One of the more contentious aspects of Revenge of the Sith is the fate of Padmé, specifically her death. Many viewers felt that, especially after the strong woman we’ve seen through Phantom and Clones, her dying after having “lost the will to live” was a major cop-out for her storyline; sweeping her under the rug once Anakin went dark and the twins were born. I used to feel the same. I’ll admit when I first saw Sith, after spending pretty much the rest of the movie on the edge of my seat, the whole sequence at Polis Massa had me raising my eyebrows. I may have audibly said “Really?!”
Of course, times have changed. While this is still one of the very few instances in the Saga where I feel the execution is fairly lacking in the finished film, the idea behind what happened and the overall story arc is great enough for me to forgive.
Besides, what most people complain about aren’t necessarily what I complain about. While I feel that the failure of the droid to recognize the residual effects of the Force Choke (explained by Lucasfilm as a deciding factor in the rapidity of Padmé’s declining health at this point) should have been made clearer, as what he ultimately says doesn’t quite gel with what we see, I find many detractors say that the concept of stress-induced death in and of itself is not believable in someone like Padmé. This is, to use common vernacular, a complete load.
|"I can't cry and be strong at the same time? Have you SEEN my other films?!"|
Stress is inherently deteriorating. People have heart attacks, nervous breakdowns, and other physiological and psychological issues that are either caused by or exacerbated by stress. And before anyone objects, yes a little stress is good to keep up your strength. A little. But let’s just take a look at what Padmé is going through.
|"See this?! What do you think this is, a ham?! Well, okay, one of them's a ham..."|
First of all, she’s pregnant. With twins, though she doesn’t know that yet. Any woman who has been through pregnancy will tell you that with everything going on in the body it is one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life. Hormones are going crazy, causing mood swings and other psychological effects. Body changes put strain on muscles, skin, and bones. Different women experience these symptoms to varying degrees, but it has nothing to do with previously established physical or character strength; how one’s body reacts to a pregnancy is a veritable crapshoot.
|"This is how liberty dies..."|
On top of that, she’s been dealing with her democracy – her first love and her whole career path – being slowly stripped away until it becomes a dictatorship and there’s nothing she can do to stop it…aside from naturally helping to create a sort of Alliance of, for lack of a better word, Rebels (how I wish those scenes weren’t deleted; C’mon, George, add them back already! Please?)
|"You lead him here to kill me!"|
Oh, and did I mention the eency-weency little detail that the love of her life, the person she cares for more deeply than anyone before or since, the father of her children, has gone quite insane to the point of committing genocide and using the Force to crush her trachea in a fit of misplaced jealousy? There’s a reason we call it “heartbreak” – it literally feels as if your heart is splitting in two.
While I doubt very much she “lost the will to live,” the ungodly amount of physical and emotional stress combined with the Force damage to her throat likely caused her body to begin shutting down from shock. Frankly, I’m amazed she held on long enough to deliver (of course, if she hadn’t, then IV-VI would never have happened). This does not undermine her importance and innate strength, but serves as just a tragic irony not only for her, but for Anakin as well. Had Anakin not been so afraid to let go, Padmé may very well have survived childbirth, the Republic would live on, and Luke and Leia would have had both their real parents when they needed them most.
|"She was very pretty, but also very sad...and kind of wheezy..."|
Doesn’t that just break your heart?