Friday, May 15, 2015

31 Day Star Wars Challenge, Day 15: Favorite Battle

The battles of the prequels did absolutely nothing for me. It wasn't the CGI or anything, even though I felt Lucas and Co. relied too much on it, but the stakes just weren't there. In The Phantom Menace, I just didn't care because 1) obviously all the major characters had to survive in order for two more movies to be made (except for Qui-Gon) and 2) there wasn't the same sense of urgency that existed in A New Hope. The constant danger existing around Han, Leia, Luke, et al, was completely missing from the crew in Attack of the Clones, and ugh, the stupid that surrounded the entire production of Revenge of the Sith still makes my blood boil. Naturally, that leaves the original trilogy to be my source of my favorite battle ...

Via Clifford Michael's Flickr Page*
... which just happens to be the Battle of Endor.

I know that Return of the Jedi doesn't necessarily have the same clout as The Empire Strikes Back, and the final battle between the Rebel fleet and the second Death Star greatly borrows from the Battle of Yavin from A New Hope. Even the stakes are the same: the entire Rebellion could be wiped out at this very moment, so it's do or die, bitches.

This battle actually kind of goes along with why I like Han Solo so much: it's in this battle that his true colors are shown. He has to work as a team, not only with his people on the ground and with a bunch of teddy bears who don't speak English Basic, but also in conjunction with the fleet in space. Imagine him doing this in the first movie. Ha! He wouldn't have even thought about giving Lando the Falcon, let alone leading a ragtag crew into overwhelming odds that would possibly leave him dead.

In contrast to The Lord of the Rings juxtaposing Frodo and Sam's journey with the much more exciting trials of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and Pippin, Richard Marquand managed to balance the three major battles going on simultaneously: 1) Han, Leia, Threepio, Artoo, etc. on the moon against the 501st, the best the Empire has to offer in terms of military power, 2) the Rebel and Imperial fleets in space, and 3) Luke versus Darth Vader and the Emperor. Whenever the action is paused to check up on another thread, I don't find myself rolling my eyes or getting up to go to the bathroom or check on my cheeseless pizza in the oven. All three sequences tie in together so well and play off what is going on in the others. The initial foray into battle is full of overconfidence until everyone realizes that "its a trap!" The Rebel fleet can't advance until Han and Co. is able to destroy the shield, and Luke's near-fall to the Dark Side occurs at this very moment, as well. Victory, both bittersweet and joyous, occurs at the same time, only following the theme of those characters' story arcs: while the space and planet scenes have managed to defeat a more powerful foe and are thus celebrating, Luke has to deal with the fact that, although he did defeat the Emperor and save his father's soul, he still had to watch Anakin Skywalker perish.

Plus, the music is just kickass.

Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Soundtrack - "The Battle of Endor I"

I think that's what really sets this battle apart from the others: John Williams' score. Say what you will about him, but Williams was a big part of Star Wars' success. I'll get back to him on Days 22 and 26, but I just really wanted to add the above video.


* You should really check out some of Cliff's other paintings. My favorite right now is Secret Window
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