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"An elegant weapon for a more civilized age."
―Obi-Wan Kenobi giving Luke Skywalker his father's lightsaber[2]

The lightsaber, also referred to as a laser sword by those who were unfamiliar with it, was a weapon usually used by the Jedi, Sith, and other Force-sensitives. Lightsabers consisted of a plasma blade, powered by a kyber crystal, that was emitted from a usually metal hilt and could be shut off at will. It was a weapon that required skill and training, and was greatly enhanced when used in conjunction with the Force. Though also used by the Sith, the lightsaber was synonymous with the Jedi, with some in the galaxy believing only Jedi could use lightsabers.

Lightsabers were generally used for both offense and defense. A lightsaber could cut through virtually anything, from flesh to blast doors. The only ways to block the incoming attack of a lightsaber was with a weapon made with material that conducted energy, such as an electrostaff, a Z6 riot control baton, some rare metals like beskar, or another lightsaber. When used defensively, a Force-sensitive could deflect blaster bolts with a lightsaber, and with skill, could even reflect the shots back toward the shooter or some other target. Experienced Jedi could even employ their lightsabers to absorb Force lightning. Most practitioners used one single-bladed lightsaber, though some used double-bladed lightsabers or even multiple lightsabers at once. Despite lacking Force-sensitivity, the cyborg General Grievous was capable of wielding four lightsabers at once thanks to his advanced mechanical body and enhanced cybernetic brain.

Lightsaber combat was divided into seven Forms: Form I, Form II, Form III, Form IV, Form V, Form VI, and Form VII.

History[]

Republic Era[]

Sounding like no other weapon in the galaxy,[16] lightsabers were used thousands of years before the age of the Galactic Republic, seeing use in the Great Scourge of Malachor.[17] They were also used in the Battles of Rashfond and the Peacekeeping of Parliock,[1] The proto-saber was an ancient type of prototype lightsaber.[18]

LightsaberDraw-Acolyte

Members of the Jedi Order wielded lightsabers in the name of protecting life and the light side.

During the history of the Jedi Order, the lightsaber considered to be the Jedi's only true ally in battle.[1] As Master Obi-Wan Kenobi once declared to his Padawan Anakin Skywalker in the days of the late Republic, the lightsaber was a Jedi's life.[19] Jedi saw the lightsaber as a symbol of the care that they would wield using their gifts given by the Force, and also served as a message to their opponents: mastering the lightsaber required great skill and training. The choice of the saber was also the symbol of their role and duty as protectors, not destroyers, and the fact that the Jedi did not seek power and only sought to stand tall against darkness.[20] Still, Jedi knew they would need to be more than their lightsabers.[21]

When Padawan Enya Keen lost her lightsaber during a mission to Dalna, her master, Char-Ryl-Roy, reminded her that she would need to act as a Jedi without the weapon. While finding a kyber crystal was still a sacred part of a Jedi's duty and Keen felt like losing her lightsaber would feel like losing part of herself, she willingly gave away the crystal if it meant finding more about the Path of the Open Hand and its plans.[21] Lightsabers took on a more prominent role in galactic affairs as the Clone Wars came to pass. Jedi, previously peacekeepers, became Jedi Generals of the Grand Army of the Republic, and thus began using their lightsabers more often than they had in their role of peacekeeping.[22]

Imperial Era[]

"And to think one day our children will ask what is thing? This relic of a corrupt institution destroyed by its own arrogance."
Daho Sejan, to Cal Kestis[23]
Bottleneck-WeMeetAgain

Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi readies his lightsaber for his final duel against his former disciple, Darth Vader.

