Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 6 just solved Disney's huge lightsaber problem
Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s climactic duel is exceptionally well-choreographed.
Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 6 sees Ewan McGregor’s iconic Jedi cross lightsabers one more time with Hayden Christensen’s Darth Vader. After a brief exchange that’s reminiscent of their combative conversation in Revenge of the Sith, they begin a duel that’s thrilling and surprisingly brutal.
While the setting doesn’t come close to matching the visual grandeur of Revenge of the Sith’s Mustafar backdrop, the duel is engaging and emotionally charged from beginning to end. In fact, Anakin and Obi-Wan’s battle may mark a new high point for Star Wars’ Disney+ shows.
The Perfect Balance — Ever since Disney acquired control of the Star Wars franchise in 2012, the studio and the filmmakers it’s hired have struggled to deliver lightsaber duels that manage to satisfy fans. The lightsaber duels in The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker, for instance, feel intentionally messy, and are made to be more reminiscent of the sloppier battles seen in the original Star Wars trilogy.
While those fights do come close to evoking the raw energy of the Original Trilogy’s lightsaber duels, they lack the underrated balletic grace of the battles from the Prequel Trilogy. The climactic duel in Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 6, however, doesn’t suffer from that problem.
A Dangerous Confrontation — There’s a sense of aggression in Obi-Wan and Anakin’s climactic fight that’s palpable from the moment it begins. Every strike is pointed and felt in a way that makes the duel stand out from the overly choreographed fights of the Prequel Trilogy. The duels in those films, while graceful in their own way, were often robbed of any sense of danger because of just how needlessly fast and complicated they were.
Even during their operatic battle in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin and Obi-Wan’s lightsabers lack the weight and lethality they should evoke. Throughout their rematch in Obi-Wan Kenobi however, their weapons feel legitimately dangerous, which helps their duel achieve the same raw emotions present in the battles from the Original Trilogy.
That said, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s climactic duel doesn’t totally do away with the style of the Prequel Trilogy. There are still plenty of superfluous lightsaber spins, and McGregor and Christensen both achieve the same physical grace that they exhibited throughout the prequels. The battle in Kenobi just tones down the style of the prequels and, as a result, it makes Anakin and Obi-Wan come across as masterful warriors without ever making it seem like McGregor and Christensen are just following a routine they’ve been forced to memorize.
Like many of the best things about Obi-Wan Kenobi, the duel helps bridge the gap between the versions of Anakin and Obi-Wan from the Prequel Trilogy and the ones we meet again in A New Hope.
The Inverse Analysis — There are criticisms to be made of the climactic fight in Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 6. As has been the case throughout the whole series, it would have been better if the sequence had used steady wide shots instead of relying on shaky handheld movements. That would have not only made the sequence less visually confusing, but also would have made it easier to appreciate the choreography of the fight itself.
Due to these flaws, Anakin and Obi-Wan’s fight fails to be as expertly shot or as legible as, say, Rey and Kylo Ren’s fight with the Praetorian Guards in The Last Jedi, which may still be the most visually memorable and masterfully constructed set piece of any Star Wars film to date. However, as a duel between two lightsaber wielders, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s climactic rematch is undeniably thrilling, and it manages to strike a balance between Star Wars’ original and prequel trilogies that none of the franchise’s other recent action sequences have managed.
Anakin and Obi-Wan’s Episode 6 duel has already risen to the top of the Star Wars franchise’s Disney-era moments.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is streaming now on Disney+.