Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Darth Vader (41 BBY - 4 ABY; became "Darth Vader" in 19 BBY), is a fictional character and villain from the Star Wars movies. In film, he is portrayed in voice by James Earl Jones, in costume by David Prowse (for a majority of the scenes) and Peter Diamond (in stunt sequences), and his face (as his redeemed self), seen only in Return of the Jedi, by Sebastian Shaw. In Revenge of the Sith, Vader will be portrayed in costume by Hayden Christensen.
Darth Vader's History
After Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side of the Force, he became Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, and brutal apprentice to Palpatine/(Darth Sidious), the Emperor of the Galactic Empire. According to Obi-Wan Kenobi as soon as Vader turned to the Dark Side the good man that was Anakin Skywalker ceased to exist. This takes place in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on the planet Mustafar. Vader/Skywalker killed Mace Windu to protect Palpatine from the Jedi, launched the Great Jedi Purge with the destruction of the Jedi Temple, killed the rest of the Separatist leadership on Mustafar, caused the death of Padmé Skywalker, and then was seriously wounded in a duel with Obi-Wan. Palpatine rescued Vader and has him rebuilt.
By the time of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Vader has been charged with tracing the stolen plans of the Death Star and finding the hidden base of the Rebel Alliance. In the process he (unknowingly) tortures his own daughter and is complicit in the deaths of billions by the destruction of the planet Alderaan. Vader kills (in fact helps force the ascension of) the now-elderly Obi-Wan Kenobi in their second Lightsaber battle against each other, whilst Luke Skywalker and his motley crew assist Princess Leia to escape with the plans to the Death Star, though this is also a ploy conceived by Vader to determine the location of the Rebel Base. He then appears again piloting a distinctive TIE/Advanced fighter and almost prevents Luke's successful starfighter attack on the Death Star.
Vader confronts Luke in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back on Cloud City, and tells Luke that he, Vader, is his father. Vader tells Luke to join him so that they can destroy the Emperor and rule the galaxy as father and son. Luke however refuses to join Vader and escapes. For those interested in the saga, this represented a significant change in direction, as the ultimate symbols of good and evil were now understood to have a deeper connection that would demand some final resolution. Also, during the film, Vader kills two of his subordinates, while he lets Admiral Piett live even though he failed at capturing Luke. This is important as Vader's human side starts to become visible.
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi sees Vader in charge of the construction of a Second Death Star. When Vader detects the presence of Luke Skywalker, but the Emperor does not, it is the first indication that the Force is rising in Vader. Vader attempts to persuade Luke to join him in the Dark Side but this time Vader's interests are tinged by a desire to protect his son. When this fails, Vader takes him to Emperor Palpatine himself, onboard the incomplete Second Death Star. Luke reluctantly fights an extended Lightsaber battle with Vader, all the while attempting to persuade Vader to renounce the Dark Side of the Force.
Finally, Vader telepathically examines Luke's mind and realizes that Leia is Luke's sister (and thus his daughter), and threatens to turn her to the Dark Side if he should fail with Luke. Realizing the threat to his sister, Luke's rage is finally unleashed, and he attacks Lord Vader with the Dark Side of the Force, driving him back with a whirlwind of blows. Severing Vader's right hand, Luke's fury is suddenly cut short -- as he stares at his own cybernetic hand, he realizes with a visceral horror that he has already begun transforming into Vader's successor. As the Emperor approaches, he throws down his Lightsaber, abandoning this path, and his new powers. Gravely disappointed, Palpatine draws on pure darkness, in the form of force lightning, to destroy the unturnable Luke.
As Luke writhes in agony, begging his father for help, Vader turns and, with his remaining hand, lifts the Emperor and throws him into a shaft where he explodes in a fury of dark energies. The shock of this nearly kills Vader. In his final moments, he pleads with Luke to remove his mask, and in his dying breath, finds redemption in the Light Side of the Force. In his final breaths, he tells Luke that he was right about him, and to tell this to his sister. He later dies and becomes one with the Force. There is some debate as to whether or not Anakin's body disappeared when he died: some argue that the movie would have shown his disappearance explicitly if that were the case. On the other hand, Steve Sansweet has stated that Anakin did indeed disappear . In any case, what remained of Anakin/Vader was burned by Luke (in the manner of a Jedi's funeral) on the forest moon of Endor.
Later that night, during the celebration on Endor, Luke is able to see the spirit of the redeemed Anakin Skywalker, along with the deceased Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. (Note that in this final scene, Anakin was played by Sebastian Shaw, who played Anakin in his death scene, until the 2004 DVD release in which his spirit-form is played by Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin/Vader in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.)
Behind the Scenes
The character of Darth Vader was not originally planned to be a suited cyborg. This was created when the concept artist drew the opening scene where the Rebel ship Tantive IV was being boarded. It was initially imagined that Darth Vader would fly through space to enter the ship, necessitating a suit and breathing mask. This was later made permanent and incorporated in the story.
