Anakin Kills the Younglings
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This part of the film isn’t cringey, or awkward it’s just extremely dark, and is a scene that maybe should have gotten a second thought. After Anakin becomes Darth Vader he’s ordered by Darth Sidious to go to the Jedi Temple and kill all remaining Jedi. He brings with him a contingent of now turned Clones and begins this genocide of Jedi.
In easily the most disturbing moment of any Star Wars film. Anakin walks into the Jedi Council chambers were the Younglings are terrified and hiding behind Yoda’s chair. They are temporarily relieved when Anakin walks in and one brave young Padawan asks Anakin what are they going to do. Anakin’s lightsaber ignites and the boy takes a horrified step backward and likely fills his pants at the same time.
This seen is so troubling and it creates a problem. First of all this is a Star Wars movie. George Lucas has said time and time again, and especially in defense of his films, that they are ultimately for kids. What kid wants to see a former hero murder other kids with his lightsaber?
It’s extremely dark for being part of a kids’ movie, and certainly caused plenty of questions and nightmares for children in the mid-2000s.
Secondly, it makes Anakin’s redemption harder to accept. Sure he kills Palpatine, extinguishing the greatest evil that has ever lived, but he also murdered a bunch of innocent children. Seeing him at the end of Return of the Jedi suddenly back to good, and having Obi-Wan and Yoda, being completely okay with this child murderer is a bit jarring.
Maybe it would’ve been better to just have Anakin use the Force to knock the kids down and then have a contingent of Clonetroopers come in and finish the Younglings off. Then at least he isn’t chopping them down with his lightsaber and his later redemption wouldn’t be as tainted. Again, this isn’t a cringey scene, it’s just one that is so emotionally scarring that it takes one out of the film for a minute or two.