Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Yoda Confronts Dooku


Perhaps the biggest crowd-pleasing scene in AOTC was Yoda confronting Count Dooku.  Up until the time AOTC was released, we’d never seen Yoda do anything other than train Jedi, walk around with that stick, and say wise stuff.  But Yoda could open a can of whoop-ass if necessary and thanks to ILM’s digital magic, what was once impossible for a character realized by a puppet was in 2002 a reality.

This was something George Lucas had wanted to do in AOTC from the get-go.  He wanted to show audiences why Yoda was “the” Jedi.  But he found a lot of resistance from people along the way.  ILM balked at the logistics of creating a credible fight scene with the little Jedi Master.  Others thought it would look dumb and people would laugh at it.  But of the 11 times I’d seen AOTC in the theaters, audiences applauded the top of this scene every single time.  The audience at the first screening I’d gone to at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C. went absolutely bananas.

We all know the drill.  Obi-Wan and Anakin attempt to battle Dooku and get it handed to both of them. It gets quiet and all of a sudden, Yoda humbly enters the scene.  After some trash talking, Dooku tries to fling things at Yoda with the Force.  After Yoda deflects the flying objects, Dooku tries Force lightning.  When that doesn’t work, it’s time to take out the lightsabers.  Yoda flips around and engages the really tall Dooku like a champ.  It’s only when Dooku tries to topple a pillar on top of Anakin and Obi-Wan that he’s able to escape from Yoda.  Cheater.

ILM’s visual effects artists of course did an amazing job realizing this scene. If the visuals didn’t work, the whole thing would’ve been a disaster. While today’s animation would be even better it was pretty spectacular for 2002. I happen to think it works now. Not only does Yoda look great in fight mode, I like his whole attitude prior to the fight. Some of those poses were seemingly inspired by Neo in “The Matrix.” Christopher Lee had to sell the duel on his end and he didn’t even have anyone to fight as it was shot on a soundstage. Lee does an amazing job but that just goes without saying. The lighting in the scene–some of it digital, some of it done on set–is perfect.

This was a high risk scene that walks the line between “wow, this is awesome” and the absurd but it became one of the most iconic fight scenes in the saga so far.







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15 Responses to “Great Scenes of the Prequel Trilogy: Yoda Confronts Dooku”

  1. Independent Radical Says:

    I know some people object to Yoda fighting, but this seems dumb to me since it’s never stated in the original trilogy that Yoda doesn’t fight. He says that the Force should be used for knowledge and defence, not to attack, but using it for defence implies fighting. Besides he clearly taught Luke how to fight, so he’s neither incapable nor totally opposed to fighting, he just knows that it’s only justified in certain circumstances and that it can take one down a dark path.

    There’s also a beautiful irony to the scene in that he does what is right for the individuals he cares about (Anakin and Obi-wan, mostly the later, I suspect) at the expense of the common good (defeating Dooku) thus he betrays the principles Obi-wan had been preaching at Anakin the entire time. Furthermore by saving Anakin, this decision by Yoda plays a part in ensuring the downfall of the Jedi Order.

    • Pedro Felipe Says:

      In one of The Empire Strikes Back Drafts, Lucas had Yoda take out a lightsaber and fight force ghost Obi Wan when he revels he’s a Jedi Master! So the idea of Yoda having a lightsaber was clearly around since then. But the haters “won’t abandom by reason something they’ve aquired by emotion.”

      • Independent Radical Says:

        I believe there’s also a deleted scene where Yoda teaches Luke to use his lightsabre. While it may have been deleted, it must have happened, because Luke does have some duelling abilities later in the film.

        To be fair, the whole point of a film is to stir up emotions, however prequel hater’s feelings towards the film may be due more to the influence of the online opposition to the films rather than the films themselves, which is unfair to the films.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      When the movie first came out, I joked that if Yoda knew what was coming, he’d let the pillar fall on the both of them ;).

