For many years it’s been easy for me to name my favorite Star Wars scene. I fall really hard in love with things and tend to not deviate from my tastes (see: Taco Bell), but as I’ve been watching all my friends enjoy Star Wars: The Force Awakens at home this week and I’ve gotten to learn how different moments stand out to different people, it got me thinking. Maybe my tastes are much more varied now that we have such a large library of Star Wars content. I found myself trying to figure out if I could name just 10 scenes that really stand out to me. It was tough, but here’s 10 Star Wars scenes or moments that I find out be really moving and iconic to what I consider “my Star Wars.” Spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The following list is in no particular order.
The introduction of Leia Organa – A New Hope
What a lasting impression this scene left. Up until I saw this scene where Princess Leia is questioned by Darth Vader, I never knew this is what a Princess could be. Leia is both vulnerable and commanding. Beautiful and deadly. Even her costume, which I find pretty revealing, and its color meant to portray innocence, is misleading in the most delicious way. All I want in life is to be able to walk around braless in a nearly sheer white dress and scare the shit out of people. (Okay, I would never really do that, but you get the point.)
Anakin Skywalker vs. the Son and the Daughter – Star Wars: The Clone Wars, season 3
You’re probably sick to death of hearing me talk about the Mortis arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 3. Well I don’t care. I know I’m not the only one who’s endeared to these episodes of the now-cancelled Cartoon Network series, so I’ll never stop talking about it. This arc was huge for our heroes Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and particularly Anakin. At one moment Anakin even gets a glimpse of his tumultuous future and then loses any recollection of that vision shortly after. In this scene Anakin is placed into an arena by the Father and forced to choose between his old master Obi-Wan and his padawan Ahsoka as the Son and the Daughter threaten their lives. For me this moment shows us, the viewers the first consequences of Anakin’s destiny as the Chosen One and a glimpse at the depths of his power. The music by Kevin Kiner in this arc is stunning and this scene is a standout for me. Go and watch it now.
Finn’s confession and refusing the call – The Force Awakens
It’s not often in a movie we get two main heroes. I would say for The Force Awakens Rey is our main protagonist while Finn and Rey are both main heroes. Because of this, in The Force Awakens we get two very clear Joseph Campbell moments when both Rey and Finn run from the call to adventure. For Finn this is about starting a new life away from The First Order. When presented with an opportunity to disappear and start fresh, Finn jumps at it even though he is reluctant to leave new friend Rey. It’s probably no surprise that I’ve become quite fond of Finn even from the earliest rumors I heard about him. I find both Rey and Finn to be extremely likable and well written characters, but Finn just very slightly edges out as my favorite because his redemption arc is the kind I really like. This scene in my opinion is one of the first times we begin to see who Finn really is outside of his FN-2187 past. It’s brilliant and emotional and sincere and I really enjoy it.
“Twilight of the Apprentice” – Star Wars Rebels season 2 finale
If you’d like to hear my full thoughts on this finale please go and listen to the latest episode of my podcast “Rebel Grrrl“! In short, this episode was what I’d been waiting for since the last time we saw the character of Ahsoka Tano on screen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Ahsoka was the first character outside of the Skywalker family that I truly loved. I wouldn’t say I’m as emphatic about Ahsoka as some of her fans, but I genuinely really loved the character throughout her run on The Clone Wars. I was disappointed with Ahsoka’s return on Star Wars Rebels, and ultimately did not think she got the ending she deserved, but just this moment in and of itself, Darth Vader having to face his Jedi past, is something I’ve been daydreaming about since I was 15. Many, many years ago I found this image as a desktop background for my Windows 2000 computer and I was so struck by it, I have never forgotten it.
It’s from an old Star Wars Tales comic (I’m pretty sure), and it’s one of those tiny moments where Darth Vader is also Anakin Skywalker simultaneously. The full panel also shows Anakin remembering his mother. These types of moments for me have always been my favorite. My favorite scene in all of Star Wars has been that moment in Return of the Jedi when Luke turns himself in to Vader and Vader honestly admits in not so many words what Luke is right about him, but it’s too late. I live for that shit. So when Anakin got a Padawan in the form of Ahsoka Tano I was instantly drawn to that connection between them. How could this show possibly reconcile yet another deep personal attachment for Anakin and also his fall to the dark side?! Having Vader have those sorts of skeletons in his closet makes the character so much more compelling to me. I remember back in probably 2003 inhaling a fan fiction where Darth Vader survives then has to interact with Leia and they both have to face up to their familial ties. Laugh all you want but it was so good and I wish I could read it again. Ahsoka and Vader’s confrontation in “Twilight of the Apprentice” wasn’t all I wanted it to be, but it had some heart and it showed that Anakin was still in there somewhere and damn if that didn’t make my little heart stumble.
