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Is there any significance to the speed of release of a lightsaber? I've always found Obi-Wan's slow, controlled release in Episode IV to be rather impressive. In this Episode I example, Darth Maul prefers the slow release (albeit not as slow as Obi-Wan in the earlier example) while Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan go for a fast release. Is this merely for effect?

How would a Jedi/Sith control the speed of release?

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    they use the force to control their release, that and their dominant hand :D in all seriousness though evidence would suggest that lightsabre's have the equivalent of a dimmer switch – severa Sep 15 '13 at 23:55
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    I always thought the effect in ANH was due to the relative angle of the sabre to the camera. It releases normally, but since it's pointing right at the camera, what looks like a slow release of the blade part is due to Obi-Wan tilting the sabre slowly away from the camera. – bitmask Sep 16 '13 at 9:17
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    I agree with bitmask, but would add that the sound cue may be as misleading as the front view of the light sabre. – Meat Trademark Sep 16 '13 at 11:57
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    Would you consider this question about the activation speed of a light sabre as a duplicate? It is at least related. – bitmask Sep 16 '13 at 14:27
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    @coleopterist: Nah, it's fine. It was just pretty non-descriptive originally. :) – bitmask Sep 16 '13 at 21:04
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There is no canonical reference to the speed at which a lightsaber activates being controllable by a Jedi or Sith, either through use of the Force or through technological means. That includes the EU.

The closest is likely the description in The Krytos Trap, by Michael Stackpole, of an old lightsaber discovered by protagonist Corran Horn in a museum. When Horn turns it on it is described as extending "slowly," with the light produced being "dim" and the hum-buzz being "thready and weak." There is reference to the use of "dual-phase" lightsabers (again by Corran Horn, though Darth Vader also used a dual-phase blade) which are capable of changing lengths, but there is no significance whatsoever to the speed at which lightsabers extend or activate.

Except, of course, dramatic effect. During the scenes you mention, it makes sense, from a dramatic or theatrical point of view, for the lightsabers to activate at the speed they do. If you pay attention, you'll notice that every audible lightsaber activation in the films - with the possible exception of the dozens, if not hundreds of activations during the Battle of Geonosis scene during Attack of the Clones - is done in tempo with the score of the film.

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