In each installment of the Star Wars franchise, we get to enjoy amazing lightsaber duels. This article will cover the Evolution of dueling through out the expansion of the Star Wars franchise.
In Episode IV, we learned that the Jedi were the keepers of peace in the galaxy. Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Sir Alec Guiness) gave Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) his first lightsaber. We observed from Episode IV onward, the evolution of dueling among the Jedi and their darker half's.
George Lucas brought in Peter Diamond to combine multiple different kinds of sword fighting. During our first duel, we observed a mix of sword fighting from the actors, to the director, to the stunt coordinator. Sir Alec Guiness was trained in sword fighting from his theater days and used his experience to perform the sword fighting himself. Our first duel saw Obi-Wan killed by Darth Vader.
Our next set of lightsaber duels brought us to Episode V. Luke used his lightsaber on the ice planet Hoth, in the swamps of Dagobah and lastly on Cloud City. Mark Hamill trained for the film by studying martial arts and learning Kendo, where lightsaber duels began to be heavily influenced. The final battle between Luke and Darth Vader on cloud city took weeks of rehearsal to get it to the historical duel it is today.
In Episode VI, we saw Luke fight his father in the Emperors throne room. This lightsaber duel was also heavily influenced by Luke's emotion. It also served to show Luke become more proficient as a Jedi knight. We saw Luke reject the dark side and profess that he is a Jedi Knight!
In the original trilogy, we observed great evolution in the art of lightsaber battles. In the prequel trilogy, we had the opportunity to observe more lightsaber duels that were influenced more so by Kendo then our original trilogy. To understand the evolution of the lightsaber duel, we need to understand the art of Kendo.
Kendo evolved from the ancient samurai philosophy to mold the mind, body and spirit. Contrary to the Original trilogy, the Prequel trilogy shows multiple Jedi, but we mainly follow Obi-Wan Kenobi and the evolution of Anakin Skywalker.
Episode I saw the Jedi in their prime. Moving quicker and more efficiently. Nick Gillard was brought in by George Lucas to evolve the art to make it more energetic. We also observed Darth Maul bring a new form to the duel, 2 against 1. Darth Maul's light saber was dual sided and allowed him to defend himself on multiple fronts. This new fighting style has only been repeated in Episode II by Count Dooku. To observe the amazing fighting style of Darth Maul, check out the video below!
Now that we have observed that great bout of swordplay, onward to Episode 2!
In Episode II, we observed a collaboration of Jedi as they fight off against the attacking clones. We observed the light (green, blue, purple) fight off against the dark (red). A true fight of the force. We also observed our first fully influenced Kendo fight in a battle between Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker. This is also our first fight to have 3 Jedi (Anakin, Obi-Wan and Yoda) against one of the dark side (Dooku).
In Episode III, the final installment of the Prequel trilogy, we observe the depth of Anakin's plunge into the Dark Side. We saw Palpatine fight against Mace Windu and more importantly, Anakin versus his mentor, Obi Wan. We were lucky to see multiple battles mixing in acrobatics and bringing the speed to a new level!
And finally, we get to our last installment. If you have not seen Episode VII: The Force Awakens, google the closest movie theater and go enjoy approximately 3 more hours of great Star Wars!
In Episode VII, we observed a new form of lightsaber which changed the way the duels were able to progress. J.J. Abrams brilliantly combined the art of our Prequel trilogy (complete Kendo) with our Original Trilogy (mixed arts) into a form of lightsaber duels that set new expectations for the movie franchise.
While we didn't observe multiple lightsaber battles at once like in Attack of the Clones or a battle to the death like in Return of the Jedi or Revenge of the Sith, we observed the growth of Rey as a force user and a Jedi Knight against Kylo Ren.
In summation, our lightsaber battles are still evolving. With the continued growth of our technology, we are able to do so much more on the big screen.
For a full break down on the evolution of lightsaber dueling, check out the video below!