This Is the Most Satisfying Moment in Star Wars


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This Is the Most Satisfying Moment in Star Wars

I could watch Ben Kenobi shut down the Death Star tractor beam in "A New Hope" all day.

Update: Motherboard reader and electronic musician Roger Greive has a hunch about the shutting-down sound of Tractor Beam 12. Greive suspects it was made by two or three voltage-controlled oscillators turned in unison, "descending in pitch via a portamento control through two or three octaves. Ben Burtt created all of the sounds for R2-D2 on an ARP 2600 synthesizer; it is likely he used the same instrument for this."


A long time before every action move trailer sounded like a thousand computers powering down, when the events shaping a particular faraway galaxy were arguably more interesting than later sagas, Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi shut down Tractor Beam 12, a control unit aboard the Death Star.

What a wonderful moment that was.

Listen to it! I imagine this is what it sounds like when your brain finally falls asleep. I feel it in my gut, the stress meter dropping red to blue. It's an exquisite sensation. I could watch it all day.

Growing up, this brief scene—really just a few seconds—tickled my senses. Today, it sticks out more than other Star Wars moment. I'm not sure exactly why. I like to think it has something to do with the fact that ol' Ben could've used the Force (right?) to shut down the beam (allowing the Millenium Falcon to escape) but didn't. He walked right out on the precipice, grabbed hold of the dial, and beeeeuuuuuuuuhhhmmmm.

I've been dying to know how that lovely sound was made. I was unable to reach Skywalker Sound, the sound design wing of Lucasfilm, for comment, but will update this article if I hear back. (Seriously, this is important to me.) For now, big nods to sound designer Ben Burtt, who created a vast library of sounds for the original Star Wars trilogy. Watch a vintage interview with Burtt here.