For the majority of the Empire's reign, the only lightsabers that were prominently used were those of Darth Vader and the Inquisitors who served him.[17] All the same, there were still lightsabers used by Jedi survivors and those they trained, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker,[2] Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus, and Ezra Bridger.[17] Vader wielded a dual-phase lightsaber, a design of an older, more dangerous generation.[24] Domina Tagge of the Tagge Corporation tried to recreate the lightsaber through the Tagge protoblade.[25]

New Republic Era[]

"I don't get to treat many lightsaber wounds. It's such an old weapon. People today prefer to fight with rifles and blasters, from long range."
Harter Kalonia, to Rey[26]
The Last Jedi Adaptation 5 Textless

Rey and Kylo Ren, a dyad in the Force, both use lightsabers in combat.

After the Empire was defeated, Luke began training a new generation of Jedi.[15] Tano adopted the Mandalorian Sabine Wren as her Padawan, with Wren taking on Bridger's lightsaber as her own.[27] In the wake of the conflict on Peridea, both ended up stranded in the far galaxy as Grand Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo "Thrawn's" returned to the galaxy. Bridger, with a new lightsaber in his possession, did manage to return to the galaxy as well, however.[28]

Skywalker's new generation of Jedi were killed in the destruction of his Jedi temple,[15] once again leading to a time where the only prominent lightsaber user was a dark sider, Kylo Ren.[15] That all changed when a scavenger, Rey, discovered the Skywalker lightsaber[15] and ultimately came to train under Luke Skywalker and his twin sister Leia Organa to combat Kylo Ren and the First Order during a war against the Imperial Remains.[29]

After the war, Rey ritually buried her masters' lightsabers at the Lars Homestead on Luke's home planet, Tatooine, to end the Skywalker family's suffering. She ignited her newly crafted lightsaber to show her complete journey as a Jedi, and, to honor the Skywalkers' legacy, she took the Skywalker name as her surname after receiving the blessing from the Force spirits of her masters when she was asked by a local.[30]

Mechanics and specifications[]

Components[]

"A lightsaber has five main parts. The power cell, the casing, the focusing lens, the emitter and, of course, the crystal. The rest is just wiring, an on/off switch, and whatever fancy extra bits people want to build in. All in all though, it's a pretty simple device."
―Doctor Cuata[31]
KyloRenLightsaber-TFA

The inner workings of Kylo Ren's lightsaber

A lightsaber drew power from an appropriately-sized power cell.[32] Parts that would work to make a lightsaber include modulation circuits and an energy gate. Ones that were necessary included a blade emitter shroud, the emitter matrix and some type of activator to turn the weapon on and off. Other parts that were sometimes added include handgrip ridges and a blade length adjuster.[32][12] Some lightsabers also featured a non-lethal low-power setting used for training.[33] Single-bladed lightsabers usually had a belt ring so they could be hung from a belt hook, or a wheel-shaped attachment that slotted into a matching belt clip on the owner's belt when not in use.[34][5][35][36][32]

Specially designed lightsabers could even use unstable crystals, such as Kylo Ren's lightsaber, which featured two laterally facing vents designed to divert excess energy away from the cracked crystal and keep the lightsaber stable. This also had the effect of creating a protective crossguard.[37]

During assembly, it was important to not accidentally invert the emitter matrix; when activated the lightsabers' power grid would backfire. At best this could cause the blade to quickly short out, but if it was left on, the faulty weapon would violently explode, potentially killing those in close proximity.[1]

Aesthetics[]

"It's a metal cylinder, about this long, with black grips and a few switches on the side."
―Luke Skywalker describes a lightsaber[38]

Lightsaber hilts were made up of multiple parts that enveloped and protected the internal components. Metal ranging from simple alloys to Haysian smelt[39] was usually chosen to make up the hilt. However, other materials were also chosen by lightsaber users, such as the Jedi youngling Gungi, who made use of a lightsaber with a casing carved from the wood of a Brylark tree, whose wood was as strong as metal.[1] Some hilts were even crafted with gems.[40] Inlays decorating the hilt could be made of materials such as pastillion ore, black onk, or the bone of certain creatures such as the Cartusion whale.[1] Each piece of the hilt was aesthetically tailored towards one of multiple different design philosophies, which both informed and were informed by the maker's choice of materials, ideology, and personal preferences.[39][41][42] A more practical design choice a user could make was to fit the weapon to their species' particular handgrip.[43]

HighRepublic-PhilNoto

Various types of lightsabers were in use during the High Republic Era.

The Jedi Order of the late Galactic Republic made use of four styles: Duty and Resolve, Peace and Justice, Elemental Nature, and Valor and Wisdom.[39][41] The former two were simple designs intended to reflect the Jedi commitment to a life of devotion to the Force and the Order's ideals.[44][45] The latter two made use of resilient natural materials derived from flora and fauna to evoke the living Force.[44][45]

The Sith Order made use of two styles: Passion and Strength, and Power and Control.[39][41] Both were characterized by sharp and strong forms that showcased their owners' brutality, relentlessness, and insatiable desire for supremacy.[44][45]

Another style, Protection and Defense, was favored by the earliest Force users in ancient times. It featured designs and inscriptions with meanings that have become shrouded in mystery, but the style itself was believed to have been created with the intent of conferring anonymity upon and symbolizing the emotional detachment of the wielder, who would use their lightsaber strictly for personal protection.[41][45]

Cutting power[]

"It's heavier than I thought."
"Energy constantly flows through the crystal. You're not fighting with a simple blade as much as you are directing a current of power.
"
Sabine Wren and Kanan Jarrus on the Darksaber[46]
Jedi cutting door

Qui-Gon Jinn using his lightsaber to cut through one of the Saak'ak's blast doors

The power of the energy blade was so great that it could cut through almost anything. One important note about lightsaber wounds was that they rarely bled profusely, even when a limb had been severed.[47][34][5] This was because the energy blade cauterized the wound as it passed, and thus even a severe wound did not tend to bleed heavily.[35]

Lightsaber-resistant materials[]

Marvel-Mandalorian-S2-5-Textless-Cover

Pure beskar could repel lightsaber strikes for a period of time.

Aside from the blade of another lightsaber, there were rare materials that could withstand a lightsaber blade:

  • Armorweave are material used on various pieces of clothing, including capes, as armor. It was also capable of resisting a lightsaber strikes. The Jedi Temple Guard had special armor robes incorporated layers of armorweave to provide them with an effective defense against blaster bolts and lightsabers.[48]
  • Beskar was specially crafted steel made from an iron found only on the planet Mandalore and its moon Concordia. It could repel lightsaber strikes[49] for a brief time in its purest form.[50] Examples of its use in that way included Din Djarin's armor, which resisted Ahsoka Tano's lightsaber blades, or the beskar spear offered to Din Djarin by Morgan Elsbeth, the magistrate of Calodan, which was also used to fight against Tano's sabers.[51]
  • The Elite Praetorian Guard armor was able to resist lightsaber strikes, with the gauntlets being capable of parrying one directly. However, a direct thrust or stab could still penetrate the armor. Their high-tech weapons are also resistant to lightsaber strikes.[29]
  • Cortosis armor, made by specially weaving cortosis fibers within a protective matrix, was able to redirect a lightsaber's energy into itself which would cause the lightsaber's blade to temporarily shut off upon contact with the armor.[52]
  • Magical ichor weapons like Mother Talzin's sword is able to resist lightsaber strikes.[53]
  • A personal energy shield powered by extremely rare kohlen crystals was impervious to kyber crystal lightsabers. However, swapping out a lightsabers' kyber crystal for a kohlen crystal would produce a low-powered orange blade which was capable of slicing through the shields.[54]
  • The rare metal phrik is impervious to lightsaber blades. A staff made of this material was once on display during the Valo Republic Fair, which was taken and used by the Nihil Tempest Runner Lourna Dee to fend off the Jedi Archivist OrbaLin.[55] Electrostaffs are made of phrik,[56] making them resistant,[57] but not invulnerable, to lightsabers.[58]
  • Qi'ra's electro swords are capable of emitting electrical charges to effectively repel and resist clashing with a lightsaber without them being damaged.[59]

Utility[]

