Flickering Myth’s writing team are counting down to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by discussing their most memorable Star Wars moments. Next up is Ricky Church with Darth Vader’s confrontation with Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back…
I was about six years old when I first saw Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I loved A New Hope and didn’t think the next movie could top it, but boy, was I wrong. The one thing that has always stayed with me from my first viewing of Empire is Darth Vader. Not the reveal and the twist of plot twists, but Darth Vader himself. Whereas Grand Moff Tarkin relatively controlled him in A New Hope, he’s fully unleashed in Empire and no scene shows this more than his fight with Luke Skywalker in Cloud City.
One of the best shots of the whole franchise comes from this scene as Luke ascends into Cloud City’s carbonite control room. Everything is dark as he looks around until suddenly low red lights come on, smokes rises and the sound of a mechanized rasp breaks the silence. Luke turns around and sees Darth Vader standing above him, his silhouette illuminated by a cold, blue light as the smoke gathers around him. It is a beautiful shot representing the coldness within Vader as he tells the young man he’s no Jedi.
I can clearly remember the hairs on the back of my neck sticking up at the sight of Vader atop those stairs (that chill still comes back to me every now and then when watching the scene), but what struck me in this sequence was Vader’s ferociousness throughout this fight. Not only does he openly taunt and attempt to turn Luke to the dark side, he is relentless in his attacks. It is not often young children see the main hero of a franchise beaten so viciously against the villain. Vader tosses Luke down stairs, uses the Force to hurl objects at him and ultimately cuts off his hand. Darth Vader was just downright scary throughout this whole sequence. One aspect that makes it stand out among the Star Wars films is how silent it is. For the most part no music is played, only the sound of the signature lightsaber hums and Vader’s breathing is heard.
Vader’s power really struck a chord with me as a child. His evil radiated throughout this fight, affirming his status as one of cinema’s ultimate villains for me. Then of course comes the reveal, changing everything you thought you knew about Star Wars. The fact that the man I just watched mercilessly beat the main hero was the latter’s father was chilling. However, despite the grand revelation, nothing stuck with me more than that shot of Vader’s silhouette. Combined with the lighting and smoke, it was as if Luke Skywalker had entered Hell. To me, the lack of music, the cinematography and Vader’s absolute coldness will always make me remember why I love Star Wars.
What’s your most memorable Star Wars moment? Let us know in the comments below…