20. ANH “Let the Wookie win”
After blasting off from Mos Eisley on the way to the asteroid field formerly known as planet Alderaan, R2D2 and Chewbacca kill time by playing holographic chess, with Ray Harryhausen-like creature pieces. Chewie doesn’t appreciate R2′s superior playing ability though. As Han warns the droids “a droid doesn’t tear people’s arms out of their sockets when it loses,” C3P0 gives his little friend the above sage advice.
19. ANH “Tear this ship apart”
The blocakade runner Tantive IV has been captured, the rebel crew routed. Darth Vader interrogates Captain Antilles, demanding to know the wherabouts of his Royal passenger, Princess Leia. Restraint is not a word in Sith vocabulary though, as he lifts him bodily off the floor by his throat, snaps his neck, and flings him against the bulkhead. An awesome display of dark lord rage.
18. ROTJ Leia strangles Jabba
As Luke goes all Errol Flynn, flipping off the skiff plank to catch his lightsabre smuggled into Jabba’s lair by R2 and swatting villains like flies, Leia acts. Throwing her slave chain around the flabby Jabba, she hauls the chains deeper into his throat, strangling the vile gangster with newly found Force enhanced strength. There is another Skywalker…
17. ROTJ “Wait, I see him, Leia!”
Clumsy Han Solo has alerted the scout troopers to the rebel commando presence. As a skirmish ensues, some troopers zip off on their speeder bikes to raise the alarm. Luke and Leia give chase at high speed through the massive trees of Endor, culminating in Luke sparking up his sabre, deflecting laser bolts and slashing the steering vanes of the remaining trooper’s bike.
16. ESB “Apology accepted, Captain Needoc”
Darth Vader is just showing off now. The Imperial Fleet has lost track of the Millenium Falcon (it is, in fact, clinging on to the side of a Star Destroyer). Captain Needoc accepts responsibility and reports directly to Lord Vader. Vader force chokes him (after doing the same to Admiral Ozzell he’ll have no subordinates left!) and sardonically accepts his apology.
15. ANH “Ooh tay ni!”
C3PO and R2D2 have parted company on Tatooine after arguing over R2′s stubborn insistence on delivering the Princess’s message to General Kenobi. As R2 nervously trundles down the local version of crime alley, a Jawa scrap merchant leaps up and zaps him with a robo tazer. As electricity licks around his little metal body, he emits a plaintive groan and comically topples over.
14. ANH “For luck”
Luke and Leia have managed to lock the door between them and their pursuers, but have inadvertantly destroyed the controls to extend the bridge across the yawning Death Star chasm ahead of them. As Leia provides covering fire, Luke uses a cable from his utility belt to swing them across. The swing, Leia’s kiss, the jaunty, Errol Flynn-esque music add up to a classic serial moment.
13 ESB “Size matters not”
Luke has tried, and failed, to remove the X-Wing using the Force from Dagobah’s swamp. “You ask the impossible,” he sulks to Yoda. Yoda metaphorically rolls up his sleeves, and summons the mighty power of the Force. As the craft rises and settles on to firmer ground, Luke’s jaw drops, and so did those of millions of kids. Pure inspiration.
12. ESB Beneath the mask
The first tantalising glimpse of the terribly scarred and burned man beneath the mask, as Admiral Piett disturbs Vader in his meditation / breathing chamber, where he attempts to summon the power of the Dark Side to breath unaided.
11. ANH Torched homestead
When Ben Kenobi, Luke and the droids come across the destroyed sandcrawler and dead Jawas, it quickly dawns on Luke where the stormtroopers, intent on recovering the droids, will head next. The score builds to a thunderous crash before the Force theme swells as Luke stands, jaw clenched, before his burning home and the smouldering remains of his guardians. He know he has to help Ben rescue Leia now, just as Marty knows he and Ethan must rescue Debbie in The Searchers, the western this scene directly references.
