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 Anghus Houvouras with the battle over the Sarlacc pit from Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi…
It’s hard to not feel a strong connection to Star Wars. I was raised in the maelstrom of its zeitgeist. It was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I had every action figure, every play set, every video game. For every Star Wars fan, there is that one seminal scene that you remember. The one galvanized in your memory as the coolest Star Wars moment. For me, that moment occurred in Return of the Jedi.
Jedi is the most maligned film in the Original Trilogy. Probably because no matter how many cool moments happened you still had to deal with the fact that the Empire was ultimately taken down by a bunch of adorable teddy bears. For me, Jedi was the coolest of the Original Trilogy. I liked A New Hope, but it was kind of talky. The depths and dark elements of Empire Strikes Back was lost on eight year old me and wouldn’t be appreciated until years later. Jedi was the movie where we got to see the promise of the Jedi fulfilled. The one that finally unleashed Jedi Luke Skywalker into a Galaxy Far, Far Away and gave us the light saber action 11-year-old me desperately craved. That’s why the fight over the Sarlacc Pit is my favorite Star Wars scene.
It’s such a great scene because it feels like the moment where everything comes together. The perfect blend of action, humor, and character, and it all started with this exchange:
Han Solo: [flying across the deserts of Tatooine] I think my eyes are getting better. Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big bright blur.
Luke: There’s nothing to see. I used to live here, you know.
Han Solo: You’re gonna die here, you know. Convenient.
They arrive at the horrific Sarlacc Pit ready to walked down the gangplank to their doom in an incredibly tense moment, but it’s always bolstered by some great character moments. Luke, just moments away from death declares “Jabba, this is your last chance. Free us, or die.”
It’s easy now to overlook how explosive this scene was, because up until this point all we’ve seen of Jedi Luke is failure. After blowing up the Death Star, he gets his ass handed to him by a Wampa on Hoth, by Darth Vader in Cloud City, and by Jabba when he is captured in his bid to bargain for Han. Han summed it up well earlier at Jabba’s palace:
Han: A Jedi? I’m out of it for a little while and everybody gets delusions of grandeur.
Even Han wasn’t betting on Luke. Then there’s that moment: when Luke jumps off the gangplank. R2D2 fires the light saber into the air. Luke somersaults into the air, grabs it, lands, and we hear the crackling sound of the light saber activating. For me, it’s a moment of pure glee. The moment where we see Luke become the badass Jedi we had been hoping for since we first heard about the force. Watching him jump from skiff to skiff, cutting down Jabba’s henchman with his light saber, this was the moment I had been waiting for.
The entire scene is gold. Luke’s swashbuckling heroics, a half blind Han Solo taking out Boba Fett, Leia brutally murdering Jabba the Hutt. It’s just perfect.
In hindsight, it’s kind of funny how little we see the original cast of characters engaged in action together. So much of the original trilogy has our main characters off doing their own thing. There are few moments where we get the entire cast together for one big scene. That’s probably why I love this scene so much and why it’s my favorite Star Wars moment.
What’s your most memorable Star Wars moment? Let us know in the comments below…
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Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker and the co-host of Across the Pondcast. Follow him on Twitter.