Over 40 years, 3 trilogies, and 9 films, the Star Wars franchise has captured generations of film fanatics through its principal narrative - The Skywalker Saga.
From Episode IV - A New Hope to Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker, we've witnessed an unparalleled space opera unfold, pitting iconic heroes and villains against a backdrop of intergalactic conflict. These films redefined blockbuster cinema and even opened the door on a fascinating new universe of Star Wars spin-offs and prequels.
Here's our ultimate guide to the ultimate sci-fi saga in cinema.
A political dispute on the planet Naboo, forces Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his Padawan trainee Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) to resolve the conflict and flee with the planet’s queen, Amidala (Natalie Portman).
Their escape leads them to a remote desert planet called Tatooine, where they encounter a boy, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). Qui-Gonn's instincts tell him that Anakin is the 'chosen one', destined to fulfil a prophecy that will bring balance to the Force.
This tale of Anakin Skywalker’s early years has a fistful of ace scenes, from the white-knuckle pod race to the climactic lightsaber battle between the Jedi and Sith Lord, Darth Maul.
"He is the chosen one. He will bring balance. Train him." (Qui-Gon Jinn)
Ten years later, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) continues his Jedi training while the Galactic Senate fights against the separatist movement. Obi-Wan discovers a plot to create a clone army led by a former Jedi, Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). Emergency powers are granted to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) to defeat Dooku. The first battle is won, but the Clone War begins. All the while, love blooms between Anakin and Padme.
Obi-Wan's cat-and-mouse mission to Kamino, chased by bounty-hunter Jango Fett; the eye-popping monster showdown on Geonosis, and Samuel L. Jackson dripping streetwise cool as Jedi High Council bad-ass, Mace Windu.
"Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the death of me?" (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
War rages and Palpatine is the enemy behind the scenes. Revealed as the all-powerful Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, he corrupts Anakin to defect and discredit the Jedi.
Scared of losing Padme and convinced to gain more power to save her life, Anakin takes the name of Darth Vader and leads the order to hunt and execute all Jedi, including his long-time Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Major heartbreak material as Padme watches Anakin's descent into villainy. Also not one, but two epic final battles: Obi-Wan vs. Anakin & Yoda vs. Darth Sidious. But best of all has to be the first hoarse, mechanical breaths of one of cinema's most iconic villains, Darth Vader.
"So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause." (Padme Amidala)
Years later, a rebellion springs up against the new Empire. Two droids carrying plans to destroy the Death Star — the Empire’s super-weapon — crash-land on Tatooine, where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) lives. Luke, thinking his father was a Jedi who died in the Clone Wars, joins up with Obi-Wan (Alec Guiness) and two space mercenaries, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), to return the plans to Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), who leads the Rebellion.
The film that shook cinema is understandably stuffed with iconic scenes: Luke staring at the two-moon sunset; Han in the cantina shootout; the showdown between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Death Star trench run.
"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." (Princess Leia)
The battle against the resurgent Empire led by Darth Vader rages on. To continue his training as a Jedi, Luke seeks Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz). Han and Leia escape to Cloud City to find refuge with Han's old friend Lando (Billy Dee Williams). But with the Empire's clutch permeating the Galaxy seen and unseen, each of our heroes are drawn into a perilous web.
Opening with the AT-AT assault on Hoth and climaxing with one of the greatest plot twists in cinema history, Empire's reputation as the best film in the series is punctuated by a series of stunning set-pieces as well as dramatic scenes.
"Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father..." (Darth Vader)
Advanced in his training as a Jedi, Luke and allies plot a daring rescue of Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba The Hutt. All the while the Empire, bolstered by a rebuilt Death Star, threatens final annihilation of the Rebels, led by the Emperor and Darth Vader.
Luke walking the plank into the Sarlacc pit; the speeder chase through the forests of Endor; the climactic showdown between the Empire - replete with Star Destroyers, TIE fighters and an upgraded Death Star - and the Rebel fleet.
"I am a Jedi, like my father before me." (Luke Skywalker)
30 years after the defeat of the Empire, Rey (Daisy Ridley), an orphaned scavenger is thrown into the resurgent conflict between the Resistance and the daunting legions of the First Order, and in fateful opposition to its' leader, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)...
Rey forms a trio of new heroes, with rogue stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and Rebel pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). But she's also helped by returning favourites Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca.
The Force Awakens delivered on expectations with monumental success. J.J. Abrams made sure Episode VII brimmed with eye-popping visuals (the unearthed Millennium Falcon taking flight; the fearsome Starkiller base in action) and gut-wrenching drama (a certain fatal family reunion springs to mind...).
"Chewie, we're home." (Han Solo)
The First Order hunt the Resistance relentlessly across the galaxy, while Rey journeys far to recruit the long-exiled Luke Skywalker to their increasingly desperate ranks. As threats encircle our heroes from all angles, unexpected truths are revealed about their enemies.
Rian Johnson's follow up to The Force Awakens is one of the most-talked about instalments of the entire saga. Unashamedly unique, the mid-point of the final trilogy has some incredible set pieces: Leia's force abilities finally revealed; Holdo's sacrifice to take down the First Order fleet; and the final battle on Crait.
"I need someone to show me my place in all of this." (Rey)
Revived in the shadowy depths of hidden planet Exegol, Darth Sidious a.k.a. Palpatine unleashes the Final Order to annihilate the Resistance and the surviving opponents of the Sith. Rey and allies scour the galaxy for clues to reach the hidden planet and enact a final assault on the Emperor.
With the ultimate battle between the Light and the Dark side of the Force played out in epic lightsaber duels and death-defying starship dogfights, The Rise Of Skywalker signs off the saga with a procession of crowd-pleasing highlights. But it's the tender conclusions of character arcs we've grown to love (and love to hate) that really sticks with you as the credits roll.
"We had each other. That's how we won." (Lando Calrissian)