A lightsaber is a fictional weapon in the Star Wars universe, a "laser sword." It consists of a polished metal hilt which projects a blade of light about 1.33 metres long. The lightsaber is the signature weapon of the Jedi order and their Sith counterparts, both of whom can use them for close combat, or to deflect blaster bolts. Its distinct appearance was created using rotoscoping for the original Star Wars films, and digitally for the prequel trilogy. The lightsaber first appeared in the original Star Wars film (1977) and every Star Wars movie to date (except The Star Wars Holiday Special) has featured at least one lightsaber duel. In 2008, a survey of approximately 2,000 film fans found it to be the most popular weapon in film history.
The lightsaber's blade cuts through most substances without resistance. It leaves cauterized wounds in flesh, but can be deflected by another lightsaber's blade, or by energy shields. Some exotic saber-proof materials have been introduced in the Expanded Universe. An active lightsaber gives off a distinctive hum, which rises in pitch and volume as the blade is moved rapidly through the air. Bringing the blade into contact with an object or another lightsaber's blade produces a loud crackle.
Lightsabers depicted in the first two released films, A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, had blades that were colored either blue (for the Jedi) or red (for the Sith). In Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker's newly-constructed lightsaber was colored blue during the initial editing of the film, and appears so in both an early movie trailer and the official theatrical posters, but the film reveals that it was ultimately colored green in order to better stand out against the blue sky of Tatooine in outdoor scenes and also in the re-release posters. Green would later become one of the standard blade colors for Jedi lightsabers in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Mace Windu's amethyst-bladed lightsaber, as first seen in Attack of the Clones, was requested by the actor Samuel L. Jackson as a way to make his character stand out among other Jedi. Jackson's favorite color is purple and he frequently requests that the characters he plays use an item of that color.
A multitude of blade colors appear in the Expanded Universe and in other Star Wars products. The original Kenner figure of Luke Skywalker in his Tatooine costume from Star Wars was released with a yellow-bladed lightsaber. While no yellow-bladed or purple-bladed lightsabers appear in the films before 2002, they have appeared in several computer games, such as Jedi Knight, Jedi Outcast, The Force Unleashed, and Jedi Academy. The Knights of the Old Republic video games further expand the number of colors, adding cyan, viridian, violet, silver, and orange.