Star Wars day has come and gone, but now it’s time to really get down to business and celebrate Revenge of the Fifth! What better way to commemorate this holiday than take a look at the best scenes from Star Wars — Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which is the best of the prequels?
Let’s do this!
Battle Over Coruscant
After two fairly enjoyable, though ultimately lackluster films, namely The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, George Lucas finally righted the ship with Revenge of the Sith; and delivered an intense, dramatic (though still clunky), action-packed closing chapter closer in spirit to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back than either of its predecessors. In fact, the first twenty or so minutes of Sith gives audiences everything they wanted to see in the prequels, to begin with — Anakin Skywalker kicking ass, epic Jedi vs. Sith lightsaber duels, Emperor Palpatine manipulating his soon-to-be-apprentice, and enormous space battles all set against the backdrop of the fabled Clone Wars Obi-Wan spoke of so many years ago; or would speak of later, depending on how you go about watching these films.
The said sequence follows Anakin and Obi-Wan’s starfighters as they zip through a massive battle battling buzz droids, evading missiles, and exchanging cheesy dialogue to save kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine. Later, the duo clash sabers with Count Dooku, take out legions of droids, and confront the sinister General Grievous before crash landing a giant ship — or, at least half of it — on Coruscant.
While there are goofier moments that recall the childish antics of Episodes I and II, including that curiously edited elevator gag and the whole ray shields bit, the sequence properly establishes Sith’s darker aesthetic and kicks the film off in glorious fashion.
Emperor vs. Yoda
When Yoda took on Dooku in Attack of the Clones, the results were … eh … unusual. To see the little green guy flipping around like a Tasmanian Devil was off-putting, to say the least. Yet, while his fight choreography remains the same in Revenge of the Sith, Yoda’s duel with the Emperor works in all the ways that his previous battle with Dooku didn’t.
For one thing, there are real stakes involved as Yoda is quite literally fighting for the fate of the galaxy. Placing the duel amidst the Galactic Senate chambers also lends the sequence a lot more thematic excitement. It serves as a not-so-subtle visual cue showcasing the literal destruction of democracy.
Yeah, it ends on a bit of a whimper with Yoda scampering off in defeat (mostly because the script needs him to reach Dagobah at some point). Still, the action up until those final moments is appropriately epic, particularly when intercut with Anakin’s duel with Obi-Wan.
Anakin vs. Obi-Wan
Speaking of which … Star Wars fans long fantasized about the battle between Anakin/Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Lucas delivered. What starts as a shouting match quickly segues into a fight to the death as the two former allies clash their sabers amidst the volcanic planet of Mustafar.
Things get a little wonky when the duel quite literally becomes a lava surfing contest; and the whole “I have the high ground” still makes no sense, but overall, Anakin vs. Obi-Wan is one of the better lightsaber sequences in the entire saga; and one of Sith’s best moments.
Not for a Jedi
There’s plenty of larger-than-life action, adventure, and battle scenes to enjoy in Revenge of the Sith. Still, one of my absolute favorite scenes out of the entire film is the quiet exchange between Palps and Anakin that occurs during that weird-ass purple concert. I love the soon-to-be Emperor’s careful manipulation of Anakin in this bit, particularly the way he, knowing full well of Skywalker’s predicament with Padme, reveals that Darth Plagueis “could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorines to create … life.”
In a film rightly criticized for its stilted dialogue, flat acting, and wooden characters, the “Purple Opera Scene” ironically enough stands as one of its best. It even culminates in the film’s most memorable exchange:
Anakin: Is it possible to learn this power?
Palpatine: Not from a Jedi.
About midway through Episode III, things are going pretty well. After the opening scene, the film spends the next forty minutes pivoting between lazy exposition and heavy-handed character beats that probably should have occurred in previous films but absolutely blasts off once Palpatine executes Order 66. What follows is the most heart-wrenching sequence in any Star Wars film, during which the Jedi are betrayed by their Clone trooper pals and all but wiped out in surprisingly quick fashion — so much so that you wonder why ole Palp waited this long to make his move. From this point on, Sith charts a course for its tragic conclusion, hits the gas, and never looks back.
Did we need Anakin killing younglings? Not really. Did Yoda need to bump into Chewbacca? Nah. Should Lucas have filmed a more convincing take of Aayla Secura’s demise rather than the one we got in which the actress falls in a manner that makes it look like she tripped over a rock? Absolutely. But, hey, Star Wars has never been perfect when it comes to trivial details. Look at the bigger picture, people!
Bonus: John Williams’ Score
Finally, a quick shout out to the maestro himself for delivering one of the best Star Wars scores with Revenge of the Sith. Though lacking in the grand themes that dominated earlier films in the saga, Sith’s score remains dark, complex, and thrilling. Battle for the Heroes is one for the ages and perfectly captures the film’s operatic style. At the same time, the entire score does a masterful job segueing between high adventure and dramatic Shakespearean tragedy. We don’t say this enough, but Williams is a got-darned living legend, and he absolutely nailed Revenge of the Sith.