‘MythBusters’ tackles ‘Star Wars’ lightsaber science

“MythBusters’” Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage dissects “Star Wars” in “The Myths Strike Back.”


Still wondering what sort of tactical advantage “Star Wars” character Obi-Wan Kenobi was boasting about when he informed friend-turned-foe Anakin Skywalker that their long lightsaber battle was over due to his “higher ground” positioning? Is it possible for a lightsaber to deflect blaster fire? If these sort of deep “Star Wars” thoughts still plague you, “MythBusters” has the episode for you.

Show hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage turn a scientific eye on beloved franchise “Star Wars” on Saturday night on the Discovery Channel, isolating two interesting issues and then dissecting them.

However the “MythBusters” are well aware that testing science theories in a fictional movie with fantasy-like weapons is tricky, “There was internal controversy about testing things from a movie as fantastical as ‘Star Wars,’” Adam Savage told the L.A. Times. “But what we found, what we ended up doing in the episode, were stories we felt we could utilize the world of ‘Star Wars’ to help the audience understand where a scientific approach can answer genuine questions from a fictional universe.”


In the exclusive clip above you can see the preliminary testing rounds for the blaster vs. lightsaber deflection rundown. But we also asked Savage what was the fixation with the final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan and why the “higher ground” statement was called into question.

“There are plenty of military reasons that higher ground is great,” Savage said via phone. “But most of them are about being an army. High ground allows you to see your opponent coming. It allows you tremendous advantage in a battle, but Obi-Wan says it as a one-on-one thing. So the first thing we wondered was, ‘Does this matter in sword fighting?’ So we reached out to some sword fighters, (and these were fencers who used double-edged weapons as medieval reenactors) and none of them had solid reasoning or referred to some tactic where the higher ground is always better. So then we figured if it is such a crushing advantage as Obi-Wan seems to imply then we should compare one against the other, someone on lower ground and someone on higher ground.”

If someone is going to nitpick anything, “Star Wars” is a perfect film franchise to focus on. The whole world is a wealth of glorious crazy bookended by battles in space. Fantastically implausible but thrilling just to consider the possibilities.