IMPACT Film & TV re-live the best moments from a galaxy far, far away…
Anakin’s Pod Race – The Phantom Menace
For a film that is awful, The Phantom Menace does have one redeeming feature, the pod race on Tatooine. The race is very much the prequel trilogy’s answer to the famous cantina scene of the originals, featuring an array of different creatures and species. The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film I went to see, and this was the scene I have always remembered since; not only is it exciting and dangerous, it also has some great lines from the commentators.
When I was young, I was once sent a mouse-mat containing a picture of Anakin at the pod race. It contained a quote saying “Luke, I am your father”. This always confused me, and thus I watched that scene over and over again to find the quote and this mysterious person “Luke”, but try as I might, I just couldn’t. It wasn’t until I watched the originals in which I finally understood the blunder the company had made.
Darth Maul vs. Qui-Gon Jinn – The Phantom Menace
This was one of the first parts of Star Wars I watched as a child. I can’t remember whether I was watching the full episode, or I’d walked in on someone else watching it – but this is the scene that has stuck with me as my first encounter with the saga, and I feel it is one of the best representations of the films.
The focus is a fight between the Sith Lord Darth Maul, and Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ultimately, it results in the defeat of Darth Maul, but also that of Qui-Gon Jinn. It has lots of action, with flashing lightsabres and plenty of stunts, but also builds tension in the run-up to the final battle, with each of the combatants separated and waiting for the fight to restart. There is a balance between light and dark, as both sides suffer losses, linking to the overarching theme of the series. This scene also shows the power of the Force, and is important in that it eventually leads to Anakin Skywalker being trained as a Jedi. It has the triumph of good over evil, but also the shocking loss of a mentor. I love it.
Anakin’s Realisation – Revenge of the Sith
There is no question that the prequel trilogy doesn’t reach the heights of the originals, but it would be wrong to claim they are devoid of great Star Wars moments. Anakin’s acceptance of his destiny whilst in the Jedi Temple is a great scene, and possibly the strongest moment in the trilogy. Anakin, plagued by visions of Padme’s death, is told to wait in the Jedi Temple whilst Mace Windu faces the newly revealed Darth Sidious. Believing that Sidious is the only way to “save the ones you love” we see Anakin’s doubts surrounding the Jedi come to the surface.
Unable to commit to the Jedi code he ultimately gives up on them. Through his love for Padme he gives in to the temptations of the Dark Side. The eerie music is mixed with Anakin gazing over the city landscape of Coruscant, a single tear rolling down his cheek, whilst Padme, miles away, looks back at the Temple. There are no lines of dialogue but this scene speaks more about Anakin’s fall than any other. This for me is the greatest scene in the prequels and one of my favourites in the entire saga.
Anakin Skywalker vs. Obi Wan Kenobi, Mustafar – Revenge of the Sith
The fated clash between sworn brothers. The bridge between old and new. The rise of Darth Vader as we know him. The battle on Mustafar between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi means all this and much more, and provides the greatest ending to the prequel trilogy that we could hope for. What makes this scene so great is a combination of its significant meaning – being the triggering point to set off the original trilogy – but also the incredible choreography of it all, with some of the most impressive stunts and set work in the entire Star Wars series.
In fact the benefits that 21st century technology brought to the Star Wars prequels are most evident in this battle, making it feel like everything George Lucas would’ve wanted Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader to have been in episodes V and VI. The juxtaposition of the battle of the ‘apprentices’ against the ongoing battle between the ‘masters’, Darth Sidious and Yoda, only serves to further heighten the tension and excitement of this particular scene. It deserves to be called one of the best Star Wars scenes of all time.
The Star Destroyer Emerges – A New Hope
Lucasfilm. A long time ago. The scroll of yellow text bursting from the screen and sweeping back into the stars. None of this was familiar or iconic back in 1977. This December we’ll all be back in the cinema for a new Star Wars adventure. If we’re lucky, we may be treated to an opening scene at least half as good that which kicks off Episode IV.
