PARIS — A short time ago, in a place not so far away, Star Wars fans in France were treated to a special Darth Vader drama, with a courtroom plot. Ahead of the release of the franchise's latest installment,The Last Jedi, a public trial was held in Paris for the father of all villains.
The Dec. 6 mock trial, L'Appel contre-attaque ("The Appeal Strikes Back") — in which a 3,000-strong audience serves as jury, and where sentencing is determined by the volume of clapping — was itself a sequel. A similar trial of the character, whom the French call "Dark Vador", had been held in December 2015 ahead of the last Star Wars episode, The Force Awakens, Paris-based daily Le Figaro reported.
Both events were held at Paris' Grand Rex (Europe's largest movie theater), and organized by the Fédération Francophone de Débat, an association that promotes "the art of public speaking" with a series of mock open trials of high-profile historical figures like Molière, Napoleon, Louis XVI, or even Jesus.
For the purpose of this intergalactic faux procès — albeit featuring very real and prominent attorneys and law students — slight modifications were made to George Lucas' cannon: The accused has survived his grueling death-by-Force-lightning at the hands of evil Emperor Palpatine and the ensuing blowing up of the Death Star, as depicted in The Return of the Jedi (1983). Lord Vader, now ordinary citizen Anakin Skywalker, was made prisoner and tried. After a two-hour debate in the 2015 trial, the evil defendant eventually emerged victorious, acquitted of violating virtually "all space laws' and contributing to the global warming of the universe by blowing up the entire planet of Alderaan. The public clapped Darth Vader "not guilty," apparently moved by his convincing, if asthmatic-toned, defense speech.
Another appeal, could there be? If so, we would have to wait two years, when the next Star Wars film is scheduled for release. Such is the pace of Hollywood mega-productions — and the French judiciary.