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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.