Star Wars Saga: The Cinematique’s Top 13 Favourite Moments

A couple of years ago, I put together my Top 10 favourite moments of the renowned sci-fi series Star Wars. Since then, two films have come out with the newest outing, The Last Jedi, set to hit cinemas at the end of the week.

As a result I have revisited my list and extended it to (unlucky) thirteen with many moments divided between the prequels, the originals and the latest installments. The force is strong with this article….

 

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”

 

13# – The Pod Race

FILM: The Phantom Menace

Kicking off this list is an entry from the official first film of the franchise (A New Hope fans beg to differ!). While The Phantom Menace proved to be a disappointing experience for devoted Star Wars lovers, there couldn’t have been any complaints about the spectacle of the exhilarating pod race that takes place midway in the film. Paying homage to the chariot race from the magnificent Biblical epic Ben-Hur (1959), this thrilling sequence provides a sharp mixture of suspense and CGI magic as young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) gets the better of his nemesis Sebulba.

 

12# – Vader is built

FILM: Revenge of the Sith

While the “Noooooo!” moment does get a lot of stick from Star Wars fans, there is no denying the majesty of this chilling Frankenstein-style scene in which a severely burnt Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is placed on the operating table and installed with Darth Vader’s black armour. Once we see the mask descend upon his head and hear the first sounds of that iconic breathing, it is clear for all to see that our former Jedi hero is now the intimidating villain we will go on to know and hate. Palpatine’s dastardly reaction to Vader screaming in horror effectively completes the cycle of his cunning plan.

 

11# – Rey fights Kylo Ren

FILM: The Force Awakens

The first of three new entries on the list comes from the thrilling climax of  The Force Awakens as female lead Rey (Daisy Ridley) stepped up to the plate as the new heroine of the series. Prior to the film’s conclusion, there had been some little hints about her true potential but the fist-pumping moment that she steals Luke’s lightsaber from Kylo proved that the force was strong with her. The fight sequence itself is high-adrenaline as she gets the better of Kylo although sadly she doesn’t get a chance to finish him off. However it will be interesting to see how much progression she makes when Luke trains her in the upcoming installment. You go girl!

 

10# – Empire’s closing scene

FILM: The Empire Strikes Back

This musical inclusion is more about the genius of the legendary composer John Williams whose score in this sequence is probably the best in the entire Star Wars saga. Though the scene reflects more on Luke getting his robotic hand and the glorious shot of everyone looking out at the Falcon’s descent towards Tattooine, the “Rebel Fleet” music played by Williams’ dedicated London orchestra is just a thing of beauty. It’s one of the few films that makes you want to sit through the entire credits and listen to it in all its wonder. Mr Williams, you are a true legend of cinema!

 

9# – Qui-Gon vs Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul

FILM: The Phantom Menace

Another pick from The Phantom Menace, this electrifying sequence was probably one of the few moments in the prequels to receive praise from underwhelmed fans. As soon as you hear the mesmerising “Duel of the Fates” music come into play, you know you’re in for something special as Jedi knights Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) battle it out with Sith lord Darth Maul (Ray Park). Over the course of four minutes, we are treated to a spectacular three-way fight that is also memorable for Maul’s badass double-bladed lightsaber. Pity the character only lasted the one film!

 

8# – Darth Vader takes out the Rebel soldiers

FILM: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

For many Star Wars fans, there had been glimpses of how powerful Darth Vader could be during the original trilogy whether it involved him strangling men to death or even cutting off his own son’s hand. However his ruthless reputation came into full flow in the cracking climax of Rogue One as he used both the Force and his red lightsaber to wipe out some of the Rebel soldiers. The build-up itself is immense but the images of him overpowering those poor men is just pure spectacle and gave fans a memorable last moment for Vader that didn’t involve him screaming “Noooooo!”.

 

7# – Luke destroys the Death Star

FILM: A New Hope

The climatic battle of A New Hope sees a group of rebel fighters prepare for a death-defying showdown with the Empire’s Death Star in a sequence that was based on the aerial dogfights in World War II films. The visually-spectacular scene is somewhat breathtaking as hope appears to be lost for Luke when some of his comrades are killed in action. However the goosebumps soon set in when the spirit of Obi-Wan and Han and Chewie’s last minute rescue allows our young hero to fire the critical shot that ultimately destroys the space station (and in the nick of time too!). A crowd-pleasing moment for all generations to savour.