On the aquatic planet of Mon Cala, the Jedi Kit Fisto, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano were all able to use their lightsabers underwater with no ill effects.[60] Whilst in areas of low light, the glowing plasma blade could function as a convenient light source, demonstrated by Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker,[61] Jedi Masters Yoda[62] and Obi-Wan Kenobi,[61] along with Savage Opress.[63]

Construction[]

Components[]

MysticMorality-UP

A Twi'lek Jedi using the Force to assemble a lightsaber out of several components

A lightsaber was built up from several different components. From top to bottom it went, blade emitter, focusing lens, cycling field energizers, main hilt, kyber crystal, lightsaber energy core, hand grip, inert power insulator, and the pommel cap. All of these components were incredibly important to keeping the lightsaber fixed together and allowed a Jedi to fight without it falling apart and stopped the saber from exploding upon activation. Every lightsaber's hilt was customised to the individual Jedi's needs and preferences, but no matter the appearance, each weapon contained the same basic element - Power Insulators, cycling field energizers, energy modulation circuits, a focusing lens, a blade emitter and most important the energy core which contains a kyber crystal. Once a few control dials were added, which would have been responsible for changing the intensity and length of the blade, the lightsaber would be complete.[64]

Kyber crystals[]

"The heart of the lightsaber, the kyber crystal is, focuses the force from the jedi, it does."
―Yoda[65]
Kirak-Infilas-kyber-crystal-DV-5

A kyber crystal

Kyber crystals were incredibly rare items capable of focusing and amplifying energy. They could be found on planets that have a high natural concentration of Force energy. The main planets in which they were found were Ilum and Jedha, however Ilum was more commonly used as it was the planet in which the Gathering took place, where the Jedi younglings went to actually construct a lightsaber. Each kyber crystal was unique and required a Force-sensitive individual to align and activate it during the lightsaber assembly process. Once found, a kyber crystal would have originally been clear, but once it was awakened by the Force, its color would shift to match the nature of the sabers master. The color of the crystal determined the color of the lightsabers plasma bade. Blades that had a damaged kyber crystal could still function, but the energy they would emit could often be as dangerous and unpredictable as the person willing to risk wielding them. Some individuals such as Kylo Ren wielded these unstable crystals, usually with modifications to accommodate the unstable kyber.[64]

Construction process[]

It begun on the planet of Ilum where the younglings would begin the 1000 year old ritual known as the Gathering where a small group of Jedi younglings would be escorted by a Jedi Knight to Ilum in a very specific time in Ilum's solar cycle. First of all, a kyber crystal must be found which is done by the youngling overcoming their fears. Once the crystal was found by the youngling, they will choose the different components including the hilt which would be chosen to fit their personal preference and comfort. Once completed, the younglings will activate their kyber crystal, and would have begun to construct their lightsaber. This was done using telekinesis whilst following a diagram which was given to them by an engineer. Once completed, the lightsaber would have been ready to ignite. As well as this, the younglings would have then also had the knowledge to construct a lightsaber in the future should their current one be destroyed.[65]

Variations[]

The sheer number of Jedi active during the days of the Galactic Republic naturally resulted in countless variations in the designs of lightsabers. Some of these modifications were merely for the exterior looks of the saber, while others enhanced the sabers functionality in unique ways. While the traditional single bladed lightsaber was the design most Jedi used, some preferred creative adaptation of this classic weapon.[64]

Maul-Shatterpoint

Maul wielded a lightsaber that served as both a Sith lightsaber and a double-bladed lightsaber.

