Hello and welcome to day nine of my Star Wars challenge! For the next 31 days, I’ll be posting once a day with a Star Wars themed post. Some days I’ll be talking about just one thing, other days it’ll be about 5 things based on the prompt of the day.
The challenge is open to everyone and can be completed at any time. I thought that May, being home to May the 4th, sounded like the perfect time. If you’d like to join me this month then please do! You can find all the details over here.
DAY 9 – Lightsaber
Lightsaber fights are one of the most epic parts of the Star Wars Universe and it wouldn’t be the same without them. From the moment Obi-Wan lit up his lightsaber in A New Hope I was transfixed on these incredible blades of light and as I got older I delved further into the lore. In Star Wars: The Old Republic I got to create my own lightsaber and fight as a Jedi and a Sith, sweeping my lightsaber through my enemies.
With each new movie the choreography of the battles got better, the fights got more intense as special effects and green screens allowed the filmmakers to truly bring a galaxy far far away to us.
For day 9 of my Star Wars challenge here are the epic lightsaber battles, in chronological order, that I love to watch.
The Phantom Menace
Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan Vs. Darth Maul
Everything about this fight is choreographic perfection. John Williams’ composing is spot on as always, setting the scene as the doors open to reveal the mysterious Sith that Qui-Gon Jinn encountered in the desert. No Jedi has seen a Sith for thousands of years at this point, let alone fought one twice in the same day. The battle that ensues is suitably epic.
Having only used a single-bladed lightsaber in their first duel, Darth Maul appears to be momentarily disadvantaged before revealing the full length of his weapon and changing the odds of the battle. Suddenly we’re in for a treat; a brand new lightsaber brings a new fighting style, and both Qui-gon and Obi-Wan have shown themselves to be adept swordsmen throughout the movie.
Unlike the battles of the Original Trilogy the battle is fast-paced and flows as it moves through the palace. The difference between the Old Trilogy duels and this fight is not just modern filmmaking. We’re acutely reminded that this is a time when the Jedi were at their height, trained to perfection to be the Galaxy’s defenders and Maul has trained his entire life for this fight. Then the fight suddenly stops as the three combatants are stuck behind security measures. These moments are just as important and as revealing as the rest of the fight, revealing the differences between Padawan and Master, and Jedi and Sith as Obi-Wan struggles to reach his Master and Maul bristles with unspent fury. Qui-Gon, on the other hand, sits down to meditate, ever the image of serenity as he lets the Force flow through him.
The battle changes as Qui-Gonn perishes at Maul’s hands, and Obi-Wan’s careful concentration is broken. His precision strokes become faster, harder, emotion guiding him alongside the Force. In the end, he triumphs, his skill with a blade far superior to the Sith even when he’s filled with grief.
Watch their epic battle again:
Revenge of the Sith
Yoda Vs. Darth Sidious
We all knew that Revenge of the Sith would have an epic showdown between Obi-Wan and Anakin, but this wonderful gem of a showdown was completely unexpected and still gives me shivers thinking about it. I remember sitting in the cinema covering my mouth, gasping in shock and laughing. It is the duel that we all needed to see and one that was long overdue.
For the entirety of the two trilogies, we knew how powerful Sidious and Yoda were, yet we had never seen them in action and honestly, I don’t think it was apparent just how powerful Yoda truly was until this battle. He was known for his wisdom and his strength, however, he was the only member of the Jedi Council who had not been seen in combat directly. After this battle it became clear that it wasn’t age or for lack of skill; it was by choice. The little green guy could not just hold his own, he was the strongest member on the Council.
The scene starts with Yoda strolling into Palpatine’s chambers and talking out his Imperial guards with a wave of his hand. Imperial Guards are the specially trained force-sensitive guards of Palpatine and they would have had some natural and trained resistance to Force abilities. Yoda just gives them a brief force shove, knocking them out against the wall and carries on. By this point, Yoda will have felt the deaths of Mace Windu, Kit Fitso, Agen Kolar and Saesee Tiin and he knew who was responsible. He walks into that room, alone, to meet their murderer. For most of the Star Wars saga, Yoda speaks in riddles, now as he identifies Palpatine as Darth Sidious he is perfectly clear in his meaning. He knows who he is, he knows what he’s done, and he’s here to stop him.
Palpatine tries to make a run for it suggesting that despite his bravado he’s not quite sure if he can take Yoda on. Sure enough, Yoda is faster than the Sith Lord, bouncing into the doorway and taunting him as he ignites his lightsaber.
Up until that moment in the cinema I’d never really considered how Yoda would make up for his height in a fight. I certainly never dreamed of him mastering force speed to bounce around all over the place, and it was incredible to watch. In comparison, Palpatine looks slow, floundering, yet credit must be given that the Sith manages to parry every one of Yoda’s strikes. To keep up with someone using that level of force speed is no easy feat. Both of them are Masters of the force and despite their very different lightsaber styles they’re evenly matched in a duel.
