DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
I know for the last article I wrote about “Star Wars,” I mentioned letting the hate flow through me. However, hate leads to suffering; and I do not want anyone to suffer. In fact, I want everyone reading to think about the moments they like from the “Star Wars” series.
Also in this article, I will include information about the seven episodes of the “Star Wars” series, but I try to include at least one from every episode. Again, this involves the prequels and the re-editions. Within the notoriously hated prequels are moments that tie them to the Original Trilogy as well as the subtle changes to the re-editions. The honorable mentions section includes intrinsic parts of the film series that are too complicated to pinpoint and are articles unto themselves.
Again there are spoilers in the Force.
10. Anakin/Vader Temptation Scenes (Episodes III, V)
This is the parallel that I think needs to be emphasized when arguing that the Prequels can coexist with the Original Trilogy, perhaps over a few drinks at the Mos Eisley cantina.
The critical moments that happen during these two scenes are what emphasize Anakin/Vader’s arrogant nature by assassinating the Emperor he helped put into power and wanting to take his place. Darth Vader tempts Luke to join him in doing so just after telling him the famous declaration “I am your father;” whereas Anakin wants to do the same with Padme who knows that he has turned over to the Dark Side.
In the previous article, I did write about the flaws, such as Padme being reduced to a weak-willed wife, Anakin being the chosen one, and the Hayden Christensen ghost as poor ways to connect the Prequels to the Original Trilogy; but I think that these two scenes are the saber crystals in the rough. For they highlight the tragic downfall, physically, politically, and morally, of a brave Jedi knight who entices power just like his master.
The flaw with the Episode III one is that it could have paralleled chillingly if Anakin said, “We can rule the galaxy as husband-and-wife.”
9. Darth Maul (Episode I)
It really says a lot about a film when the only character that’s interesting is the one who barely speaks. Let alone the antagonist.
What really got my attention was when Darth Maul ambushed Qui-Gon. The Jedi master and Anakin are waddling through the Tatooine desert trying to make it back to the ship until suddenly–BOOM!–the double-edged light-saber is activated and the red and the green clash!
But what really makes Darth Maul worth it is the fight scene between him and Obi Wan and Qui-Gon. The Gregorian score in the background heightens the fight to an epic level.
Truly a wonderfully terrifying villain; one who is silent and assassin-like.
8. Battle of Geonosis (Episode II)
This battle has everything: light-sabers, laser-guns, star-ships, droids, clones, Geonosians, Jedi, Sith, coliseum-bred beasts, and a Mandalorian. The event that came before the battle was thrilling. The coliseum actually forced the Jedi Knights to fight their way out without the use of their light sabers. Of course, I did mention in my last article that I had a problem with droids and clones, which is why this event is #8. However epically raw this moment is, what does ruin it is the plasticity.
This scene is very well escalated, from a gladiatorial battle of survival to a full-out battle, almost as though the Coliseum shifted its catering from the Sith to the viewing audience.
7. C3PO as a Translator (Episode VI)
As someone who hopes to pursue a Master’s in Linguistics, I am fascinated by C3PO’s purpose as a translator. It also makes him an important character besides being R2D2’s whinny tag-along used for comedic fodder.
He is also important in that he is worshipped as a golden god by the Ewoks, which was the one thing that prevented Luke and his friends from being eaten. Although it appears to be a minor scene, it definitely does show the subtle power of the Force when Luke attempts to inspire awe in the Ewoks by Force-levitating C3PO to create the illusion that he is all-powerful.
I especially like the reenacting the events of the three films, such as the destruction of the death star. He utilizes the Ewok language as well as sound effects, such as light-sabers igniting. This scene is important since it is how Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance are depicted as heroes in a mythology newly woven. One doesn’t need to have subtitles to understand how much the Ewoks come to respect them.
6. Bar Scenes (Episodes II, IV)
There is a fascination at navigating the wretched hives of scum and villainy. When you walk into a cantina like Mos Eisley, you find an unpredictable environment where aliens and humans alike might just blast each other (you wouldn’t even know who did it first), but you also find a world of diversity, particularly among the aliens.
5. Anakin Confronting Palpatine (Episode III)
The tension really builds up in this brilliant scene as Anakin and Palpatine are pacing around and the camera focuses on both of them individually.
Although Hayden Christiansen gives off a forced performance, Ian McDiarmid does a terrific job at slowly melting away Chancellor Palpatine’s kind, grandfatherly facade and revealing himself as Darth Sidious as he tempts Anakin to join the Dark Side. It goes to show that Darth Sidious was revealed before his light-saber-deflecting Sith lightning.
