The Curmudgeon Smells a Bad Smell

Nitpicking A New Hope from 1:19:18 to 1:26:43
Today's the day, eh? Well, I'm not going to hurt myself trying to see The Force Awakens (nice, a title that evokes yawning) until next week, but in any case, I'm not done rewatching A New Hope! Let's see how much of it I can get through today.
Ah yes, we're in the trash compactor. And it seems like the Empire's main trash is 1) dirty dishwater and 2) rubber and plastic made to look like metal parts. Well, that makes some measure of sense. Stormtrooper armor is obviously some kind of polymer plastic, and it's possible a lot of equipment makes use of that material. So the junk bends and floats and nobody gets cut while moving around in there. It's just distracting us from asking questions like: How many industrial accidents has the Death Star already had that there's so much scrap in this one trash bin? And of the station is new, where did it already pick up a tentacled parasite with a periscope eye?
(Above, the Special Edition eye that's more natural looking, except that it still looks like a mechanical thingamagig with rubber latex on it.) Don't tell me, the EU stuff reveals that they use these creatures to break down metals and turn them into easy to crush plastics. Am I getting the hang of this? Luke gets pulled under and soon the walls start to close in which makes the creature release him. But Han gets another "bad feeling about this", a line last uttered just 15 minutes ago. Too soon for a call-back? I didn't know they had a copy-paste function on typewriters in the 70s... Anyway, R2 and C-3PO could stop the compactor remotely, but they're not answering their com. They've got their own problems:
C-3PO is pretty smart here, using the fact that droids are basically "invisible" servants to send the patrol down to the detention center, then going by the one guard left by saying R2 needs to go to maintenance. Relatively smart, because if the Empire had ANY internal communications, he wouldn't have been able to get away with it. The patrol would have known that the situation in the jail was already contained, and any of them would have been suspicious of two droids fitting their description. Like, gee, protocol droid, why are you crusted with sand? What's an astro-droid doing in here anyway? ANY two droids, at this point, should raise a flag because the whole Empire is after TWO DROIDS. If the Empire loses, it's not because the Force was strong with Luke; it's not even because the Rebels are any good. It's going to be because the Empire is so disorganized. But back to our heroes and their imminent death. Threepio's still not answer his com even though we saw it was working just a second ago, so maybe R2 can tap into the computer system again and find them.
Wait, what? R2 could access it from OUTSIDE the control center? There are more jacks in here than in an Internet café?! Why did those Imperials have to die, then? Back in the crusher, Luke is getting his Joker voice screaming into the com for Threepio to unmute it, and Han and Leia are all double-entendres about "getting up on it". At R2's urging, C-3PO finally turns his com link on, and they're saved. Han and Leia hug and 'shipping is invented.
Don't know how many takes this all took, but Han makes the move to Leia a couple times in the background before it finally happens. Hey, we haven't seen Obi-Wan in a while, what's he up to? Oh yeah, going to take down the tractor beam. Well, just in case, he pulls out his lightsaber with his right hand... and then switches it to his left!
What's going on here? If he's a lefty, why keep the saber on his left hip where you need to get at it with your off-hand? That doesn't make any sense? Nor is the short sequence required, because in the very next, he has to climbing around a console in a vertical tunnel, and given the bottom of the shaft is probably several miles down, I don't think it's a very good idea to have your hands occupied (he puts it away again). The user-unfriendly system does get the Special Edition treatment:
Or did my Babel fish just slip out of my ear? Alright, Wars fans, how many instances of written English are STILL in the films? I think I remember Arabic-style numbers, but that's it. So a good change? If you forgot what Ben was doing though, because it's been a while since he technobabbled about it, then you'll totally empathize with these Douglas Adams types:
"Do you know what's going on?" "Maybe it's another drill." Like I said, no internal communication. Now back to the young hot kids then. Slave master Luke, Chewbacca the Wookie who freaks out for no reason (if at least he were skittering away from a tentacle, but there's nothing there), super-sexist Han Solo (if it's all authority he doesn't respond well to, what's that crack about "female advice"?)...
...and women's lib icon Princess Leia who has just about had enough of this. One piece of (gender-neutral) advice, Leia: If you don't want Han to fire his weapons because the Imperials might hear, don't SCREAM at him. It really is Deep Space Nine Season 1. Luke rolls his eyes. Han complains. Leia calls Chewie a walking carpet. There's no arc if they like each other from the start, I get it, but it's one of the reasons A New Hope makes me grit my teeth while I find Empire a good movie. In the latter, they're friends, and so I want to be friends with them. In Ep.IV, they're not, so I don't.