It is interesting to note that "Vader" is similar to the German word for "father" (Vater), and it may be tempting to read the character name "Darth Vader" as "Dark Father", a word-play that may well be the root of the Sith title. However judging by the origin of the other Sith names, Vader may also possibly be a derivative of the word invader. It is also worth noting that in the original scripts for Star Wars, the name "Darth Vader" was given to a normal Imperial general.
Darth Vader in the Expanded Universe
According to the Alan Dean Foster novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (which takes place shortly after the events in A New Hope), Vader first faces Luke in combat on the planet Mimban, where he discovers that it was Luke (whom Vader already knows is his son, though it is not mentioned in the book) that destroyed the Death Star, and both enter Lightsaber combat. Luke puts up a valiant fight, but is no match for Vader, though he does manage to cut off the Dark Lord's mechanical arm. Vader's victory is near, but he trips over his own severed arm and falls into a well, though he soon escapes Mimban and recovers from his duel. It has been adapted as a comic book by Dark Horse Comics.
Vader also had a prominent role in the 1996 novel/comic/video game Shadows of the Empire, which took place between Empire and Jedi. He also makes occasional appearances in Dark Horse's Star Wars comic books set between the movies (Mainly "Star Wars: Empire").
Darth Vader's Talents
Darth Vader was a brilliant strategist and one of the greatest pilots in the galaxy. Vader still possessed his former persona's amazing engineering skills, having overseen the design of the TIE/Advanced fighter. Also, his talent with the lightsaber was legendary. All of these skills, however, are secondary to his incredible mastery of the Force. He has the greatest known midi-chlorian count (a measure of Force-aptitude) in the galaxy.
Darth Vader's Appearance
The Dark Lord of the Sith is horribly disfigured and requires his life support systems to sustain him, hence he must wear his demonic armor at all times when he is not in his pressurized containment chamber. Also making him even more fear-evoking and intimidating than his ruthless reputation alone, the warlord Darth Vader is a towering figure, standing nearly 6 feet 8 inches (2.02 metres) in his armor. Even amongst his Imperial subordinates, Vader's frightful presence invokes dread.
Darth Vader as a Cultural Figure
Due to his central role, Vader has entered the public consciousness as the quintessential frightening villain; the American Film Institute's list of the greatest movie villains placed him third, after Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates. Lord Vader's powerful, baritone voice coupled with his heavy breathing is easily recognizable to moviegoers-- it is symbolic of his transformation from a man of the light to an evil cyborg. He has been parodied by such figures as "Dark Helmet" from Spaceballs and countless other parodies from cartoons, such as "Duck Vader" from Tiny Toon Adventures and "Darth Koopa" from Super Mario Bros. (TV), and his name has become a synonym for frightening evil; for example, political strategist Lee Atwater was known as "the Darth Vader of the Republican Party". During a major renovation, Washington National Cathedral held a competition for children to design new gargoyles for the west towers. One winner was a design featuring Darth Vader (see external links). [[ In the U.S., many Democrats blame Ralph Nader's third-party candidacy for Al Gore's loss in the 2000 presidential election. During the vicious campaigning prior to the 2004 presidential election, several journalists referred to Nader as "Darth Nader."]]
In 2003, Houston City Councilmember Annise Parker (now the Houston City Controller) referred to homebuilder Bob Perry (of Perry Homes) as Darth Vader in response to an article in the Houston Chronicle about inner loop (inside Loop 610 to Houstonians) redevelopment a.k.a. gentrification - especially townhomes.
In recent years, Darth Vader costumes have been a major fad among New York Yankees' fans. This came as a result of the Boston Red Sox failing to sign then free-agent pitcher Mike Mussina because the Yankees signed him first. This prompted the Red Sox management to refer to the New York Yankees as the "evil empire". Ever since, when the Boston Red Sox play the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Yankees' fans dress up in "Darth Vader" costumes and claim to be "proud members of the evil empire", thus adding a new chapter in this celebrated rivalry.
Darth Vader's head gear appears to be modelled on a Japanese kabuto (兜), which is consistent with the samurai-like order of the Jedi and kendo-like lightsaber duels. It also resembles a German World War II-era Stahlhelm.
- "Don't make me destroy you..."
- "If only you knew the power of the dark side."
- "I find your lack of faith disturbing..."
- "The Force is with you, young Skywalker. But you are not a Jedi yet."
- "Impressive...most impressive" (in response to Luke force-jumping out of the carbon freezing pit)
- "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father." (then, when Luke says that Vader killed him). "No. I am your father."
- "Search your feelings. You know it to be true."
- "Join me, and we can rule the galaxy as father and son."
- "You are unwise to lower your defenses."
- "You underestimate the power of the dark side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny."
- "Sister! So...you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the dark side, then perhaps she will."
- "You already have, Luke." (in response to Luke saying he has to save Vader) "You were right...you were right about me. Tell your sister...you were right."
- Star Wars: Databank | Vader, Darth
- Washington National Cathedral Darth Vader Gargoyle
- Darth Vader's social life (short film)
- Darth Vader's Diary
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