    • Keith Palmer Says:

      My own perennial thought on this issue is that even if someone might suppose Yoda’s comments in The Empire Strikes Back to “contradict” him going into action in Attack of the Clones, in “saga order” he makes the comments after fighting; it seems quite easy for me for someone to interpret the story as involving him brooding over what happened and what didn’t work while in exile.

      (If I do have one objection to this interpretation, though, it’s that it at least begins to tilt towards having to suppose “Yoda never actually wanted Luke to fight Vader; it was just a matter of Luke not realizing what was expected of him until he thought he was coming up with the idea himself in opposition to his teachers.” That smacks a little too much of “Palpatine knew in advance how everyone else would react to his comments and his minions’ actions up until Return of the Jedi or so,” which has always been too “predestined” for my tastes.)

  2. Pedro Felipe Says:

    An Amazing end to an amazing movie, it ends the amazing Battle of Geonosis sequence. I love how it is edited and how Yoda screams when fighting! Also, Christopher Lee nails it and ILM did a great job of digital pasting his head on his stunt double.

  3. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    Also, in “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK”, Luke called Yoda “a great warrior”, not realizing that he was talking about the latter. The phrase seemed to be a clear indication to me that Yoda had engaged in combat in the past.

    By the way, I believe Christopher Lee had used a stunt double in that fight scene.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Some of it was a stunt double (the real fancy stuff), some of it was him.

    • Edward Diego Says:

      The notion “looking for a great Warrior” always seemed to me that it is purely Luke’s first assumption of who Yoda is/may look like. He thinks as a farm boy/Jedi in Training/coming from the outer rim, that a JEDI MASTER is probably a GREAT WARRIOR (in physical terms). And that’s the first thing Yoda teaches Luke (and the audience!): the Force is something beyond the physical and that is why he behaves so strange when he meets Luke. Yoda is testing Lukes perception of the universe and his mind-set. Luke (and the audience who watched the OT) thought at first: Hey, who is that weird little green guy? And then finally in the hut Luke (and the audience!) learns he IS the Jedi Master Obi Wan was talking about. Luke (and the audience!) had to rethink their assumption about the Force, great warriors and little things 😉 God, i love EMPIRE 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Independent Radical Says:

        I think that’s a spot on interpretation of Empire Strikes Back, which is my favourite of the original trilogy, though I hate how everyone goes on and on about how dark it is, as if that were what made it good. It’s not even that dark by modern standards, but it is quite profound. That’s why I like it. I’m tired of the “dark movie = good movie” assumption.

  4. Pedro Felipe Says:

    I was dying to see this in 3D. I was dying to watch Star Wars multiple times in 3D when I heard they were re-releasing the movies and now Disney just crushed my dream and has not even released a 3D Blu Ray of the movies we know for a fact were finished (I,II,III). I am aware of all the licensing issues but the fact of the matter is it really looks like Disney doesn’t care. I know it may sound silly, but I think they knew the force awakens would be a canned piece of crap and just didn’t want people watching the real Star Wars movies and realizing how bad the new one was.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      To be fair, anyone can tune into TBS now and see for themselves how Lucas’s SW movies are (ditto for the 2D Blu-Rays). I don’t think 3D vs. 2D really makes a difference in quality, it’s just an added enhancement.

    • Noah Evans (The Artist) Says:

      “but the fact of the matter is it really looks like Disney doesn’t care. I know it may sound silly, but I think they knew the force awakens would be a canned piece of crap and just didn’t want people watching the real Star Wars movies and realizing how bad the new one was” OHH =D If only I could post a photo of Harrison Well’s face on here! OOOOH THAT WAS SPOT ON! I’M CLAPPING INBETWEEN COMMENTING !

      (Sorry LP if I’m breaking any civil roles on here)

  5. Noah Evans (The Artist) Says:

    Only in Star Wars can a dignified elderly man (or simply an actor, like Christopher Lee) fight against a little green man with a straight face! =D Always loved this scene, I have.

  6. Jake Says:

    I had avoided spoilers about the Yoda -Dooku fight scene and I’ve got to say when Yoda reached for
    His light saber I was the most excited I’ve ever been in a movie theater. Loved it

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