Can you name a few others?
There are a lot of Greek gods who came down [and impregnated mortal women], and so the heroes didn't have fathers. Whether it's Hindu, Chinese or Middle Eastern, all the mythological heroes didn't have fathers. The fathers were the gods.
Now in this particular case, the gods happen to be a life-form that allows a cell to divide. So it's a metaphor: that which brings life. I don't want to get too controversial about this – some people believe it happened in other ways, over seven days, but if you listen to biology, there's another theory, which begins with an e. If you study microbiology, you will come to the realization that this alien life-form, which has a completely different DNA, helped create life on earth and within the galaxy. But every cell has one of these life-forms in it. It's a simplified version of relationships – that symbiotic being goes through everything. That's why Han Solo joins the Rebellion, that's why Luke saves his father. In Star Wars land, all these relationships are necessary to bring forth a greater good – and evil.
Now, there's a hint in the movie that there was a Sith lord who had the power to create life. But it's left unsaid: Is Anakin a product of a super-Sith who influenced the midichlorians to create him, or is he simply created by the midichlorians to bring forth a prophecy, or was he created by the Force through the midichlorians? It's left up to the audience to decide. How he was born ultimately has no relationship to how he dies, because in the end, the prophecy is true: Balance comes back to the Force.
Vader is largely machine. Is that a reflection of Anakin having lost his humanity?
It's a metaphor: As your humanness is cut away, your become more like a programmed droid. Even though some of the droids, like C-3PO, are very human in nature, caring and worried that they're going to do the wrong thing. But they're programs – there's a difference. Even with R2, who is clever and ultimately the hero of the whole piece. He's the Lassie of the movies: Whenever there's a pivotal moment of real danger, he's the one that gets everybody out of it.
One of Vader's favorite ways of dispatching people is by strangulation. Is that because of his inability to breathe without the iron lung?
Well, it's a bigger metaphor than that. Strangulation is always a theme. Life is breath. It's a powerful idea in Buddhism: Cutting off life is cutting off breath. The road to the Force is through the breath. Impotency is cutting off hands and legs and arms. That's a theme too.
Since Vader is the ultimate bad father, I wondered what your own dad thought of him.
I don't think it even occurred to my father that there was any connection. There wasn't, other than his being a father. All fathers are oppressive at times, especially with teenage boys. Even though he loved me and I loved him a great deal, he was strict. But my father gave me a sense of fairness. He never said no: He said, "This is the consequence of what you're doing and why I'm not going to allow it. When you get to be eighteen, you can do what you want, and you'll probably go to jail." Now I've got teenage girls. If they don't listen, I say, "Well, I'm the father and you're the child, and you do what I tell you to do. Because I'm the emperor of the universe and you're not."
This story is from the June 2nd, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone.
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