Anakin Skywalker is a fictional character from Star Wars. Anakin is played in the films by Jake Lloyd as a child, Hayden Christensen as a young adult, and Sebastian Shaw as a dying, elderly (and redeemed) person. The name "Anakin" means "warrior."
Anakin "Ani" Skywalker was believed by many, notably Qui-Gon Jinn, to be the Chosen One destined to bring balance to the Force. However Anakin's arrogant behavior and emotional insecurities eventually caused him to turn to the dark side, becoming Darth Vader.
Son of Shmi Skywalker and, according to Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the Force, Anakin was born in about 41 BBY. Some viewers have drawn narrative parallels between this tale and the New Testament stories of Jesus Christ's conception and birth.
In The Phantom Menace, he appears as a young nine year old child (played by Jake Lloyd). He is found on Tatooine by the Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, and after his gifts are revealed, Qui-Gon is convinced that Skywalker is the individual told of in prophecy who will "bring balance to The Force." After Qui-Gon's death, Anakin is trained by Kenobi as a Jedi - though some of the Jedi have reservations about his character. In the course of events he meets Padmé Amidala, at that stage a teenager, with whom he forms a strong bond.
In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, (2002), Anakin, now a young adult and cocky apprentice Jedi (played by actor Hayden Christensen), again meets up with Padme, on whom he has developed a massive crush. Assigned to guard Padme, in conversation he reveals, as well as his affection, a distrust of the political process and his view of the need for one strong leader. After the death of Shmi, freed from slavery and living in the deserts of Tatooine with her new husband, at the hands of the Tusken Raiders, Anakin's dark side is more strongly revealed as he slaughters a whole tribe of them in bloody revenge. After losing his right arm in a light saber battle with Count Dooku, the movie ends with Anakin's elopement and marriage to Padme on Naboo.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith will be released May 19, 2005. It will complete the three prequels to bring us full circle back to Episode IV, first released in 1977. Episode III will bridge the large gap between a young Anakin we leave at the end of Episode II and the high-ranking Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, and apprentice to the Emperor we meet at the beginning of Episode IV. According to lots of post-Star Wars fiction, he landed in a volcano, and this is what required him to don the famous suit.
The official Star Wars website, however, has no mention of the fall into a volcano requiring the suit. Instead, the site says he suffers major injuries in a duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi which requires the suit.
From about the time of Episode III until the final moments of Return of the Jedi, Anakin was known as Darth Vader. During this time, Darth Vader becomes the brutal second in command of the Galactic Empire. He has the blood of many millions on his hands. Vader tortures Princess Leia - who he did not know was his own daughter. He also nearly kills his son Luke Skywalker several times.
Luke Skywalker - his son - risks everything but is able to finally bring Anakin back from the dark side. As a result, Darth Vader ceases to exist in the closing moments of the Return of the Jedi when he becomes Anakin Skywalker once again. In a final heroic effort of self-sacrifice, Anakin struggles to his feet to rescue his son, from the Emperor (thus further injuring himself from the Force's energy) and throws the Emperor down a hole in the Death Star to the Emperor's death.
Nearing death, Anakin asks Luke to help him remove his mask, so that he can see his son with his own eyes. Luke helps disconnect the mask. Anakin is bald, with grey skin that resulted from not being exposed to the sun for over twenty years. He also has a large scar on one side of his head. After seeing his son directly, and telling Luke that he was right about him - that there was good still in him - and telling him to tell his sister Leia Organa the same, Anakin Skywalker dies and becomes one with the Force.
His body is cremated in the manner of a Jedi, and the end of the film Luke sees what appears to be a vision of an apparently forgiven Anakin (whole and without the artificial body of Vader), Obi-Wan, and Yoda smiling down upon him. Thus ends the six-part saga, with a restored order to the galaxy through the "return" of Anakin back to the good side, thus the prophecy of the Chosen One bringing balance to the Force was finally fulfilled.
Sebastian Shaw as the spirit of Anakin Skywalker: replaced?
In Return of the Jedi, the unmasked Vader and the spirit of the forgiven Anakin were played by actor Sebastian Shaw. In the release of the DVDs, however, Hayden Christensen has replaced the body of Sebastian Shaw when appearing as the Jedi spirit.
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