R.I.P. Dave Prowse, Darth Vader

 

It remains one of my most thrilling visits to the movies. I had seen clips for this upcoming science fiction film, Star Wars, on Creature Features (in the San Francisco Bay Area, KTVU). I wasn’t impressed. It was just a little scene inside a space ship and that ape creature’s make-up wasn’t nearly as impressive as what was done for Planet of the Apes.

But our family took a vacation to see relatives in Colorado and one of my cousins told me I had to see this film. He had already bought the soundtrack album, which I thought was a rather strange thing to do, not knowing I’d soon do the same. Soon, I was sitting by him in a movie theater in Colorado Springs. As that John Williams surged, words drifted over my head and soon huge spaceships. I had never experienced anything like it. And I love it.

Soon the camera took us inside that rebel ship. It was being invaded. A huge masked man, all in black including a grand black cape boarded the ship. “Scary” didn’t begin to describe him. In the film, he was an underling to greater forces, but it was difficult to imagine who Darth Vader could possibly answer to. Who could be even more dreadful than this Sith Lord? When Vader escaped the explosion of the Death Star, it was frustrating and exciting. Multiple viewings of the film led to discussions with friends, “Will there be a sequel? Darth Vader has to come back.”

And come back he did. With the most unexpected paternity announcement in the history of cinema. Frankly, I was a little disappointed with the character’s softening in Return of the Jedi, but I was touched by his final moments.

Who has had such an amazing, intimidating physical presence on the screen? Maybe Karloff as the Monster. Maybe.

And now Darth Vader has died again. The voice of Vader, James Earl Jones, is still with us. But the body, Dave Prowse, has died. Rest in Peace, dark lord.

Published in Entertainment
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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Darth Vader is one of those classic villains films are known for.

    • #1
  2. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Stad (View Comment):

    Darth Vader is one of those classic villains films are known for.

    And which spawn endless parodies (which at some level were basically whistling in the dark) such as the Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager series or that one where Darth Vader lands a TIE fighter in an urban street, goes into a convenience store for cigarettes, and comes back out to see a car thief taking off in the TIE fighter.

    • #2
  3. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    I have watched the original Star Wars in the theaters seven times, by far the most of any movie.  Incredible.  R.I.P.

    • #3
  4. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I have watched the original Star Wars in the theaters seven times, by far the most of any movie. Incredible. R.I.P.

    I believe your avatar enjoyed the film as well. Even made references to it a time or two in speeches.

    • #4
  5. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Vader was effective in the first movie because he was an instrument of the state, but also outside of it. An imperial officer could mock his quaint religion, which suggested that Vader’s animating purpose was not shared by the people who carried out the orders, and went about the business of putting down those tiresome rebellions. Vader saw something deeper in all this. 

    Or so we could infer from Lucas’ half-arsed script. Vader was the Empire’s primary mover in the second movie, undercutting the Emperor to move up the ladder – but he seemed motivated by power and dominance, not any Sithy doctrines. In the third movie he ended up looking like your thumb after you’ve been in the bathtub for half an hour, and we were supposed to believe “there was still good in him” despite all evidence to the contrary

    If Ep 6 had been a good movie, Luke would have bisected the Emperor then turned to face Vader, who, knowing that his son must make his own path, turned off his lightsaber like Obi-Wan and allowed himself to be struck down, ending with a confession of all the miseries he had suppressed in the service of Darkness. We see his soul torn apart by Sith furies. 

    But no,  the script required a redemptive arc that ended with Space Hitler in Sparkly Force Heaven with Obi-Wan and Yoda while teddy bears dance around the campfire.

    • #5
  6. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Vader was effective in the first movie because he was an instrument of the state, but also outside of it. An imperial officer could mock his quaint religion, which suggested that Vader’s animating purpose was not shared by the people who carried out the orders, and went about the business of putting down those tiresome rebellions. Vader saw something deeper in all this.

    Or so we could infer from Lucas’ half-arsed script. Vader was the Empire’s primary mover in the second movie, undercutting the Emperor to move up the ladder – but he seemed motivated by power and dominance, not any Sithy doctrines. In the third movie he ended up looking like your thumb after you’ve been in the bathtub for half an hour, and we were supposed to believe “there was still good in him” despite all evidence to the contrary

    If Ep 6 had been a good movie, Luke would have bisected the Emperor then turned to face Vader, who, knowing that his son must make his own path, turned off his lightsaber like Obi-Wan and allowed himself to be struck down, ending with a confession of all the miseries he had suppressed in the service of Darkness. We see his soul torn apart by Sith furies.

    But no, the script required a redemptive arc that ended with Space Hitler in Sparkly Force Heaven with Obi-Wan and Yoda while teddy bears dance around the campfire.

    Hey, James, I’ve been wondering how you feel about the ending of Return of the Jedi?

    :-)

     

    • #6
  7. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I have watched the original Star Wars in the theaters seven times, by far the most of any movie. Incredible. R.I.P.

    I believe your avatar enjoyed the film as well. Even made references to it a time or two in speeches.

    I am not sure that Reagan ever saw the film. Any reference he made to the Star Wars films were pop culture references only.

    • #7
  8. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I have watched the original Star Wars in the theaters seven times, by far the most of any movie. Incredible. R.I.P.

    I believe your avatar enjoyed the film as well. Even made references to it a time or two in speeches.

    I am not sure that Reagan ever saw the film. Any reference he made to the Star Wars films were pop culture references only.

    He screened a lot of movies at the White House, it had been his business, and with all his remarks about the Evil Empire and his choice of name for his defense system, I find it very difficult to believe he didn’t view the films.

    • #8
  9. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    This video is coming up at 9Am today:

    • #9
  10. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I have watched the original Star Wars in the theaters seven times, by far the most of any movie. Incredible. R.I.P.

    I believe your avatar enjoyed the film as well. Even made references to it a time or two in speeches.

    I am not sure that Reagan ever saw the film. Any reference he made to the Star Wars films were pop culture references only.

    He screened a lot of movies at the White House, it had been his business, and with all his remarks about the Evil Empire and his choice of name for his defense system, I find it very difficult to believe he didn’t view the films.

    None of the star wars films are on the white house screen list. It was the critics of SDI that called it Star Wars, Reagan embraced the name to take the sting out of the attack.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    This video is coming up at 9Am today:

    Somehow that sounds more like a lullabye.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    I didn’t realize he was also in the BBC Mini-Series version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy:

     

    • #12