50 Greatest Star Wars Scenes
17th Feb 2012 | 07:00
The Scene: In Attack Of The Clones, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme are all tied to towering stone columns in a colossal colosseum. Then giant monsters are released into the arena. To think Russell Crowe only had to fight tigers…
The Awesome: It's Episode II's Rancor moment, and a neat little set-piece that includes Padme saving herself instead of waiting for the boys to rescue her.
The Scene: In The Empire Strikes Back, Vader and his evil minions hold Han Solo hostage and torture him with very pointy things. His screams will give you chills all over.
The Awesome: There’s no end to Vader’s evil, and this is just one example of how far he’s willing to go in order to acquire information.
Burn Baby Burn
The Scene: Anakin’s turned to the darkside (in the uber-dark Episode III), and thousands of Jedi are dead. How to get the message across? Show a shot of the Jedi Temple burning in the distance, sending plumes of black smoke up into the ether.
The Awesome: We watch the building burn at the same time that Padme does, pondering the devastating implications of the temple's destruction alongside her. Did we mention that Episode III is dark?
The Scene: Hovering over the pit of Carkoon (in Episode VI), Luke, Lando and a useless Han (well, he has just been defrosted from carbonite) take on Jabba’s lackies. Luke walks the plank, and Boba Fett meets a sticky end…
The Awesome: This is basically a reprise of the trash compactor scene in A New Hope, as all of our heroes are banded together and put in peril.
The Scene: Lost to the darkside and brimming with paranoia in Sith, Anakin uses the Force to choke Padme almost to death - even though she’s pregnant with his children. Though she survives his wrath, Anakin's actions lead to Padme's untimely death during labour.
The Awesome: Anakin’s completely lost it here. If we hadn’t already seen the original trilogy, we’d be chomping at the bit to find out what else he’ll do.
Choke On That
The Scene: Vader’s so cool that when he’s choking somebody to death, he doesn’t even need to make physical contact with them. Such is true in this scene from A New Hope when he chokes Admiral Motti by making a death grip in the air with his hand.
The Awesome: Not only does Vader do that, but he also delivers the super-cool line: “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
The Scene: A stand-out action sequence from Episode VI. On Endor, Han and Leia hop onto Imperial flying vehicles and are chased through the forest by stormtroopers.
The Awesome: The chase doesn't exactly serve much of a purpose, but it’s really cool.
The Scene: A small moment that drips with atmosphere and foreboding, as Anakin and the clone army march into the Jedi temple in Revenge Of The Sith. Awesome even without factoring in Anakin’s scary snake eyes.
The Awesome: There’s no turning back now. Anakin’s descent into the darkside is almost complete, and it’s gripping stuff.
The Scene: A quiet little moment in The Empire Strikes Back, but notable because of the appearance of Obi-Wan Kenobi. As Luke lies freezing in the snow of Hoth, Obi-Wan appears to him and instructs him to visit the Dagobah system. And we all know where that leads.
The Awesome: It’s Alec Guinness, for a start – but this is also the first time we see a Jedi phantom.
Your Boss's Boss
The Scene: Darth Vader gets to his knees as he address a hologram projection outside his medication champer on Executor. There, shimmering in blue light, is a shadowy figure who Vader chillingly refers to as “master”.
The Awesome: When you see the mighty Darth Vader kneeling in front of somebody, you know you’re in deep do-do.
The Scene: In Attack Of The Clones, Jango Fett’s on the war path, offing Reek with a single shot in the Geonosis arena. He’s too busy doing that to notice Mace Windu wielding his purple lightsabre, which the Jedi Master uses to behead Fett in one smooth motion.
The Awesome: It gives Samuel L Jackson a chance to go badass.
The Scene: In A New Hope, Luke, Leia, Chewie and Han are caught in the Death Star's trash compactor as the walls move in to crush them. Don't you just hate it when that happens?
The Awesome: It’s old school sci-fi – simple idea flexed for maximum impact. A great tension-cranker.
A New Birth
The Scene: After his fight with Obi-Wan on Mustafar (in Episode III), Anakin is horribly disfigured. Luckily, he has space technology at his hands, and emerges as Darth Vader in full black with a newly-installed breathing apparatus.
