In Return of the Jedi when Luke is taken to the Dune Sea to be cast into the Pit of Carkoon why is it that when he strikes Jabba the Hutt’s guards with his lightsaber they are merely knocked off the desert skiff and not cut? The sound of the lightsaber striking an object is clearly heard.

This is the snippet from Return of the Jedi where the lightsaber strike knocks the target away:

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While a similar strike in Phantom Menance cuts cleanly through the target

spoiler: only click if you've seen episode 1 https://imgflip.com/gif/kazbz

  • 3
    clearly, luke was just psyching him out with the lightsaber swing, and then he uses a force push to knock him over.
    – phantom42
    Apr 17, 2015 at 17:16
  • 10
    Probably because Luke's lightsaber was a little dull after being stored in R2 for so long.
    – Ellesedil
    Apr 17, 2015 at 17:18
  • 1
    @phantom42 Actually, that seems plausible, considering some other moves he uses in the battle.
    – KSmarts
    Apr 17, 2015 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


It's assumed that the lightsaber cut the guard's flesh, but the wound does not appear onscreen.

The original trilogy goes out of its way to avoid showing realistic gore or wounds. Unlike films of today, a PG rating 30 years ago allowed very little blood or visible wounds. At the time, the dismembered arm in Episode IV and the Tauntaun intestines of Episode V were pushing the boundaries of what was allowed in a PG film.

Although it is never shown directly, we can assume that the lightsaber was meant to be cutting into the guards just like we would expect. The films use a combination of distance shots & fast cutaways to avoid showing anything that would affect the film's rating. In the example you give, the guard could very well have a huge gaping slash across his mid-section, but we never see that part of his body as he falls back and down into the pit.

  • 2
    This might also be another way that Lucas "tributes" older movies. Consider, for example, some of Kurosawa's samurai films. There's no blood and gore, just someone gets hit with a sword, and falls over.
    – KSmarts
    Apr 17, 2015 at 19:51
  • @KSmarts very true. Same thing for westerns - gun goes off, then guy grabs his belly or head and falls over. No special effects needed, the audience's imagination fills in the blanks.
    – Omegacron
    Apr 17, 2015 at 19:57
  • 1
    But how does the lightsaber exert that much force to push him off the skiff? In the "cutting" example, the lightsaber doesn't exert force on Maul, it just slices. Following similar rules Maul shouldn't have stayed in place as the slice happened, but should have fallen over to the side.
    – Esaevian
    Apr 17, 2015 at 20:59
  • 2
    @Esaevian Wouldn't you be reeling backwards and off balance by your own attempt at evasion if someone started swinging a lightsaber at you? :)
    – Doresoom
    Apr 17, 2015 at 21:13
  • 3
    It's ok. He got better.
    – Liesmith
    Apr 17, 2015 at 21:31

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