Son of Darkness

The crossguard lightsaber of Kylo Ren

  • Crossguard lightsaber—An ancient design dating back to the Great Scourge of Malachor, a crossguard lightsaber consisted of a standard blade with two shorter blades perpendicular to it at the end of the hilt.[37]
  • Curved-hilt lightsaber—Curved-hilt lightsabers were of a design which featured a hilt with a built in curve. This was usually done to allow the hilt to fit better into the palm, facilitating the use of one-handed fighting styles such as Form II.[71]
  • Cane lightsaber—A standard lightsaber concealed as the head of a cane. In combat, the handle would be detached from the body of the cane and wielded normally.[71]
  • Training lightsaber—Training lightsabers were engineered with a permanent low-power setting. As their name indicates, training lightsabers were used for instructional purposes, teaching initiates how to wield a lightsaber.[72]
  • Shoto lightsaber—A shoto was a short lightsaber. Featuring a shortened blade length, shotos were usually used as the secondary weapon in dual-blade combat.[6]
    • Guard shoto—A guard shoto was a lightsaber with a hilt perpendicular to the blade that gave a unique way of blocking and attacking.[6]
Vernestracotj

Vernestra Rwoh wields her lightwhip

  • Lightwhip—A lightwhip had a flexible blade that was several meters long, and could entangle opponents.[24]
  • Two-piece lightsaber —A single bladed lightsaber that can separate into two pieces, with the main body and grip of the hilt in one part and the other bearing the emitter shroud. To use the lightsaber, the user merely needed to insert the emitter section into the main body and twist to lock them together.
  • Lightsaber-blaster hybrid—A single bladed lightsaber with an attachment that allowed it to fire blaster bolts.[32]
  • Darksaber—An unique ancient lightsaber with a black blade that was flattened and came to a point like a traditional sword, rather than the rounded beam of standard lightsabers.[46]
  • Sickle-bladed lightsaber—A lightsaber that produced a sickle-shaped blade.[73]

There also existed a type of blaster known as a lightsaber rifle which was designed to be combined with a lightsaber. To work, the user would insert a standard lightsaber into a slot on top of the rifle. Once loaded, the weapon could fire powerful beams of energy that were highly destructive.[74] Additionally both Jedi Masters Ki-Adi-Mundi and Agen Kolar both owned a lightsaber that had two different colored kyber crystals, allowing it to change colors from green to blue.[75]

Usage and application[]

Purpose[]

"We do not want to be powerful. We wish to stand tall against the dark. Our tools reflect that goal. Especially our chosen weapon. We all wield the same one, with minor variations. The lightsaber. We could make kyber bombs or blasters… Indeed, it's been tried. There are a few weapons like that in the sealed archives. But anyone can fire a blaster. Very few can safely and skillfully wield a lightsaber. Everyone in the galaxy knows this to be true. We want our opponents to know that we use a weapon that requires intention. Training, precision and choice. The lightsaber symbolizes the care with which we approach our gifts through the Force and the care with which we wield them. It reminds others that while we could do more… We very purposefully do not. Take it, my Padawan. We choose a weapon with limitations—with difficulties. You cannot use a lightsaber to destroy a city or a planet. Every death or injury it inflicts must be precisely chosen. The lightsaber tells the galaxy that the Jedi are not destroyers. We are protectors."
―Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Anakin Skywalker[76]
Caleb-makes-his-stand

The Jedi used their lightsabers to bring an end to conflicts.

The intended purpose of the lightsaber was to bring an end to conflicts, being designed to injure no more than its wielder chose. Additionally, there was no collateral damage from lightsaber strikes[16] unless the blade happened to hit a target on accident.[77] If death was deemed necessary, the blade was designed to kill quickly. Even though the Jedi held themselves to these rules,[16] the groups like the Sith chose to use their lightsabers in ways that caused suffering.[78]

Jedi Padawan Bell Zettifar felt that the lightsaber was designed to give an enemy a chance to surrender, as its trademark glow and hum made it easy to spot and hear. Furthermore, he believed the blade's sound was one of training, focus, and skill; it was the sound of a Jedi's last resort and was the art of their Order.[16]

Although Sith were also known to wield lightsabers, they viewed the dark side of the Force as their primary weapon, with the saber serving as a symbol of the dark side and the way it consumed all who opposed it.[79]

Combat[]

"Energy constantly flows through the crystal. You're not fighting with a simple blade as much as you are directing a current of power. Your thoughts, your actions, they become energy. They flow through the crystal as well and become a part of the blade."
―Kanan Jarrus, to Sabine Wren[46]
Makashi

Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku engage in lightsaber combat above Coruscant.

