The Rescue on Death Star I was a pivotal event leading directly to the Battle of Yavin. It occurred when Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2, aboard the Millennium Falcon, rescued Princess Leia Organa from the first Death Star. It also featured the (second) lightsaber duel of erstwhile master and apprentice, Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, in which Kenobi was killed.
In order to destroy the ultimate weapon of the Empire, the Death Star, the Alliance to Restore the Republic, launched Operation Skyhook, an operation to steal the plans of the Imperial battle station to find out its weakness and to ultimately destroy it.
Princess Leia gained possession of the stolen schematics and was forced to flee to the desert planet of Tatooine onboard her diplomatic ship, the Tantive IV, pursued by the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Devastator. When her ship was boarded by Imperial stormtroopers and Darth Vader, Leia stored the plans into the memory of the astromech droid R2-D2. Together with the protocol droid C-3PO, the two droids escaped the ship in an escape pod and crash-landed on Tatooine.
The droids were recovered by Jawa scavengers, and they were eventually bought by Luke Skywalker's uncle, Owen Lars. While cleaning Artoo, Luke came across a holographic recording of the Princess, saying: "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope." The message led Luke to meet the former Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was then going by the name "Ben Kenobi."
Passage to Alderaan
- "You must learn the ways of the Force if you’re to come with me to Alderaan."
- ―Ben Kenobi to Luke Skywalker
Luke and Ben headed into a cantina to look for a pilot to transport them to Alderaan. Ben managed to strike a deal with Han Solo, a smuggler, and his Wookiee first mate, Chewbacca to fly them to Alderaan for 17,000 credits: 2,000 in advance and 15,000 on arrival.
Luke and Kenobi were whisked off Tatooine. Solo and Chewbacca, on the Millennium Falcon, escaped an Imperial blockade by jumping into hyperspace.
Arrival on the Death Star
- "That's no moon! It's a space station!"
- ―Ben Kenobi
Upon arriving at the location of Alderaan, they discovered that there was nothing to be found but an asteroid field; the planet itself had been destroyed by the Death Star's superlaser. While trying to understand what had happened, they spotted a lone TIE/ln starfighter, which appeared to be heading towards a small moon. They followed it, but realized that it was not really a moon; it was an enormous space station. Moments later, they were pulled into a hangar bay by its powerful tractor beam.
The rescue of Princess Leia
- "This is some rescue!"
- ―Princess Leia
Han and Luke, disguised as stormtroopers, along with Chewbacca proceeded to take over the hangar's control room, killing several officers in the process. Once inside Kenobi instructed Artoo to log into the Imperial network to locate the tractor beam's power supply. From here Kenobi left to switch off the tractor beam controls, leaving the others to wait in the control room. However it was not long before Artoo discovered that Princess Leia was being held prisoner onboard. With some coaxing, as well as the offer of a generous reward, Luke managed to convince Han to participate in a rescue attempt.
Leaving the Droids in the control room, Luke and Han made their way to Detention Block AA-23. When one of the officers got suspicious of the two "troopers", Luke, Han and Chewie had no choice but to blast their way through. After killing the guards, Han, using his Imperial training, quickly located the Princess's cell. Luke went to retrieve her while Han stayed to stall on the intercom with a story of a "reactor leak," until the operator asked for his identification number. Not knowing the identification number of the slain officer, and realizing his cover was blown, Han blasted the consol and yelled for Luke to hurry, while he and Chewie prepared defensive positions. Luke soon found Leia and let her out of her cell. At about the same time a team of stormtroopers breached the door to the cellblock, only to be cut down by Han and Chewie as they made their way through the narrow opening one-by-one. The advantage was not to last and soon the duo was overwhelmed by sheer numbers and forced to fall back to Leia's cell. Unfortunately, neither Luke nor Han thought of an escape plan, and over the comlink were informed by Threepio (who, with Artoo, had posed as Imperial droids in order to relocate back to the hangar bay) that their was no way out, save the main entrance. As troopers started pouring into the hallway and pining them down with blaster fire, Princess Leia took charge and blasted through a ventilation shaft to garbage compactor 3263827.
Once inside Luke tried to blast open the door with his rifle, only to find it was magnetically sealed. Han, the last to arrive, tried the same approach, unaware of Luke's previous attempt, only to make the same discovery. Luke was then pulled into the water by a dianoga that was living inside the compactor and feeding off garbage; Han managed to shoot it to save him, though not before Luke lost the comlink. No sooner had Luke been rescued than the compression cycle began and the walls started to close in on them, a last attempt by the stormtroopers to prevent the prisoners escape. Luke desperately searched for the missing comlink as the others tried to climb out or halt the cycle. Finding the missing comlink, Luke called for Threepio's help and just before they were crushed, Artoo managed to stop the cycle.
After escaping the trash compactor, Luke and Han shed their stormtrooper armor, though not before appropriating the utility belts, and they set off for the Millennium Falcon. Before long the group encountered a stormtrooper patrol that had been searching for them. Taking the initiative, Han and Chewie attacked aggressively, forcing the patrol to retreat to another hangar bay where reinforcements were waiting. Overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, they were forced to retreat. Meanwhile, Luke escorted Leia on an alternate route to the hangar bay. Before long they encountered another patrol and were forced to take cover behind a blast door. Seeing no lock, Luke blasted the controls, only to discover that these were also the bridge controls, and, much to their dismay, stranding them on a ledge above a deep chasm. With it only being a matter of time before the stormtrooper patrol breached the door, and with other troopers firing from nearby ledges, Leia provided covering fire while Luke prepared a grappling hook to swing across the chasm, though not before receiving a good luck kiss from Leia. The groups eventually rendezvoused in a corridor above the hangar and, seeing the guards were already distracted, made their way to the Falcon along with the droids, but not before Luke noticed the source of the distraction, a lightsaber duel between Ben and Vader.
