This Contest Cannot Be Decided By Our Knowledge Of The Force

For the first time in a long while, I do not have a topic for today’s post.

When I started this blog way back when, one of the first things I did was write down 26 topic ideas so that I would have a year’s worth of topics to fall back on in case nothing came to mind on a particular posting day.

The only flaw in my plan was that I promptly lost the list. It was an incredible list, too. Full of all sorts of wonderful topics of the kinds you never read elsewhere. I, of course, was not able to re-create this list. It is lost forever to history.

Instead, I made a new list of so-so topics, and it has managed not to get lost. I’ve only pulled it out once or twice, though, as I usually think of something to write about just in time. Not this time.

So, let’s see what we have here from the list of ready-made blog topics….

“Write about the top lightsaber battles in the Star Wars saga.” Hmm… Doesn’t require a lot of effort or research. Can be written at one sitting. We have a winner.

Top lightsaber battles. Yeah, I’m a geek. I’ve admitted this before. I don’t mind telling you that. These are the kinds of things I spend time thinking about.

Before I can determine the top lightsaber battles, though, I’ll make a list of the key battles from each movie. I’ll go in release order, just because my brain works better that way. When it’s working at all.

Star Wars (1977)
Well, just one battle here. Obi-Wan versus Vader. Compared to later productions, not the most exciting lightsaber duel but it does earn extra points for being first.

Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Again, just one battle here. Unless you count Luke in the cave tree versus the Vader apparition, but I don’t. Luke versus Vader in Cloud City is easily the best lightsaber battle of the classic trilogy and a real contender for best ever.

Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi (1983)
I do not count the Luke versus Jabba’s henchmen stuff as a lightsaber battle. Granted, I loved this sequence as a kid. I reenacted that skiff battle on an old couch with the cushions thrown off many, many times. Again, we have Luke versus Vader in the end, this time on the Emperor’s new Death Star. Though this does feature my favorite Star Wars lightsaber (Luke’s green-bladed one, with the hilt similar to Obi-Wan’s from Star Wars), the Death Star battle just was not as compelling as the one from Empire. Part of the reason may be that it was confined to the throne room.

Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace (1999)
As we get into the prequel trilogy, the duels start getting harder to keep track of. I’ll probably leave some out. In The Phantom Menace, the first real saber vs. saber action we get is Qui-Gon versus Darth Maul on Tattooine. It is so brief that it is barely worth mentioning, though. Later, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan double-team Maul on Naboo. Say what you will about The Phantom Menace, but you have to give credit to the brilliant “Duel of the Fates” lightsaber battle. For me, this proved that Star Wars was back in a big way. (And yes, I could probably split this battle into several smaller ones but though geek I may be, I’m just not quite that anal.)

Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones (2002)
In Episodes II and III, it seems the lightsabers are nearly always ignited. The key battles in Attack of the Clones, though, are Obi-Wan and Anakin versus Tyranus (Dooku) and, of course, Yoda versus Tyranus. The Obi-Wan/Anakin portion is reminiscent of my problems with Return of the Jedi. It is just not all that compelling, again I think because it is so confined to the hanger deck. It is interesting to see how Yoda uses a lightsaber, but I just cannot classify his duel with Tyranus as one of the best ever.

Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Lots of saber battles here. Let’s see if I can remember the main ones…

Obi-Wan and Anakin versus Tyranus: With its epic space battle, Revenge of the Sith had the best opening since, well, Star Wars, and it culminated in this top-notch lightsaber battle in which Anakin showed his dominance. Just writing about this movie makes me want to go watch it again…but, blah, it’s not scheduled for awhile, and I’ve actually been sticking to my schedule.

Obi-Wan versus Grievous: Another exciting battle, though General Kenobi makes quick work of the cyborg.

Mace versus Sidious (Palpatine): Yeah, and some other Jedi, too, but they are killed so easily that they might as well have stayed home. I was hoping for a bigger battle here, I have to say, especially after seeing Mace’s work in Star Wars: Clone Wars. Hard to complain too much, though, given the bounty of lightsaber battles offered in Revenge of the Sith.

Yoda versus Sidious: The lightsaber portion of this battle felt like a rehash of Attack of the Clones. There is only so much a little CGI muppet and a CGI old guy can do. Then they started throwing the senate pods around and never got back to the lightsaber battle proper.

Obi-Wan versus Vader: This, of course, was the lightsaber set piece of the movie. The legendary battle I had heard so much about since I was a kid. Surely, it would fail to meet my expectations, yet, somehow, it exceeded them. “You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you,” states Obi-Wan in the conclusion. Easily the best lightsaber battle of Revenge of the Sith, but how does it rank within the saga?

Now, after carefully considering each of the above lightsaber battles from all of the Star Wars movies, I offer you my ranking of the top three lightsaber battles . . . of all time!

Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan versus Maul, The Phantom Menace

Luke versus Vader, The Empire Strikes Back

Obi-Wan versus Vader in Revenge of the SithAnd the #1 lightsaber battle of all time
Obi-Wan versus Vader, Revenge of the Sith
Really, there was no contest here. Beautiful sequence.