This can harken back (or forward) to when Emperor Palpatine tempted Luke with the Dark Side in Episode VI as he watched his comrades and friends get killed by the Imperial Fleet. This leads to the Emperor attempting to appeal to Luke’s anger by telling him to strike him down. He attempts to, leaving the Emperor to cackle, knowing how easy it was to reach into Luke’s emotions, as he did with Anakin’s in the prequels. Indeed, in this scene, he attempts to sympathize with Anakin by mentioning his lack of place within the Jedi Council, thus falsely giving him a sense of worth.
The music also changes from a silent, peaceful moment to an insidious one (excuse the pun).
The setting also made the scene great, considering how there was a panoramic picture in the background depicting battles. This elegantly juxtaposed with the confrontation, as though warning the audience that there will chaos that will spawn from this confrontation (and sure enough, films-worth of chaos came).
4. Jango Fett Introduction (Episode II)
Why couldn’t we have more dialogue like this in the prequels? In the Director’s Commentary of “Episode II,” Lucas himself described the dialogue as “clipped and stark.” Yes, exactly! All of the dialogue should have been like this, not as filler, time-wasters, or simple character-establishing. What made dialogue in the original series great was its quotable nature. In the prequels, the dialogue is also quotable but in an ironic, humorous way.
What is important is how they talk under the guise of civility while also hinting at plans to kill each other. It is a witty dialogue that has a noirish undertone to it and one that fits in the unpredictable galaxy of clones and the emerging Sith.
Think about what Jango said,
“I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.”
It is what I would expect to hear from Han Solo and is quotable on its own merit. That quote in itself provides a glimpse into the perils of the galaxy far, far away.
What is also clever is the way Jango speaks to his “son,” Boba, in their own language coded to hide Jango’s intention of pursuing Obi Wan. If there is anything I learned as an English major is that people use language for different contexts. In this case, in one context, Jango uses the same implications that Obi Wan is using; while in the other instance, he is informing Boba to prepare to flee to Geonosis and he needed to hide his suit.
There are so many things happening all in this one instance. I’d rather hear more dialogue like this than Anakin’s and Padme’s. I also like how ominously slow the musical score is during the exchange. I am also convinced that “Episode II” should have revolved around Obi Wan as the main protagonist and Jango Fett as the main antagonist, but that’s another article.
3. Shakespearean Actors for Important Roles (Episodes IV-VI)
There is a level of prestige that is brought to a film when the most iconic characters, Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine, are played by actors typically found reenacting Shakespeare’s plays.
However, Alec Guinness actually hated his role as Obi Wan and thought of the “Star Wars” series as childish. If anyone in his family were to read this, I would like to say that his role as Obi Wan was not wasted. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite, that he made the “Star Wars” series the icon that it continues to be. His role as Obi Wan also reflects on the teachers and mentors that we may have had in our regular lives, which makes his role more important.
2. Luke Unmasking his Father (Episode VI)
This is a powerful, emotionally stirring scene where Darth Vader makes the transition from machine to man. The background music is eerily low and slow as it reveals who was behind the mask.
However much the prequels can be criticized for, what it did serve the purpose of doing was become a character study of Anakin Skywalker before he fell to the Dark Side. This scene in the Original Trilogy makes the prequels worth producing and the moment all the more impactful.
However, it was a little unusual that all of the Storm-Troopers ran about did not notice their lord unmasked.
Different Attires (Episodes IV-VI): In my previous article, I placed the lack of immersive clothing as one of my main grievances of the Star Wars prequels.
Monsters (Episodes I-VI): If the Sith don’t kill you, then the forces of nature probably will. Whether it’s an asteroid worm or a wampum, there are a lot of unpredictable dangers in this galaxy.
Landscape Shots (Episodes I-VI): this includes space where the Battle of Yavin takes place. What makes a landscape shot so picturesque is the mixing of reality and CGI. In the prequels and the re-editions, the scenery is modeled with CGI mixed with paintings, an Italian palace (for the city of Naboo), photographs, as well as pre-existing footage. I said in the previous article that I didn’t mind subtle CGI retconning. This is one of the moments where I prefer it. including the celebration ending montage at the end of Episode VI.
1. Luke Slaying “Darth Vader” on Dagobah (Episode V)
This was truly a remarkable scene concerning Luke’s Jedi training on Dagobah. This was the part where Luke got to explore the evils that would have been within him, by facing a façade of Darth Vader. The slow motion and the fogginess really does capture the dream-like terror that would have consumed Luke; and the audience who would also be surprised that Darth Vader may have found out where Luke really was. This scene is brilliant in how it meddles with Luke as well as the audience. When Luke decapitates “Darth Vader,” he discovers it was not his father, but his own face, coldly looking back at the viewers.
What this scene shows is the disturbing revelation that your greatest enemy is yourself and harkens back to the literary trope of “Man versus himself.” To Luke, anyone can join the Dark Side.