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Sidelines: 12: Top Six Star Wars Moments

With the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I think it’s time that I look back at my top six favorite Star Wars moments. Now this is going to be a very specific kind of list. I am only looking at examples from visual media like film and tv shows and most of it is going to be focused on the original Star Wars Trilogy. No comics or books. Just the films and the shows based on it. Also, this may extend to whole story arcs in a specific show, like Clone Wars. And just remember: This is my list. My opinion. If you have any favorite moments, let me know in the comments section. Now… let us begin.

6. The Rise and Fall of Darth Maul (From Clone Wars). When Darth Maul returned to the Star Wars Universe in the Clone Wars TV Show, it was a bold move by the showrunners and in my opinion, it worked. It gave Maul a defined personality and a place beyond Boba Fett status where he is popular despite not doing much overall. It made him a fully formed antagonist and a proper nemesis for Obi-Wan Kenobi. He formed an army and took over Mandalore. He killed Obi-Wan’s true love. He did battle with Darth Sideous and lost. While his story would not be continued in the show, his story is finished in a comic sequel to the show called “Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir” which I recommend you find.

5. Luke looks at the Twin Suns. This scene is one of the most iconic moments in Star Wars History. Luke, after being rebuffed by his Uncle to join the academy like his friends have, thus losing him his one chance to get off Tattooine, has a quiet moment. He goes to look at the setting suns with only the music as an accompaniment. The cinematography, the lighting, the music, the setting, it all blends together to make a really powerful and subtle scene. Luke’s desire to finally leave is all over this place and it works. It’s a good moment that marks the beginning of the hero’s journey.’

4. The Emperor’s Arrival. Throughout the original Trilogy, there were frequent mentions of the Emperor until his on screen arrival in Return of the Jedi. While he had an appearance in Empire Strikes Back, that was mostly just a few minute cameo and only served to remind us of his existence and the reveal that he was Vader’s master. However, most of this was overshadowed by Darth Vader himself and the presence he commanded on screen. But when the Emperor finally arrived in Return of the Jedi, everything told us that this guy was the true mastermind and that Vader was his right hand. The scene is just perfect with the most subtle yet obvious moment of Darth Vader, the man who force choked Imperial Officers for mouthing off to him or for making a small mistake, bowing. On top of that, the scene does a good job at projecting menace. The horn section blasting the Imperial March at the beginning, the low, almost humming, when Emperor Palpatine departs from his shuttle, and the cackle that the Emperor employs just as the scene ends. It’s a great moment for the introduction of Star Wars’ most menacing of villains.

3. The Lightsaber Duel from Episode I. This is the lightsaber duel that all other duels would be measured by in all proceeding Star Wars films. Choreographed by Nick Gillard, everything about this duel is perfect. The pacing, the music, the action, the stunt work, the cinematography, everything is just very well done. It also works as a good introduction to the Sith and the Force of Nature that they were before their inevitable fall due to the constant backstabbing their Order engaged in. Overall, this is one of the best fight scenes in Star Wars history. Now, I know this is shorter than the previous entries, but that’s because better people have analyzed this even more than I can. Now I can say that I have much more to say with my next entry.

2. Luke vs Vader. The duel between Maul, Obi-Wan, and Qui Gon may have been the best one of the Prequels, but this duel is probably the best of the entire series. The context for this duel, for all five of you that have no idea what Star Wars is, is that Luke has defied his masters, Yoda and Obi-Wan, and has gone to Cloud City to save his friends from what he assumes is their deaths. However, the whole thing turns out to be a trap and he is roped into a fight that he is not ready for. He faces against the man he believes killed his father and he is throughly trounced. There are numerous things to talk about with this scene and I will. First, the lighting. When Luke first enters the Carbon Freeze Chamber, the lighting and shadows are perfect, giving an ominous sense of dread that things are not going to go well. Then the sound direction. Unlike the Naboo Duel, there is practically no music for this fight, at least for the first and last third of the fight. All we hear is Vader’s labored breathing and the clash of their Lightsabers. Next, the choreography. While the Naboo Duel had the combatants fight on equal ground, this fight shows the true gap in power between Luke and Vader. Luke is nothing to the Sith Lord. He is nothing. Every time he thinks he’s gained ground, Vader takes it back and then some. Also, throughout the fight, Vader is goading and teaching him, like this is a sparring match between master and student and he is giving Luke pointers. The best line read given by Vader at the beginning is this: “Impressive.” (Slashes at Luke, giving off sparks as machinery is damaged.) “Most impressive.” And then of course, the final third. The line that demoralized Luke, shocked audiences across the world, and spawned many parodies. Everything about this fight is perfect. It is perfection to the core of Star Wars and the second best moment in Star Wars history.

1. The Finale of Return of the Jedi. I love Return of the Jedi. It may be the middle child of the Trilogy in terms of quality, but the grand finale is probably the best in the history of the franchise. They knew this was the end of the story so they packed it all on for our viewing pleasure. A final duel between Luke and Vader, the Emperor’s defeat, the Battle on Endor, and the battle above Endor. All of it comes together for a wonderful final battle. However, what makes it truly my favorite is the final escape of the Millennium Falcon from the exploding Second Death Star. The final run to get to the power core of the Death Star has some of the best special effects I’ve ever seen. The use of models, the explosive effects, and the final run stretch. And it is all topped off by the infectious “YEEEEHAAAH” from Billy Dee Williams that just makes you want to jump up and yell with him. While the movie may have had logical fallacies, like the whole Jabba’s Palace plot, that doesn’t take away from the grand tone this film and final stretch had. It’s my favorite moment from my favorite of the Star Wars movie.

Are there any moments you feel I should have cited? What are your favorite moments from Star Wars? Tell me, please. List them in the comments. And may the Force be with you.