Let us try to look at Anakin’s life from a different point of view, shall we? Most of my friends try to shut me down when I say that Hayden Christensen did an outstanding job when he portrayed that want-to-be-romantic young person. Before you also decide that their point of view is the only right one, I dare you to try to fit into Anakin’s shoes.
Point of View From Our Galaxy
First of all, I would like to challenge our expectations and our own hopes for a relationship. What I want you to do is to go back to the time when you were in love for the first time. Go back to the point when you said for the first time to someone dear to you, that you love him or her. Was it the best romantic thing that you ever confessed, or was it something rather clumsy or even downright stupid? Given that this was Anakin’s first time he experienced strong feelings towards a woman other than his blood kin (we will get to his mother later on), he did rather well.
Overall, he was very honest about his feelings, not trying to be someone he was not. All his actions were backed by the skills he had. He did not try to impress Padme by reciting some poems he knew nothing about. I do admit that he made a poor choice of delivering the message, but overall I must say that I admire Anakin for being so straightforward as he was. And, in the end, he was successful. The hottest girl in the known universe fell for him.
It is not Anakin’s fault and neither is it Lucas’s fault that we want to see the Perfect Lover whenever we see a person fall in love with someone. It is our fault that we live at a time of dream romances that neither do not exist in real world, nor does it fit the situation in which we find young Skywalker. He is no James Bond, he is a member of a nearly-monastic order that is predominantly against romantic couples. From this point of view, he did very well.
Second point of view might be a little bit more challenging. It is about Anakin’s relationship with his mother. Yet, I believe many will be able to relate to it and if so, then even better than to the first point. To start from the beginning, Anakin never heard the now iconic sentence “I am your father”. That means that he had never seen how a man is supposed to reach out to a woman if one wants to communicate that he loves her. To make this even worse, most likely the only male person that Anakin had seen addressing his mother was Watto. And Watto, owning Shmi, would not be a good example at all. With the example Anakin used to have in his everyday family life, it is a wonder that Anakin sees Padme as equal and does not feel like owning her.
Departure From Tatooine
But the family stigma goes even further. Have you ever moved to a different city, switched school or did your best friend move to a place where it was no longer possible to see each other? What happened to Anakin is all of that and more. He had to leave everything, and I mean everything behind. When you change schools, you still have a family that helps you carry on. When a loved one passes away (wherever or whatever that might mean), you still have friends around that help you carry on.
Anakin had to leave his mother, friends and school/work at the same time with some people that he had just met and did not spend with them much more that few days. Qui-Gon Jinn, the person who talked him into leaving (well, more like offered him the choice to go with him, he did not have to persuade him) met up with Darth Maul and got grilled just a few days later. Padme, the Angel of Anakin turned out to be a queen of a distant world and had responsibilities far, far away, and therefore Anakin had only few more days with her than with Qui-Gon Jinn. And then had no contact with her for ten years.
All that left Anakin with Obi-Wan Kenobi, whose first thought about him was “Why do I sense we’ve picked up another pathetic life form”.
Jedi Knight, The Best Job Ever
The idea of a Jedi Knight as a peacetalker whom no one can kill also did not last very long. Anakin was first attacked even before he had a chance to leave Tatooine. Then he spent few days at Coruscant where everyone around him was occupied with war politics (Jedi wondering about that mystery attacker and Padme and her group trying hard to get support in the Senate to deal with the invasion on their planet).
And it only escalates very quickly from this point. He is present at a daring meeting with Boss Nass and the Gungans. Next, he is in the first line of attack on the city. Padme goes in first and Anakin follows her, even before the two Jedi do. They do overtake him at least on the square, but when they enter the hangar building, he is the first one to sneak in. When they enter the hangar itself, Anakin is right behind the Jedi, this time even before Padme has chance to go in.
The next moment we see Anakin in cockpit, taking down droids and before we know, he is in the midst of a space battle, where he is shot down and falls behind the enemy line. Lucky for him and the good guys, he is able to recover and takes down the entire ship in the process. Although it was the droid control ship, there had to be a lot of living beings that he killed that day. What a great way to start one’s training. I do not know how things are in a galaxy far, far away, but on our planet, it is regarded by most countries a war-crime to train children younger than 16 in the arts of war and send them to action before they reach the age of 18. Anakin was half that age!
With all these points, I tried to picture the situation in which Anakin grew up. In my opinion, every single reason presented here would have been enough to seriously influence one’s integrity and even leave one a complete mess. It is a great wonder that Anakin had undergone all these major life events and managed to pull it through the way he did.
Therefore I say that the role of Anakin Skywalker was well written and that Hayden Christensen did a tremendous job playing his role. The way Anakin acts is far from perfect – however, for the reasons stated here, I say it is well written. Anyone would be a complete mess if one had to undergo all these events. It is not the fault of the writer nor of the role that we want to see perfect harmony more than a world as it is. Search your feelings, my friends, you know this to be true. May the Force be with you, always.