The Single Most Horrifying Moment in ‘Star Wars’ Was a Mistake

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darth vader tie fighter cockpit

Credit: Lucasfilm

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you undoubtedly know that there are a number of harrowing moments throughout the Skywalker Saga — the trash compactor scene that first brought young Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) together in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, the wampa nearly devouring Skywalker on Hoth in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), or the threat of the second Death Star destroying the galaxy in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) all come to mind, for example.

trash compactor scene star wars a new hope
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Despite the fact that our Rebel heroes’ lives are fraught with danger as they battle Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Darth Vader’s Galactic Empire, there’s a good chance you’ve never noticed the actual most horrifying moment in Star Wars — because it was a complete mistake.

darth vader eyes in a new hope
Credit: Lucasfilm

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One article about the technical error perfectly summed up what happened:

During the assault on the first Death Star, the Rebels’ successful attack forces the Empire to scramble their starfighters to lead an offensive. Among the pilots is Vader, who leads a small attack squad. His main goal is to destroy any Rebel fighters making a bombing run on the Death Star’s exhaust port. As Luke makes his way to the location, Vader is in hot pursuit. Before the Millennium Falcon arrives to fire on the Dark Lord, a brief shot reveals the eyes behind the mask. His eyes are visible because the red lights from the blaster matched the red filter, making Prowse’s eyes clear as day for just a moment.

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darth vader palpatine
Credit: Lucasfilm

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While viewers, of course, knew that an actor — the late David Prowse, in this case — was inside the now-iconic Darth Vader suit, seeing Vader’s eyes behind his mask had serious implications within the Star Wars universe.

All of a sudden, this villainous character, who seems more robot than man — in large part thanks to the voice modulator that was used when James Earl Jones did his voice work — is actually a human. Fans are forced to come to terms with the fact that there is someone actually making the decisions to do all of the reprehensible things that the Dark Lord of the Sith does.

darth vader holding lightsaber
Credit: Lucasfilm

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The moment periodically comes up on Twitter, when Star Wars fans notice it for the first. This happened to FrostyNacho3 in 2019, when they Tweeted:

Have I always missed this or were you always able to see Darth Vader’s eyes in A New Hope during the trench run?

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The answer, of course, is that the scene has always revealed Prowse’s eyes, but it happens so quickly many fans don’t even notice!

For those who are curious, the mistake occurs at approximately the 1:54:46 mark in the Disney+ version of A New Hope, when Hamill’s Skywalker and Garrick Hagon’s Biggs Darklighter are attempting to destroy the first Death Star.

luke pilot
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Darth Vader is set to make his triumphant return to the Star Wars franchise in Deborah Chow’s upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi special event series on Disney+.

Credit: Lucasfilm

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The show — which will star Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor reprising their prequel trilogy roles as Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, respectively — recently finished filming and will debut sometime in 2022.

Have you ever noticed this creepy Star Wars moment previously?


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