If there are any redeeming elements about the lousy Star Wars prequel trilogy, it’s the lightsaber battles.
After being subjected to Alec Guinness’ geriatric fencing, seeing Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Ray Park do backflips in their climactic fight in 1999’s The Phantom Menace is a thing to behold. Even if the choreography is a little silly, it’s also cool.
The new miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ is poised to tickle the nostalgia of fans who are somehow convinced that the prequels were Good, Actually. It will be most apparent in the series’ lightsaber battles, which Darth Vader actor Hayden Christensen says will emulate the balletic style of the prequels rather than pull from either the original trilogy or the more recent Star Wars installments.
What Happened? — In a splashy preview for Obi-Wan in the UK entertainment magazine Total Film (via Naboo News), returning Star Wars actor Hayden Christensen was asked if the series will feature lightsaber choreography that is “more in line with the prequels or the slower dancing in the sequels?”
The actor, who starred as Anakin Skywalker in 2002’s Attack of the Clones and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, said “We’re more in line with the prequels than we are with how the fights are in the original trilogy. These characters have aged, but not that much yet.”
Christensen had a lot more to say about Obi-Wan and his bittersweet time on Star Wars. On working with George Lucas he said “I couldn’t have dreamed it up any better” and “I didn’t want it to end. It was a sad thing when it concluded.” And on playing Darth Vader again, Christensen says Vader is “fully realised” in Obi-Wan.
“This is, in a lot of ways, Vader in his prime,” Christensen said.
He also added, “He’s always going to be struggling with the loss of Padmé. He’s got Anakin buried deep down inside. There always has to be that element of Anakin there, because he does eventually find redemption in the end — through the love of his son, no less. So there has to be that bit of him in there for Luke to be able to access. There’s a lot going on.”
Prime Evil — It’s interesting how Hayden Christensen describes Vader as “in his prime” while also discussing the choreography of Obi-Wan. While I don’t love the lightweight visuals of the prequel fight scenes, they were intentional creative choices.
The prequels featured Jedi Masters, in the last days of the republic before democracy succumbed to the Galactic Empire. Of course the galaxy’s best lightsaber users could pull of intricate maneuvers whilst engaged in combat.
It makes sense that a prime Darth Vader would fight like a Jedi Master would, even if that may not mean we’ll see Vader do corkscrew twists mid-air. It certainly wouldn’t make sense if Vader fought in the same rough and jagged ways that Kylo Ren, Rey, and Finn did in the sequels. Remember, all those characters were either self-taught or learned from Luke Skywalker, who himself had less-refined training than his mentor Obi-Wan received back when the Jedi were an active order of peacekeepers.
The Inverse Analysis — The suggestion that Darth Vader is in his “prime” in Obi-Wan, and that the lightsaber fights will resemble the intricate styles of the prequel trilogy, are inseparable.
A “veteran” Darth Vader was seen in the original trilogy, and regardless of the filmmaking standards of the day, it was thematically appropriate that Vader fought in a stiffer manner than we later saw from Anakin in the prequels.
We’ve yet to see a “prime” Darth Vader in any Star Wars media. That Obi-Wan will finally show us what Darth Vader will look like at the top of his game is maybe one of the most intriguing elements to an already fascinating entry in the ever-growing Star Wars canon.
Obi-Wan will begin streaming on Disney+ on May 27.