OPINION: Vader’s change of heart makes “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” the best Star Wars film

Battling in defense of the force, freshman Bernard Giefer, major undecided, and freshman Maggie Miller, major undecided, lash and swing their lightsabers in a ferocious battle. (Katharine Schooler | Collegian Media Group)

“Star War Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” is often regarded as the best Star Wars film due to its pace, character-building, plot twist and excellent functionality as a part two in a three part series. However, “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” is the best because it shows the changed nature of Darth Vader.

Vader is the main villain of the original Star Wars films. He’s evil, selfish, hungry for power and will do whatever it takes to maintain control. He is not afraid to wipe out planets of innocent people, imprison his daughter and dismember his son.

The first two films spend ample time building up the darkness of Vader, but “Return of the Jedi” shortly and effectively changes the viewer’s perception of the Sith Lord. Although Vader is guilty of incalculable sins, we see his vulnerability and weaknesses.

Vader is a puppet of Emperor Palpatine, and the Emperor is Vader’s source of power. This is manifested when Luke Skywalker tells Vader that the Emperor has not fully driven away the good inside him, and Vader is unable to respond.

Near the end of the film, Luke and Vader duel in Palpatine’s throne room in the Death Star. This scene makes “Return of the Jedi” the best film, because it has more character development than any other scene in the saga.

Throughout the duel, Luke reminds Vader that he hasn’t lost all traces of the good Jedi that he once was. Vader keeps pushing away his past.

Luke inevitability caves to the vicious hate he has for Vader, and it is not long before he is able to overpower his father. When Luke won’t kill his father and turn to the dark side, Palpatine decides he has no more purpose for Luke, and begins to slowly kill him with lightning from his fingertips.

The sight of his suffering son is too much for Vader, and he kills Palpatine by throwing him over a tall ledge. Vader knows this action is suicide, as the lightning from the Emperor’s body transfers to him.

In his last moments, Vader asks to see Luke without his mask on. Without the mask, all that remains is a war-beaten old man, but the sight of his son puts a smile on his face.

Luke believes the next move is for the two of them to quickly get off the Death Star and heal Vader’s wounds. He says, “I’ve got to save you.”

Vader, knowing the inevitable, says, “You already have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me.”

This set of dialogue makes “Return of the Jedi” the best Star Wars film. While the first two films did so well in making Darth Vader a terrible villain, this short scene powerfully shows his change of heart.

Vader no longer cared for the life and empire he had built. He only cared about his son. He acted on what he always knew was right.

How many times do we fight, hurt and step on someone else to fight for power? Does putting others down put us in a higher position where we feel safe?

How often can we bottle up our pride? How often will we continually violate our own consciences and then simply put on a mask and pretend our own actions do not slowly destroy us?

Will we continue to ignore those who telling us we are doing wrong instead of humbling ourselves and realizing the truth?

Darth Vader, sadly, is like so many of us. However as “Return of the Jedi” shows, redemption is right there, waiting for us to make the next move.

Peter Loganbill is a junior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.