Would Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) have been the same?
It’s been almost twenty years since the release of Revenge of the Sith, the last film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Since then, many fans have begun warming up to the prequels, even Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002). While it’s difficult to tell if this new-found love of the prequels is legitimate or ironic, there are moments from these films that every fan can agree are iconic, and one of them almost didn’t happen!
Related: Ending Explained – ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’, “Truth and Consequences”
Despite some shaky dialogue and questionable plot points, some of the strongest moments in the franchise came from the prequel trilogy. The Duel of the Fates from Phantom Menace was an epic battle with a legendary villain in, Darth Maul (Ray Park), an outstanding score by John Williams, and the tragic death of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). Along with pod-racing, it gave fans enough hope for the second installment!
Attack of the Clones brought things to a grander scale: never had Star Wars fans seen as many lightsabers in one place as they had in the arena on Geonosis. Then, there was the epic battle in which Master Yoda (Frank Oz) himself revealed his lightsaber and had another Duel of the Fates as it were with Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). But nothing could compare with the finale to the prequel trilogy and the amazing things to come.
By far the most emotional in the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith saw the crumbling of the Jedi Order, the death of Padme (Natalie Portman), and the rise of the Empire. It also saw one of the most involved and epic lightsaber duels between Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). This very fight spawned one of the most recognizable and both iconic and ironic lines in the saga: “It’s over, Anakin! I have the High Ground!” But this line, in fact, the entire High Ground, almost didn’t make the cut!
The Direct reported on a recent interview that prequel fight choreographer Nick Gillard did with Star Wars Theory which revealed some interesting behind-the-scenes factoids. The most interesting, perhaps, was that Gillard himself, along with Hayden and Ewan, all opposed the High Ground ending to the fight on Mustafar. Gillard even described how he had intended to choreograph the loss of Darth Vader’s (Christensen) limbs in such a way that Obi-Wan (McGregor) was doing it more out of self-defense than anything:
“Anakin…disarmed him, grabbed him by the throat, you know he’s got him and Obi’s saber is down on the ground, and Anakin says, ‘I’m sorry it has to be this way, my master,’ and actually lets (the lightsaber) go. Obi hunches to get away from it, sucks his saber up, as he pulls his saber up he cuts through Anakin’s arms, almost by mistake, and then chops through his legs almost by mistake, and the whole body fell off of his legs. It was more of a defense-gone-wrong kind of move. It was strong.”
So, who stepped in to save the day and ensure that Obi-Wan (McGregor) had his iconic moment? None other than George Lucas himself. It seems the director was adamant that the scene stay as it appears in the final film, despite the protests. Gillard later confessed in the interview that it was “foolish” to second guess Lucas, as the film was ultimately his and his vision. The way that the stunt was described by Gillard, either conclusion would have made for a powerful finish to the friendship these two had cultivated.
Related: “Truth and Consequences” – Recap of ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’
As it stands, Obi-Wan (McGregor) will always have the High Ground in that fateful fight on Mustafar. Nevertheless, it is fascinating for Star Wars fans to hear what might have been the conclusion to that duel. As the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome, and in either scenario, Anakin (Christensen) would have ended up limbless and well on his way to being more machine than man.
Which ending do you prefer? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!