Sunday, 13 December 2015


SPOILER ALERT! Despite making the most of the skills taught him by Master Yoda on Dagobah, the power of the Dark Side and Darth Vader's immense and aggressive fighting prowess proves too much for Luke Skywalker, losing his hand and his father's lightsaber during the climactic duel within the depths of Cloud City.

Leia receives the lightsaber from Maz Kanata.

Thirty-five years on, with THE FORCE AWAKENS, that lost now found lightsaber will prove to be an all-important plot point in the film, linked to the deliberately enigmatic question of where Luke Skywalker has disappeared to. In a recent interview, Kathleen Kennedy has revealed that there will be a flashback, or Forceback, in the movie, presumably showing us what happened to Luke after the events of JEDI, how his lightsaber was discovered and made its way across the universe to a unique destination and "home", and how the fearsome Knights of Ren, seen so ominously in the trailer, have come into being. We're also assuming that this Forceback is initiated via the mysterious powers of the diminutive Maz Kanata, and possibly linked to the awakening of Rey's potential powers as a Jedi-to-be.

Fans of the lightsaber, and the epic battles over the years shown on screen and superbly choreographed off of it, will be thrilled with the upcoming US ESPN channel's upcoming documentary on the subject, hosted by no one better than Mark Hamill, who studied the art of Kendo used primarily within the lightsabers duels of the Classic Trilogy, now being resurrected for EPISODE VII.

Aided by Luke Skywalker, ESPN produces a Star Wars project that's a labor of love - ESPN Front Row

Here's the additional US press blurb:

Mark Hamill holds the lightsaber. Image: ESPN.

Examining the sport and athleticism behind the choreography and training utilized in the making of Star Wars lightsaber duels, Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel, hosted by Mark Hamill, will air Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The documentary will precede the Friday, Dec. 18, launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in U.S. theaters.

“Lightsaber duels from the Star Wars films are some of cinema’s most recognized battles and an iconic part of the most popular movie franchise of all time,” said Craig Lazarus, ESPN vice president, SportsCenter & News, Storytelling Units.

“We will take viewers on a unique journey that examines the connection of these duels to sports and their evolution, from the original trilogy through the prequels, and now to Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” said Lazarus. “Viewers will see the transition from fencing and samurai swordplay in the original films to an increased focus on martial arts and the sport of kendo.”

For the documentary, ESPN traveled to the 2015 Kendo World Championships in Japan to gather interviews and information to explain the genesis of kendo and how it applies to Star Wars lightsaber duels. Hamill, who reprises his role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, lived in Japan for his last two years of high school and is very familiar with kendo.

“I really feel that kendo has informed so much of what we have done in the films it is about time that it gets some long-overdue recognition,” Hamill said.

Mark films his special introduction.

"What people don’t realize is how much goes into what appears to be just minutes on the screen,” Hamill said. “The elaborate choreography for the actual fight is done on several different sets over a period of weeks and then it is edited down to what you see on the screens, so I am happy people are able to see the amount of work that goes into it.”

The program also will include behind-the-scenes video of actor John Boyega, who plays Finn in the new film, as he trains for a lightsaber battle scene. Boyega is interviewed for the program as is his kendo trainer, Paul Vincent.

SC Featured also traveled to England to interview actor Ian McDiarmid, who portrayed Emperor Palpatine in previous Star Wars films and Nick Gillard, kendo expert and former Star Wars stunt man and choreographer.

New interviews with film director/producer J.J. Abrams and Jonathan W. Rinzler, Lucasfilm historian, are also part of the documentary along with rare, behind-the-scenes footage from the Lucasfilm archive.

On Oct. 19, the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted during halftime of ESPN’s Monday Night Football game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, with tickets for the movie going on sale immediately afterward. 


Lucasfilm and visionary director J.J. Abrams join forces to take you back again to a galaxy far, far away as Star Wars returns to the big screen with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The film stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt. 

Darth Maul himself makes a special appearance, talking about the duels of EPISODE I.

UPDATE (18/12/15)

The ESPN documentary Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel that premiered on Tuesday, Dec. 15, will re-air at the following times on ESPN networks:

Re-Airs for Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel
(all times Eastern)

ESPN2                   Thu 12/17/2015           1:30 a.m.
ESPN                     Thu 12/17/2015          10:30 p.m.
ESPN2                   Thu 12/17/2015            5:00 a.m.
ESPN2                   Thu 12/17/2015          11:30 p.m.
ESPN2                   Fri 12/18/2015             Midnight
ESPN2                   Sat 12/19/2015             2:30 a.m.
ESPNEWS            Sat 12/19/2015           10:00 a.m.
ESPN                     Sun 12/20/2015            2:00 p.m.
ESPNEWS            Sun 12/20/2015            3:30 p.m.
ESPNEWS            Sun 12/20/2015            7:30 p.m.

No comments: