Darth Vader is a character and a personification of evil in the Star Wars films.
Darth Vader originally was Annakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker’s absent father. Annakin was also a Jedi knight, which made him a righteous freedom fighter with mystical powers called the force.
But Annakin always had a chip on his shoulder which contributed to his choosing the dark side of the force. Afterward, he became a kingpin for the evil Emperor Palpatine, spreading interstellar death and destruction.
In essence, Vader is devoured by his own choice to follow the evil Emperor. A machine – a full-body suit – keeps him alive in a state of psychopathic evil.
The ending of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi finds the hero of the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker, in a very bad situation. After mercilessly trying to kill Luke for some time, Vader sees that Luke is about to be killed by the Emporer’s lightning bolts. If not for Vader’s sudden change of heart and helpful intervention, Luke would have been killed.¹ As summed up at Wikipedia,
Palpatine attacks him [Luke] with Force lightning. Moved by the sight of his son’s suffering, Vader turns on his master and redeems himself by throwing the evil Emperor into the Death Star’s reactor shaft, killing him.²
Vader then dies but his benevolent action in finally choosing good over evil redeems him and he earns a place in Jedi heaven (we later see him smiling at Luke as an afterlife apparition).
The hopeful message is that even the most hardened sinner still possesses free will and the potential for compassion, good deeds and redemption.
¹ Readers following this blog for a few years may have noticed that the original version of this entry incorrectly stated that Darth Vader, and not Palpatine, was about to kill Luke before Vader had a change of heart. I was never a die hard Star Wars fan and wrote the original entry from memory after seeing the film many years ago. Since then, I’ve watched the films again and corrected the error. No excuse really… just an explanation! Here’s a good summary of Vader’s death: http://www.moviedeaths.com/star_wars_episode_vi:_return_of_the_jedi/darth_vader/
- Luke, I Am Your Father, Now Pick Up Your Toys (npr.org)
- ‘Mini Darth Vader’ Undergoing Open Heart Surgery (newser.com)
- Darth Vader Lightsaber Lamp (neatorama.com)
- Mini Darth Vader of Volkswagen Fame, Max Page, Faces Heart Surgery (celebs.gather.com)
- ‘Little Darth Vader,’ 7, to undergo open-heart surgery (today.msnbc.msn.com)
- If Darth Vader were a good father… (holykaw.alltop.com)
- What Darth Vader Would Look Like If He Was a Good Dad [Humor] (gizmodo.com)