ESPN details the hallowed history of the lightsaber duel in new Star Wars special

With Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens less than a week from release, the company is stoking the flames across its entire media empire — including ESPN. The network announced Wednesday it will air a documentary-style special on December 15 detailing the history and real-world influences that inspired one of the franchise’s icons, the lightsaber.

Called Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel, the special will be hosted by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and will show how many of the lightsaber duels from all seven Star Wars films were shot. The show will also feature original interviews from J.J. Abrams, The Force Awakens star John Boyega, and Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine.

“What people don’t realize is how much goes into what appears to be just minutes on the screen,” Hamill said in a statement. “The elaborate choreography for the actual fight is done on several different sets over a period of weeks and then it is edited down to what you see on the screens, so I am happy people are able to see the amount of work that goes into it.”

Aside from the films themselves, the documentary will focus on how one sport, the sword-based martial art Kendo, inspired the physical and philosophical aspects of the Jedi.

“It’s honor,” the trailer explains. “It’s balance. It’s justice. Kendo is everything that Jedi are.”

Film critics have long connected the Jedi to Japanese samurai, whose traditions are connected to Kendo, and the films of director Akira Kurosawa.

Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel airs Tuesday, December 15, at 7pm Eastern on ESPN. And although you probably already know this, Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters December 18.

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