I have been considering this plot point in Episode III, Revenge of the Sith
, a long time ago a bit lately and I have not been able to come up with a satisfying answer to how this is meant to work or make sense.
Basically, early on in the movie, Anakin sees a vision of Padmé dying during childbirth, which leads him to do several bad things, which propel him towards the dark side. Padmé, knowing he has turned to the dark side, becomes so sad that she dies during childbirth.
Now, my problem with this is not that Anakin causes the very thing he is trying to prevent. That is, of and by itself, perfectly possible. Neither is it that a person should not die of sadness directly, which is something I at least believe is medically impossible (I am no doctor, so I could be wrong here, but I have never heard of a case of sadness causing death without an intermediate effect, for example suicide).
No, my problem is that it seems to be a causal cycle
with no beginning. Anakin turns dark, which causes Padmé to die (of sadness) during childbirth, sending a Force vision back through time to Anakin, which causes him to turn dark. You see the issue here? Even if you could have some foreknowledge of the future (which is logically problematic of and by itself if you are to retain the ability to affect the future, making visions only possible futures, really), this apparent cycle seems to defy reason of causality
Cause and effect is about the former event (which is independant of the latter) resulting in the latter event (which is dependent on the former).
When it comes to this plot, we seem to have a cause cycle like...
Now, I have no logical problem with accepting that there are negative spirals of bad things happening, mutually causing each other in this pattern and causing things to become worse and worse, but they would need to have some other external cause to set them off initially by causing A or B to occur the first time and set this spiral in motion to begin with. They wouldn't just be hanging loose like a self-contained circle in the air like this.
Now, I think people are taking bad things more seriously by default. If an event is dark, we have been trained to accept it with less scrutiny. We often perceive the cynical to be closer to reality than the idealistic, by default. I would say that in general, with our trained psyche, a really dark movie is less likely to be questioned than one which portrays things in an overly positive light.
Well, while it is easy to think that dark is serious, it is really not hard to come up with dark events that are not logical in any way.
Think of an event where three billion people on Earth die in the very same second, without anything to cause it whatsoever. That event would no doubt be very dark. It would also still be ridiculously improbable and unlogical. So no, just because some event is dark does not mean we should accept that it could happen without question.
Here are a couple of possible answers...
1. Palpatine planted the vision in Anakin's mind initially:
Ok, but if so, how did he know Anakin's turning dark would cause Padmé to die during childbirth, or even die at all?. Has he had a vision of the future himself, one he has not yet set in motion by planting said vision?
Does not seeing the (even if only a possible and not definite) future require the chain of events to be in motion already? When Luke saw his friends in danger on Bespin in Episide V, had not the events getting them into that danger already started?
Can Palpatine feed an event that is not already about to happen (Anakin turning dark) into a Force vision, like an argument/parameter to a function
, and thereby have the Force reveal answers to purely hypothetical "what would happen if?" questions, essentially having his visions acting like a mystical simulator. That is a far more powerful ability than just seeing the future itself, if you can test outcomes of arbitrary states in the universe without those states existing (yet). It would seem like he would need that ability to plant such an accurate vision in advance, if Anakin turning dark is not already in motion, but nowhere in the saga is he portrayed as having this, nearly godlike, ability to see the future of purely hypothetical situations. It is ridiculously over the top and I see no way the Empire could fall if he could do this.
2. Anakin's turn to the dark side is already in motion before Anakin gets the vision.
This may very well be the case, as it is the only way I see it could work, but should it not have been explained better, and would it not be against the way the movie portrays his motives for turning dark?
The key thing here is that the way the movie portrays things, we have this cycle of Anakin turning dark and Padmé dying during childbirth, each portrayed as causing the other, and with no initial event to set the cycle in motion. And barring that I have made some error in my reasoning (which I very much doubt, here), that would not logically happen. Unlike the literal chicken or egg
, which I think has a rather satisfactory answer in evolution
and also if you believe God made it all (to cover both sides in that debate), this one has no real explanation.