In my own little kid head, I always assumed that his body didn’t disappear because he’d been evil for so many years, and it took his spirit a bit longer to make peace with itself than it did for Obi-Wan and Yoda. (Little kid logic, right?) My kid self was wrong, according to the book “Star Wars: The Story of Darth Vader,” by Catherine Saunders, from 2015. The death scene is described with Vader being reminded of who he was by Luke and sacrificing himself to save his son. Then it says:
“As Anakin lay dying, he asked Luke to remove his helmet so that he could look at his son’s face with his own eyes. When Anakin died, his body disappeared into the light side of the Force. Luke was sad that his father was dead but proud of him, too. The light side of the Force had overcome the dark side and Anakin Skywalker had returned. On the forest moon of Endor, Luke burned Vader’s armor.”
That would mean that Anakin’s body disappeared after the camera cuts away, and what Luke is burning on the pyre on Endor’s moon is merely Darth Vader’s suit. That makes sense, and symbolically burning the thing that kept the darker part of Anakin alive for so long and allowed him to destroy so many (including an entire freaking planet full of people his daughter cared for) could have been the thing that let his spirit find peace. So maybe it works. Do I think that this explanation was just a convenient way to retroactively fix a film mistake? Yup. Do I think it’s better than my kid explanation? Yup, and it’s kind of perfect.
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