Time for another Scene It? post in which we analyse some of Star Wars‘ most iconic and breath-taking scenes in the hope to dig up even more awesomeness. Today I want to look at a set of scenes which absolutely blew my mind the first (and 200th) time I saw them: the Battle of Heroes in The Revenge of the Sith. The particular set of scenes I’m thinking of is the mixed fights between Yoda and Darth Sidious and Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi. A lot happens during these two fights, really too much to get into in one post, so I want to pay attention to three key moments and key lines. If you want to refresh your memory regarding these scenes, do have another watch below:
Duty vs. Emotion
The first thing I want to talk about actually happens just before the video above starts:
“Anakin, My allegiance is to the Republic, to Democracy!”
“If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.“
Obi-Wan goes into this confrontation in the hope to remind Anakin of his duty, his allegiance, their responsibilities to the galaxy. When the Jedi look at defectors like Dooku and Anakin, they expect there to be a logical argument for it, that they were simply persuaded by a good conversation one day, that they can be convinced back to the Light. The Dark Side is much more about emotions, though, and as such Anakin’s side of the above dialogue is about emotion rather than duty. Obi-Wan and Anakin are now on opposing sides, embodying the difference between the Light Side and the Dark. What makes this moment fascinating to me, however, is that the way in which McGregor and Christensen deliver their lines is switched around. Obi-Wan Kenobi is the one who sounds emotional, almost shouting his lines. He is making an emotional point, despite talking about allegiance and duty. Anakin sounds almost calm, as if what is about to happen is a foregone conclusion and Obi-Wan should know better.
I once had an argument with someone about how Anakin and Obi-Wan fight in this scene. Whereas he was convinced it was simply lazy choreography that their fighting is so similar, I was entirely convinced that there was more behind it. From the beginning of the battle, Anakin and Obi-Wan seem perfectly matched, which lends itself to hilarious gifs as well.
In the brilliant novelization of Revenge of the Sith, by Matthew Stover, the following is said:
“Blade-to-blade, they were identical. After thousands of hours in lightsaber sparring, they knew each other better than brothers, more intimately than lovers; they were complementary halves of a single warrior.”
What I love about Star Wars is how everything is thought through, how the small details are just as important as what happens centre stage. Yes, we get Obi-Wan calling Anakin his ‘brother’, emphasising their close relationship, but the reason this resonates as much as it does is that we have seen exactly how close their bond is in the minutes preceding this statement. Obi-Wan knows exactly how Anakin will attack him, and Anakin knows exactly how Obi-Wan would deflect him. The choreography is stunning and the hours of practice McGregor and Christensen put into this scene mirrors the hours of practice that Obi-Wan and Anakin themselves engaged in.
Yoda first goes to confront Darth Sidious in his chambers below the Senate. From there, the fight escalates into the actual Senate Chamber itself, where the two battle each other ferociously. I find this setting fascinating because it shows that no matter what is happening on the battlefields across the galaxy, the real struggle, the real fight, is political and happens in the courts and the senates. Although the Senate is not really the space of the Jedi, they have occasionally appeared there while always respecting it as the place of politicians. However, now that democracy is dead and the Empire has been established, Yoda takes the physical battle to where the moral and psychological battle already was.
There is one key moment which I find especially fascinating and that is when Sidious uses the Senators’ pods as weapons against Yoda. As he flings one pod after another at Yoda, destroying the forum for free speech, representation and democracy, he laughs maniacally. It is a beautiful, visual representation of what Sidious has been doing throughout the Prequel films, using the trappings of politics to hinder the Jedi and hinder the process of peace. He is throwing obstacles in Yoda’s way which mean nothing to him but still hold a remnant of meaning to Yoda. However, eventually Yoda himself flings one of these pods back at Sidious and even concentrates his Force-lightning into a weapon himself. It shows how Sidious’ disrespecting of democracy eventually also leads his opponents, the “good guys”, into having to disrespect the elements of democracy. The way both Yoda and Windu attempt to stop Sidious is, to a certain extent, wrong and shows that there can be no winner in this situation except for Sidious. He has pushed them past trusting the democratic process, past believing in politics, and that is his ultimate victory. It is a very relevant message to the world today, in which trust in politics is being eroded quickly by leaders who aim to exploit democracy for their own gain.
There are many more stunning moments in these scenes, such as the emotional finale to the fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin, how Yoda literally “hangs up his mantle”, signifying his loss against Sidious and the end of his time as a Jedi Master, the fact neither fight ends in a “satisfying” conclusion, leaving the aftermath of both to play out in the Originals.
What is your favourite moment from these scenes? And do you agree with my assessment of the above three points?