It comes as no surprise that Palpatine chooses to switch things up as soon as he can, turning the duel into one of the most dynamic battles we’ve seen in a Star Wars film. Swapping to telekinesis, a skill he uses with ease, he tosses the senate booths at the tiny Jedi in hopes of solving his problem that way. Yoda is not so easily swayed and manages to avoid many as well as using his own telekinesis to stop one and hurl it back at a startled Palpatine.
And then comes the moment when we realise just how powerful Yoda really is; he not only survives Palpatine’s force lighting but he absorbs it. Taking any energy into oneself is dangerous and a difficult task and we can be sure that Palpatine is not holding back at this stage. He’s beginning to realise he’s out of his depth (that senate booth came a little too close for comfort). Eventually, Yoda concentrates the lightning into a ball and pushes it back at Palpatine, causing an explosion that sends them both flying and both of them escape with their lives.
Watch this epic showdown again:
Revenge of the Sith
Obi-Wan Vs. Anakin
This duel was fated long before the Prequel movies were even greenlit and with that amount of hype the final product needed to be something amazing. Personally I feel that they did just that, with Obi-Wan’s confrontation leading into a heated lightsaber battle which hit all the right emotions.
Once again the choreography team did an incredible job to create a fight that highlighted the skills of two brilliant swordsmen, but inevitably the Master was no match for his former apprentice. In a moment of absolute grief and resolve to save the galaxy from the Chosen One falling to the dark side, Obi-Wan warns Anakin that he has the high ground. It’s a plea to his brother, his friend, asking him to relent, to not make him do it. But Anakin is too far gone and Obi-Wan is forced to cut him down.
I’m not sure what is more painful to watch at that stage; Obi-Wan watching Anakin become engulfed in flames or knowing that his sacrifice was in vain. As he races Padme to safety Darth Sidious appears to save Anakin and his transformation into Darth Vader begins.
Watch their fateful duel again:
Return of the Jedi
Luke Vs. Darth Vader & The Emperor
Looking back at this fight, it seems almost simplistic compared to the other lightsaber battles on this list. As mentioned above a point was made to choreograph the fights in the Prequel Trilogy to highlight the skills of the Jedi of the Old Republic. While Luke had become more powerful since his previous duel with Vader in Cloud City he is still very much untrained and is largely acting on instinct.
Unlike Qui-Gon, Yoda, Obi-Wan or even his father, Luke has no knowledge of the many lightsaber forms. His skills as a swordsman are in fact nil, and that is one of the reasons why this fight is so important. So how is he able to beat Vader at all? The Force is his ally, and Luke is extremely attuned to the Force. He’s also beginning to get to his father, and while Vader is putting on a good show he is not showing any of zeal he did at Cloud City where he did best his son. He doesn’t want to beat him this time.
There’s so much at stake during this lightsaber battle. It’s not just the conclusion of the Original Trilogy, it’s the conclusion of Anakin’s story and the end of the Empire. As Luke fights his father his friends and his sister are desperately trying to destroy the second Death Star before it becomes operational only for the Emperor to reveal that it is and release the full power against the fleet. While fancy choreography makes for a beautiful sight nothing makes up for an intense emotional final battle of good versus evil.
Watch this epic lightsaber fight again:
There were some great lightsaber battles in the new trilogy, but for me, personally many of them lacked the emotional connection that other fights on this list had. The one that stood out though was Kylo and Rey’s fight with the Praetorian Guards in The Last Jedi after Kylo kills Snoke.
First of all, the manner of Snoke’s death was a stroke of genius and it was great to see the Force being used so creatively in one of the movies. This battle is not just beautiful to watch, it also represents for me the moment when Rey and Kylo finally realise and finalise their connection. They don’t fully understand it yet, however, at this moment they understand that the Force has been driving them together.
What I really liked about this particular battle is the number of scenarios contained in just one scene. The nature of the guards’ weapons means that they can manipulate them and change them into multiple weapons. Kylo and Rey fight single-bladed swords, staves, two swords, a whip and so on throughout the fight. They fight together, separated and we get to see their unique styles really clearly. Kylo is much more defined, his Jedi training evident as is his ability to adapt as he throws one guard into a fan. In comparison, Rey is much more guarded and a little apprehensive as you’d expect from someone who has just started training. She’s fearless though, roaring her challenge at one of the guards while Kylo’s anxiety for her is clear as he checks on her several times during the fight.
While the pair part at the end, going their separate ways each having failed to sway the other to join them something has changed.
Watch this incredible fight scene again:
Over To You
The actual prompt for today’s Star Wars challenge was lightsaber rather than ‘lightsaber battles’, however, I’ve never been one to care much for the individual lightsabers themselves. In Star Wars: The Old Republic players can get an array of coloured crystals which makes it much more interesting, but other than a few specific lightsaber handles most are pretty generic with some defining characteristics.
How about you; are you a fan of the lightsabers themselves or what can be done with them?
Which lightsaber battle is top of your list?
Or do you love the lightsaber combat forms, such as Form III Soresu which Obi-Wan was known for?
Let me know in the comments 🙂
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Image Credits: Screencps are from Star Wars Screenaps.com.