Why did Anakin lose against Obi-Wan in "Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith"?

  • In the climactic scene, where Obi-Wan and Anakin are dueling with their light-sabres across a wide range of platforms (moving rafts, on precarious ledges etc) without the slightest awkwardness - why is it that when Obi-Wan got a slightly higher ground than Anakin (and even explicitly pointed this out), did Anakin lose the fight so spectacularly?

    Anakin could have

    • Walked/run up the incline
    • Used his Jedi powers to engage Obi-Wan at a distance
    • Do a host of other things, instead of leaping in a way that would make him a sitting duck

    I'm just curious: having a "high ground" generally makes for an advantage for "normal" battles involving projectiles (an arrow fired with the same force would cover more distance from a higher position to a lower position, than vice-versa), where participants are subject to laws of physics. Is this not the same with Jedi battles?

    It'd be nice to know if there is an explanation that fits within the scope of the story.

    My impression was that Anakin was enraged, and, furthermore, blinded by his fury. That, added to his thinking himself invincible and unstoppable (because of his new powers and his newly-committed crimes), would have probably led him to make some pretty stupid mistakes. Now add his undeniable arrogance to that...

    Oh was that fury? The awesome acting and dialogue made it hard to tell.

    I'm not an expert, but I did take fencing for a while in college. If there were a hill, I'd rather be on lower ground. It's easier to parry a blow coming down than one coming up. The lower person will find it easier to hit the feet or lower legs of the higher up person. Picture a sword duel with a man on a horse and the other one is knocked off his horse -- the one on the ground parries blows that he can easily reach and block, but the mounted one has to reach down and parry blows toward his legs or lower feet with the end of his blade more than the part closer to the hilt.

    Because if he'd won, that would be the weirdest ending ever.

    Focused, Anakin was not.

    @Tango It's really difficult to compare fencing with lightsabers. Higher ground is good because it enables your strikes to be more powerful (gravity advantage). That's obvious with heavy weapons. I agree that with lightsabers this advantage is questionable. The move (jump) Vader did in the movie is silly to begin with - it made him defenseless until landing, giving Obi-Wan lots of time to kill him. Higher or lower ground have no meaning if one of the fighters decides to make silly moves.

    @Sulthan: I agree dumb moves negate any other issues, but as for the higher ground issue, the points I made were gravity independent. If any blade is coming at your ankles, you'll have to either use the end of your blade to counter it (which is a disadvantage due to leverage), or you'll have to bend or squat to get a better advantage, which takes time that one doesn't have in a fight like that. But if a blow is coming toward your head or upper body, it's much easier to counter it and the force (no pun intended) behind it than to counter the force directed at one's ankles or knees.

    This question appears to be attracting quite a lot of low-value answers. I've locked it to prevent more being added.

    The Art of War: '26. Therefore, the art of employing troops is that when the enemy occupies high ground, do not confront him; with his back resting on hills, do not oppose him.'

    In fencing you've got light weapons designed to inflict precise blows with little effort. With bigger weapons you can't so easily brush a flurry of blows aside or use leverage to initiate your swings. In the movie, I don't think it made sense for Anakin to run up either. What would he do? Alight onto the lava bank, catch his balance, and then spring forward? Obi Wan's not going to give him the chance for that. Jedi use the force to move faster. Anakin would have lava behind him while off balance. He had to jump through. That it looked dumb is because every option was dumb like Obi suggested.

  • DavRob60

    DavRob60 Correct answer

    9 years ago

    First, Obi-wan’s lightsaber style was a highly defensive one, Soresu (Form III).

    Form III focused on strong defensive technique to essentially outlast an opponent, waiting until he began making mistakes due to frustration or fatigue, before taking advantage of these lapses and countering. A master of Soresu was considered invincible, and the focus on long-term survival allowed such duelists to take stock of and control of their situation, choosing to kill, disarm, or even reason with enemies.

    And he not only used it, he mastered it :

    Even masters such as Mace Windu acknowledged Kenobi’s prowess with this form; indeed Windu once claimed that Kenobi was not a master of Soresu but the master of Soresu.

    That is exactly what happened in the Duel on Mustafar. Kenobi was trying to reason with his old friend. He used the terrain to put himself in a situation where he could negotiate with him, but Vader was too angry to even think about it. All he wanted was to kill him and show him the extent and superiority of his new powers. He threatened Kenobi’s life with his last move, so Obi-Wan chose to use this mistake to disarm him completely:

    Perched on a rise above the lava river, Kenobi warned Vader not to attack, but the Sith Lord ignored him, blinded by arrogance and rage. As Vader leapt at Kenobi, blade angled for the kill, he left himself open, allowing Kenobi to execute a vicious Mou kei finishing move, dismembering Vader with one swift strike. Vader’s left arm and both of his legs were severed. Dropping his lightsaber, Vader rolled to the brink of the lava river.

    I think Anakin's line was "You Underestimate my Powers" or something like that. He honestly thought he could jump that high/far.

    I used to think that Obi-Wan was goading him into making a mistake, but this is an excellent explanation.

    none of this is apparent in the movie at all. The fighting style isn't mentioned, and it's not like Obi-Wan was ever depicted as a "tire them down and win" fighter. it doesn't even make sense - just one minute earlier anakin had jumped over obi-wan when they were on the lave-love-boat thing, and nobody ended up dead. anakin could have just ridden the lava-love-boat down a bit and taken up a similarly high ground himself.

    I keep forgetting his legs got taken off too..

    @anthony-arnold To be fair, a less-powerful (I'm assuming Anakin during the duel of Episode III is more powerful in the Force than Obi-wan was during the duel of Episode I) Obi-wan Kenobi jumped farther (higher) in The Phantom Menace when he and Qui-Gon were fighting Darth Maul.

    what Vader exactly wanted to say was - "Respect my authoritah !!!" and swoosh.. chop chop..

    Some of this actually is apparent in the movie -- namely Obi Wan's specialization in a defensive fighting style. If you rewatch the whole fight you can see that even though their force powers are roughly equal (they try to force push each other and break even), Obi Wan is consistently retreating defensively. It's because he has a defensive style while Anakin is using an aggressive style (think it's form 5 in the expanded universe). That Obi Wan was the best at that style wasn't *entirely* clear, although the fact he went toe to toe with Anakin leaves only few other conclusions.

    is this deduction based solely on the movie or are you using some other resource to deduce this?

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM