CT Why is the "I am your father scene" so DAMN POWERFUL TODAY despite being cliched?

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by Barkey Foreman, Mar 10, 2014.

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  1. Barkey Foreman Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2014
    The "I am your father" revelation Darth Vader gave to Luke to this day still impacts viewers TREMENDOUSLY. Even newbies who started with the prequels first and know the story of Anakin before he became Vader admit the scene is so emotionally impacting despite the FACT THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT due to Episode 3's ending.

    I recently watched Star Wars classic just before Christmas and I am just amazed at how ******* goddamn much I shuddered. DESPITE THIS REWATCH being like my 6th one. Granted its been nearly 10 years since I watched any of the original Star Wars movies but I am just amazed how emotionally I was touched as though I was witnessing the scene when Empire Strikes back was first airing in theaters and before "I am your father" became an overused cliched that is parodied today. And I was born like 20 years after Star Wars's original theatrical release!

    What is exactly about this scene that makes it so powerful? Like I stated people who watch the original tirrogy who know what to expect state being more impacted than they expected.I know Star Wars isn't even the first work in Sci Fi to use this archetypical plot but Star Wars shocks people with this revelation everytime like no other work before it in Sci Fi.

    Any fan who is also into other Sci Fi can you comment of what makes the SW execution unique compared to other Sci Fi plots use of it?
    Last edited by Barkey Foreman, Mar 10, 2014
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  2. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    I find you perceptions very interesting. However, I don't agree with them. Why is it so impacting? Probably several reasons. To truly know what they are you'd have to ask individual viewers/fans.
  3. BigAl6ft6 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2012
    star 5
    The delivery of James Earl Jones is great, it's kind of almost sympathetic yet evil and he actually grows in evilness as the bit goes on compared to how relatively soft he delivers the "I am your father" bit. Even though David Prowse wasn't delivering those lines his body-acting actually works. Hamill's "that just kind of exploded my brain" "Nooooooo" reaction combined with Williams' swelling of the music. It's just a fantastic bit of moviemaking altogether, which is why it works so well.
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  4. grd4 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2013
    It's a salient question, because really, the Father conceit is every bit as hoary and illogical (set against the tidy narrative of ANH) as the much-maligned Sister revelation in the subsequent film. The difference of course lies in the execution. First, the big reveal punctuates a carefully crafted narrative about obsession and self-actualization; the unceasing intimacy allows the viewer to accept and embrace the inevitability of Vader's true identity. Second, the scene itself is exquisitely rendered, a confluence of pitch-perfect performance, score, editing, and operatic sweep.
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  5. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    I think the father revelation was just so incredibly shocking at the time, that even now, watching it for the zillionth time, the magnitude of the revelation still resonates. Every time I watch it I can almost hear the collective gasp in the cinema! Also, as others have said, it's just so well executed. The whole passage from when Luke arrives in Bespin and finds his way to Vader - "You are not a Jedi yet" - through the father revelation and Leia hearing Luke through the force and returning to rescue him is fairly close to perfection IMHO.
  6. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 4
    I think that's most of it, honestly. Virtually any other "I am your father revelation" will have people thinking of this one.

    I also part of it is just that it's such a left turn from the genre throwback we were presented with in ANH - and you can still see that happen even if you know it's coming.
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  7. squir1y Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 1, 2003
    star 2
    It is iconic, but not as shocking as "I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate." Chilling! :p
  8. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    It was a powerful moment, because of the element of surprise. No one had expected Vader to be Luke's dad. It's simple.
  9. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    This. I remember exactly where I was sitting in the theater in 1980 when I first heard those words.

    Next to my own father. Who had had to whisper to me what an "asteroid field" was a few minutes earlier.
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  10. fuzzbox77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 31, 2008
    star 1
    First off we don't expect the hero to suffer. Vader's taunts to Luke grow throughout the duel by dialogue and by his actions. Before we even get to the third part of the duel Vader is more or less telling Luke "Join us or die" as he launches piping, crates etc at Luke. The next part just throws it off balance. Nobody was expecting it in 1980. It left fans and cinema-goers gobsmacked. Was it a lie? Is Vader telling the truth?

    Essentially the dark lords' ploys are to get Luke to conform. Will Luke agree or sacrifice himself yet again.

    Apart from that: the direction, cinematography, the silent performances of Dave Prowse and Bob Anderson, then Mark Hamill's reactions with James Earl Jones' resonating and powerful voice just launch something great into one big jaw dropper. Then the score just sends it into overdrive. It's fantastic!

    Vader's line is one of the most quoted lines in cinema history (despite how many people get it wrong - even big supposed fans).

    Then there was the three year wait to find out if it was a lie...

    THAT is what makes it so enthralling and still makes me shiver when I hear it.
    Last edited by fuzzbox77, Mar 12, 2014
  11. Padawan Fangirl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2013
    star 3
    Well, if it's your first time watching Star Wars(assuming you didn't start with the PT and therefore see it coming), it's not exactly something you see coming. You're not even sure that Vader is human until you see the helmet being put on him as the Imperial officer approaches to speak with him. And you have Vader and the Emperor mention an "Anakin Skywalker". Wait, wasn't that Luke's dad, that Obi-Wan said was killed by Vader? So those two thugs know about the Skywalker line. But why is Vader so obsessed with hunting Luke down? Then you've got the duel in Cloud City. Will Luke survive? Wait, Vader is Luke's father? What?!