10. ANH “This little one’s not worth the trouble”
Luke has never seen anything like the menagerie of creatures making up the Cantina’s clientele before. Trying to act nonchalant at the bar while Ben seeks out a suitable ride off planet, he attracts unwelcome attention. When Ben tries to defuse the situation, Luke is flung to the ground and his attacker reaches for a blaster. Lightning fast, Ben ignites his sabre and swiftly chops his gun arm off. As a stunned Luke gazes at the unlikely warrior, he finally realises Uncle Owen was wrong. Ben is no “crazy old wizard”- he is the last of the Jedi.
9. ANH Star Destroyer entrance
Opening with shock and awe after the opening crawl, a simple pan down past twin moons above a desert planet, then thunderous laser blasts as a speeding vessel is swiftly followed by a leviathan that swallows the screen. Audiences whooped. Lucas liked it so much he opened ESB and ROTJ with similar beauty shots of Star Destroyers.
8. ANH “One in a million”
Many rebel pilots have been killed, Red Leader’s missiles just “impacted on the surface”, and the Death Star is minutes away from blasting the rebel base to atoms. Vader has Luke in his sights, when Han whoops into view with the sun behind him, sending the Dark Lord careening into space. As Luke summons the Force, his missiles find their mark, and the remaining heroes break for safety…
7. ESB “Imperial walkers sighted on the north ridge”
We hear them before we see them. A rebel’s binoculars zoom in on a massive leg, before zooming out to reveal the Empire’s All Terrain Armoured Transports, stomping across the icy wastes to Echo base. Their thick armour shrugs off blaster fire, then Wedge in his flying speeder brings one down by snaring the legs in his cable. The bigger they are, the harder they fall…
6. ROTJ “It’s a trap!”
The greatest three way conflict in cinema begins with Admiral Ackbar’s alarm. The Emperor has ensnared the rebels in an ambush: the Death Star mkII is fully operational (if a little drafty), his legions lie in wait for Han and Leia’s squad on Endor, and Tie fighters swarm upon the pitifully few rebel craft. An amazing space battle begins, all model work, better than anything CGI can throw up today.
5. ANH “They’re sand people, all right”
When R2 detects movement nearby, Luke and C3PO investigate. Suddenly, Luke’s view of the sandpeople and their Bantha beasts of burden is obscured by an angry Tusken raider. As he smashes his gaffi stick against Luke’s blaster rifle and yells in triumph, we fear the worst for our young hero…
4. ROTJ “So be it, Jedi”
Taunted by the Emperor to finish off Vader after their epic sabre duel, Luke defies the lure of the dark side. “I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” he says. Palpatine unleashes Force lightning upon him, and as he begs his father to help him, Vader is torn between his arcane loyalty to his master, and to his bloodline…
3. ESB “Is the dark side stronger?”
Yoda warns Luke to leave his weapons behind as he enters the Dark side cave on Dagobah, but he puts his faith in his lightsabre instead. This sinister sequence is stylistically different from the rest of the series, using slow-motion, distorted sound and that shocking reveal. Luke stares back at his own visage within the shattered helmet of Darth Vader, who he believed he had just slain.
2. ESB “I know”
Han’s cocky facade takes a back seat as he is prepared for carbon freezing, a trial run for the fate Vader has in store for luke. When Leia says “I love you” and he simply replies “I know” he means he understands. And he wants her to know that somehow, she has to be strong and get through this. *sniff*
1. ESB “I am your father”
Oh boy. What a gut punch. The rebels are on the run, Han is frozen in carbonite, and Luke is on the ropes. In a punishing lightsabre duel, Vader sends force propelled objects at Luke’s head, before slicing his hand off. He then delivers the above killer line in response to Luke’s firm belief in Ben Kenobi’s lie. Luke sags, screams his disbelief. “That’s impossible!” A pre-internet audience was completely unprepared for this shocker. Unless you were unfortunate enough to read the novelization stupidly published before the film was released, that is. Doh!