The Opening Scenes in ‘Star Wars’; Ranked from Worst to Best

One of the most iconic creations in film history is the opening crawl in Star Wars. Those giant yellow words moving ever so slowly up the screen is one of the most magical ways to start a film and it always makes me so happy whenever I see the crawl paired with the iconic Star Wars theme. When I watched The Last Jedi for the first time I nearly broke into tears when the opening crawl came on because it was that exciting.

The second most magical thing about the beginning of Star Wars movies, however, is that after the words disappear the movie always starts in space. And there have been so many different scenarios in the way the nine films have started and that’s where this post comes in. I’m going to talk about the nine opening scenes from Episode I all the way to the most recent installment, Episode VIII, and I am going to tell you which beginnings I like the least and the most. Enjoy!

9. Return of the Jedi

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Return of the Jedi’s opening scene is my least favorite because it’s kind of boring. The first thing you see as the camera moves downward is the uncompleted second Death Star and as the camera stays on the massive orb of destruction a Star Destroyer comes into view which releases a shuttle with Darth Vader aboard. Anything that has to do with Darth Vader is interesting but while the beginning of Episode VI is enjoyable the eight other movies have much more enjoyable beginnings.

8. The Phantom Menace

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The Phantom Menace has one of the more interesting intros with the Republic ship heading to the Trade Federation which is trying to take over Naboo’s government. Aboard that Republic ship are the two rogue Jedi, Qui-Gon Jin and his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi which is always cool because who doesn’t love Jedi? I have to say though, while this opening scene is enjoyable it falls well under the awesomeness of the other films’ beginnings.

7. A New Hope

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I can’t imagine how incredible it was for viewers seeing Star Wars for the first time and seeing this massive Star Destroyer come into view on the screen chasing Princess Leia’s ship, the Tantative IV in the orbit of the desert planet Tatooine. That’s a pretty epic way to start a movie. It’s definitely one of the greatest beginnings in Star Wars and the only reason it’s not higher on the list is because it’s against some pretty stiff competition. This is still a great opening scene though.

6. Rogue One

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Rogue One was the first Star Wars movie to not have an opening crawl and while that was a controversial decision I loved it because it made the first Star Wars story stand out amidst its, at the time, seven predecessors. And it was a great opening scene. I remember when I saw it for the first time I was simply stunned by the beauty of the cinematography. Seeing Krennic’s shuttle traverse the ring surrounding the planet, Lah’mu, and then flying over the black shoreline was simply magical to look at. It’s clearly one of the most stunning beginnings and I love it.

5. The Empire Strikes Back

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I absolutely love the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. The music is austere and magical in that John Williams way, the Star Destroyer releases its probe droids into the far reaches of space, and it moves to the icy world of Hoth where our rebellion heroes are located. Whenever I watch the beginning of Episode V I am always surprised at how beautiful a movie it is even though it came out in 1980. The special effects are sometimes better than movies today and that is simply incredible.

4. Revenge of the Sith

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Revenge of the Sith has one of my favorite beginnings because it’s just awesome. It’s one of the only beginnings to start with a major space battle and while the prequel trilogies mostly get a bad wrap this opening scene is so enjoyable. I love seeing Anakin and Obi-Wan going to handle business in their Jedi ships and it’s a really amazing opening scene. It definitely deserves to be in the top five.

3. The Force Awakens

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I remember seeing The Force Awakens opening for the first time. It had been ten years since a Star Wars movie had come out and thirty years since a Star Wars film with the classic characters, Han, Leia, and Luke had graced the big screen. It was a special moment watching the opening crawl fade away and seeing the planet, Jakku, come into view followed by the completely black silhouette of the Finalizer covering the planet. That opening scene immediately drew me in and told me instantly that I was going to love this film. And that is why this is my third favorite opening scene.

2. Attack of the Clones

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Attack of the Clones is the only Star Wars movie where the camera, after the opening crawl, moves upwards and that’s why I love this opening scene so much. When I was a child it was always disorienting watching the beginning because the way it showed Senator Amidala’s ship coming into Coruscant’s orbit. And then seeing the Naboo Royal Cruiser disappear into the thick layer of white clouds always used to leave me in silent awe. Attack of the Clones might be my least favorite Star Wars film but if the movie had been like its opening scene this movie would have been off the chain!

1. The Last Jedi

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The Last Jedi started with an immediate bang as the camera zoomed down towards the surface of the rebellion hideout, D’Qar, past the fleeing Resistance ships and towards the evacuating rebel base. And then the First Order appearing out of hyperspace is such an epic moment. Especially with the massive Dreadnought leading the charge with its impressive guns.

This is my favorite opening scene because the action is utterly stellar and truly sets the seriously dire tone of this film.

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And who doesn’t want to see Poe take on the Dreadnought by himself? EPIC! This was the perfect way to start The Last Jedi and that’s why it has become my favorite opening scene out of all of the nine Star Wars films.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day. May the Force Be With You.

 

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