    Specifically pertaining to the scene, Jones' voice and Williams' music helps enhance the drama. Hamill isn't that bad here, but I could live without the "NOOOO". So this, with the whole plot, makes for one of the most exciting and dramatic scene in movie history.

    Sent from my stupid little astro droid using TapaTalk 2.
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  12. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    star 4
    I have very mixed feelings about this scene. Jaw-droppingly shocking, expertly executed and probably one of the greatest scenes in cinema history, but also the beginning of the end of the Star Wars which so captured and held my young self's imagination.
  13. Anakin Solo Revanchist Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 9, 2011
    star 4
    That actually didn't show up until much later, I believe in the 2004 special edition? In 1980, the Emperor just mentioned a Luke Skywalker that "could destroy us".

    I think it just came so far out of left field that its reverberations will never fade out completely. It's one of the most iconic moments in movie history. That has a lasting effect. I was raised under the prequels, so I always KNEW that Vader was Luke's father. But even today, that moment still grips me.
  14. SlashMan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2012
    star 3
    My own reasoning? Up until this point, Star Wars is classic good versus evil, and the goals of Luke are clearly established; fight the evil Empire and defeat Vader. But this revelation shakes everything Luke's been fighting for. Suddenly, good and evil aren't as defined, and Luke must consider what all this means. Plus, at the time of its release, there was the possibility that Vader just lied to Luke. Anyways, Prowse and Jones are solid (as always) with their embodiment of evil.
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  15. scooper121s Jedi Master

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    Mar 4, 2014
    star 2
    Great Reasoning Master Jedi
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  16. Darth Eddie Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2013
    star 3
    Wow, only your 6th time re-watching it?

    I'm up to 150 at least and I STILL forget that Vader is Anakin like 5 seconds before that scene every time. Some kind of neurological Pavlovian response I suppose.
  17. Oberst Hans Landa Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 12, 2014
    star 2

    How so?
  18. Iron_lord Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    And the writers of the comic version. Maybe there are a lot of comic readers that remember that one more than the movie.
  19. fuzzbox77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 31, 2008
    star 1
    I don't even think about Anakin being Vader until I get to ROTJ as my Episodes I-III DVD's are literally table coasters. ;-)

    Dude, when you get past 500 times watching it - you know you need help. Get to 800 like I have (watching the trilogy at least once a week for just over two decades) is when you sub-consciously know you need a straight jacket but don't care to admit it. :_|

    God help us all!
    Last edited by fuzzbox77, Mar 13, 2014
  20. Barkey Foreman Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2014
    Good responses from everyone. But I am asking specifically why even people who watched the PT first or know of the Darth Vader line due to pop culture references (such as Austin Power's parody) still get profoundly impacted much in the same way as those who watched the OT decades ago in the 70s. Seeing how cliched it is, this line shouldn't have any effect at all.
  21. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    I think its a bit of a contradiction to ask why it continues to have impact when it's so cliched. If it's cliched, it would cease to have so much impact.

    The reasons for its continued impact have been outlined. It's a brilliantly executed scene in which, even without the element of surprise, the viewer can profoundly empathise with the character's situation. The opening scene of The Godfather in which Bonasera lobbies Don Corleone for assistance and the "you lookin' at me?" scene from Taxi Driver have been referenced and parodied in popular culture for around forty years, but remain as powerful as ever because of their quality.
    Last edited by MOC Yak Face, Mar 13, 2014
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  22. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I'm sure I've seen it that many times but given that it's over a period of more than 30 years, I am still completely sane.

    Shut up. I am. Yoda's voice in my head told me. "Sane you are, but drink wine and avoid spiders you must."
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  23. DarthStymi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2002
    star 3
    It's a very old mythic motif that represents a recognition of some aspect of the self we do not want acknowledge (re: Jung's Shadow Self).

    This is often personified in the father who children tend to idealize. It is the classic father quest that is often resolved in some kind of apotheosis, where, as Joseph Campbell put it, father and son battle for mastery of the universe...to understand the father, and himself, the son must reconcile with this penultimate authority figure.

    For example, the scene is practically identical in The Odyssey when Odysseus reveals his masked self to his son, Telemachus. Telemachus's reaction is not as dramatic, but he has a similar sort of initial rejection to the revelation.
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  24. Darth Eddie Jedi Grand Master

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    May 14, 2013
    star 3
    To be honest, 150 is more like when I stopped counting.
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  25. MOC Yak Face Moderator, Classic Trilogy

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    Well, I think that when Vader is identified as Luke's father, we begin to move away from the story of Luke Skywalker towards the story of Anakin Skywalker, and as more and more layers are added to that story - such as Chosen One prophecies - Luke becomes more and more a bit player in that story. Vader is no longer Luke's nemesis. Also, Yoda and Obiwan are revealed to be somewhat manipulative liars. The universe begins to shrink more and more and if characters aren't related by blood, they're often connected somehow or another. This is not the story that grabbed my attention in the first instance.
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