The Awesome: Ignore the mood-killing “Noooooooo!” and this is a shiver-inducing moment in which a villain is born, and a hero dies.
The Scene: Too late in Empire Strikes Back, Han and Leia realise that they’ve been set up by Lando. Led down a corridor in Cloud City, they're taken to a room containing a very nasty surprise - Darth Vader himself.
The Awesome: Han doesn’t hesitate in firing at the Sith lord. Ever ready, Vader deflects the blasts with nothing more than the palm of his hand.
The Scene: In the most complicated lightsabre battle ever, Anakin and Obi-Wan finally clash at the climax of Revenge Of The Sith. On Mustafar, they fight through molten lava in a bitter duel that can only end badly.
The Awesome: It’s a mite drawn-out, but it’s the clash we’ve all been waiting for – and a bit of backward foreboding for when these two fight again in A New Hope.
The Scene: Just when you think Luke’s a goner at the end of Return Of the Jedi, it all takes a very sudden about turn. How? Well, Darth Vader saves his estranged son by chucking a manically-gurning Palpatine down a shaft. Nice one.
The Awesome: Vader redeems himself, and balance is restored to the universe. We do like a good happy ending.
The Scene: At the Blitzball Opera in Episode III, Senator Palpatine talks with Anakin, dialling his charms up to 11 in order to seduce the young Jedi over to the darkside.
The Awesome: Hell, if we were Anakin we’d probably fall under Palpatine’s spell as well. The combination of his slippery words with the dreamy operatics of the performance they're watching weaves a seductive kind of magic.
Yoda Vs Stormtrooper
The Scene: Yoda gets sabre-happy in Episode III, chucking his lightsabre about like it’s nobody’s business. Having shown off in Attack Of The Clones, here Yoda throws his lightsabre right into a clone’s chest and then leaps onto him to pull it out again.
The Awesome: Yoda may be old, but he definitely knows his way around a battle field. Impressive.
The Scene: At the beginning of Return Of The Jedi, Luke goes 10 rounds with Jabba the Hutt’s favourite pet – the towering and fearsome Rancor.
The Awesome: The old-school stop-motion effects of the Rancor are still seamless to this day, and it’s a fun throwback to stop-motion classics.
"That is why you fail"
The Scene: “Size matters not,” says Yoda in Episode V, then proves it as the tiny green one uses the Force to levitate Luke’s X-Wing out of the swamps of Dagobah. Slack-jawed, Luke utters, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda’s reply? “That is why you fail.”
The Awesome: Yoda’s teaching style is fantastic – he takes show and tell to a whole new level.
The Scene: Chased by Imperial forces in Episode V, Han steers the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid field, manoeuvring the space craft around the giant space rocks as the ships on his tail are blown to smithereens.
The Awesome: The chase is complemented by this exchange: Leia: “You’re not actually going into an asteroid field?” Han: “They’d be crazy to follow us.”
The Scene: As dark as Episode III is, Episode IV has its own nasty ideas – including this one, in which Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star. The disturbance in the Force is so huge that it has a massive impact on Obi-Wan.
The Awesome: That’s a whole planet, gone in seconds. Even Fantastic Four villain Galactus would struggle to beat it.
Be Heading Off
The Scene: Anakin uses a scissor move with two lightsabres in order to behead Count Dooku at the beginning of Revenge Of the Sith, an act that not many Jedi would agree with.
The Awesome: It furthers Anakin’s slip into the darkside, while Palpatine’s undisguised pleasure at the evil deed is brilliant.
The Scene: Anakin’s slide into the dark side is signalled for the first time when, in Attack Of The Clones, he murders in cold blood the tusken raiders who kidnapped his mother.
The Awesome: It’s an edgy hint at things to come, and shows us just what makes Anakin tick. How does a man become a monster? It all starts here.
Death To The Death Star
The Scene: Our hope in all that is good is restored when the Death Star goes kablooey in Episode IV. Now that’s what we call explosive.
The Awesome: Who cares if explosions like that can't happen in space (there being no oxygen and all)? We’re all pumping our fists in the air too much to care.
