5.) “Don’t Look Back…”
The Prequels are full of stilted dialogue and wooden, bored performances, but occasionally there are moments of genuine emotion – such as this heartbreaking moment, where Pernilla August’s Shmi Skywalker sends her little boy off to his destiny and sets in motion events that will alter the galaxy forever. (The clip above is a trailer from 1999 that expands the scene into a tone poem.)
4.) Chewbacca Gives Yoda A Piggy-Back Ride
Though it was sort of arbitrarily included, The battle on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith features one of the greatest moments of the saga as Yoda, fleeing from “Order 66”-brainwashed Clone troopers, must climb up Chewbacca’s extended arm for a piggy-back ride to a waiting escape pod. It’s a fun little moment between two beloved characters that had never interacted onscreen before. (Scene occurs at 4:22)
3.) The Emperor
Whether he’s simply cackling hideously, or feeding the Jedi and Anakin lies from his acidic tongue in order to carry out his Machiavellian schemes of galactic domination, The Emperor is simply a joy to watch in these films. Ian McDiarmid oozes evil from every pore in his performance as both the hooded master of doom Darth Sidious, and the manipulative Senator Palpatine.
2.) Obi-Wan & Qui-Gon Vs. Darth Maul
This lightsaber duel is possibly the best of the entire saga, and that’s no mean feat. It’s a dialogue-free test of wills that rages across perilous reactor shafts, Jedi and Sith alike nimbly flipping onto ledges while their lightsabers clash and spark. When Qui-Gon kneels to meditate behind the force-field, and Darth Maul paces like a starved wolf waiting to pounce – the anticipation to continue the battle is palpable. The end comes sudden and swift, leaving only one combatant standing. Epic.
1.) John Williams’ Scores
Star Wars without John Williams is like peanut butter without jelly. Separately they are great, but when combined, it’s undeniable magic. Williams’ brilliant music injects life and majesty to just about any scene, transforming images of robots and guys walking around spaceship corridors into senses-shattering space opera. Hell, without Williams, I’m not sure we even have the term “space opera”. The man is just that damn good. “Duel of the Fates,” with its epic vocal chorus, is the signature cue of the Prequels and one of the best pieces of music in the entire saga – period.