Lightsaber Battles Part I – Original Trilogy

This may seem completely silly, but I want to go over these lightsaber battles movie-by-movie.  I was inspired by my last post on Friday, where the Obi-Wan vs. Darth Vader battle was the first one ever seen in the Star Wars universe.  I’m not talking about every single time someone pulls out their lightsaber, just the main battles between foes that are usually at the end of each Star Wars movie, with the exception being ANH.

So let’s start at the beginning with the Original Trilogy.  I’m going chronologically in our Earth based universe, as opposed to a galaxy far, far away because it’s interesting to see how the effects evolve as well.   I was going to include all six movies, but my post was just SO long, so I will include those later.

Lightsaber Battle #1 – ANH – Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader

I touched on this briefly last week, but I just watched it again to get a better feel of it.  It’s actually not as short as I remember it being in my head.  It’s almost two minutes long, filled with cryptic dialogue and action.

Honestly, I don’t like this one as much.  I hate saying that; I almost feel like it’s a crime since I know this movie holds a special place in the heart of so many people.  I understand it’s the first Star Wars and the original lightsaber battle, but it feels old to me.  Obi-Wan moves like an old man (which he is) and Vader moves like he is encumbered by his suit (which he is), so it makes for a slower battle than I normally like.  Don’t forget – even though I’ve grown up with these movies, I have essentially kind of grown up with the prequels as I was 11 when TPM came out.  The sounds the sabers make when they clash are also grating on my ears; it has a more rounded, fuller sound as the movies progress.  Or perhaps it’s just not as loud a sound when they clash together.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the best part of this fight really is the dialogue and the hidden meanings behind it.  At the end of the battle, you are left with a million questions.  “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”  That line stays with you, because you realize that Obi-Wan has died the weirdest death.  Did he really die?  He just disappeared, so what does that mean?  Since he was struck down, how does he now become more powerful?

However, I’m not rating this on dialogue, but on the battle.  My vote on this lightsaber battle: 6/6, sixth in the lineup of six battles to choose from.  Least favorite, sorry!

Lightsaber Battle #2 – ESB – Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader

What makes this battle so interesting, in my eyes, is that it really is a staggered battle.  You’re not looking at a complete lightsaber fight but more of a series of small fights that creates a battle.  I think this is great because it provides a lot of tension and build up.  The dialogue is scarce and I like how there’s an overall creepy feeling to the scene – like Vader is going to jump out at Luke at any moment.  There’s some great one liners in here, “You’ll find I’m full of surprises,” and “Impressive, most impressive.”

The lightsaber action has definitely picked up the pace since ANH and the quality of the sabers are a lot better.  The sound isn’t as loud and static filled either.  Vader, though still encumbered by his suit, shows off his Force powers and I love how this battle is full of the Force.  We get to see that Luke is really untrained for some Force action within a fight, but overall – for his first combat ever – he definitely still holds his own fairly well.  Vader is also made a fool of when he tries to freeze Luke and ends up talking to billowing smoke coming out of the carbon freezing chamber.  Haha, whaddup now Vader?!

The fight gets more and more intense and when Vader tells Luke to unleash his anger, he’s insinuating that Luke will be so much more powerful when he does.  To his frustration, Luke keeps his cool and we see Vader’s fighting become more and more aggressive with the end result obviously being Luke losing his arm.  It makes me wonder if Luke ever thought that perhaps he could have saved his hand if he had given into a bit of that anger.  I’m glad he didn’t, but I wonder if those thoughts went through his head.

My vote on this battle: 4/6.  I do like it in the context of ESB and think it’s great, but I prefer some other ones better.

Lightsaber battle #3 – ROTJ – Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader

Oh, I love this battle, I really do.  It’s fraught with so much emotion and it’s the first time, as an audience, we see father and son battle knowing their relationship.  The transition in this battle is also amazing.  Luke starts off pretty cool and level-headed but we see he is easily goaded.  The emperor goads him into grabbing the lightsaber with taunts of how his friends won’t survive.  Vader goads him by reading into his thoughts and saying his sister will turn to the Dark Side.  Both times, Luke loses it.  The second time more so than the first time, to the point that he goes crazy, absolutely loco on Vader, ending with him cutting off Vader’s hand (so much symbolism in this but not the post to do it).  But I love it, I LOVE IT.  Why?  Because it shows that our hero is human; that you scream and hate that he’s fallen to the Dark Side.  It reminds me of that point when Sam and Frodo finally make it to Mordor to throw in the ring, and Frodo decides to keep the ring.  It’s the same emotion – this helpless feeling as an audience that you want to grab them and scream “Don’t do it!”  You groan and want to turn away, but you can’t because you need to see what happens…

…And the lightsaber fight gets SO good.  The anger comes out and the thrusts and parries get faster, to the point that Vader can’t keep up.  It turns into Luke mercilessly beating him with his lightsaber and you see he’s at a point where he can’t turn back.  Mr. Reticent thinks this fight is boring and it’s only a hide-and-seek lightsaber duel, but it’s one of my favorites.   The emotion you’ve invested as an audience into this fight makes it so much better.

However, since I’ve brought up the sound of the lightsabers in every brief analysis so far, I have to say…the sounds are a lot closer to what we hear in the prequels.  Not as harsh on the ears.  I also have really sensitive hearing, so I wonder if that’s why it bothers me so much.

My vote on this battle: 2/6.  One of my favorites, but just not quite good enough to make it the number one spot.  The emotion plays a big part in why this holds the #2 spot for me out of all six of the movies.

Prequels next!

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2 thoughts on “Lightsaber Battles Part I – Original Trilogy

  1. Empire Strikes Back is my favorite, with Return of the Jedi as my second. Phantom Menace would be 3, followed by A New Hope, then by Revenge of the Sith, and last Attack of the Clones. I know people like a spinning, jumping Yoda, but the battle in Attack of the Clones lack substance.
    That being said, one of my best birthdays was watching all the lightsaber battles back to back in order. It’s awesome.

  2. Not a big fan of AOTC either. I felt like it was just thrown in there so we could see Yoda fight. I would much rather have had it cut out and left the Yoda fighting until the end of ROTS as it is now. That was a much more interesting battle.
    How did you watch the battles back to back? Did you pull up a bunch of YouTube clips or just jump to each scene on the movie?

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