 

6# – The Star Destroyer

FILM: A New Hope

The next moment on my list takes us back to the very beginning of that same film as audiences were treated to one of the most jaw-dropping scenes in cinematic history. Those who watched A New Hope back in 1977 were clearly hooked on the film straight away as the first shot saw a Rebel ship being pursued by an Imperial Star Destroyer. For the next fifteen seconds, we would watch in complete awe as this intimidating ship sailed overhead never looking as though it would end. Even to this very day, that shot still has the ability to make us marvel and would prove to be the perfect way to introduce us all to Star Wars.

 

5# – Han Solo confronts Kylo Ren

FILM: The Force Awakens

The most emotional death scene of the entire franchise sneaks into the Top 5 as veteran hero Han Solo (Harrison Ford) was shockingly killed off towards the end of The Force Awakens. There is a sense of dread throughout the sequence as Han tries to convince his son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to return to his original self. Kylo’s sorrow initially seems genuine but the pivotal blow is struck when Kylo impales his father with his lightsaber. The stroking of his son’s face is a powerful last moment for Han before he falls from the bridge to his death. Chewbacca’s devastated reaction was equally felt by generations of Star Wars fans who now hope that Kylo gets his comeuppance in the upcoming sequel.

 

4# – The Death Star 2 explosion

FILM: Return of the Jedi

Though it’s controversial to place this moment above A New Hope’s version, the payoff in this sequence is a lot more satisfying as the Empire are finally finished off in the thrilling conclusion to Return of the Jedi. Having watched our other heroes achieve mixed victories on Endor and the space station itself, we watch as Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Wedge Antilles (Denis Lawson) fly through the Death Star tunnel facing a race against time to destroy the generator whilst pursued by TIE-fighters. But even when we see the Milennium Falcon almost wrapped around in flames, the outcome is inevitable as the ship flies out just in time. Lando’s “Yee-hah” adds to the celebratory moment as Death Star #2 blows up thus confirming a definitive win for the Rebels.

 

3# – Anakin vs Obi-Wan

FILM: Revenge of the Sith

Number three is a scene that fans of the original trilogy had waited years for as we finally got to see how Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi went from being friends to enemies. The clash became a reality in the criminally-underrated Revenge of the Sith as the two Jedi knights engaged in an epic showdown on the molten lava planet of Mustafar. The thrilling and well-choreographed lightsaber duel is the longest in the Star Wars saga so far but also ends up being the most intense with Anakin’s descent to the Dark Side making the fight all the more devastating. John Williams’ stunning “Battle of the Heroes” score adds to the emotion with the sequence ending with Obi-Wan being forced to mutilate his friend and watch him burn alive. It’s a pity that their rematch in A New Hope was pretty tame in comparison!

 

2# – “No Luke, *I* am your father”

FILM: The Empire Strikes Back

On the subject of intense lightsaber duels, we turn our attention back to the original trilogy for my runner up moment from the saga as Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Death Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) went head-to-head in the pulsating finale to Empire Strikes Back. The two warriors go at it as Vader pushes the young Jedi to the limit physically. Audiences in 1980 were no doubt dismayed when Luke had his right hand cut off but there was worse to come for him as Vader would reveal a startling revelation that would completely elevate the original franchise and become iconic in cinematic history. Luke’s horrified reaction says it all with his scream being echoed by millions of viewers completely bewildered by the shock twist. However this selection is only my second favourite on the list….

 

1# – Vader’s redemption

FILM: Return of the Jedi

In the end, my number one choice comes from the climax of Return of the Jedi as Darth Vader does the right thing. While the breathing Sith Lord was undeniably evil in Empire Strikes Back, we would learn that he had actually been manipulated by Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) into turning to the Dark Side (as focused upon in the prequels). When Luke manages to overcome Vader in another electrifying duel, he pays the price for standing up to Palpatine who unleashes his fury via force lightning. As a wounded Vader watches his son being put through the agony, he finally comes to his senses as he grabs his master and throws him to his doom. Though the “Noooo” inclusion in the later version of this film is derided, there was no denying how much of a crowd-pleasing moment this was for fans as one of cinema’s greatest franchises was brought to an epic conclusion…..or so we thought!

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