“The time has come. Execute Order 66.”
This is my favorite moment more from a film and storytelling perspective rather than one that brings me joy or excitement. It’s technically the worst moment in Star Wars history plot-wise since it’s the moment the Jedi Order is harshly betrayed and thousands of innocent people lose their lives.
But aside from the fact that I cry without fail every time the Order 66 aftermath plays out onscreen (I got chills a second ago just thinking about it), this is one of the most significant and well-implemented moment in at least the original and prequel trilogies.
It’s the moment Darth Sidious turns his droid-dismantling clones into cold-blood killers. The moment the final battles of the war begin their end, and the moment hope, for a time, dies.
Both onscreen and off, we’re repeatedly bombarded, within the span of less than three minutes, with the realization that the Sith have just played a card no one thought they had in hand. The Jedi — at that point the only remaining hope of saving the galaxy — fall one by one at the hands of their once loyal soldiers.
This is, of course, the turning point in a much larger story arc — the moment the Republic we know in the prequels becomes the Empire we recognize from the original trilogy. Why is Luke Skywalker the only remaining Jedi in the galaxy by the end of Return of the Jedi? Because of this moment. Because of this tragedy.
Say what you want about Revenge of the Sith. But it’s this moment that connects all of Star Wars together for me. And that makes a terribly dark and violent scene worth watching over and over again. At least, until you run out of tissues.