Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
I'm not sure that anybody can come up with a more quoted, misquoted or over-quoted line from all of Hollywood than Darth Vader’s startling reveal that he was in fact the father of Luke Skywalker.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) boasts many admirable scenes and rightly so. But this dramatic end to the furious lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker remains the most memorable moment from the film.
Up to that moment, Luke’s world was as straightforward as it could be: He, as a gifted Jedi knight, was doing what he could to stop the near-unstoppable dark side, with Darth Vader as the fearsome foe leading the campaign to crush the rebellion. Yes, there was clearly some strange kinship that Luke sensed with his mighty adversary. But up to that fateful reveal, he did not realise how close that connection really was.
As the lightsaber duel ends predictably with Vader leaving his foe without his lightsaber and defenceless, he implores Luke to join forces with him. Together, he tells Luke, they can bring order to the galaxy. Luke – even while holding on precariously to avoid a deep drop down a reactor shaft – remains adamant that he never will. Vader asks Luke if Obi-Wan had told him what happened to his father. Luke bites back that yes, Obi-Wan did tell him that Vader had killed his father. That is when Vader tells him: “No…. I am your father.”
Was this one of Vader’s evil mind games? Luke is first in utter disbelief. But then it only takes a moment for him to realise that yes, the connection was always there, even if he had refused to acknowledge it. “No”, he wails as his world comes crumbling down. How could he accept that the noble warrior image that he held onto, of his father, was a complete lie? His father was in fact the most powerful face of evil in the universe!
This is one line that hurt Luke more than the severed hand (the result of Vader’s final blow). One line that leaves him in utter despair. One line that changes everything for him.
Unable to take in the awful truth, Luke lets go and falls fast down the reactor shaft. For the moment, there is no final resolution between the two. But in that moment, the tragedy of Darth Vader and of his son sinks in for audiences as they digest the biggest reveal of the whole series.