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Which Vader vs. Luke Duel is Better?

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Self explanatory. ESB or ROTJ?

Kinda of a toss up for me. I think the actual dueling itself (the choreography and looking at it from an entertainment standpoint) in ESB is better, and plus it has the iconic “I am your father” reveal which is awesome and never gets old. But I think in terms of the story and context, ROTJ’s is better. The ROTJ duel is a battle for Anakin’s soul. It makes sense for the duel to not be as long as Luke doesn’t actually want to fight his father, and deep down, Vader doesn’t want to actually kill his son. The character stuff between Vader, Luke, and Sidious is excellent, A Jedi’s Fury is an amazing piece of music, Luke rejecting the dark side is great (I love how ROTS mirrored this battle with Anakin and Dooku), and Vader’s Redemption is my favorite scene in all of Star Wars. Scratch that, in all of cinema.

What are you guys’ thoughts?

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In terms of the actual physical fighting, I’d agree the ESB duel is better. Plus the whole atmosphere of the fight feels like something out of a horror movie, with Luke descending deeper and deeper into Hell throughout the fight until he can’t escape.

Personally, however, I prefer the RotJ duel because of what’s at stake in the moment. The scene isn’t really about the physical fight itself. It’s a spiritual battle between Light and Dark. The sword swinging is really just a backdrop to the struggle in both Luke and Anakin’s hearts against the absolute evil of the Emperor. And I always get chills when Luke shouts “Never!” and the chilling music starts. The choir that sings both during Luke’s outburst and when Anakin is about to save his son is really stunning.

In hindsight, I really wish the Anakin-Dooku fight in RotS had been able to rise to that same dramatic level. Anakin really has two pivotal moments in that movie where he starts his fall: killing Dooku, and stopping Mace from killing Palpatine. If I were a script doctor for the prequels, I probably would have tried to find a way to combine those two pivotal moments into one event, and tried to give that scene the same emotional gravity that Luke-Vader in RotJ had.

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Servii said:

Personally, however, I prefer the RotJ duel because of what’s at stake in the moment. The scene isn’t really about the physical fight itself. It’s a spiritual battle between Light and Dark. The sword swinging is really just a backdrop to the struggle in both Luke and Anakin’s hearts against the absolute evil of the Emperor. And I always get chills when Luke shouts “Never!” and the chilling music starts. The choir that sings both during Luke’s outburst and when Anakin is about to save his son is really stunning.

Me too! I also love the music - the weird synthesizer when Vader (holding Luke’s lightsaber BTW!) is looking for Luke in the shadows, then the chorus when Luke unleashes his anger.

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord

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ESB better fight, RotJ better story moment

theprequelsrule said:

Servii said:

Personally, however, I prefer the RotJ duel because of what’s at stake in the moment. The scene isn’t really about the physical fight itself. It’s a spiritual battle between Light and Dark. The sword swinging is really just a backdrop to the struggle in both Luke and Anakin’s hearts against the absolute evil of the Emperor. And I always get chills when Luke shouts “Never!” and the chilling music starts. The choir that sings both during Luke’s outburst and when Anakin is about to save his son is really stunning.

Me too! I also love the music - the weird synthesizer when Vader (holding Luke’s lightsaber BTW!) is looking for Luke in the shadows, then the chorus when Luke unleashes his anger.

Is that synth? I never noticed that.

Death of the Author

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Yeah I’m pretty much agreed. The fight in Empire is better in general, with a tense build-up, that awesome moment where orange gas is being pumped out everywhere while the two fight, then seeing an enraged Vader later on. It’s always crystal clear who has the upper hand. But, just because of the moment when Luke attacks Vader in ROTJ, with the tragic choral music, I’m kind of leaning towards that. It’s peak Star Wars.

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

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I prefer the ROTJ lightsaber fight because of the emotion behind it. When Vader says “if you will not turn to the dark side then perhaps she will” and then Luke goes apeshit on vader with his lightsaber. Its 100% my favorite lightsaber fight and one of my favorite moemnts in the whole trilogy. Sure the lightsaber fight in ESB is cool but imo the one in ROTJ is just a little better. That scene always gives me goosebumps whenever I watch it.

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I prefer the ESB duel all the way, both for choreography and story. I love the 3-act nature of it: (i) the initial meeting and ominous words from Vader; (ii) the oppressive atmosphere as Vader surprises Luke on the lower level, this time remaining silent while completely overpowering him with the Force - the music in that scene is intense; (iii) the final fight on the ledge and big reveal. The acting from Hamill when he learns the truth is incredible; his reaction still sends shivers down my spine.

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Both have their own dramatic beats which are high points in each movie, but I think ESB has the better fighting style and pacing.

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Well the freezing chamber duel is my favorite lightsaber duel of the whole saga so…

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It’s tough to decide.

Empire has double meaning as if you’re watching in release order you assume that Darth Vader is the man who who killed Luke’s father, only for it to be reversed on its head. Both literally and figuratively. It also has a truly unique setting of rings within rings. Different dimensions if you will.

Jedi has the more immediate and emotional context. It’s interesting having the contrasting force of Palpatine in there to plant dark deeds he’s been planning since The Phantom Menace if you’re watching in chronological order. It’s concluded with redemption and the end of the Palpatine’s reign.

So? My conclusion is I’d lean Jedi because it has the greater sense of formality as it truly interweaves both Anakin and Luke’s story to bring them both full circle to conclude the six part story.

I do think Empire has the better setting though.

"Pleasure’s fun. It’s great, but you can’t keep it going forever; just accept the fact that it’s here and it’s gone, and maybe then again, it will come back, and you’ll get to do it again. Joy lasts forever. Pleasure is purely self-centered. It’s all about your pleasure: it’s about you. It’s a selfish, self-centered emotion, that is created by a self-centered motive of greed. Joy is compassion. Joy is giving yourself to somebody else, or something else. And it’s a kind of thing that is, in its subtlety and lowness, much more powerful than pleasure. You get hung up on pleasure; you’re doomed. If you pursue joy; you will find everlasting happiness.” - George Lucas