Lightsaber combat was the preferred fighting method used by lightsaber wielders. Throughout the millennia, many combat styles were refined into the seven "classic" forms that serve as the standard,[71] and numerous other fighting methods that call for advanced levels of skill. Lightsabers were most often held with both hands during combat.[5]

Rituals[]

"By the right of the Council, by the will of the Force, Kanan Jarrus, you may rise."
―An apparition of The Grand Inquisitor as a Jedi knights Kanan Jarrus[80]

Lightsabers were an integral part of the knighting ceremonies of the Jedi Order.[80] During the ceremony, a Padawan would have their Padawan braid ritualistically severed by the presiding Jedi Master.[81] Kyber crystals were collected from a Jedi's lightsaber if they fell in battle. Many of these crystals were then formed into the Kyber Arch, which became a site for meditation in the Jedi Temple.[82]

Practical applications[]

Lightsaber injury ahsoka

A bacta-treated lightsaber penetration wound on human skin

Lightsabers were able to cut through most materials.[34] The glowing plasma blade could be used as a convenient light source when necessary.[30][39] Lightsabers can also be used to evaporate some liquids due to the heat it generates.[39]

Behind the scenes[]

Early concepts[]

"The original concept was that the Jedi would fight with swords, and I wanted to make it a sort of laser sword, to give it that technology edge"
―George Lucas on the early development of the lightsaber[8]
ST Lightsaber

Early concept art of lightsabers

The usage of the lightsaber was originally inspired by many of the serials that George Lucas watched and enjoyed as a child, which featured many characters wielding swords. When he began conceiving Star Wars, he wished to include swords, creating the "lightsaber" to allow them to better mesh with the futuristic setting.[83]

In the early incarnations of the Star Wars storyline, lightsabers were not exclusive to the Jedi and other Force-users, but were in fact very mundane. Early concept art depicts lightsabers being wielded by Rebel and Imperial soldiers alike. George Lucas later limited the lightsabers to exclusively the Jedi in order to make them feel more unusual, and heighten the mystique of the Jedi.[84] Also, in early drafts of the script, lightsabers were referred to as "laser swords."[85]

Crystals first appear in Star Wars simply as an embedded decoration on the hilt in the original film's novelization. Aside from this single instance, there are no crystals mentioned in any of the movies or their novelizations.[86]

Prop design and effects[]

"Some sounds, like the lightsaber—fashioned from an old movie projector motor hum and a TV picture tube buzz—came immediately to mind when I first read the script for Star Wars and saw the concept artwork."
Ben Burtt, sound designer[87]
Graflex

A Graflex flash similar to the one used for Luke Skywalker's first lightsaber

During the filming of A New Hope, the Anakin/Luke lightsaber was made from a Graflex camera side-attach flash, while Darth Vader's lightsaber was made from a Micro Precision Products flash attachment. The handle grips were made with T-shaped pieces of plastic from sliding glass cabinet windows and, contrary to popular belief, were not made with rubber windshield wipers. D-rings were attached to the bottoms of the units so that they could be worn on belts. Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber was the most complex hilt at the time. It was assembled from parts of an Armitage Shanks Starlite model Handwheel, Browning ANM2 machine gun booster, WWI No.3 Mk.1 British Rifle Grenade and a Rolls-Royce Derwent Mk.8/Mk.9 Jet Engine Balance Pipe.[88][89]

