Between 1999-2005, many classic lines were added to the Star Wars canon thanks to the Prequel Trilogy. In order to prevent myself from writing a book, I narrowed my initial 25 nominees down to a Pop5 for your reading pleasure.
5. “You should be a Jedi, Padmé.” - Obi-Wan Kenobi, Revenge of the Sith
In a deleted scene, Obi-Wan visits Padmé in order to discuss his concerns about Anakin. Padmé can immediately tell something is wrong, prompting Obi-Wan to respond with a humorous compliment to relieve his unease. I’m not sure if deleted scenes are canon, but, in my heart, this scene will always be canon. The scene (and the compliment, itself) absolutely radiates the warmth of Obi-Wan and Padmé’s friendship. However, Obi-Wan’s approach to Padmé was not always so friendly.
In previous films, he behaved in a formal manner around her. Obi-Wan’s compliment signals that his relationship with Padmé has undergone an arc. Compare his compliment with a line from Attack of the Clones, where he warns Anakin that “she’s a politician. They’re not to be trusted.” Based on that comparison, the relationship has drastically changed. Obi-Wan was once distrustful of Padmé but now possesses enough admiration for her to consider her an honorary Jedi. The scene occurs on Page 42 of the screenplay.
4. “I hate you!” – Darth Vader, Revenge of the Sith
Darth Vader lays dismembered at the conclusion of a lightsaber duel with his former friend and Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The only weapons he has left to hurt Obi-Wan with are words. The words themselves are not unique. They owe a lot of their power to Hayden’s delivery, their simplicity, and the placement of the line itself. Hayden lets loose with a snarling acidity, completely selling the emotion. It is his best delivered line in the trilogy. In terms of its placement at this point in the film, it is important to remember that, earlier in the movie, Anakin untruthfully apologizes to Obi-Wan for his behavior, if only to relieve the tension between them. The final battle is no time to beat around the emotion because the simplicity of just saying it turns out to be the most effective option. Vader is finally venting his darkest emotion over a long dysfunctional relationship. It is sad but cathartic. What must be understood about words is the finality that they wield. Thoughts are merely possibilities. Words are far more official. All the discontent that Anakin attempted to swallow during his apology has festered into hate and is now made real by his willingness to voice it.
3. “Not to worry, we are still flying half a ship.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Revenge of the Sith
Anakin and Obi-Wan have just rescued the Chancellor. Now, Anakin has to safely land a damaged Command Ship, only for it to literally split in half during re-entry. Obi-Wan reacts with a nonchalant one-liner. Let’s face it, this entire list could have been Obi-Wan one-liners; it’s not like they’re in short supply. I selected this one because it makes me laugh the most. Through quick wit, Obi-Wan transforms disaster into slapstick. The only time humor is a weakness is if it is either tonally or dramatically untruthful. In this case, it is not. Obi-Wan’s humor reflects his attitude and the age he lives in: an age described by the Revenge of the Sith novelization as, “the age of heroes” (Stover 6). His dialogue epitomizes his role as a mythological hero who scoffs at colossal feats that would terrify mere mortals.
2. “I am a slow learner.” – Anakin, Attack of the Clones
Anakin rushes Count Dooku only to be knocked down by Force lightning. Obi-Wan faces the Count alone but is swiftly defeated. When Dooku moves to finish Obi-Wan off, Anakin recovers and blocks the attack. Dooku chastises the young man with, “Brave of you boy, but I would’ve thought you had learned your lesson.” Dooku receives a cheeky comeback in response; Anakin’s comeback demonstrates how dialogue is infused with the energy of dramatic change. The scene heads toward Obi-Wan’s demise, but Anakin changes the trajectory of the scene and the energy that goes with it. In a sense, dialogue is a vehicle for dramatic energy. Redirecting the Count’s aggression in this fashion infuses Anakin’s comeback with a great deal of power.
In addition to serving the drama of the scene itself, the comeback has another function: it foreshadows the rest of Anakin’s character arc. In The Phantom Menace, Anakin is shown quickly learning the controls of the J-Type 327 Nubian, seemingly contradicting the idea that he is a slow learner. However, when it comes to fulfilling his duty as a Jedi and achieving spiritual wholeness, Anakin is very much a slow learner. To be a dutiful Jedi, Anakin must not be carried away by his passions. After all, it was Anakin’s impatient desire for justice that got him blasted by Dooku’s Force lightning to begin with. In the end, Anakin will not learn to be a true Jedi or achieve spiritual wholeness until Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
1. “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” – Yoda, Revenge of the Sith
Anakin has a premonition in which his wife dies in childbirth, setting him on a quest to conquer death. Yoda offers Anakin some advice he is not ready to hear. More than any other dialogue in Star Wars canon, Yoda’s advice to Anakin leaves the most distinct impression in my memory. I recall hearing it for the first time eleven years ago and thinking, “That can’t possibly be correct.”
Which leads into a key reason Yoda’s advice is so compelling. It cuts deep, addressing the solution to the real problem that Anakin is avoiding. Anakin believes the solution to his problem requires action, when, in reality, it requires the Daoist concept of non-action. Like Anakin, my young mind equated letting go with giving up, and it was absolutely not an option. When you are young, advice is redundant. You must do exactly what you are told not to do because pain is the most persuasive teacher. As we have already learned, Anakin is a slow learner. It will take three more films before he is ready to let go of what he fears to lose. Yoda’s dialogue reminds us that the most crucial advice is often the most disappointing.
Let me know which of your favorites was neglected by tweeting us or commenting below. I’m likely in just as much agony about it as you are. Many of my darlings were cut for this one.
Thanks for reading,
May The Force Be With You...