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The 15 greatest Star Wars scenes

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35 years since the first film captivated a generation of children, the saga is being re-released in 3D on the big screen. To celebrate, ShortList spent several months arguing over which are the top 15 most iconic awe-inspiring moments from the saga. We think we’ve nailed it. Don’t agree? Yes, you do [performs Jedi mind trick]. Still don’t? Well, you can let us know at the bottom then...

15. The Sarlacc in the Great Pit of Carkoon

Return Of The Jedi

“In its belly you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.” Ah, but C-3PO, Jabba hasn’t counted on Luke being a Jedi. Or that the guard is actually Lando Calrissian. Or that Han’s sight is returning. Or that Leia is good at strangling massive slugs.

Force Fact: The Pit’s hydraulics became clogged with sand, so the crew had to animate it by hand. No wonder they CGI’ed it for the special editions.

14. The Pod Race

The Phantom Menace

Greg Proops from Whose Line Is It Anyway? introduces this high-speed show-stopper, which is a combination of the chariot race in Ben Hur and Wacky Races.

Force Fact: The visual effects crew studied Nascar crashes to accurately recreate the high-speed wipe-outs.

13. The Emperor turns Anakin

Revenge Of The Sith

Palpatine tells Anakin about Darth Plagueis, who “had such a knowledge of the Dark Side he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying”. This turns him to the Dark Side.

Force Fact: Ian McDiarmid had Othello’s Iago in mind when playing Palpatine.

12. The Battle of Hoth

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire attacks on the ice planet Hoth. The AT-ATs look unstoppable, but Luke and his allies, flying T-47 Snowspeeders, target the legs and take them down.

Force Fact: The AT-ATs were based on the walking machines in HG Wells’ War Of The Worlds.

11. The grudge match

A New Hope

On the Death Star, Obi-Wan confronts his former pupil, Vader. He sacrifices himself for the greater good but, Vader only grows more powerful.

Force Fact: The recently deceased Bob Anderson performed Vader’s fights in the original films, as revealed by Mark Hamill in 1983.

10. the lava lampings

Revenge Of The Sith

Anakin, having turned to the Dark Side, unleashes hell against his former master on the exploding volcano planet Mustafar. The lengthiest lightsaber battle in the saga, and on a par with the best sword-fighting sequences in Hong Kong cinema.

Force Fact: Steven Spielberg helped design this sequence.

9. The Cantina Bar

A New Hope

Luke and Obi-Wan hit this hive of scum and villainy as the catchiest tune in the galaxy is played. Luke gets on the wrong side of a gent who’s been charged with the death sentence on 12 systems, Obi-Wan chops someone’s arm off, and we meet Chewy. Oh, and Han has an encounter with Greedo. Let’s not even go there…

Force Fact: The name of the catchy prawn-faced band? Figrin D’an And The Modal Nodes.

8. The Yoda Fight

Attack Of The Clones

Count Dooku has beaten Obi-Wan and Anakin, and all seems lost. Wait, who’s this little fella? Why, it’s Yoda. Good to see you, but you won’t be much use here… Hang on. Blimey, look at him go!

Force Fact: The model of Yoda was given fangs to wind up Christopher ‘Dracula’ Lee.

7. the big freeze

The Empire Strikes Back

Han is captured by Vader on Cloud City and used as a test subject for the carbon freezing process. Leia blurts out, “I love you.” Han answers: “I know.”

Force Fact: Han originally replied, “Just remember that Leia, because I’ll be back.” Harrison Ford changed it.

6. The asteroid field

The Empire Strikes Back

The crew of the faulty Millennium Falcon flee Vader’s Empire fleet. Finding they are unable to out-run their enemies, Han tries to outfly them by steering the Falcon into an asteroid field.

Force Fact: A shoe and a potato make cameos as asteroids.

5. The Big — My, it’s Big — Opening

A New Hope

A rebel blockade runner hurtles through space, and in its wake, comes a Star Destroyer. The tone is set: Kubrick’s 2001, with blasters.

Force Fact: The model rebel ship reportedly had a Playboy centrefold stuck in the cockpit.

4. The Sith Money Shot

Revenge Of The Sith

Anakin finally becomes Vader, when his ruined body is encased in black life-support armour.

Force Fact: As Hayden Christensen is smaller than David Prowse, he had to “beg” Lucas to be allowed to don the Vader gear instead of a stand-in.

3. The Ultimate Jedi Gymnastics

The Phantom Menace

The fight between Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Three. Lightsabers. At. Once.

Force fact: Ewan McGregor apparently hit so hard that he broke one lightsaber per fight. They ended up breaking 300 in total.

2. The Death Star attack

A New Hope

It’s a joyous end, with Wedge, Biggs and Porkins joining Luke as they take on the Death Star, TIE fighters and Vader himself in a race against the clock. It’s a quasi-sexual sequence in which Luke flies his phallic X-wing along a long trench to fire his proton torpedoes, and become a man. Probably.

Force Fact: Designers studied footage of Second World War dog-fights for this sequence.

1. The Big Shock

The Empire Strikes Back

One of cinema’s greatest twists. Famously kept under wraps, with David Prowse, who acted as Vader but didn’t voice him (that was James Earl Jones) given a fake line onset: “Obi-Wan killed your father.” It is Mark Hamill’s greatest moment as Luke, as he discovers the truth and chooses to fall to his (potential) death. The saga’s emotional core hangs on this Freudian terror.

Force Fact: James Earl Jones refused a credit as Darth Vader’s voice after controversy surrounding praise for the voice of the devil in The Exorcist.

(Images: All Star)

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