Of all the various and sundry aliens, vehicles, and technology in the Star Wars universe, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t put the lightsaber at or near the top of the hierarchy of awesomeness. The legendary laser sword that could cut through anything except another blade (or certain rare materials if the EU is to be believed) like a hot knife through butter is one of the most enduring symbols of the Saga. Obi-Wan was right on the nose when he described it as “An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”
As lightsabers are standard issue for Force-users (and nobody else), we’ve got a number of personalized designs from the greatest heroes and villains in the galaxy. And everyone has their favorite. Is it the simplicity of the hilt passed down from Anakin to Luke, or the intimidating yet impractical design of the Saber-Staff wielded by Darth Maul? The blood crimson of Darth Vader’s Sith blade, or the unique amethyst of Mace Windu’s weapon?
As for me, myself, personally, I feel there’s one design that tops them all in coolness. My true weapon of choice any day of the week and twice on Saturday. And to think that when it made its debut in Attack of the Clones, I didn’t even really notice it at first. It wasn’t until later on, after I had seen and studied the films, and the toys, and the visual guides, that I fell totally in love with the curved-hilt dueling saber.
The lightsaber wielded in the films by Count Dooku is such an incredible design in my eyes. Whereas most of the other hilts seem cobbled together, this one feels like a work of art. The curvature of the hilt, the blade guard, this is truly the elegant weapon Obi-Wan was referring to. My only problem is that as Count Dooku is a Sith, the blade we see in the film is crimson, and red’s not my color. Still, if the device was real, then that could be easily fixed.
The lore behind it is interesting. Dueling sabers were, according to some EU sources, created explicitly for Makashi (Lightsaber Form II) users. The curved hilt puts the blade at such an angle to give a clear advantage in saber-to-saber combat (at the expense of being slightly more awkward to deflect blaster fire with). Of course, behind the scenes is just as interesting and somewhat of a mirror. Though based design-wise on ancient curved-hilt scimitars, it was mainly use to facilitate the fighting style created for Dooku (which later became Makashi in-universe). This was a mixture of the classic lightsaber style with fencing, as Christopher Lee was a proficient fencer until age slowed him up some.
As much has been made about Dooku’s acrobatics and footwork being a stunt double with Lee’s head digitally added in post, it’s easy to forget that most of the close-up arm work was all 100% Christopher Lee goodness. The flourishes he adds to the style, especially what would become the Makashi Salute (derivative of, again, a fencing salute), are some of the more elegant – there’s that word again – and they really only work well with the curved-hilt saber. How do I know this? Well, like any self-respecting Star Wars fan, I have a modest collection of plastic lightsabers. So I’ve tested this time and again.
While it’s not quite to scale, the curved-hilt just feels better in my hand. It’s better at swinging, blocking, and especially jabbing. While it is a bit of an awkward deflector, it could theoretically be done.
The curved-hilt dueling saber is by far my favorite piece of technology in the Star Wars universe, and the saddest part is that it’s not even focused on in the film that much. Honestly, finding screenshots featuring it in all its glory was near to impossible. Perhaps it’s not such a mystery after all why I didn’t notice it at first. Still, I hope to see much more of them in the future. Perhaps concealed in a cane? Lucasfilm, you can have that one.