I rewatched Episode 3 for this blog, and had the chance to contrast it with Return of the Jedi. Remember that Episode 6's most important action is Luke trusting Darth Vader again and again, despite no empirical reason to do so.
What does Sith have to say about trust? I did a simple search on “trust” through the script to make this point, but I think it comes through pretty clearly this way. (I removed lines from the script that didn’t make it into to the movie. They are sometimes useful auxiliary evidence for interpretation, but a cut can be just as important for showing what was consciously taken out.)
I know the Council has grown wary of the Chancellor's power, mine also for that matter. Aren't we all working together to save the Republic? Why all this distrust?
Anakin, I've known you since you were a small boy. I have advised you over the years when I could ... I am very proud of your accomplishments. You have won many battles the Jedi Council thought were lost . . . and you saved my life. I hope you trust me, Anakin.
Anakin, the only reason the Council has approved your appointment is because the Chancellor trusts you.
Too much under the sway of the Chancellor, he is. Much anger there is in him. Too much pride in his powers.
It's very dangerous, putting them together. I don't think the boy can handle it. I don't trust him.
He'll be all right. I trust him with my life.
I would worry about the collective wisdom of the Council if they didn't select you for this assignment. You are the best choice by far … but, they can't always be trusted to do the right thing.
Anakin, search your feelings. You know, don't you?
I know they don't trust you . . .
Or the Senate . . . or the Republic . . . or democracy for that matter.
I have to admit my trust in them has been shaken.
Obi-Wan and the Council don't trust me.
They trust you with their lives. Obi-Wan loves you as a son.
They don't trust you, Anakin. They see your future. They know your power will be too strong to control. Anakin, you must break through the fog of lies the Jedi have created around you. Let me help you to know the subtleties of the Force.
(after telling Mace Windu about Palpatine’s dark side, so that Mace Windu runs to arrest him)
I must go, Master.
No. If what you told me is true, you will have gained my trust, but for now remain here.
Because the Council did not trust you, my young apprentice, I believe you are the only Jedi with no knowledge of this plot. When the Jedi learn what has transpired here, they will kill us, along with all the Senators.
The movie, about the triumph of Darth Sidious, is basically constant talk of distrust. The Jedi don’t trust the Chancellor or the Senate. The Jedi don’t trust Anakin. Anakin comes to not trust the Jedi. Anakin doesn’t trust Padme.
(Sidious does hope that Anakin trusts him, but never acts as if he relies on Anakin’s trust or even asks for it. In fact when he reveals himself, he’s quite understanding towards Anakin immediately turning him in. His climactic arguments to Anakin aren’t to trust him, but ones of self-interest.)
(There’s also some ambiguity about Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan has genuine love towards Anakin, but his actions hardly show the trust he claims.)
What can we tell from this? Much of the fault for his own fall is young Skywalker’s, and hence so is the rise of the Empire. But the movie is showing us that this sin was all around. If the Council of Jedi had blindly trusted Anakin… there wouldn’t have been a split. Which isn’t to say they had reason not to trust what was happening -- they can clearly tell that Palpatine is manipulating them. But the very thing he is manipulating them into doing is this lack of faith. They ignore their normal rules for loving conduct because of the threat of their enemy… and play right into their enemy’s hands.
The key exchange of these is between Mace Windu and Anakin. Mace is demanding that Anakin earn his trust. We don’t ever in Star Wars see someone demanding this evidence of fealty. It works out very, very badly for Mace Windu.
Frankly it takes some awkward plot decisions to make this the key way the Republic falls. From a realist perspective, why would Master Windu be skeptical of Anakin after Anakin has betrayed his mentor to them? But once distrust has taken root, it infects everything. We see characters make decisions we consider illogical or paranoid, in order to reflect the fallacy of this theme.
The Jedi were corrupt. And so they fell.
I think this glance-over also gives us an idea of what the Star Wars movies are actually saying about attachment.
An attachment that causes you to distrust someone, makes you jealous and afraid. That is the way of the Dark Side, and we see it infect Anakin from an early age. He never engages with this part of his personality, and his Jedi mentors just tell him to stop caring altogether about what happens to his loved ones.
But an attachment that causes you to rely on them, to know they will be there for you when you need it without reassurance, is the only hope the universe has. Han Solo returns to battle in A New Hope and shoots Vader’s TIE fighter from taking down Luke. Leia guides the Millenium Falcon to be at the exact spot to rescue Luke at the end of Empire Strikes Back.
Trust the Force.