Flashback Blog: Blue Ghosts and You

During my review of Return of the Jedi, I made passing reference to the fact that I had blogged about the addition of Hayden Christensen as the ghost of Anakin Skywalker at the end.

Partially because I’m still unsure when www.starwars.com will wise up and clean out their servers, it motivated me to pick up this long-lost gem and place it as a flashback blog here.

Make no mistake, I understand why the addition of Hayden Christensen irks some. I think that there’s another dimension not acknowledged by those bothered by it. It bonds the prequels to their beloved “Original Trilogy” for good and for all. You can’t watch Return of the Jedi on DVD without being reminded of the prequels and their “official” status anymore. Never again shall the two be separate.

So in essence: I get it. I still think it’s silly. And I’ve maintained for quite some time (the below was published July 28, 2005) that I actually do like the change. For me, it works, and below is my first pass at trying to explain why it does.

One of the most pleasing changes to the original trilogy with the issue of the new DVD set was the addition of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. I was a skeptic myself, and when I first saw pictures on several sites, out of context, I too balked at the change.

Then I saw the completed product. The music, the pace, and the knowledge of what was to come with Revenge of the Sith made it all click. It still sticks in the craw of many family and friends, so let me tell you what I said to them.

It makes perfect sense. And let me tell you why.

  1. Balance is restored to the Force. Anakin has succeeded in doing what he was destined to do, and so Anakin – as Anakin last was, before the turn to Vader – is restored when he joins the Force. What we see is Anakin, the only “Anakin” that ever was. The burn victim in a breathing mask was Vader. Why would Vader be restored?
  2. Loved ones, if they speak to us from beyond the grave, will speak to us as they wish to be, not as they last were. Several years ago my mother died of cancer. It took a while, but thank goodness I don’t “see” her – in dreams and memories – as the sick woman who was not long for this Earth. Rather, I remember the mother that was beautiful, kind and strong.
  3. It’s a way of telling Luke, in one moment, that he ultimately achieved what had to be done. Ben pushed Luke to confront, kill and destroy Vader. At face value, that is the cycle that created Vader. Luke instead trusts love and non-violence at a pivotal moment. And that faith restores Anakin for the brief moment he needs to fulfill his own destiny.
  4. What a great way to show Luke that his father was like him. Luke’s last memory of his father is now no longer as a weezy pale head – but as the man who loved him and wanted the best for him – or at least would have if not for some terrible choices along the way.
  5. Finally, don’t apply logic to spirituality. I mean, seriously. It doesn’t “have” to be equitable for Ben and Yoda to appear as younger versions of themselves. These are the forms they chose when they crossed because those selves were still interacting with Luke, at least in Ben’s case. As for Yoda, he would have looked like Yaddle. We don’t need that.

4 thoughts on “Flashback Blog: Blue Ghosts and You

  1. I certainly know better than to engage in this debate – primarily, because this is the first I’ve ever given thought to the issue at hand (never knew about this particular switcharoo, as opposed t the much fraught-over “who shot first” debate). And also because I don’t spend much time thinking about Star Wars.

    Anyway, doesn’t argument # 2 (and to a lesser extend # 4) somewhat contradict itself? Luke’s only actual positive memory of his father was his transformation from a soulless machine into a father. The image of seeing his father’s face for the first time would certainly be profound and very beautiful in its own way. Whether or not he is aesthetically grotesque in his death should be immaterial to the beauty of that moment. Seeing him as a young man might have some sort of symbolic significance, but not really in the capacity that Luke would seem to need to guide him…..i.e., as a father – which I guess is sort of the surrogate role provided by the other two ghosts (feel free to geek me to death over that last part, since it was the process of spontaneous rectal extraction as I was typing).

    Paint number four is a little more subtle, but I really don’t think thay the point should be who Anakin could have been if not for bad choices; I think it should be who Anakin ultimately died as because of one great choice. And that’s the old moon-faced guy. What better guiding “force” (har-har) could a young guy like Luke benefit from as he begins the next phase of his life?

    But, you know, whatever. Just throwing my two cents out. I haven’t even seen the clip. Or the entirely of Revenge of the Sith for that matter, so that it as you will.


    1. I think you could push for contradictions, but I’d disagree that one is there. It’s more a set of arguments wherein you can use any or all. I was new at blogging when I wrote it! 🙂

      What I was reaching for (and still do) is the fact that Anakin was presenting himself as the ideal version of himself because he wanted his son to see who he was in his prime as opposed to the only way Luke knew him in life (in other words, symbolic significance).

      Obi-Wan and Yoda chose to come back as they were because the way they interacted with Luke was positively; you could go super-geek with it and say that Ben had locked himself into it because he’d had to appear to Luke several times already from beyond the grave and had he appeared on Hoth as Young Obi-Wan, Luke wouldn’t have ‘recognized’ him. He had therefore chosen his form, and when he appears to Luke from that point forward, he’s locked into it.

      Another thing I like is that Anakin no longer looks 77 as a blue ghost (Sebastian Shaw was born in 1905). In the ‘timeline’, Vader was 45 (ish?) when he died in Return of the Jedi. (And before anyone uses the Alec Guiness argument, the actor himself actually turned 60 while filming Star Wars, so he wasn’t as ancient as everyone presumed. In the timeline, he was 57 when he died.)

      The whole thing of course goes down the rabbit hole of applying logic to spirituality. I just think that it’s symbolically justified in more than one way and I dig it. But as I learned from my Van Halen blog and my reviews of the Star Wars movies in toto, not everyone agrees with me all the time. 🙂


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