Father Vs Son
The Scene: There’s no hiding this time, as Luke and Darth Vader go sabre-to-sabre at the climax of Return Of The Jedi. Unlike Empire, Luke’s now a fully-fledged Jedi, and it shows in the fight as the pair are almost a total match in skill and dexterity.
The Awesome: After the revelation in Empire that Vader is Luke’s pa, we all knew this had to happen, and its power is diminished none it that knowledge.
The Scene: The closing shot of The Empire Strikes Back holds all kind of emotional weight. Luke’s got a metal hand. Han’s been frozen in carbonite. Vader’s more powerful than ever. Where the end of A New Hope was a celebration, this one is a black hole of sucking depression – and we love it.
The Awesome: Star Wars is always best when it does dark, and this moment of reflection is pregnant with the promise of darker things yet to come.
The Scene: “The time has come,” growls Palpatine in Episode III. “Execute Order 66.” Cue a montage of scenes in which various Jedi are turned on by the clone army.
The Awesome: It’s the scene that tips Revenge Of The Sith into total darkness for a sucker-punch of a finale.
"That’s no moon, it's a space station."
The Scene: “Look at him, he’s heading for that small moon,” says Luke of an Imperial ship in A New Hope. Except that’s no moon… it’s a space station.
The Awesome: The ultimate weapon had to be something amazing, and the Death Star is just that. Great reveal, too.
The Scene: “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” Stopped by Imperial forces who are searching for R2-D2 (in Episode IV), Obi-Wan shows how easy it is for a Jedi to manipulate the weak-minded.
The Awesome: It’s one of the earliest demonstrations of what the Force is capable of, and a nice little moment for Alec Guinness.
The Scene: It divided audiences, but we loved it. Yes, it’s the bit in Attack Of The Clones when Yoda throws down his walking stick, uses the Force to unclip his lightsabre, and then flips about like a frog on acid as he fights the evil Count Dooku.
The Awesome: It’s Yoda. Fighting! It doesn’t get much more awesome than this.
Think Of The Younglings
The Scene: The most disturbing scene from Episode III, as Anakin Skywalker enters the Jedi Temple and finds the Younglings hiding. When they come out to greet him, assuming he’s there to rescue them, Anakin coolly extends his lightsabre…
The Awesome: Only somebody truly evil would kill a child – let alone handfuls of them. A brave move for Lucas.
The Scene: The first shot of A New Hope. High above Tatooine, Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer, Devastator, emerges at the top of the screen and just keeps going and going, showing off its massive size.
The Awesome: Wondering what sort of scale Lucas’ film would be working on? Here’s your answer: epic. The fact that it’s all contained in one opening shot is impressive in itself.
The Scene: In A New Hope, Darth Vader makes his iconic entrance, sweeping into a white corridor and filling the room with his mechanical breathing and imposing stature. An icon is born.
The Awesome: Few movie villains can attest to being even an eighth as cool as Darth Vader, and his entrance is a defining moment.
The Scene: A zippy set-piece that enlivens The Phantom Menace, the pod race sequence thrills with its breakneck pacing and vertigo-inducing camera angles. Nine minutes of movie heaven.
The Awesome: It’s the most thrilling thing in The Phantom Menace, a certain red-faced Sith lord aside. If only the whole film had been this good.
The Scene: Luke watches the suns set in A New Hope as John Williams’ operatic score soars. There’s loads going on here, not least inside Luke, and the scene works as a visual and aural demonstration of Luke’s inner longing.
The Awesome: It’s a moment in which all things are in harmony – the gorgeous visual, Williams’ emotive music, Mark Hamill’s wistful look. Beautiful.
Time For A Maulin’
The Scene: The best scene in The Phantom Menace, and possibly in any of the prequels, as Darth Maul faces off against Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jin. It’s one of the franchise’s coolest lightsabre duels, and makes us wish Maul had had more of a part to play in the prequels.
The Awesome: Darth Maul has a double lightsabre. Now that is awesome.
The Scene: Fanboys everywhere rejoiced and gawped when Princess Leia first appeared in Return Of The Jedi – wearing nothing but a very skimpy gold bikini.
The Awesome: Do we have to spell it out for you?
