Behind the scenes photos from The Shining, Goodfellas, Edward Scissorhands, Empire Strikes Back, The Great Gatsby & Indiana Jones. Jack Nicholson goofing around on the set of “The Shining” Robert DeNiro & Joe Pesci filming the Billy Batts bar beating scene from “Goodfellas” Tim Burton filming Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder on the set of […]
Luke confronts a phantasm of Darth Vader… and his own Shadow.
I would argue the best Star Wars movie is The Empire Strikes Back (1980). And one of the reasons is because it trafficked in the some of the most interesting ideas in the SW saga, in particular the relationship of Luke Skywalker to the “dark side” of the Force.
This scene occurs on Dagobah, where Luke has been in training with aged Jedi master Yoda, learning the ways of the Force, and signifies a major turning point for young Luke — as he is forced to confront his own shadow self. It’s a scene thick with metaphorical and symbolic import, and I feel confident in saying that Carl Jung himself would have been proud of it.
EXT. DAGOBAH — DAY
With Yoda strapped to his back, Luke climbs up one of the many thick vines that grow in the swamp. Panting heavily, he continues his course – climbing, flipping through the air, jumping over roots, and racing in and out of the heavy ground fog.
YODA Run! Yes. A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger… fear… aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.
LUKE Vader. Is the dark side stronger?
YODA No… no… no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
LUKE But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
YODA You will know. When you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.
LUKE But tell me why I can’t…
YODA (interrupting) No, no, there is no why. Nothing more will I teach you today. Clear your mind of questions. Mmm. Mmmmmmmm.
Artoo beeps in the distance as Luke lets Yoda down to the ground. Breathing heavily, he takes his shirt from a nearby tree branch and pulls it on.
He turns to see a huge, dead, black tree, its base surrounded by a few feet of water. Giant, twisted roots form a dark and sinister cave on one side. Luke stares at the tree, trembling.
LUKE There’s something not right here.
Yoda sits on a large root, poking his Gimer Stick into the dirt.
LUKE I feel cold, death.
YODA That place… is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.
LUKE What’s in there?
YODA Only what you take with you.
Luke looks warily between the tree and Yoda. He starts to strap on his weapon belt.
YODA Your weapons… you will not need them.
Luke gives the tree a long look, than shakes his head “no.” Yoda shrugs. Luke reaches up to brush aside some hanging vines and enters the tree.
INT. DAGOBAH — TREE CAVE
Luke moves into the almost total darkness of the wet and slimy cave. The youth can barely make out the edge of the passage. Holding his lit saber before him, he sees a lizard crawling up the side of the cave and a snake wrapped around the branches of a tree. Luke draws a deep breath, then pushes deeper into the cave.
The space widens around him, but he feels that rather than sees it. His sword casts the only light as he peers into the darkness. It is very quiet here.
Then, a loud HISS! Darth Vader appears across the blackness, illuminated by his own just-ignited laser sword. Immediately, he charges Luke, saber held high. He is upon the youth in seconds, but Luke sidesteps perfectly and slashes at Vader with his sword.
Vader is decapitated. His helmet-encased head flies from his shoulders as his body disappears into the darkness. The metallic banging of the helmet fills the cave as Vader’s head spins and bounces, smashes on the floor, and finally stops. For an instant it rests on the floor, then it cracks vertically. The black helmet and breath mask fall away to reveal… Luke’s head.
Across the space, the standing Luke gasps at the sight, wide-eyed in terror.