Star Wars Is Very Different And Much Funnier When You Hear Darth Vader's Real Accent
"I find your lack of regional British accent disturbing."
Star Wars could have been – and very nearly was – incredibly silly.
The original cut was such a disaster that George Lucas’ pal Francis Ford Coppola allegedly offered to pay Lucas to abandon it, and all the actors thought they were in the midst of an absolute turkey.
In retrospect, there were a few things which saved it. One was the special effects. Another was the incredible job the editors did in salvaging it, especially Lucas’s ex-wife Marcia (and she’s the hero of the short but amazing YouTube documentary How Star Wars Was Saved In The Edit).
And the third was a handful of performances by classically trained actors that gave the film some much-needed gravitas: Alex Guinness as Ben Kenobi, Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin), and the initially uncredited James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader.
That last one was incredibly important because the voice of the man in the suit – British actor David Prowse – didn’t… um, have quite the same effect.
Prowse looked pretty menacing – he was a champion bodybuilder and stood just shy of two metres tall even before the Vader boots – but his gentle Bristol burr doesn’t exactly strike fear into the heart. Especially when yelled through a plastic helmet.
He has long contended that he thought he was doing the voice of Vader until the very last minute and was most displeased with the decision to dub him. But when you compare the two…
Yeah, it wasn’t the wrong decision.
What Keeps Me Up At Night: For How Long Did Yoda Train Luke, Exactly?
The timeline just doesn't add up.
One of the things which most lovers of the Wars of Star agree upon is that The Empire Strikes Back is the best of all of the films.
That’s despite containing some of the worst lines (“A death mark’s not an easy thing to live with”, “You look strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark”), containing the scene where Han Solo forces himself on Leia despite her clear and unambiguous non-consent, and that imperial officer putting a weirdly unnatural emphasis on “Good, our first CATCH of the day”.
Yeah, great read John. Anyway: despite loving the film more than I do certain family members there’s been one thing which has bothered the hell out of me from a very young age. And it is this:
For how long does Yoda train Luke, exactly?
See, there are two things going at the same time after all the rebels get the hell off Hoth.
Luke and Artoo head off to Dagobah to find Yoda, and Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO get stuck without a working hyperdrive in the Millennium Falcon and thus have to putter their way to Bespin to find Lando Calrissian using only their non-light speed engines.
If you haven’t seen the film then that sentence is going to be very confusing. Then again, you chose to click on the story so really, it’s down to you.
So: Luke crashes on Dagobah, finds Yoda, gets training, has vision of his friends in peril and goes to help them.
At the same time the Falcon travels to Bespin, Lando welcomes them, Threepio gets blasted to bits, Leia finds a nice frock, Darth Vader imprisons and tortures them, and they’re used as bait for Luke.
Are we talking days, weeks or months?
The distance between star systems in the real universe is staggering – the closest star to Earth, Promixa Centauri, is about 4.24 light years – as in, at the speed of light it’ll take you over four years to get there.
The fastest thing Earth’s ever launched is the Voyager 1 probe, which travels at a bit over 61,198 kmph – and it left Earth in 1977 and isn’t even properly out of the solar system yet. So clearly physics isn’t any help to us – even without a hyperdrive the Falcon is clearly using some sort of weird science-magic to cover vast distances in real time.
On the face of it you’d think that Luke must have been training for at least a few months, but then the Falcon turns up on Cloud City with Han and Leia wearing the same outfits they left Hoth in.
Unless the Falcon has an offscreen laundry or they followed Chewie’s example and just strutted around the Falcon nude, this means they were stewing in them for the entire trip. You’d think Lando would have been unwilling to hug a Han who smelled quite that ripe.
But if we’re generous and say that the rebels fleeing with only the shirts on their backs were only in the Falcon for a few increasingly pungent days, then how the hell did Luke learn so much – enough to hold his own in a lightsaber battle with one of the most powerful Jedi in history?
Mind you, Lando clearly raided Han’s wardrobe once he was piloting in the Falcon, so maybe it was just Leia who had to deal with wearing the same sweaty cold-weather gear for weeks and weeks while Han just swapped out identical duds each morning.
Hopefully she at least had some wipes or something. She seems like the sort of person who’d be prepared.
Anyway, no matter which way you cut it, either the Falcon’s trip was too long or Luke’s training was too short. Fortunately that’s literally the only unanswered question in the entire franchise, because by the next film they’re at Jabba’s palace trying to rescue Han and…
Hold on, what was their actual rescue plan? Presumably it wasn’t “everyone get caught and hope we’re put over a massive Freudian desert-metaphor”, so what was it?
Wow. Maybe these films aren’t very good after all.
What Keeps Me Up At Night: Where Do All The Star Trek Missiles Go?
Is Earth just waiting for a comically sci-fi death at the hands of space bombs?
There are many, many stupid things which go through my head as I attempt to sleep. What sort of a future are we leaving our children? How can we we stem the worldwide rise of fascism? And, of course, where do all the missiles fired in Star Trek go?
Admittedly, this last one is new, and in my head purely because of a tweet by Soren Bowie, writer for American Dad:
…and now I can think of LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE.
It’s not just Star Trek: it’s Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica and every other sci-fi franchise. All of them involve ships blasting stuff at other ships and not nailing their targets 100 per cent of the time.
And also, if you’ve ever wondered whether there are aliens out there and that they’re zipping around in spaceships and yet still having artillery battles as though they’re 17th century war frigates, then this has practical consequences.
Just think about it the huge battle above Endor that is the third act of Return of the Jedi, for example:
Thousands upon thousands of laser blasts are unleashed around the Death Star, many of which hit something – but a greater amount miss their target.
That’s great for Wedge Antilles and his plucky band of pilots, but less great for whatever might be on a straight line behind them because that blast is going to just keep going.
Yeah, Ackbar, we know.
On Earth if you fire a bullet it’ll travel for a while before things like gravity and air resistance slow it down. In the vacuum of space, that doesn’t apply.
Newton’s First Law of Motion states (in part) that an object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless a force acts upon it. So that missile/laser blast/mysterious space plasma is just going to keep going… and going… and going… until it impacts something or gets close enough to a planet or star or black hole to have its path gravitationally altered.
And in open space, that could take billions of years. There’s surprisingly little stuff out there and space, as Douglas Adams so accurately said, is big. Vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big.
And full of bubbles, apparently.
So, if there really are civilisations out there having spaceship pew-pews at one another, the inhabited bits of the universe should be criss-crossed with laser beams and explosive space ordinance from potentially millennia of interplanetary battles.
And if they’re not (spoiler: as best we can tell, they’re not) then… then maybe we’re really on our own in this corner of the Milky Way.
On the other hand, we did see a mysterious high-speed object – ʻOumuamua – zip through the solar system in 2017. And sure, it was almost certainly a comet – but maybe, just maybe, it was a massive explosive fired a long time ago from a galaxy far, far away…