Leave a Comment
In a Prequel Trilogy full of quotable and meme-able lines and moments, this one might be the most iconic. In one corner, you have Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One with a midichlorian count over 20,000. In the other corner, you have Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is on a slightly elevated bit of terrain. It’s a brilliant piece of cinematic history, and now we finally know the origin of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’s infamous ‘high ground’ line.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith stunt coordinator and fight choreographer Nick Gillard told IGN that he and star Hayden Christensen used to live near each other in Australia during production on the film. So they would hang out together and their proximity provided the inspiration for the conclusion of the climactic duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Nick Gillard recalled:
We would eat in this restaurant every night that was up a hill. You could walk up the road and down to this restaurant, or you could walk across a steep bank to it. For me, I always want the most direct route so I'm going for the bank, and [Hayden] hates walking on a slope, so that was in my mind about the higher ground. If I can get [Anakin] on the slope, Obi might have a chance.
To borrow from another outer space franchise, big things have small beginnings, and this is quite the humble origin for one of the most famous, or infamous, lines in all of Star Wars. Obi-Wan’s high ground victory and corresponding line is apparently not the product of George Lucas’ vision or some tenet of lightsaber combat, but simply the result of Hayden Christensen not liking to walk up a steep slope.
Sand may be course, rough, irritating and get everywhere, but let me tell you about slopes: they’re high, tiring and make your legs hurt. Yes, apparently Nick Gillard and Hayden Christensen would walk to a restaurant every night while filming Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and there were two ways to get there.
One way, the slower way, required walking up and down the road. However, the more direct path required walking up a steep bank. Contrary to his character’s lack of patience and insistence upon having everything he wants immediately, Hayden Christensen preferred to take the scenic route. His stunt coordinator did not feel that way though and took the star via the slope, and apparently everyone knows that Hayden Christensen hates walking on slopes.
This gave Nick Gillard the idea that Hayden Christensen’s Achilles’ heel could also be Anakin’s. So the fight choreographer incorporated this meta aspect into the film, practically taunting his restaurant companion with Obi-Wan’s “It’s over Anakin, I have the high ground.” It also served as a way for Obi-Wan Kenobi to win the battle against Anakin Skywalker.
That’s the thing too. The film had to find a way to justify Obi-Wan defeating Anakin, who is far more powerful and more skilled with a lightsaber. Obi-Wan trained Anakin and knew his style, so he was able to hold his own, but he would have eventually been outmatched had he not found a tactical advantage that he could use to exploit Anakin’s hubris, thereby chopping off his legs and leaving him to burn.