The Scene: On Dagboah, Luke ventures into a cave to face down his own darkside, and comes face-to-mask with a conjuration of Vader. It’s dark stuff, not least when Luke chops Vader’s head off, only for his own dead face to stare up out of the broken visor.
The Awesome: Lucas does psychology and foreboding at the same time.
So Long Jabba
The Scene: It’s girl power to the rescue as Princess Leia gets revenge on the fat slug-like wretch who forced her into a demeaning bikini in Return Of The Jedi. Using the very chains that are imprisoning her, Leia gets behind Jabba The Hutt and strangles him. To death.
The Awesome: Leia goes full cycle - from the damsel in distress of the first film to total badass.
The Scene: Not so much a scene as a sequence, but still an integral part of the Star Wars movies. The opening crawl in front of all six Star Wars films helps fill in the gaps between movies, while simultaneously lulling us into this far away galaxy.
The Awesome: Lucas took an out-moded narrative device and made it super-cool. Also it gives us a chance to enjoy John Williams’ music without getting distracted by shiny images.
The Scene: Now this is how you open a movie. A queasy one-minute single shot follows Obi-Wan and Anakin as they steer through an epic battle over Corustant at the beginning of Revenge Of The Sith.
The Awesome: It’s CGI-heavy and all that, but this opening scene looks and feels absolutely amazing.
The Scene: As A New Hope soars to a close, Luke pilots an X-Wing and attempts to blow up the Death Star. With Obi-Wan’s voice ringing in his ears, he uses the Force instead of his ship’s technology to blow up the dreaded space station.
The Awesome: Overcoming evil, a farmboy becoming a hero, Alec Guinness' voice. All amazing.
"It’s a trap…"
The Scene: In Return Of The Jedi, Admiral Ackbar hollers “It’s a trap” after his planned stealth attack on the Death Star’s energy shield generator is turned upside by expectant Imperial forces, who knew he was coming all along.
The Awesome: The line’s so iconic that Family Guy used it as the title of their Jedi spoof.
Little Green Man
The Scene: Luke meets Yoda on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back, and at first shrugs him off as an annoying little nuisance. “Found someone you have, I’d say,” giggles Yoda, as he first toys with the young Jedi, then grows deadly serious.
The Awesome: Lucas plays around with expectations, turning what could have been an aggravating puppet into a franchise favourite.
"You are not a Jedi yet"
The Scene: “The Force is with you, young Skywalker,” says Darth Vader in Empire, as he prepares to battle Luke in the carbonite freezing chamber on Bespin. “But you are not a Jedi yet.”
The Awesome: Vader’s appearance in silhouette is nothing short of shiver-inducing, while the confrontation between Vader and Luke was a long time coming – and didn’t disappoint.
The Scene: Another big one for The Empire Strikes Back, and one that had Harrison Ford channelling Solo during filming to find a pitch-perfect line. Han’s heading off to be frozen in carbonite – and possibly perish in the process. Leia seizes the moment to tell him that she loves him. His response? “I know.”
The Awesome: The fact that Ford improvised the line speaks volumes about his insight into the character.
Battle Of Hoth
The Scene: Giant AT-ATs, flying rebel fighters, snow explosions… The Battle of Hoth in Empire Strikes Back has it all – including Luke chucking a bomb into an AT-AT to bring it down. Talk about hands on.
The Awesome:Empire’s first act goes out with a bang, this sequence showing that the scale is going to be even more expansive on Episode V than it was on Episode IV.
I Am Your Father
The Scene: The big tamale. At the climax of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke discovers the horrifying truth about Darth Vader - he IS his father.
The Awesome: It’s one of the biggest twists in cinematic history, and entirely changes the franchise as a whole. From now on, this is personal.
Solo Shoots First
The Scene: The cause of much fan rage in the wake of the Special Edition releases, this scene is bigger than the Lucas-tinkering controversy – it’s also just plain awesome. In Chalmun’s Cantina on Tatooine, Han Solo and Greedo have an uneasy encounter before Greedo's shot dead. But who shot first?
The Awesome: Few scenes have caused so much controversy over the years. Also, “Sorry about the mess” is Han’s sign-off to Wuher the bartender. That’s one cool cat.