My hang-ups with Star Wars: Part 1

Yesterday evening, I watched the original Star Wars movie again. It's still brilliant. But this time when I watched it, something happened that had never happened before. I was watching the film and I suddenly thought:

‘What on Earth is an underwater monster doing in a trash compacter on a metal space station??’

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before; I’ve seen the film probably fifty times. But what on Earth is it doing there? Not only that but that space station is pristine. Totally pristine! There aren't even any wastebaskets on it! Where did all that rubbish come from? Also, why is the trash compacter two-foot deep in water? How does that help compacting trash? I began imagining possible scenarios to explain it. I imagined workmen in the space station while it was being built, discussing this matter.

“Hey, Gogon!”
“Yo, Kragarr! Good to see you back on the station.”
“Dude, what’s that thing under your arm?”
“Oh, that’s my twenty-foot long, one-eyed tentacle monster. He’s called Fred.”
“Jeez, dude, you can’t walk around this space station with that! The boss will go ape!”
“Your creature might get free and end up swimming around the inner passages of this metal space station that are all filled with water, because it helps trash get compacted.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that. But old Fred wouldn’t do that, would you Fred?”
“He’s so cute. Isn’t he cute, Kragarr?”
“Yeah, Gogon, he’s great. Look man, it’s up to you; I’m just saying… Hey, it’s got its tentacles around me!”
“Fred, let go of Kragarr. Fred, FRED!!…”

It’s just not a convincing scene. After further thought, I came to a sneaking suspicion as to why the trash compacter / monster scene happened in Star Wars. George Lucas originally wrote a fantasy saga and then re-wrote it as a science fiction saga in order to make a movie. That makes sense.

In the original, fantasy version, Lucas wrote about a princess being held captive in the castle of the evil baron. The rebel heroes break in and sneak into the subterranean dungeon cells where she’s being held. They break her out of her cell, but find themselves trapped by the castle guards. They escape through the castle sewers. As they creep through the sewers, Luke is attacked by a foul water monster, dwelling in the water-filled tunnels. He survives. Their friends unlock a grating for them to get out and they climb back into the castle’s passageways.

That’s a perfectly reasonable story. You can have a water monster in that story, no problem at all but it seems that when Lucas changed the fantasy story into a sci-fi story, he kept the water monster… on a metal space-station! Uh?!!

What’s even weirder is that it took me fifty viewings and thirty-seven years to notice this narrative problem. I guess there’s a moral to this story. If the film looks wonderful and is brilliantly acted, it’s not just that you don’t care about weird bits of the story, you don’t even notice them.