Top 10 Star Wars Moments
Time magazine ranked the top 40 best “Star Wars” moments from all of the films for the 40th anniversary of the science fiction franchise on May 25th. Here’s the top ten:
10. Vader unmasked, Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Why is Vader considered one of the most compelling movie villains of all time? It’s at least in part due to his utterly terrifying mask, which kept the “real” Vader hidden from view. So it was all the more powerful when, with Vader drawing his last breaths, Luke removed the Sith Lord’s mask, revealing the face of a remorseful and disfigured old man.
9. Luke and Vader’s first lightsaber duel, Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Even without the iconic reveal that Vader is Luke’s father, not the man who murdered him, the Sith Lord’s first battle with his newly trained son is one for the books. This high stakes showdown between good and evil is the perfect culmination of the events leading up to it. Not to mention that the actual fighting is a vast improvement on the choreography of the only lightsaber duel that precedes it — the rheumatic, anticlimactic clash between Obi-Wan and Vader in A New Hope.
8. Obi-Wan mind tricks the Stormtroopers, Episode IV – A New Hope
Obi-Wan’s seemingly effortless ability to convince the Stormtroopers on Mos Eisley not only that they don’t need to see Luke’s identification but that R2-D2 and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) aren’t the droids to whom Leia entrusted the Death Star plans serves as Luke’s memorable introduction to the ways of the Force. It also brought about one of the franchise’s most oft-repeated — and parodied — lines: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
7. “May the Force be with you” — Every Movie
Arguably the most famous Star Wars phrase, the saying is more or less a blessing and a “good luck.” Pay close attention to who uses it: It’s always the good guys. And its use can be evidence of character development, as it was the first time the notoriously Force-skeptical Han utters it to Luke on his way to the Battle of Yavin.
6. Yoda schools Luke in the ways of the Force, Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
“Do or do not, there is no try,” Yoda famously instructs Luke while training him on Dagobah — a maxim that strips away the mystique and complexity of the Force to reveal the core Zen principle of mastering it. Luke responds to this advice by making a half-hearted attempt to lift his X-Wing out of the swamp, prompting Yoda to put on an impressive display of Jedi prowess.
5. The opening crawl — Episode IV – A New Hope
When the first Star Wars was released in 1977, contemporary movies simply didn’t open like this. So audiences knew they were in for something different when the words “STAR WARS” blazed across the screen with the full might of John Williams’ best orchestral work behind them. (The text effect was an homage to the Flash Gordon reels of the 1940s.) The words that followed — “It is a period of civil war… ” — both grounded viewers in this new universe and became iconic in their own right, establishing a practice followed by every subsequent movie save Rogue One.
4. Yoda lifts Luke’s X-Wing, Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Until this moment, the power of the Force seems relatively muted: We know it can summon small objects, it can be used to deceive the weak-minded, and it can even help a torpedo find its way into a thermal exhaust port. But when the diminutive and aging Yoda uses the mysterious Jedi power to lift Luke Skywalker’s massive X-Wing starfighter out of the Dagobah swamp, we finally recognize just how awesome the Force can truly be.
3. Vader’s ruthless massacre, Rogue One
The first true demonstration of the full extent of Vader’s power didn’t come until the closing sequence of the most recent Star Wars film. But it was well worth the wait. As the group of Rebel soldiers who received Jyn Erso’s transmission of the Death Star plans attempts to evade pursuing Imperial forces, Vader finds his way on board their ship. The merciless slaughter that ensues gives undeniable credence to his standing as the most feared monster in the galaxy.
2. Leia and Han saying “I love you.” “I know.” Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Playing Han, Ford reportedly improvised this quip. As Han is lowered into the carbonite mold at the end of Empire, Leia lets out a desperate “I love you.” The script had Han responding with a generic, “I lo you too,” but Ford thought cocky Solo would have a snarkier response. The exchange perfectly captures the character — always bursting the dramatic bubble. Not to mention the dynamic between the two lovebirds, one of the greatest in cinematic history.
1. Darth Vader reveals Luke’s lineage, Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Widely considered to be one of the greatest twists in cinematic history, the moment Vader reveals his true identity to Luke has become synonymous with the allure of the Star Wars saga. After Luke abandons his Jedi training to rescue his friends on Cloud City — despite warnings from both Yoda and the ghost of Obi-Wan — he ends up locked in a duel with the Sith Lord. The scene culminates in both the loss of Luke’s right hand and what is arguably the most famous movie quote of all time: “No, I am your father.”