The wedding of Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker – Attack of the Clones
With no dialogue and a sweeping score that for me has become probably my favorite Star Wars music, this scene is simply beautiful and heartbreakingly emotional. The relationship of Anakin and Padme is at its core fantasy and tragedy and their wedding sums up that feeling perfectly. From Anakin’s hopeful and euphoric expression to the metaphorical setting sun to Padme’s resolved expression and serious demeanor, this scene is meant to be a joyous moment for our protagonists but it is weighted down by the vast and heavy state of the galaxy they live in. Nothing could or ever would go right for Anakin and Padme, and I find their love story beautiful in the way of classic Shakespeare or Greek tragedy.
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker communicate through the Force – The Empire Strikes Back
This moment is another great instance of a tiny peek at Anakin Skywalker beneath the armor of Darth Vader. Moments after finding out Darth Vader is the father he’s been longing for his whole life, an injured Luke is rescued by Leia and Lando and is immediately reached out to by Vader through the Force. Reeling from the revelation, his first lightsaber battle, and his mutilation, Luke’s first response isn’t to angrily reject Vader, but sadly he responds immediately to Vader’s calls. Luke seems utterly depleted in this scene and yet when Vader calls out to him he happily responds with “Father,” even turning his body toward Vader. The instant connection between father and son is part of what makes Luke such a great hero to me. He’s been told by his mentors that he must end Darth Vader at any cost, but only moments after learning the truth of who he is, Luke already cares for Vader. Luke’s ability to see the good in Vader is ultimately what brings about the fall of the Empire. Talk about a good story.
Darth Maul Returns – Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 4
The Savage Opress arc of The Clone Wars included that bombshell moment where we learn that Savage is the brother of Darth Maul and that Maul is still alive. It was an incredible moment for fans that almost assuredly left everyone with some reservations. When Maul did finally return to the Star Wars universe it was a story unlike anything I could have ever imagined. Maul was simultaneously vulnerable, vengeful, and calculating. I found Sam Witwer’s performance as Maul incredible and his version of Maul for me will go down as one of the best Star Wars villains ever. The four-part arc is an epic journey for Maul and his brother and is worthy of the big screen.
The tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise – Revenge of the Sith
Not much needs to be said about this scene. Much of Revenge of the Sith is a slow and suspenseful seduction of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side with this scene being one of the turning points. As a viewer, watching this moment almost feels like that moment in a horror film where the girl hears a noise upstairs and goes to investigate and you can’t help but scream frantically at her to get the hell out of there. Ian McDiarmid’s Chancellor Palpatine is scary and alluring and no doubt Anakin feels that pull toward him while his Spidey senses are telling him to GTFO. Much of this last part of Anakin Skywalker’s transition to the dark side plays out like a tragedy and it’s heartbreaking to watch his gravitation toward Palpatine, who wins Anakin over by simply appealing to his fears. Sounds a lot like how American politicians get votes. And people say Star Wars doesn’t mean anything.
The death of Shmi Skywalker – Attack of the Clones
Not enough credit is given to Attack of the Clones or Hayden Christensen’s performance in this film. Everything with Anakin on Tatooine in this movie is so well done and well acted and genuine. You’re probably laughing right now but obviously I don’t care. Shmi Skywalker’s death is a painful and moving moment in the movie. Shmi was literally the only family Anakin has ever had and to leave her at the age of nine to go and train to become a Jedi was an incredibly brave and no doubt painful act for him. When we finally get to see Anakin and Shmi reunited and then she’s torn from him finally in such a senseless and harsh way… well, it’s easier to see why Anakin later becomes so frightened of losing Padme. Pernilla August (who played Shmi) is a wonderful actress who gives us a truly warm and loving mother. Without a doubt she’s the best mother in Star Wars and this moment hurts to watch.
Rey ignites the lightsaber – The Force Awakens
I don’t think a moment in Star Wars has made me feel the way this one has in quite a long time. We spend the majority of this film watching Rey struggle and resist what is seemingly her destiny to take up the mantle of Luke Skywalker; in this moment, out of acceptance or maybe just pure fight-or-flight response, she gives in and becomes a true hero. Months later I’m still slightly speechless about this moment. Daisy Ridley’s performance is perfect and in the space of a moment I’m terrified for her, saddened at everything she’s had to go through and what’s to come, and exhilarated at seeing her transform before my eyes. Well done Daisy. Well done.
Bonus: My top five Star Wars: The Force Awakens lines
“You’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader.”
“You know you can’t trust those little freaks.”
“Those beasts! They’re here!”
“I’ve never met a resistance fighter before.”
“Don’t do that.” “What?” “Anything.”
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