I grew up with the Star Wars movies. I was 6 years old when the first one, err the fourth one, came out. We were living in Huntington, WV at the time and they had one of those ultra-cool old style theaters with the vertical marquee and a balcony.
My dad and I would always stop at the candy store next door and buy a fist full of jawbreakers and some piping hot sunflower seeds in a little bag and sneak them into the movies.
We would always head for the balcony and grab seats in the middle of the first row. Being a little guy I would hang my arms over the railing and watch the matinee.
I can’t count how many times I saw the Star Wars movies over the last four decades but do recall standing in line for hours in 1999 (I guess it was) at a theater in Duluth, MN waiting to see Episode 1 (or was it 4?) The Phantom Menace.
Few movies can stand up to the endless sequels like Star Wars can. Think about it. Just how many times can Jason come back to life or a very large fish eat people or amp’d up gear-heads drive fast and furiously?
But George Lucas had a vision starting out to tell a story like no other in the history of story-telling. With his Star Wars universe he created a world that captured the imagination of an entire planet three rocks from the sun.
In this story he spoke of religion, propaganda, family values, racism, technology, friendship, coming of age, love and so much more.
There have been myriad books written about this saga and doctorate dissertations defended at some of the world’s most esteemed institutions of higher learning. There are back stories and a philosophical approach that delve those so inclined to reach the limits of our imaginations.
All of us have our favorite characters:
Luke, Hans, Chewy, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and the Ewoks.
Who is yours?
So on this Star Wars Day I would like to share a couple of neat facts about the films that you may not know…
Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)
At one point, George Lucas planned for the characters of Luke Skywalker and his aunt and uncle, to be dwarves.
At one point, George Lucas had planned the character of Han Solo to be a huge green-skinned monster with no nose and gills. Then Lucas changed the idea of Han Solo to a black human. He auditioned several black actors and even musicians (including Billy Dee Williams) until finally settling on Glynn Turman. But after this he decided to make the role white and went with Harrison Ford.
The pulsating engine sound of the Star Destroyer is a manipulated recording of a broken air conditioner.
Chewbacca’s “voice” is a combination of several animals including bears, badgers, walrus and camels.
Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The carbon freezing chamber is the only time in the original trilogy that Darth Vader and C3PO can be seen on screen together.
Han Solo is the only non-Jedi/Sith in the entire original trilogy to ever use a lightsaber when he cuts open the tauntaun’s belly.
The bounty hunters are never referred to by name. Every time Boba Fett is referenced, he is called “the bounty hunter”.
Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Several Ewok lines are in the Filipino (Tagalog) language. Most Ewok lines, however, were inspired by the Kalmuck language, spoken by nomadic tribes living in Central China.
The radiating shafts making up the floor of the second Death Star’s reactor core are actually 1,500 fishing rods.
The word Ewok is never spoken in the movie, nor are the individuals (Wicket, Paploo, etc.) referred to by name.
Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
The “water” cascading over the falls in the Naboo capital city was actually salt.
The name used by the Queen while in disguise (and, later, after her term as Queen ends), “Padme”, is the Sanskrit word for “lotus”. “Yoda” is also derived from the Sanskrit word for “warrior”.
Colored Q-Tips were photographed on a miniature stadium set in order to provide the background spectators during the pod race sequence.
The word lightsaber is never used in the film. When Anakin talks to Qui-Gon he calls it a “laser sword”.
Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Every movie in the series closes with a scene with no dialogue. This movie ends with a ceremony with the main characters looking at one another, then out over the lake.
Jar Jar Binks, standing in for Senator Amidala, puts forth the motion that gives Palpatine supreme powers. This means that Jar Jar, the most hated character in the Star Wars canon, is indirectly responsible for the fall of the Old Republic and the near-annihilation of the Jedi order.
The look of the Republic Clone Troopers is a cross between the Mandalorian armor worn by Jango Fett (later Boba Fett) and the armor worn by the Imperial Storm Troopers of episodes IV, V and VI.
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The images of the volcanic eruption on Mustafar was real footage of Mt. Etna in Italy which was erupting at the time of production.
EASTER EGG: On the Options menu, press “11 Enter 3 Enter 8 Enter” (1138). Yoda will dance to hip-hop music.
After their climactic duel, Obi-Wan can be seen picking up Anakin’s lightsaber, which he later gives to Anakin’s son Luke in Star Wars: IV.
Originally, a young Han Solo was going to make an appearance in the film, living among the Wookies on Kashyyyk.
Happy Star Wars Day and May the Force be with You…. Always.