In 1977, Lucas refashioned an old story in a way that spoke to an entire generation of humans, not just Americans. It opened our hero-less world to a realization of basic morality, universal archetypes, and the mysterious force that underlies all forms. Star Wars offered clear answers to a world searching for meaning in ambiguous times.
In 1999, Lucas continued his modern day myth with a sophistication, ambiguousness, and cultural inflection more relevant to our planet today than most people realize. War with Iraq is imminent. Corporate malfeasance runs rampant. Global terrorism has people living in fear. Anti-Americanism is growing. EVIL isn’t as unequivocal, external, and far, far away as we once thought. With the prequel trilogy (and the original trilogy), underneath all the special effects, deliberately flat characters, overly stylized dialogue, and old fashioned American pop culture sensibilities lies an important lesson: if we are to prevent evil, we must understand the origins and nature of evil. It’s a powerful message, even when it’s hidden inside corny, escapist entertainment. All the personal taste criticisms of ignorant and immature movie journalists will never change that fact.