Ultimate Movie Showdowns: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
This series is a tribute to the most epic showdowns in motion picture history. Be warned, there are obviously spoilers as a good portion of the movie has to be recapped and the best confrontations usually occur at a film's climax.
Obi-Wan v Anakin (Darth Vader)
Most of us remember the slow-paced duel between the elderly Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader on the Death Star, in the original Star Wars (Now Episode 4). It wasn't until Empire that we finally got to see two force-wielders face off, when Luke confronted his fallen father. The two would once again meet and cross lightsabers in the epic conclusion of the final installment of the Star War Saga. However, prior to the prequel trilogy, we never got to see Vader and his former master have a legitimate battle and while it was often speculated that such a confrontation had resulted in the sith lord being imprisoned in the suit, it was only derived from fan conjecturing.
Although the prequel trilogy is widely regarded as vastly inferior and poorly written, Lucas made up for it during the final installment (see my Sequels that Surpass the Originals). This film packs a punch with its plethora of action scenes and music that actually sounds like its from the originals. Undoubtedly the darkest of the Star Wars series, the foreboding atmosphere and steady build to the collapse of the jedi order and the rise of the empire definitely work in Episode III’s favor.
But let's focus on the main event here. The final conflict between Vader and Obi-Wan on the hellish wasteland Mustafar, while Yoda duels the Emperor simultaneously on Coruscant, is undeniably the highlight of not only the film, but the prequel trilogy. While Yoda facing the Emperor was another highly anticipated sequence for many fans and did not disappoint, we're going to focus on the brawl between Obi-Wan and Anakin.
As with any classic cinematic throw down, the battle's precursor is an epic exchange of dialogue between the two jedi knights (surprising when compared to some of the other writing) and was actually initiated by an enraged Anakin choking out his unborn babies' mother.
The pair transition into the interior of the facility and showcase some awesome choreography, which the actors religiously rehearsed in preparation for the legendary confrontation between master and pupil. I'm glad that both took the sequence so serious, as many fans (myself included) have suffered through the other two prequels in preparation of this moment. Never before have we witnessed lightsaber dueling at such a rapid speed or as intensely. Obi-Wan is driven by duty to overcome the dark side, while hate and anger fuel a misled, fallen Anakin. The pair beat the hell out of each other and aggressively clash in a way that lets the audience know only one is walking way. As we all knew how the conflict would end, the tense conflict never loses any steam once it starts and the two battle it out through the entire facility's interior and exterior. I give Lucas a lot of credit here, as the sequence could have easily been overshadowed by the outcome being in the viewer's mind, before the opening scroll even appeared. I can only imagine how audiences would have been on the edge of their seats, had we not already known Anakin's fate.
Let's take a minute and recognize another memorable aspect of these sequences, which is undeniably the music. The always commendable John Williams showcases the most recognizable instrumental pieces from the new trilogy, while successfully infusing some epic classic Star Wars themes from the original. The end result only aids in the grandness of the battling jedi and sith.
After fighting through the interior and the unshielded exterior, Kenobi and Vader (Anakin) conclude their battle on moving platforms that are menacingly adrift on a lava flow. The battle concludes with Obi-Wan successfully landing on the nearby shore and warning Anakin not to follow suit.
Drunk in his own lust for power, Vader does not heed the warning and Obi-Wan ends the duel by severing off most of his former apprentice's extremities. The exchange that follows properly reflects both character's ultimate moral outlook. Obi-Wan expresses his grief for having to essentially destroy Anakin, while the fallen jedi responds only with hate.
Obi-Wan: You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them. You were to bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness.
Anakin Skywalker: I hate you!
Obi-Wan: You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.
The scene wraps with Obi-Wan retrieving his pupil's lightsaber and leaving a burning Anakin to his dark fate.
With Yoda failing to defeat the Emperor and Obi-Wan leaving a crisp shell of his former apprentice, the prequel trilogy darkly concludes with a bang. We've watched Anakin succumb to temptation and his transition to the dark side is now complete.
Which epic showdown did you enjoy more?
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