50 Greatest Star Wars Moments

35. “We Are What They Grow Beyond. That Is the Burden of All Masters.” – Yoda Returns

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

After sequel trilogy hero Rey leaves the island of Ahch-To to try and turn Kylo Ren back to the light, Luke, not knowing that she took the ancient Jedi texts with her, sets out to destroy them. The Force ghost of Yoda appears before him, and Luke says that he’s going to end it all – the texts, the Jedi, everything. He hesitates, though, and before he can do anything, Yoda summons a bolt of lightning to destroy the library himself. It is in this moment, as they watch the flames climb higher and higher, that Yoda teaches Luke his most important lesson: the greatest teacher, failure is. Yoda urges him to not only accept his mistakes, but to let them go. And to trust Rey enough to forge her own path. Yoda tells Luke, “We are what they grown beyond. That is the burden of all true masters.”

What makes this moment so poignant and touching is that it’s such a full circle moment for Luke, and that Mark Hamill steps into it with grace, perfectly embodying his character’s world weariness, his failures that have weighed on him for years. When Luke first appeared on our screens decades ago, he was the main character, a young hero just beginning his journey. Now, the roles have been reversed. He is what Obi-Wan and Yoda were to him – and Rey is now our hero. And just as Luke disobeyed his masters and chose instead to believe his father was worth saving, Rey chooses to believe the same of Kylo Ren. Luke’s journey began with a new hope, and now Rey has given that back to him. Yoda reminds him that, as a mentor, there comes a point when you have to let go – to trust your pupil to make their own decisions. Other masters have had to accept this, and now it’s Luke’s turn.

Star Wars’ legacy has always been one of generations, of fathers and sons, masters and apprentices. It’s bittersweet to see such an iconic, beloved hero realize that the galaxy will go on without him, but all stories must end at some point. This moment marks an integral one in Star Wars as a whole – a true passing of the baton from one hero to the next. (MR)

Recommended for you: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

34. Rey and Finn vs Kylo Ren

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Our newest group of rebels, fronted by desert orphan Rey and runaway stormtrooper Finn, have destroyed the new planet-destroying weapon of the evil First Order, but have lost Han Solo to the mission. As they attempt to escape the volatile planet, they are pursued by Han Solo’s murderer Kylo Ren, and are eventually confronted in snowy woodland. Rey and Finn attempt to channel their inner light side as they defend against the vastly more experienced Sith, the pair surviving what should be a fatal encounter.

The entire scene is colour coded, the black of the characters’ surroundings contrasted by the red of Ren’s blade and the blue of that held by Rey and Finn. We see each character engulfed by their colour of choice, their destinies being pulled in one direction or the other. As Ren and Rey battle, their lightsabers meet in the shape of a cross, symbolically indicating their entangled paths as well as their yet-to-be-determined fates. We see Rey find the truth within herself, the theme of the jedi rising as she does, but her following physicality is remorseless, bordering scary, whilst Ren seems vulnerable, injured by the duel, fragile like a child.

Hope for the future of Star Wars remained bright in the years following The Force Awakens, the divisive nature of The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Rise of Skywalker yet to take hold. This moment was, therefore, met with the kind of excitement anyone invested in anything can relate to. Vital questions were raised, such as: how good is Rey, actually? How evil is Ren? Is Finn, the former stormtrooper, a Jedi? In the case of the latter, he did survive an attack from a Sith all by himself. The resulting films would curtail any potential for Finn to become a jedi, and creative differences between writer-directors would force paths in different directions, thus dampening some of what seemed promised by this sequence, but the thrill and the hope created by this moment remains special. (JW)

33. Kylo Ren Stops the Blaster Bolt in Mid-Air

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

In the opening moments of the most recent Star Wars trilogy’s opening instalment, The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is found by the First Order, which is fronted by stormtroopers and the evil Sith Kylo Ren. As blaster bolts flash through the dark of the night, one is paused in mid-air. The stationary bolt, red against black, leaves Dameron in shock, and unveils to us a new Sith power; one that indicates the potential destruction our latest Sith may leave on our favourite galaxy.

The new best-in-class visual effects were first highlighted here, with the blaster bolt remaining stable in the sky as Poe was arrested, as stormtroopers battled and imprisoned. Much of Kylo Ren’s presentation in The Force Awakens is about contrast, his scenes bathed in black but the white of his mask, of snowfall, of his spaceship, creating a sense of dichotomy. Here, the red of the blaster bolt can be read as indicating his indecision regarding his own turn to the red of the dark side, and it indisputably indicates his otherworldly power.

There are moments in Star Wars that are infinitely more meaningful to the overarching narratives of their films or the saga as a whole, but this scene works as one of the best to introduce a new character with, establishing Kylo Ren as a potentially limitlessly powerful Sith who can control even attempts at his life. (JW)

32. Ewoks Defeat the Empire

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

The unexpected and the overlooked are often the most powerful rebels against the overwhelming forces of an evil empire, and in Return of the Jedi this is exemplified by the Ewoks, a society of small bear-like creatures that assist our rebel heroes in overthrowing the evils of the dark side and its far-reaching power in the Original Trilogy’s closing chapter.

When our Rebel Alliance needs help, the Ewoks are willing to lend a hand. And in the fight of good versus evil, that’s all anyone can be expected to do. These small creatures, presented as cute but primitive, have surprisingly effective war strategies and use them to enhance their cause. They lose some of their own in taking down the more heavily armed Empire on their own turf (one death being the cause of many a teary eye), but they rally anyway. They are included in this film because they exemplify the message of Star Wars: that choosing to do the right thing is brave and good every single time, no matter your odds for happiness or even survival.

The Ewoks received a lot of backlash at the time of the film’s release. They were adjudged to have been included in an attempt to shift more toys to children (Star Wars was the most lucrative toy franchise in the market), but time has afforded them more kindness. They function well in the film, and illuminate some of George Lucas’ overarching theory and philosophy in a way that few side characters in the Prequel and Sequel Trilogies are able to do. (JW)

31. Rey Finds Luke Skywalker

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

As The Force Awakens comes to a close and the next war against oppression is laid out before us, Rey’s subconscious connection to Luke Skywalker sends her on a mission to the furthest part of the galaxy in an attempt to find him. As the score lifts and credits loom, she does. The old master, whom we saw overthrow an empire with the force of good, unhoods.

Luke Skywalker is the MacGuffin of The Force Awakens. His location is what our heroes pursue, what our villains often hinder their attempts to find, and this creates a genuine sense of anticipation that runs for almost the entire film’s runtime. It is this anticipation that makes this moment so unforgettable, but the details of Luke’s hand being without skin and the once young Jedi now being a bearded master increase anticipation tenfold for the movies to come.

Ultimately, Mark Hamill would be displeased with his character’s direction in The Last Jedi, and many fans would follow his word, but for just a brief moment at the end of The Force Awakens all seemed right in the world. Luke Skywalker was back, the force was about to regain balance, and all of the disparity and destruction in our world was about to reconnect with an old friend they could once again call a hero. (JW)

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