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The Most Infamous Prequel Moment Perfectly Captures George Lucas’ Entire Career

It’s all over now.

Lais Borges/Inverse; Lucasfilm
Celebrating the Prequels

If you made a Chuck Norris or HeadOn joke today, you would be directed to a poster’s retirement home — if not a Logan’s Run incineration chamber. And yet, “It’s over, Anakin, I have the high ground!” has had as much staying power as Star Wars itself. First bellowed by Ewan McGregor in Revenge of the Sith nearly 20 years ago, we continue to study the line’s history, justify it with fan theories, and, of course, look at “10 Hilarious High Ground Memes.”

That the line became an early meme is understandable. It’s full of clunky dialogue that seemingly rewrites the rules of lightsaber combat at a crucial moment. Obi-Wan, after all, once overcame Darth Maul’s high ground to bisect the grumpy Zabrak in rather dramatic fashion. The first two prequels were lambasted for their talk of sand and love, so Revenge of the Sith getting slammed for an anticlimactic finale felt like a natural conclusion to the underwhelming trilogy.

Lava. It gets everywhere.


But if you can forget decades of mockery, Obi-Wan’s impassioned plea can be appreciated as the grand climax to George Lucas’ operatic vision. Lucas had been building towards Anakin Skywalker’s tragic downfall since he began writing the prequels in 1994. Revenge’s $113 million budget was titanic compared to the cost of A New Hope. Few filmmakers are given the control he enjoyed for the prequels, and Lucas used it to tell a story that was unabashedly his.

And so the ludicrous, fiery scope of Anakin’s marathon duel with Obi-Wan is fun despite — or perhaps because of — this infamous line. Their conversation is full of grand statements about power and democracy. Hayden Christensen starts at fortissimo and only goes up. There are flips and spins and kicks and explosions and droids and shaky catwalks and towering lava pillars and a sweeping vocal chorus. It’s an epic battle as imagined by a 12-year-old, which is who Star Wars is for. And together, it all kind of works.

Even if it’s since been parodied a lot.

Traveller's Tales

Is it a ridiculous conclusion to a trilogy about a space wizard’s slide into evil? Sure. But despite all the goofiness, you can see how Lucas made it big in the first place. Anakin uselessly flinging himself at the high ground despite Obi-Wan’s words was the moment he decided he couldn’t earn (or didn’t want) redemption. It’s soapy, maudlin drama, but it’s so committed and over-the-top and Lucas-y that the lines following the meme — Anakin screaming his hate at Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan only offering love back — still land.

This was the biggest moment in George Lucas’ final movie. Star Wars soldiered on without him into a soulless sequel trilogy, but Revenge of the Sith was his last word, and “I have the high ground” was the dramatic culmination of a dream that began in 1977. The fact that it was simultaneously epic, kind of dumb, and forever memorable perfectly encapsulates his career. Lucas will be remembered as a worldbuilder, not a wordsmith. But a quarter-century after his first prequel hit theaters, “the prequels” remains synonymous with Star Wars. Singular moments like this, for good and ill, are why.

This article is part of the “Celebrating the Prequels” series, a two week-long series of articles about the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy leading up to the 25th anniversary of The Phantom Menace.

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