Thursday, May 15, 2008

Darth Vader, Dark Lord and Pain In My Neck

Sarah has something on her mind lately. It's really bothering her. She needs an answer, a complete answer, and we've all failed her.

You see, Star Wars is her latest obsession. I blame the influence of our very good friends in California, who we miss deeply, for planting the seed of Star Wars in her brain. This tiny, seemingly harmless seed has erupted and grown into a Sequoia-sized tree of fascination.

To feed this fixation, we purchased the Star Wars Trilogy and watched the movies in small chunks. After each chunk, Sarah begged for more and hammered me with complicated questions regarding the fate of Hans Solo, Jedi training, light saber colors, good versus evil, and the status of Jabba the Hutt's feet.

Finally, we made it to the end of the trilogy where Darth Vader's face is revealed. OH! MY! GOSH! That blasted scene has given Sarah more ammunition for her Uzi of questions than the Butterfly Garden of '07. The biggest question, the one item she must know more than anything else, is how Darth Vader's face was burned. She has asked me repeatedly. She can't let it go, and I don't have the answer.

When I stopped at her school yesterday afternoon, her teacher was giggling and said that Sarah asked her the oddest question during snack time. Out of nowhere, she said, "Miss Kelsey, do you know how Darth Vader's face was burned?"

Someone must know, but it turns out that it isn't Miss Kelsey. Do you know? Come on, help this kid out.


At 3:12 PM, Anonymous maggie said...

Note the very large scar which runs from the top of his head down to the base of his neck, and the similar scar which stretches from his left cheek around past his left ear. This suggests that Vader sustained very serious lacerations or burns to the head at some time in the past. It is not clear whether this scarring must be due to the same event as whatever damaged his breathing ability. When the opportunity arises, I shall seek further medical opinion about whether there is damage to the skull (in the above illustrations) which might correlate with the scars. At the moment I cannot conclude whether the scars are superficial or whether they could indicate places where Vader's head was once actually crushed or smashed open. Alternatively, some of the markings may be operation scars left by the medical efforts that preserved his life, possibly connected with the skull deformation.

Note that Vader no longer has eyebrows. Whatever injury (or deliberate depilation) made him bald on the top of his head has also affected his brow, very close to his face. Yet his eyes are apparently intact and functional. Aboard the Death Star II, the Dark Lord's eyes appear blue and as healthy as they were before his fall; he isn't even bloodshot. He has eyelashes. He gazes directly at Luke, with focus, and he blinks like an ordinary man.

In public, Lord Vader always covers his eyes with the dark lenses of this mask. Vader's use of a hyperbaric meditation pod suggests that he needs a completely enclosed mask to maintain a high-pressure environment, although temperature control and protection from potential infection may also be important if his body's natural immune system and/or thermostasis are weak. These reasons would require enclosure of his eyes, but the use of dark eye covering, rather than a transparent mask, may be chosen for the sake of concealment or morbid decoration. or it may serve a more practical function as well. Alternatively, the dark covering may be practical too: perhaps the mask is designed to compensate for a visual handicap or to protect a sensitivity against normal light levels. The Return of the Jedi novel refers to visual enhancement devices within the mask, meaning the sights that Vader sees are actually on an internal viewscreen. The mask lenses may be nothing more than photoreceptors, without actually being transparent. The visual equipment of Lord Vader's mask cannot be completely opaque, however, because at several moments in A New Hope, his eyes can be dimly seen through the mask when it is illuminated in a particular way.

well sarah.. this proves two things, 1. maggie is a huge nerd and just might be fascinated with STAR WARS too and 2. how Darth Vaders face came to be. hope this helps you out!

At 8:48 AM, Blogger J Fife said...

Maggie, you rock! I now know who I'll be calling to solve all of my Star Wars problems. Thank you!

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

Very possibly my favorite pictures yet. So cute!

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For 800 years teach Star Wars fans have I.

Yoda Tim

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - you all missed the obvious. While I vaguely remember this from one of the prequels, I just typed Sarah's question, verbatim, into Google. I may not be the biggest star wars fan ever, but I can google like a big dog.

FYI - I've been considering whether Hank is old enough to see Star Wars. He has a little Scholastic book on Anakin, when he was young.

From this web page, a search on:
"Darth Vader's face was burned?"

(see the web page for the whole story)

Despite his newfound power bestowed by the dark side of the Force, Anakin was grievously wounded in the fight. Kenobi's blade sheared from him his lower legs and his left arm, and his crippled body tumbled onto the searing black sands below. Vader caught fire, and he was severely burned all over his body. His anger kept him alive, and he was forever scarred not only by his wounds but also by betrayal. Vader abandoned his former identity. Sidious took him from Mustafar to an Imperial rehabilitation center where he was rebuilt. When metal coupled with flesh in the form of cyborg implants and enhancements required to sustain him, Skywalker's transformation was complete. He was no longer Anakin -- he was Darth Vader.


At 10:57 AM, Blogger J Fife said...

Nicole - Thanks. I like Sarah in the little braids. Too bad she only lets me comb her hair on very, very rare days.

Yoda Tim - You! This is all your fault. Use the force and bring the young Padawans and Master Kim out to visit immediately. Maybe then forgive you I will.

Rach - I wasn't sure about exposing Sarah to Star Wars either. We've had long talks about how movies and their characters aren't real. She seems to get it. Who knows? Maybe I've scarred her as badly as Darth Vader's face.

Thanks for using your mad googling skills.

At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mrs. Fife,

We are talking about a child who has me turn off the Air Bud movies because they are too scary.

We were also discussing Nemo today. Hank doesn't remember seeing it. Hal and I told him that Nemo's mother dies in the beginning, and that nixed that idea. He had no interest in seeing it. I don't blame him - I thought the attack scene in the beginning was horrific.

He enjoys Dirty Jobs, though.


At 12:34 PM, Blogger J Fife said...

Rach - Hank is awesome! I think Air Bud is scary, too. The funny thing about Sarah is that "monsters" don't scare her. She's been brought to tears by emotional situations - a lost dog, Rudolph searching for his parents. Still, I'd prefer that she not be so keen on violence.


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