Well, it's been swell, I'll let you go to your new movie now. We'll finish this next week. Maybe there'll even be a lightsaber fight. No promises.


LiamKav said...

I don't think there's any other intentional English. I believe there might be marks left by production and what not, but no other close ups.

Of course, them having a different alphabet doesn't explain why they're called X-Wings and Y-Wings when they don't HAVE an X and Y in their alphabet.

(Oh god, there's going to be a terrible EU explanation, isn't there?)

Siskoid said...

Holy crap! You're right! Well... the Y-wing looks more like a tuning fork. Which is why I always mistook the Imperial shuttles for Y-wings based on the shape.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

As per the EU, there are two different alphabets; Aurabesh is the more common. (The other alphabet is just to explain the things that slipped through, like X and Y.)

As far as the change, it's nice retroactive continuity with Return of the Jedi, and I think the label is inferrable from the fact we know Ben is after the tractor beam, so... yeah, not necessary, but I think it's still a good change rather than the negative-unnecessary ones back in Mos Eisley.

As far as the ships, the bigger question is how in the world Return of the Jedi's B-wing even remotely resembles the letter B. :-) But I think you guys are missing the sci-fi obvious; there is no English alphabet; rather, there is a fearsome, agile four-winged avian predator called the Ecks in this universe, after which the fighter is modeled... while the bomber craft are so slow and ineffective (though they explode VERY impressively) that pilots assigned to them are always heard to remark "Why? WHY???"- hence its nickname as the Why-wing.

LiamKav said...

I can't work out if your explanation is better or worse than the official one. :) And yeah, it always bugged me that B-Wings look nothing like either "b" or "B". But they were always the desirable ship of the 90s X-Wing games, so I heart them.

Was Aurabesh invented for ROTJ, or was it created before that but we just never saw it?

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I heart them, too. That's why I dug 'Wings of the Master' on rebels this season.

I think aurabesh was invented for ROTJ...? I can't imagine what else it would have been used for before that... Wookieepedia seems to concur. Aurabesh: making the rule book for Star Wars Monopoly a prized possession since 1997. ;-)

On the tractor beam change (vis a vis, the English Alphabet), "Note that this particular instance was the only scene in the movie to clearly show Roman letters (though highly observant viewers note that a needle on an IT-O interrogation droid in an earlier scene is marked "British Made")."

Siskoid said...

It's visible on prop photography, but looks blurred with bad Photoshop in the Special Edition. It was probably never very legible, and it's upside down.

Green Luthor said...

Offhand, the only written text I can think of from Empire would be the translator for R2 in Luke's X-Wing. I don't think they used English for that, but I also don't know if it was Aurabesh, either. (Firing up the "Despecialized Edition" copy, it kinda looks like some English letters, but rotated and reversed, with other random symbols, so... somewhere in between English and Aurabesh, I guess?) (I'm also guessing that was changed to Aurabesh in the Special Editions, but I don't feel like checking right now...)

Way back when, I remember people speculating that the B-Wing kinda resembled a knife, so the "B" was for "blade". That seemed kind of a stretch, to be honest. Apparently, on Wookiepedia, they say that, if you rotate the B-Wing such that the cockpit is on the bottom, and look at it from the starboard side, it sort of resembles a lower-case 'b'. That also sounds like someone trying to find a reason to justify the name after the fact, though.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Well, blade-wing is the new retconned origin for the name, so I guess the speculation caught on. :-)

Pretty sure the R2 translator was indeed updated.


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