Duel with the Dark Lord
- "You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
- ―Ben Kenobi to Darth Vader
Meanwhile, after shutting down the tractor beam, Kenobi made his way back to the Falcon. However, just before reaching the hangar, he found himself faced by his former apprentice. Vader stood at the end of the hall, lightsaber already ablaze and awaiting Kenobi. When Kenobi ignited his own weapon, Vader advanced on him, raising his weapon to attack. As Kenobi matched his pose, Vader stated that he had been waiting for him, and arrogantly asserted his own superior power; Now I am the Master.
Kenobi retorted that Vader was nought but a master of evil, taunting the Dark Lord with his Sith title. With that, Kenobi attacked. Vader took the blow and riposted, speeding up his timing, forcing Kenobi to retreat. As they fought, Vader reflected that Kenobi still had some skill, but was out of practice. Kenobi twirled and blocked a slash, weaving a defensive pattern with his blade. While Kenobi was still able to anticipate Vader's attacks and defend himself, he was still weakening. Vader sensed this and taunted the Jedi Master.
Kenobi cryptically responded that Vader couldn't win, as striking him down would only make Kenobi more powerful than he could possibly imagine. Vader saw this statement as a taunt but refused to be baited. Kenobi lunged again, but Vader was ready, bringing them into a momentary bladelock. Vader shoved hard, breaking the lock and forced Kenobi to pull back. Vader angled his blade up and stated that Kenobi shouldn't have come back. After another exchange, Kenobi was obviously tiring, and began backing away.
Vader forced Kenobi past the entrance to the hangar and began to chivvy him into the wall. Just as Vader was about to deliver a finishing strike, Kenobi unleashed a sudden flurry of attacks that forced Vader to pull back. As they rapidly circled, the stormtroopers in the hangar became aware of their battle and moved in the cover the entrance to the hangar. Kenobi, trapped with Vader on one side and stormtroopers on the other, risked a glance into the hangar, where he saw that his companions had reached the ship. Turning to Vader, he did the last thing the Sith Lord would have expected; he smiled and raised his lightsaber so the tip pointed straight up, lowering his guard. This was so totally unexpected that Vader stood for an instant in shock. However, not caring if it were a trap of some sort and believing Kenobi too slow to execute it if it were, Vader cut hard at Kenobi's neck  but just as Vader struck, Kenobi vanished, becoming one with the force.
- "Run, Luke, run."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi's disembodied voice urging Luke to flee.
Luke, shocked and distraught by the death of his mentor, cried out in grief. The troopers, hearing the cry, turned and spotted them and started a firefight. As the battle began, a shocked Vader inspected Kenobi's 'corpse' only to find the robes Kenobi had worn piled in a heap, as his body had vanished. As Luke, despite his shock at seeing Obi-Wan slain, was able to took out some of the troopers, a somewhat frightened Darth Vader turned to the hangar. Seeing this, Luke was quick to lock out Vader by shooting the blast door's controls. The disembodied voice of Ben Kenobi urged Luke to board the Falcon and escape. Fortunately Ben had managed to disable the tractor beam, allowing the Falcon to blast off for space.
As they escaped, the Falcon encountered four TIE fighters on patrol. Despite Luke's grief, he and Han were able to destroy the pursuing TIE fighters and finally escape to Yavin 4. While Han congratulated himself on his martial prowess, Leia asserted that it was a ruse and that they were allowed to escape. However, the rescuers did not know that the Empire had secretly stored a homing droid aboard their ship, which gave the Empire information on the destination of the Falcon, Yavin 4. R2-D2 later destroyed it.
The Millennium Falcon delivered the plans of the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance at Yavin 4. Having found a weakness in the space station, the Rebels launched an attack on the Death Star, which was destroyed by Luke Skywalker on an X-wing using a proton torpedo.
Behind the scenes
This was the first lightsaber duel to be shown in the movies, but it was actually the second (and final) duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. Their first duel was the Duel on Mustafar in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Also, the lightsaber duel in this movie is slower than the others because at the time lightsabers were supposed to be heavy and required a lot of energy to move the blade. But as more movies were made, George Lucas wanted the fights to be "faster and more intense!"
This is the only Star Wars film where a major character wielding a blue lightsaber dies as a result of a lightsaber duel. The only other film in which a minor character wielding a blue lightsaber is killed in a duel is when Agen Kolar is cut down by Palpatine in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
To gain access to Princess Leia's holding cell, Luke and Han pretend to be stormtroopers and hold Chewbacca "prisoner." They told the cell block commander they were transferring him from detention block 1138. This is a reference to George Lucas's first film, THX 1138.
This is the only film in the series where David Prowse did the lightsaber fighting on his own; he was doubled in the sequels because he kept breaking the poles that stood in for the blades. This switch might explain why Vader pivots on his feet in this film, but not in the others.
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- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
- Star Wars 3: Death Star
- Star Wars 4: In Battle with Darth Vader
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
- The Return of Ben Kenobi (Mentioned only)
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- The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader (Appears in flashback(s))
- Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
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