can be viewed in a variety of ways as I think it best encapsulates the movie. The chief criticism it gets is that it goes on for too long without anyone getting injured. I will say to Roger Ebert’s comment that 1) I saw it when I was a kid and I wasn’t bored, and 2) people like to forget these movies are for kids, so Star Wars going full Rob Roy and slicing people up makes no sense. A lightsaber, an elegant weapon for a more civilized age shall remain a mostly bloodless and sexless affar. Finally 3) as the climax of a trilogy it certainly earns the over-extension. It’s probably the only second sequel or prequel that exceeded expectations even if they were lower from the outset.
How does this translate to character logic? Well reading between the lines we know Obi-Wan, a young apprentice in Episode I is more experienced in Episode III and by contrast Anakin although clearly more powerful is arrogrant and clouded in anger. Jedi as Mace Windu says are keepers of the peace not soldiers, so Obi Wan’s defensive strategy makes sense. He is patient, chooses his strikes, and it is only after his admission of failure and his Padawan’s arrogance that he wins the duel.
What’s visually interesting about The Battle on Mustafar which determines the fate of the universe is that it’s the only instance in the Star Wars universe where two Jedi fight each other. They are surrounded by a sea of evil and corruption (red) but each fights for their well intentioned point of view (blue) while descending deeper. For Anakin this is him digging deeper into the strength of his abilities like the one handed defense against Obi Wan or the incredible horizontal leap across the lava fall, but it is his Sith-like attitude that leads to his defeat and despite Obi-Wan’s wisdom cuts him down to size and scarring him for life. He has the strength to hold on and endure but whats left of him is no longer man nor hero.