Plotting their ‘Revenge’

Lucas' 'Sith' sense raises conservative hackles

Michael Moore and Mel Gibson better get their next films out soon.

Apparently suffering politically charged film deprivation, conservative pundits, critics and bloggers are bending over backward to turn “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” into this summer’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

So far, they’ve marshalled thin evidence:

  • On his way to the dark side, Anakin uses a cliché George W. Bush once employed: “If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.”

  • A villain who’s been around since “The Phantom Menace” is named Nute Gunray. “Yeah, maybe it’s not supposed to evoke Gingrich or Reagan, maybe we’re reading into it,” wrote the National Review’s Jim Geraghty.

  • And in perhaps the biggest stretch, while fighting in the Galactic Senate, Yoda and the chancellor hurl floating platforms at each other, evoking an image of, according to critic Ed Gonzalez, “Democrats and Republicans scrambling for power.”

Inspiration for the incredibly close reading of the film is an interview George Lucas gave to Wired magazine. Two quotes — “Fahrenheit 9/11” was a film that couldn’t “affect people who have made up their minds the other way” and “The thing I like about science fiction is that you can take issues, pull them out of their cultural straitjackets” — were interpreted to mean that Lucas intended “Star Wars” as a liberal diatribe.

And then it was off to the rhetorical races.

On the blog Libertas, Jason Apuzzo wrote, “Lucas clearly wants to ‘affect’ people. … This is a bit like saying Goebbels was merely clumsy, but his intentions were pure.”

Steve Silberman, the writer who interviewed Lucas for Wired, is dismayed by the sudden reaction, emailing furiously to tamp down misinterpretations. Replying on Libertas, for instance, he wrote, “I don’t know what interview you’re reading, but it wasn’t the one I had with Lucas.”