My thought process:
I hope I get a good movie. I’m sick of doing Scene it on Friday’s of the Prequels and getting super short scenes with nothing to work with.
Go to random.org and get #5.
Awesome. ESB. It’s been too long since I’ve had that movie.
Look it up.
Possibly the best scene in the entire Saga.
And that’s all folks!
Just kidding. But seriously. I’ve been so down in the dumps lately with my Scene it on Friday’s, and this picked me up and left my jaw on the floor. I actually never thought about when I would get this scene, but damn. Glad it came today.
Do you remember your reaction when you found out Vader was Luke’s father? Did you know before watching the movie or were you surprised?
I remember, oh boy, do I remember. I was sitting on the chair in our living room right in front of the TV and I think was 9 years old, maybe 10 or 11. I was on the edge of my seat during the whole battle and my mom was to the right of me on the couch. (As a side note – the chair I was in was the prime position for watching movies and we used to fight over who got to sit there when everyone watched a movie.)
When the famous line was uttered, I just kind of sat there. In shock, but more in disbelief. I didn’t hear that properly, did I?
I turned to my mother and said, “What did he say?”
“Vader said he’s Luke’s father.”
I turned back to the screen as Luke is falling. “What? Vader is Luke’s father?”
“Yes. Would you like me to rewind it?”
Rewind. Vader tells Luke he’s his father.
“Wait. Pause.” My mother pauses the movie. “How is he Luke’s father? That doesn’t make sense. Luke’s father is dead, I thought.”
“I guess we’ll just have to watch the rest and try to figure it out. Can we continue watching now?”
Man, oh man. Mind was BLOWN.
According to behind-the-scenes info, no one but Mark Hamill and James Earl Jones knew that Vader was Luke’s father until the Premiere. Even in the script given out to the actors and actresses, Mark read the line “No. Obi-Wan killed your father.” When shooting the scene, that was the line that David Prowse uttered to Hamill. For the longest time, I thought that Mark Hamill did a great job acting out being terrified and dismayed at the thought of Obi-Wan killing his father because it was such a strong reaction we see. Later on, I found out that Hamill was told the real line moments before he filmed the scene, so that would explain his (in my eyes) superb acting at that moment.
His disbelief, shock, fear, and anger are so clear on Luke’s face that I can’t help give a nod in Hamill’s direction. Say what you want about him as an actor, I think this scene is amazing and far surpasses any scene that Hayden Christensen filmed. Christensen had some tough scenes himself, but this one moment supersedes all of his.
The way this scene is written as well is so poignant. Luke is slowly backed into a corner and you feel your blood level rising as you and he realize he’s trapped. There’s literally nowhere for him to go but to join Vader or fight him. But by joining Vader, he’s joining the Empire and the Dark Side.
Though Vader says “Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did,” we all know, including Luke, that he doesn’t know how to disappear/give himself up to the Force. So that’s not an option. If he wants to live, he’s got to somehow face Vader, either in a fight without his lightsaber or by joining him. As Vader says, “It’s the only way.”
And this is why I love Luke. It’s not the only way. He would rather die than join Vader and so he jumps (more like falls without hope) off the platform and into the unknown.
The fall that he takes is symbolized by the fall in his own security of who he is and failure to make a decision on the type of life he now wants to lead. Before, he knew that he was the son of a great fighter and a Jedi. Can you imagine having everything you thought you knew dismantled in a terrible, painful (physically and emotionally) moment?
Finally – I do want to point out, which most of you big Star Wars fans already know, Vader does not say “Luke, I am your father,” though our culture seems to want to have that be the prevailing line. It’s really “No. I am your father.” And with that note, I’ll leave you with this great, fan correction from Conan O’Brien:
INTERIOR: GANTRY — OUTSIDE CONTROL ROOM – REACTOR SHAFT
Luke moves along the railing and up to the control room. Vader lunges at him and Luke immediately raises his lit sword to meet Vader’s. Sparks fly as they duel, Vader gradually forcing Luke backward toward the gantry.
VADER: You are beaten. It is useless to resist. Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did.
Luke answers by rolling sideways and thrusting his sword at Vader so viciously that he nicks Vader on the shoulder. The black armor sparks and smokes and Vader seems to be hurt, but immediately recovers.
Luke backs off along the narrow end of the gantry as Vader comes at him, slashing at the young Jedi with his sword. Luke makes a quick move around the instrument complex attached to the end of the gantry. Vader’s sword comes slashing down, cutting the complex loose; it begins to fall, then is caught by the rising wind and blown upward.
Luke glances at the instrument complex floating away. At that instant, Vader’s sword comes down across Luke’s right forearm, cutting off his hand and sending his sword flying. In great pain, Luke squeezes his forearm under his left armpit and moves back along the gantry to its extreme end. Vader follows. The wind subsides. Luke holds on. There is nowhere else to go.
VADER: There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you. You do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover you power. Join me and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
LUKE: I’ll never join you!
VADER: If you only knew the power of the dark side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
LUKE: He told me enough! He told me you killed him.
VADER: No. I am your father.
Shocked, Luke looks at Vader in utter disbelief.
LUKE: No. No. That’s not true! That’s impossible!
VADER: Search your feelings. You know it to be true.
LUKE: No! No! No!
VADER: Luke. You can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and we can rule the galaxy as father and son. Come with me. It’s the only way.
Vader puts away his sword and holds his hand out to Luke.
A calm comes over Luke, and he makes a decision. In the next instant he steps off the gantry platform into space. The Dark Lord looks over the platform and sees Luke falling far below. The wind begins to blow at Vader’s cape and the torrent finally forces him back, away from the edge. The wind soon fades and the wounded Jedi begins to drop fast, unable to grab onto anything to break his fall.