The text describes an ongoing battle between the heroic rebels and an evil galactic empire, possessing a DEATH STAR; an ultimate weapon so insidious it turns its letters to capitals, and a desperate race to rescue a princess carrying the key to its destruction. Then we pan down to the surface of Tatooine, a Rebel starship is pursued by a gargantuan star destroyer, comically vast as it stretches on endlessly from the top of the frame. In one singular moment we understand everything we need about the conflict between these two forces.
No moment in the prequels evokes anything this giddily, straightforwardly exciting, and although there were countless scenes in the original trilogy that would take the series to great heights, it’s impossible to conceive of a better way it could have begun.
Tatooine Sunset – A New Hope
If there is one scene in the ‘Star Wars’ saga that is simply perfect, it’s this one, when Luke stares into the binary sunset of Tatooine at the beginning of ‘A New Hope’. In the space of thirty-seconds we completely understand the character of Luke Skywalker and the universe in which the series is set. The cinematography of the scene is stunning. Not only does it look great, but it establishes the alien world of Star Wars.
The rest is all Mark Hamill. Through just a few actions and facial expressions you see how much Luke wants to leave the planet he’s been stuck on for his whole life. You see how much he needs adventure, or just something different. However, you can’t talk about this scene without mentioning the iconic score by the legendary John Williams. When the whole orchestra of ‘Luke’s theme’ kicks in, it is difficult not to get chills. It’s simply incredible, and it will always be my favourite scene in a series which is full of endless iconic moments.
No, I am your… – The Empire Strikes Back
Often misquoted, but nonetheless an amazing scene, and one I know you have been dying to read about. From Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back this has got to be my chosen favourite, just because it is so cliché – but so great. You know those moments in movies and TV shows where there is some big reveal that the protagonist doesn’t want to hear, followed by an over-dramatic ‘NOOOO!’ which lasts for what feels like hours? Well this scene witnesses the birth of that dreaded ‘NO!’
As we move from an excellent lightsaber battle, where Darth Vader flaps around like a clunky dinosaur before cutting Luke’s hand off, we reach what is possibly the biggest reveal in movie history. I’m really sorry Luke, but it’s true – you have been lied to your whole life and your father is just a tad evil.
Battle of Endor – Return of the Jedi
Star Wars is the ultimate iconic saga. The story of a young man trying to find his place in the galaxy. But Luke was not alone, He had help from not one but two wise Jedi Masters, the maverick Han Solo, and Princess Leia. Together they were the ‘force’ which took down the mighty Empire. This is of course until Return of the Jedi, when it transpired that the entire Empire had, like the original death star, one fatal weak spot – Ewoks.
Up until the battle of Endor, Star Wars had been a battle of good versus evil. Suddenly the tide turns, as the Storm Troopers stumble upon the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. The Battle of Endor is utterly ridiculous and completely out of tone with the rest of the film, yet I hold a deep affection for this scene. This may be because I was a child when I first watched Star Wars, and Ewoks are the cutest thing in the Galaxy. The scene is slapstick and has no dramatic tension, but there is plenty of that on the Death Star. In the meantime, I am happy to watch the Empire being destroyed by overgrown ferrets on cocaine.
Luke Vs Vader, Final Duel – Return of the Jedi
The final confrontation between Luke, Darth Vader, and the Emperor is the battle between the Light and the Dark that the entire saga has been leading towards.
Despite encouragement from Obi-Wan and Yoda to kill Vader, Luke refuses to do so. He goes before the Emperor hoping to turn Vader back to the light. This leads to an exchange that is one of the greatest scenes in the Star Wars Saga. As Vader taunts Luke, the camera zooms in on the pained expression on Luke’s face as one side is cast in shadow and the other in light, mirroring the internal struggle he has been fighting for two films. It is only when Vader threatens Leia, with the same fate as Luke himself is facing, that he just loses it. All previous restraint is lost and he goes after Vader.
The music is swirling, the lightsabers are clashing and Vader is put onto the back foot for the first time in the entire trilogy. Even with Vader at his mercy, Luke composes himself, and refuses to kill Vader. He rises before the Emperor, casting his lightsaber aside, proclaiming that he is now… a Jedi.