Korean animator Nelson Shin, who was working for DePatie–Freleng Enterprises at the time, was asked by his manager if he could animate the lightsaber in the live action scenes of a film. After Shin accepted the assignment, the live action footage was given to him. He drew the lightsabers with a rotoscope, an animation which was superimposed onto the footage of the physical lightsaber blade prop. Shin explained to the people from Lucasfilm that since a lightsaber is made of light, the sword should look "a little shaky" like a fluorescent tube. He suggested inserting one frame that was much lighter than the others while printing the film on an optical printer, making the light seem to vibrate. Shin also recommended adding a degausser sound on top of the other sounds for the weapon since the sound would be reminiscent of a magnetic field. The whole process took one week, surprising his company. Lucasfilm showed Shin the finished product, having followed his suggestions to use an X-Acto knife to give the lightsaber a very sharp look, and to have sound accompany the weapon's movements.[90]

The lightsaber effects during the original trilogy started out in a very complicated manner. During the filming of A New Hope, the blade was made of a three-sided rod covered with reflective material. The rod was then rapidly spun by a compact motor in the hilt, reflecting the lights on set and creating an in-camera glowing effect. However, these props were highly limited; they were cumbersome and fragile, often breaking during fight scenes. Also, the glowing effect was not absolute, as whenever the blade moved out of the light or pointed more directly at the camera the glow disappeared and the actual spinning rod could be seen. In order to partially compensate for this loss of the effect, the blade was rotoscoped and an animated glow was added by tracing onto a blown-up copy of the frame with pen and colored ink, one frame at a time. It was at this phase that blades were given colors, as the props were simple white rods.[83][84]

Lukevaderunrotoscoped

Mark Hamill and Bob Anderson duel with carbon rods.

During the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, it was decided creating an in-camera glowing effect was more trouble than it was worth, so the spinning rods were swapped for carbon rods. While these new blades were less cumbersome than before, they were still very fragile and frequently broke. However, they continued to be used for Return of the Jedi.[83]

When filming began for The Phantom Menace, the new lightsaber blades were steel and aluminum rods, which were highly durable, but frequently bent and flexed, requiring constant replacement.[91] Despite such a drawback, these rods still saw usage during the filming of Attack of the Clones, as they had no alternative at the time. However, for the filming of Revenge of the Sith, the blades were replaced by carbon fiber rods laminated with glass and plastic. These new props were highly durable and didn't flex, though they were extremely hard, often causing bruising and leaving scars. While lightsaber effects were still done by rotoscoping for the prequels, they were done digitally, rather than by hand.[84]

For The Force Awakens, the lightsaber props glowed, using a similar effect used in Attack of the Clones during the fight between Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku. In behind the scenes footage, it was revealed that the actors were using blades similar to the ones made by Master Replicas. This not only added to the environmental realism that was desired by providing interactive lighting on the actors and the set, but also immersed the actors in the lightsaber experience, building on the performance and convincing nature of the lightsaber effect.[92]

Colors[]

Lightsabers depicted in the first two released films, A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, had blades that were colored either blue (for the Jedi) or red (for the Sith). This color difference was a decision during post-production when the lightsaber blades were being rotoscoped, as the original blades were simply white.[83]

In Return of the Jedi, Luke's newly-constructed lightsaber was colored blue during the initial editing of the film, and appears so in both an early movie trailer and the official theatrical posters, but in the final film, it was ultimately colored green in order to better stand out against the blue sky of Tatooine in outdoor scenes and to make it more obvious to the audience that the new lightsaber was different from Luke's one in The Empire Strikes Back.[93] It also appeared as green in re-release posters.[94]

SabineTanoEzraFortress-Ahsoka

Lightsaber blades with green, white, and blue colors appear together in live action via Ahsoka.

Both green and blue became standard blade colors for Jedi lightsabers in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In the same regard, red became the standard Sith lightsaber blade. Mace Windu's purple lightsaber, as first seen in Attack of the Clones, was a personal request from actor Samuel L. Jackson as a way to make his character stand out among other Jedi. Jackson's favorite color is purple and he frequently requests the characters he plays to use an item of the color in his movies. In addition, there are yellow,[95][40][96] yellow-green,[97] light-blue,[97] black.[98] and white blades.[99] Such blades can visibly see seen in works like The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series.[98] The yellow lightsaber blade made its live-action debut in the final scene of The Rise of Skywalker, as the new weapon constructed by Rey Skywalker.[30]

