There are few scenes in the Star Wars saga more pivotal than that of the duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. It was a scene that fans had waited decades to see, the key piece of Skywalker’s transformation into the fearsome Darth Vader. In-universe the sense of tragedy is palpable as a friendship ends and the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. It’s a huge moment in the Skywalker story, and the maestro John Williams delivers a suitably epic score.
What I love the most about Anakin vs Obi-Wan, besides the marching re-contextualising of the Battle of the Heroes theme, is how the tension builds and breaks into a full, lush rendition of the Imperial March. Williams understands how to tell stories as well as Lucas, and the sweep of Darth Vader’s theme underscores the raw power of Skywalker.
We all know it doesn’t last. Kenobi gains the high ground and the rest is history (at least from a certain point of view). But in that moment we get a taste of the uninhibited power of Darth Vader, and that’s in large part due to the incredible work of John Williams.