Lucas' themes of democracy on the skids and a ruler preaching war to preserve the peace predate "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" by almost 30 years. Yet viewers Sunday — and Lucas himself — noted similarities between the final chapter of his sci-fi saga and our own troubled times.
Cannes audiences made blunt comparisons between "Revenge of the Sith," the story of Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and the rise of an emperor through warmongering, to President Bush's war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq.
Two lines from the movie especially resonated:
"This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause," bemoans Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as the galactic Senate cheers dictator-in-waiting Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) while he announces a crusade against the Jedi.
"If you're not with me, then you're my enemy," Hayden Christensen's Anakin (soon to become villain Darth Vader) tells former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The line echoes Mr. Bush's international ultimatum after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
"That quote is almost a perfect citation of Bush," said Liam Engle, a 23-year-old French-American aspiring filmmaker. "Plus, you've got a politician trying to increase his power to wage a phony war."
Though the plot was written years ago, "the anti-Bush diatribe is clearly there," Engle said.
At the Cannes premiere on the night of May 15, actors in white stormtrooper costumes paraded up and down the red carpet as guests strolled in, while an orchestra played the "Star Wars" theme.