‘Star Wars’: George Lucas Explains Why Lightsaber Duels in Prequel Trilogy Are Better Than in Sequel Trilogy — ‘the Fights Become More Personal’

The Star Wars franchise has been one of the most influential and successful in the movie business for decades and continues to be today. Created by George Lucas, the dramatic space opera has captivated fans with its creativity and strong thematic elements. 

One aspect of the Star Wars saga that fans have always loved is the mystique behind the lightsabers that the Jedi and Sith use to battle one another. These archaic weapons are one of the Star Wars franchise’s most popular props, and the story behind them is quite interesting. 

Furthermore, there’s an art behind every lightsaber user’s technique, giving each of them their own unique style. This plays a big role in why the lightsaber duels in the later installments of the Star Wars trilogy are so much more sophisticated than the rather simple lightsaber battles fans see in the original trilogy. According to Star Wars creator George Lucas, that is all by design. 

The lightsaber was a meticulously crafted ‘Star Wars’ prop

Star Wars lightsaber duel
Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel

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The lightsaber is one of the most recognizable props from the Star Wars franchise. Its iconic glow and unforgettable humming sound is synonymous with Jedi knights and Sith lords, both of whom rely on the ancient weapons to defeat their foes. 

Although lightsabers are commonplace items in current Star Wars films, they were actually very difficult to create for the sequel trilogy. Lucas struggled with designing them effectively, and sound designer Ben Burtt had to get very creative in order to develop the lightsaber sound

Lightsabers represented a ‘simpler time’ in history

When compared to the modern blasters that most characters in Star Wars used, lightsabers may seem archaic and limited. Viewers may wonder why Jedi chose not to equip themselves with a more cutting-edge weapon to protect themselves, but Lucas revealed that it was because the weapon was a symbol of a more civil time. 

“There was chivalry, and honor, that sort of thing,” Lucas said on the Star Wars Youtube page. “In developing a group of peacekeepers… I needed a weapon that was appropriate,” he said. “It was more a symbol of a simpler time, of a time before the Empire had taken over—a time when honor ruled. So it was more a symbol than it was an actual weapon in the movie.”

Lightsaber duels in episodes I – III were more sophisticated than episodes IV – VI

One thing viewers may notice about lightsaber battles between Jedi and Sith in episodes I – III is that they are far more intense, acrobatic, and emotional. The Jedi in the prequel trilogy all have unique styles for wielding their lightsabers, and even the Sith have unique techniques for handling the weapons. In comparison to the simplistic fighting styles we see used in the first trilogy, it may seem confusing. But George Lucas explains that the difference in battle intensity is because Jedi had much better lightsaber training when their culture was thriving.

“When we moved to the prequel where there were Jedi in their full power and fighting as they were in the past—well-trained jedi—then we had to make the swordfights much much faster, much more sophisticated, and much more aggressive in terms of the way they’re fought.”

Lucas also revealed that the battles became more impressive because the battles themselves were becoming more personal; the parties involved in the fights had very deep emotional connections to each other. 

“Each one builds on the other because the fights become more personal until we get to episode 3, where its a very personal form of fighting,” he continued. “The difference between the two characters is that Obi-Wan has more experience, but Anakin is more powerful.”