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Spoiling for 'Star Wars'

The plot twists that didn't make it

By Todd Leopold
CNN

Editor's note: The following story may contain spoilers about "Star Wars," though we doubt it. Nevertheless, if you'd rather not know anything about the movie, stop reading now.

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Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen in "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith."
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(CNN) -- When I was an immature 15-year-old nerdy punk (or punky nerd?) in the summer of 1980, attending a pre-college program in Lake Charles, Louisiana, I went to see "The Empire Strikes Back" with several friends.

The next weekend, on our way to another movie and noticing a line outside the theater, we opened up the van windows and yelled in unison, "Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father!"

Now that I'm an immature 40-year-old balding nerdy not-quite-punk, I shudder at my adolescent behavior. It was so ... rude.

We should have yelled, "Spoiler warning!" first.

Today, in fact, every story should have a spoiler warning attached. If you don't want to know something, you may as well move into a cave, because somewhere on the Internet, or on a 24-hour entertainment news network, or even at your local water cooler, there's a secret waiting to be spilled.

And even those of us in the media, to paraphrase Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, know that there are some things that we know, and some things that we don't know, but we don't always know what we don't know.

But you know what? For all the desire to not know a key plot twist, the sign of great art is when you know the twist is coming -- and the movie is still great.

Perhaps the best example is Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," in which Hitchcock deliberately reveals the mystery well before the end -- which makes the movie more profound and emotionally wrenching.

"The Third Man" is still amazing even after you see that sliver of light illuminate Harry Lime (Orson Welles). "The Sting" is still terrific even when you know what happens to Paul Newman's Henry Gondorff and Robert Redford's Johnny Hooker. "Million Dollar Baby" still packs a punch even if you're prepared for Maggie Fitzgerald's (Hilary Swank) ultimate bout.

So, for all the hand-wringing and saber-rattling about "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," if the movie is truly worthwhile, it won't matter a whit if -- spoiler warning! -- you know that Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader and wreaks havoc throughout the universe.

Eye on Entertainment pulls back the mask.

Eye-opener

To paraphrase Spinal Tap manager Ian Faith, you should have seen what "Star Wars" creator/director George Lucas wanted to do.

We here at Eye on Entertainment managed to get ahold of some old script pages, discarded ILM Zip discs and crumpled stationery from the Napa Valley Hilton, and now we can reveal all.

In one version, Anakin and his pals spent the whole movie riding up and down the galaxy with the dulcet tones of interstellar radio personality Wookiee Jack coming through the speakers, but Lucas dumped that idea when he couldn't book Meco for the soundtrack.

Then there was the version in which the whole series is revealed to have taken place in a snow globe shaken by an autistic child, but Lucas couldn't get the special effects for the stars right. (There's no truth, incidentally, to the rumor that after the child dropped the globe he uttered the word, "Bueller!")

And finally, Lucas rejected -- out of hand -- a proposed sequel, "HAL 9000 vs. Darth Vader." Imagine: Douglas Rain vs. James Earl Jones! But it was not to be. (However, "HAL 9000 vs. Megalon" is in the works.)

All that aside, "Revenge of the Sith" is getting the best reviews of any movie in the current trilogy, despite the fact that the dialogue remains stiff (and that with the alleged help of esteemed British playwright Tom Stoppard) and the acting wooden.

"To say that George Lucas cannot write a love scene is an understatement; greeting cards have expressed more passion," wrote Roger Ebert (see review)external link and he hasn't been aloneexternal link.

But most critics have been giving the movie at least three stars out of four, and for fans who have waited their whole lives for the series to deliver its almost certain final chapter, reviews couldn't mean less.

"Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" opens Thursday. But you knew that already.

On the tube

  • With "Star Wars" finally opening, the American public turns its attention to the other great pop culture story of the spring: Who's going to be the next "American Idol"? The season wraps up with performances Tuesday and the announcement of the winner Wednesday, both days 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
  • And Rob and Amber -- that would be former "Survivors" and "Amazing Racers" Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich -- get married on TV, 9 p.m. Tuesday on CBS. Wonder if Richard Hatch is attending.
  • Sound waves

  • I can hear the title cut from Gorillaz' new album, "Demon Days" (Virgin), already: "Demon days are here again ..." Oh, wait, that's Led Zeppelin's "Dancing Days." Well, "Demon Days" comes out Tuesday.
  • The Wallflowers' new record, "Rebel, Sweetheart" (Interscope), comes out Tuesday.
  • Paging readers

  • The latest wonderful book by David McCullough, "1776" (Simon & Schuster), comes out Tuesday.
  • Video center

  • Season 2 of "Chappelle's Show" comes out Tuesday.

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