Star Wars’ Darth Vader and Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort are actually a lot alike. Support ScreenPrism on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=7792695
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If you only knew the power of the Dark Side…
Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort.
They are the villains of two of the most popular stories
in living memory.
And if you think about it, they’re a lot alike.
They come from humble beginnings —
one is a slave, the other an orphan.
They both lose their mothers at a young age
and have no relationship with their fathers.
And they start out as smart, super-talented youths
who shock their worlds by choosing
the dark side or the dark arts.
Their transformation takes a toll on
their dashing good looks —
Voldemort takes on a variety of deformed shapes
and splits his soul into horcruxes.
Vader puts on his armor and wears it
for the rest of his life
after he’s wounded in a fight with his former mentor.
And the two lords come to represent
ultimate darkness or evil.
Just the mention of their names
can make your blood run cold.
We do not speak his name.
They’re the dark fathers that Harry and Luke need to vanquish,
after resisting the temptation to follow in their evil footsteps.
So both are walking cautionary tales.
They’re dehumanized by trauma, pain, and hatred,
and they become monsters.
He’s more machine now than man.
But behind that black, skull-like mask and dark cloak,
there’s just a weak, miserable person we should pity
because they never understood the power
of friendship and love.
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The big question for Vader and Voldemort is:
how and why did the most evil person become evil?
Was it nature or nurture or more likely a bit of both?
Vader and Voldemort know they’re extremely
talented and special from a young age,
I can make things move without touching them.
I’m the only human who can do it.
and they have crazy high levels of ambition.
They won’t be satisfied letting their gifts go to waste.
Protection is a job for a local security, not a Jedi.
I fashioned myself a new name, a name I knew
wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak
when I became the greatest sorcerer in the world!
But this starting personality of a bright boy with outsized potential
interacts with a hostile, damaging environment.
When I first met young Mr. Riddle, he was a quiet,
albeit brilliant boy, committed to
becoming a first-grade wizard.
Not unlike others I’ve known.
Not unlike yourself, in fact.
If the monster existed,
it was very deep within.
For both, a complicated relationship to love is a big part
of what drives them to the dark side.
Voldemort as Tom Riddle was born into a
totally loveless marriage —
his witch mother actually used a love potion
to get his muggle father to marry her.
Tom’s mother died when he was a baby
and he grew up in an orphanage,
not knowing about his wizard heritage.
In all the years Tom’s being here he’s never once
had a family visitor.
He didn’t get the care and attention he needed
at this formative stage,
I can make bad things happen to people
who are mean to me.
Can make them hurt.
so by the time he got to Hogwarts it may have already been too late
to reach him and show him what it felt like to be loved.
Anakin also loses his mother —
and when she’s kidnapped and killed,
this is the moment when Anakin decides to massacre
the Sand People,
a key point in his turning to the Dark Side.
But while Voldemort never really learns how to love,
in George Lucas’ own words,
Anakin’s “undoing is that he loveth too much.”
When he’s worried he’ll lose his pregnant wife Padme,
Palpatine convinces Anakin he has to turn to the dark side
to save her life.
Just help me save Padme’s life.
I can’t live without her.
So Anakin’s strong love is manipulated and used
by the cruel world around him.
But it’s also clear that Anakin doesn’t understand
how to love —
Love won’t save you, Padme.
Only my new powers can do that.
and how to let go of those he loves —
in a healthy way.
He feels so strongly but ends up putting his passion
in the wrong place so that it’s actually destructive.
In the end, Anakin and Tom Riddle turn evil
because they don’t understand how to have
normal, loving relationships with the people around them,
and they don’t acknowledge how important this is.
Voldemort and Vader are both obsessed with immortality.
But only I can live forever.
To cheat death is the power only one has achieved,
but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.
And this could be because they both lost their mothers
at a young age
and understand how traumatizing death really is.
I won’t lose you the way I lost my mother.
So while we can’t forgive the terrible things they do
or relate to the terrible people they become,
we know that their darkness came from
a place of real pain.
Another thing they have in common is an obsession
with a young son figure which they want to destroy.
As we all know, Vader is literally Luke’s father,
whereas Voldemort’s not related to Harry by blood.
But Voldemort’s still like a twisted father figure
to our young wizard,
because when he tries to kill Harry,
he inadvertently passes on some of his traits,
like the ability to speak parseltongue.
And he makes Harry the seventh horcrux,
so Harry contains a piece of Voldemort’s soul,
just as a child carries on his parent’s genes.
In a way Harry’s scar is like a birthmark
from this dark father.
Both Luke and Harry have some darkness in them
because of their connection to these evil, power men.
You’re greatly mistaken.
You won’t convert me
as you did my father.
Not Slytherin, eh?
Are you sure?
You could be great, you know…
That connection makes the young boys special,
but it also makes them fear they might
turn to the Dark, too.
And it places a huge burden on these young boys
to bring down their much stronger father figures.
Both stories are fundamentally about a son figure
growing into his own and overcoming that dark father
as he chooses his adult path.
It’s relevant to remember that Vader and Voldemort
also grew up with daddy issues of their own.
Anakin never had a father.
There was no father.
Tom Riddle hated his dad for abandoning the family
and even more for being a muggle
and making Tom a half-blood,
Surely you didn’t think I was going to keep
my filthy muggle father’s name?
although it’s likely that his hatred for muggles and half-bloods
comes from hurt over his father’s absence
and a resulting self-hatred.
So in a way both are taking out their personal shame and anger
on their new son figures.
The archetype of the dark father represents
not accepting death and the passage of time —
and they see these young men as usurpers,
threatening their goal of living forever.
They want to turn their sons into their servants,
Together, we’ll do extraordinary things.
With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict
and bring order to the galaxy.
or else kill them.
Vader and Voldemort are ultimate villains,
but they’re also pathetic, weak old guys.
They’re very physically weak and vulnerable.
They’re obsessed with their reputations,
but they’re outraged to find they don’t get the respect
they feel they deserve.
Not from their servants,
I confess myself disappointed.
Not one of you tried to find me.
Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways,
or from Vader’s boss.
Take your father’s place at my side.
Voldemort doesn’t have a superior,
and we can still see a bit more of the man in Vader,
whereas Voldemort is more purely true evil
by this point.
So Voldemort could be seen as kind of
a Vader plus Emperor Palpatine.
Like the emperor, Voldemort is brought down
and he totally disdains and underestimates
the value of friendship.
Shall l divulge how l truly lost my powers?
It was love.
Your overconfidence is your weakness.
Your faith in your friends is yours.
In the end, whatever it is that drives Voldemort and Vader
to the dark side is also what allows
the son figure to succeed.
Voldemort doesn’t know how to love,
so he doesn’t think love matters.
Again like the emperor, he haughtily believes
that the love of common people could never be a match
for sophisticated evil magic.
How is it that a baby with no extraordinary magical talent
was able to defeat the greatest wizard of all time?
He’s overlooked that love, family and friendship
are the most powerful, ancient magic we know.
You’re the weak one, and you’ll never know
love or friendship.
And I feel sorry for you.
Anakin’s original weakness was loving too much,
and Luke appeals to his father’s compassion.
I feel the good in you.
So love brought him to the Dark Side,
but then it also redeems him and brings him
back to the light.
For most of these stories, Vader and Voldemort insist on
the power of the dark side,
but by the end they reveal its failings.
The most powerful, intimidating god-like men in these stories fall —
because no individual is truly strong without love in his life.
Pity the living, and, above all,
those who live without love.
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This post was previously published on Youtube.
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