Star Wars: The Burning Questions
Thinking about the original Star Wars trilogy reminded us of a few vexing questions that have stayed with us through the years. Long before the second trilogy or Wookieepedia came along, we wondered why a character said this, or what that particular event meant. Think back to the first time you saw the movies and see if any of these questions crossed your mind!
What’s The Deal With Leia’s British Accent?
Mike: Even as a kid, I noticed that Leia has a British accent when she speaks to Tarkin on the Death Star but loses it in the rest of the film. You can look this one up online to get some different theories. One suggested in-story reason is that the English accent is part of the bureaucracy, so government figures use the accent when they address each other. The real reason as told by Carrie Fisher in a 1999 Newsweek article is that she acquired a “floating” accent while studying acting in London just before taking on Star Wars and it slipped out in that scene.
Does Leia Know She’s Adopted?
Rebecca: I tried to take the prequel trilogy in stride (even after the gungan-that-shall-not-be-named). But the one thing that nearly made me stand up in my seat, throw popcorn at the screen, and howl like a wookiee (I restrained myself – I’m a civilized geek, after all) was when Padmé died immediately after giving birth. Wait, what?
In Return of the Jedi, Leia says that she remembers her mother! Okay, perhaps Leia doesn’t know she’s adopted and maybe she’s talking about her adopted mother, Breha Organa. But alas, a quick trip to Wookieepedia told me that Breha probably died with her husband, Bail, when Alderaan blew up in Episode IV. And even if Breha predeceased Alderaan, Luke specifically says “Do you remember your mother? Your real mother?” If Leia didn’t know she was adopted, surely she would have questioned Luke’s choice of adjective.
Did George Lucas intend to let Padmé live a little longer? Did he just forget until it was too late? Do latent Jedi powers give you a ridiculously photographic memory? We may never know.
Did Luke Almost Become An Imperial Pilot?
Mike: Luke goes on and on about wanting to shirk his farm duties and go to “the academy” with his friends. What academy? Well, he wants to be a pilot and the official government is the Empire, so . . . he must be talking about the Imperial Academy. That means, until R2-D2 and C-3PO showed up on his farm, Luke was this close to joining the Empire and embarking on a heroic career squashing rebels! That would have made for a very different Star Wars indeed.
Were Luke And Leia Always Supposed To Be Brother And Sister?
Rebecca: There’s no way around it, Leia kisses (really kisses) Luke in Empire Strikes Back. But she didn’t know. (Though that probably would have been a good time for ol’ Ben to materialize and tell them to quit it.)
Here’s the part that bothers me: Certainly, you’d think there would be a line somewhere in ROTJ containing whatever the Star Wars universe’s equivalent is to “OMG! Ew.” Han Solo would surely make a wisecrack, right? Right? Wrong. This leads me to think either something was left on the cutting room floor or Leia and Luke being brother and sister was an afterthought on Lucas’ part (various websites point to the latter being the case). But what makes matters worse is when Luke tells Leia that she’s his sister in Return of the Jedi, she says “I know. Somehow, I’ve always known.” Really? I’m not so sure.
Why Did Obi-Wan Chop Bonda Baba’s Arm Off?
Mike: A couple of aliens – Dr. Cornelius Evazan and Bonda Baba – pick a fight with Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Baba goes after Luke. So, like any protective mentor, Obi-Wan whips out his lightsaber (“an elegant weapon for a more civilized age”) and shears Baba’s arm clean off! This really bothered me when I was a kid. What happened to the nice old man I knew? Couldn’t he have used his Jedi mind trick or stunned Baba with an energy bolt?
And whatever happened to Baba, anyway? Did anyone help him? Did the bartender at least comp his drinks? Definitely not Obi-Wan’s finest moment.
Was Obi-Wan Telling The Truth?
Rebecca: When Luke asks about his father, Obi-Wan tells him: “A young Jedi named Darth Vader […] betrayed and murdered your father.” Luke accepts this as fact until Empire Strikes Back finds him minus one hand and hearing the sordid truth from Vader himself. That’s a much better way for Luke to find out about his parentage. Really smooth, Obi-Wan.
Now, this leaves me with a few possible scenarios. The most likely explanation is that Lucas didn’t intend to make Darth Vader Luke’s father (remember, the screenplay went through about a bazillion rewrites). But that would leave poor Obi-Wan with egg on his face, so Lucas has Luke confront Obi-Wan, who explains to Luke that when Anakin Skywalker went to the dark side he “died” and became Darth Vader. It isn’t the strongest explanation in the universe, and I think Luke just learned a valuable lesson about trusting old men who live in caves.
Why Did The Sand People Run Away?
Mike: A trio of Sand People rummage through Luke’s landspeeder. Suddenly they hear a high-pitched “Woooooo!” and turn to see . . . an old man in robes waving his arms! Oh no! It’s the dreaded Whooping Old Man of the Mountain! Run! Okay, now we all know that Ben’s yell is the hunting cry of the Krayt Dragon, which according to Wookieepedia is a “large carnivorous reptile native to Tatooine.” But back in 1977, we didn’t know that. All we saw was Ben waving his arms like a cheerleader and the Sand People scattering like math nerds. And Luke was afraid of those guys? Come on!
We realize we’ve been a little hard on poor Obi-Wan here, but we love Ben (and Bonda Baba probably had it coming, anyway). As well, we can forgive George Lucas for these unanswered questions. After all, he made our childhoods awesome. In fact, we think these questions help illustrate how, way back in 1977, no one had any idea what a phenomenon Star Wars would become. If it had flopped, it might have been nothing more than a stand-alone film, but it shot into the stratosphere and an entire new universe took shape around it. A universe that contains six movies, hundreds of books, an animated television series, numerous video games, and countless action figures. So thanks, George Lucas, for 35 wonderful (mostly gungun-free) years, and happy anniversary, Star Wars!
How about you? What are your burning, unanswered questions about Star Wars?