Foreword by Adam Brannon: Aiming to give budding writers their chance to shine, the Movie Metropolis Spotlight is focused on Sebastian Mann, who in his first article for the site, takes a look at some of the greatest Star Wars moments ever.
Sebastian Mann, of Mannversusmovie, takes a spoiler-filled (and that means spoiler-filled) look at the top 5 greatest Star Wars moments, from action-packed sequences to heart-breaking character moments, celebrating the release of the second theatrical trailer for the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Star Wars is, if nothing else, unique.
There exists no other franchise where almost half the entries are so vehemently detested by those who maintain an unbreakable devotion to the other half.
Star Wars, whether you’re a purist, a passive fan, or you’ve only seen The Force Awakens in cinema and didn’t really get the hype behind that old guy with the beard, is undeniably important to both cinema and popular culture.
5) The Trench Run – A New Hope (1977)
The iconic climax to A New Hope holds up as the ideal ending to any space adventure.
The growing excitement as Red Squadron begin their attack run, locking S-Foils in attack positions, can’t be matched. The scene is so much more than just a visual thrill, however.
The moment the score swells, transitioning from tense and crushingly sinister into the calm, ethereal ‘Force’ theme as Alec Guiness’ Obi-Wan tells Luke to “let go,” before transitioning once more into a defiantly triumphant melody, underpinned by an optimistic sense of impending victory. And then Luke fires the torpedoes, letting out a slow sigh of cautious relief as he pulls off a ‘one-in-a-million’ shot.
4) Rey’s Vision – The Force Awakens (2015)
On first viewing, it was this scene that truly cemented my love for The Force Awakens. In the trademark style of director JJ Abrams, the sequence is fast-paced and exciting. It establishes Rey as being Force-sensitive in one of the most interesting ways, and poses questions as to her heritage.
A mixture of the known and the unknown creates one of the most intriguing and memorable moments in the franchise. In many ways, I don’t want to know the answers to the mysteries it creates, for fear of tarnishing it.
3) For my ally is the Force – Empire Strikes Back (1980)
It’s almost unbelievable that Yoda was just a puppet. His explanation of the Force and demonstration of how it can be harnessed is beautifully uplifting, and a hallmark in the franchise. It’s an important scene that introduces a lot about the spiritual side of Star Wars, and the concept of life being entangled in a scheme greater than ourselves is captivating.
It is here that the Force becomes more than just ‘space magic’. Luke’s naivety and defeatist attitude towards the Force mimics the audience’s sceptical nature. Is there really nothing different between lifting a couple of small rocks and pulling a sunken X-Wing out of a swamp?
No, there isn’t.
“Size matters not”.
2) The Death of Han Solo – The Force Awakens (2015)
We’re in real spoiler territory now.
This scene may not just be the second greatest scene in the franchise, but it’s also the second most important.
Everything, all of a sudden, becomes very real.
Han could have died countless times on a meaningless space-freighter on a meaningless job.
But he doesn’t.
His death is a sacrifice, and a noble one. One almost unsuited to a cocky smuggler, but not one unsuited to Han Solo.
For his son, Ben, Han’s death is a sign of a commitment he simply wasn’t ready to have made. Kylo Ren has committed an unspeakably evil act, and as his father plummets into the abyss, the look on his face doesn’t reflect a sadistic sense of satisfaction, it shows a rapidly growing sense of pain and regret. A pain and regret he will never be relieved from.
It is here where Star Wars is perhaps most human.
1) Luke Confronts Vader – Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Is it cheating to say that the entire ending of The Empire Strikes Back is the greatest moment? Well, it is, so there we go.
Few duels have such incredible choreography, for starters. The duel is a titan of visual storytelling, as Luke’s lack of training renders him a far weaker combatant than Vader, who toys with him, never intending to strike him down.
Luke’s arrogance is almost beaten out of him by Vader. Luke remarks early on that he’s “full of surprises,” but by the end he has been broken and endlessly tormented.
And then there’s the big twist.
Luke has his hand effortlessly cut off as Vader seemingly grows impatient of Luke’s weak defences against his urges to convert him and lays it on him.
Vader is his father. No, he didn’t kill his father. He is his father. Anakin Skywalker is the man in the suit before him. The pinnacle of evil.
Empire concludes with a wild flurry of different emotions, and every one resonates perfectly with the audience. The horrifying line that Vader delivers to his defeated son, through to the look of heartbreak on Leia’s face as she watches Boba Fett escape with the man she loves as his prisoner.
It captures what makes Star Wars just so great in a way no other film in the franchise has.
Our heroes are defeated. Han is in carbonite, Luke is still reeling from the shocking revelation and has lost his hand, and Leia and the Rebellion are being crushed.
But Empire doesn’t end having completely crushed us. Luke and Leia look onwards into the vast reaches of space, and we are left not with a feeling of defeat, but optimism.
They can still find Han, and win what may be an unwinnable war.
You get teary-eyed just thinking about it.
And there you go, the top 5 greatest moments in Star Wars. Hopefully, Rogue One will be another solid installment in what I personally regard as the greatest franchise to have ever graced the silver screen.