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 Chris Cooper with Luke vs Vader from Return of the Jedi…
My name is Chris Cooper and Return of the Jedi is my favourite Star Wars film. Sometimes you’d think I’m choosing Attack of the Clones considering the looks I receive. Anyway, to me the Star Wars film that gave us Yub Nub is the best of the bunch.
A large part of my love for this film is due to the climactic duel between the young Jedi Luke Skywalker, and his fallen Father and Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader. As soon as Luke brings his blade Palpatine know his goading has had the desired effect. It’s on.
Apart from the first instances of a saber throw and force lightning, which are awesome, one of the main reasons this scene is so memorable to me is that neither combatant is purely good or evil, with both proving capable of the best and worst the force has to offer. Vader’s sinister threats towards his newly discovered daughter work too well, with Luke giving into his anger and the fear of losing his friends. His brief tap into the power of Dark Side proves to be the difference as he overwhelms the defences of the man/machine hybrid that so easily beat him in Bespin. As Luke severs Vader’s hand with a display of brute force, he’s a man possessed.
Palpatine sees this and thinks he has him. Seeing the chance to replace Vader with the Skywalker he’d always wanted, he makes a rare mistake. Pushing Luke too far gives him the chance to take stock and see what he could so easily become. Denouncing the Dark Side and defiantly rebuffing the Emperor’s offer whilst also pointing out the good he still sees in his Father leads to one of my favourite lines from the films – “So be it…Jedi.”
This leads directly into Palpatine’s second error, assuming that Vader will just stand aside. Not only has it been confirmed to him that he’s not needed, but his good feelings, repressed deep beneath that black armour for decades, are given the chance to erupt as he’s forced to watch his son – one of the few connections to his old life and beloved Padmé – is viciously tortured.
We don’t need dialogue to know what’s going on. As Vader looks back and forth between the two you can see the inner turmoil.
The music swells.
The Emperor dies, and Vader knows he will soon join him. As the Imperial March eerily plays out one last time, balance is restored to the Force.
George Lucas recently said that Star Wars is about family. As we watch a family fight to do the right thing and love each other, I find myself agreeing with him for once.