Orange blades appear in the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, as did indigo, cyan, and magenta blades.[39] At the direction of Dave Filoni, orange-red lightsabers appeared in the form of Shin Hati and Baylan Skoll's lightsaber blades in Ahsoka. To Filoni, the color signals to the audience that Hati and Skoll are not characters who fulfill the same narrative role as the Sith.[100] As established by the novel Master & Apprentice, a lightsaber with a kohlen crystal inside also produced an orange blade, but with an intensity that made it mostly useless against anything other than a specialized type of shield which was also powered by a kohlen crystal.[54]

Choreography[]

Theed duel stunts 1

Ray Park practices dueling with the stunt doubles of Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor.

While the usage of lightsabers was originally inspired by rapiers featured in the old serials George Lucas enjoyed, the final choreography in A New Hope looked nothing like fencing. As Jedi and their Sith counterparts were heavily inspired by samurai, the fighting styles utilized were based more on kendo.[101] The slower, more strength-oriented moves of kendo used in the Obi-Wan/Vader duel also helped mesh with Lucas' concept that it was a battle between what were essentially two old men.[83]

During the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas began ramping up the speed of the duels, making them "faster and more intense," the idea being that Luke Skywalker was becoming increasingly proficient with the weapon.[83] Also, rather than utilize David Prowse, the actor within the Darth Vader costume, for the duels, they instead had professional swordsman Bob Anderson perform the fights, due to Prowse's tendency to repeatedly break the fragile prop blades. Anderson continued to serve as Prowse's fighting double during the filming of Return of the Jedi.

When filming began for The Phantom Menace, the new stunt coordinator Nick Gillard ramped up the speed and agility the characters demonstrated in lightsaber duels, the idea being that the prequels took place when the Jedi Order was in "full flower," at least in terms of combat techniques.[83] Gillard was careful to avoid giving the fight scenes a choreographed look, drawing upon his extensive knowledge of martial arts to create the moves.[102] The end result was a very fast-paced style of fighting, which he described as being like a chess game between grand masters, with every move being a check. This style of choreography was continued on throughout the prequel trilogy.[102]

AOTC-McGregortraining

Ewan McGregor practices lightsaber combat with Nick Gillard.

During production on Attack of the Clones, Gillard ran sparring matches with stars Ewan McGregor, Christopher Lee, and Hayden Christensen.[103] One practice drill between McGregor and Gillard was captured in a photo later uploaded to StarWars.com under the name "Spar Wars."[104] It was during some of Gillard's training sessions with the actors that he was approached by animation director Rob Coleman for helping in figuring out Yoda's fighting style: in the script Coleman was given, all it said about Yoda and Dooku's duel was that it would "[defy] description." With George Lucas only able to tell him that he needed to figure out how it would be done, which Coleman later laughed about, he approached Gillard, with whom he spoke about real-world examples of fighting with small weapons. Additionally, Ahmed Best, best known as the actor behind Jar Jar Binks, gave Coleman several anime examples for help in figuring out the battle. Ultimately, he figured out Yoda's speed and style upon watching a scene in the film Swordsman II.[103]

Yoda pulling back his cloak to retrieve his lightsaber came at Lucas's request as it called to mind images of a gunslinger retrieving their pistol. Lucas and Coleman were both very happy with the finalized duel between Yoda and Dooku, with Lucas in specific approving of the way Yoda jumped around because it was what he wanted. Coleman was nervous such actions would be seen as "too cartoony." When the screening he attended lit up with excitement at Yoda's fighting style, Coleman was relieved.[103]

Star Wars: Visions[]

In the alternate history of "The Duel" and Ronin: A Visions Novel,[105] Kouru wielded a lightsaber parasol—a lightsaber that used a lightsaber auxiliary to produce multiple blades that sprung up from its sides like a parasol, which could also be used without the parasol auxiliary as a single-bladed lightsaber.[106]

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