A long time ago in a galaxy quite close actually, George Lucas set out his vision of a space opera to a gaggle of Hollywood executives. It proved to be reasonably popular with audiences. The phenomenon that is the Star Wars universe is one of the most popular franchises that the world has ever seen – but that doesn’t mean that it is flawless. Both the original trilogy and the ill-judged prequels are riddled with mistakes that suggest the bearded maestro frequently let his eye wonder in the editing suite; we’re not just referring to the presence of amphibious irritant Jar-Jar Binks.
Everybody with a passing interest in matters of The Force will have heard about the clumsy Stormtrooper who brained himself while lumbering through the corridors after Darth Vader, but this is far from the only careless error that made it into the final cut of the films. There are an astonishing number of continuity errors, fumbled lines and dubbing that would put a 1970’s kung-fu film to shame. Here, using strong insights that would foil even the strongest Jedi mind trick, we shall explore ten of the most glaring errors that may have slipped under your radars.
From ropey special effects to extras disappearing and reappearing in the same scene, we can’t help but wonder how much attention Lucas was paying to the finished product. While reissued prints of the films and future special editions have eliminated some of the bloopers, they are all preserved for eternal posterity thanks to vigilant YouTubers. There’s been a disturbance in The Farce (sorry)…
10. Lightsaber Wire
When we watched the original Star Wars movie (none of this Episode IV nonsense here) as innocent children, we always wondered just how the Jedi and Sith operated their lightsabers. Was Alec Guinness actually blessed with powers of the Force? Could Dave Prowse control the Midi-chlorians around his blade? The answer was far more prosaic and obvious to anybody who paid close attention to the scene in Star Wars where Obi-Wan Kenobi faces off against Darth Vader. As the two circle one another, the wire that connects the lightsaber to the battery pack hidden in Guinness’ robes can clearly be seen poking out of his sleeve. Could such editorial tardiness be the real reason the classical thespian was notoriously grumpy about his most beloved role in later years?
9. Luke’s Ventriloquism
Poor Mark Hamill has had a slightly rough ride from his most famous role. As Luke Skywalker, he was the central protagonist of the original trilogy, but his career never took off in the same manner as co-star Harrison Ford. The poor bloke hasn’t even seen his image grace the promotional material for The Force Awakens, for reasons that are, as yet unclear. He also suffered from some simply dreadful dubbing throughout the trilogy. While it is common practice for actors to re-dub lines later, there are numerous occasions where Luke’s mouth moves with no synchronization to the words coming out of them; In Return Of the Jedi, he says “Come on!” before switching off the barge without moving his lips and mouths “What was that?” in the garbage compactor in Star Wars with no sound coming out.
8. The Potato And Shoe Asteroids
The original film in the series operated on a far lower budget than the following five episodes; this accounts for the reliance upon physical props and the relative lack of CGI, which is a blessing compared to the graphics-drenched prequel trilogy. However, a shallower money pot doesn’t excuse the production team’s willingness to throw any old prop they find lying around into certain scenes. As the Millennium Falcon navigates a treacherous asteroid field in Star Wars, we can clearly see a potato and, of all things, a shoe float past the screen. Maybe it was an in-joke that was left in to amuse the crew, or maybe it was just a careless error that slipped into the final cut of the movie.
7. Leia’s Quick Costume Change
Carrie Fisher had her fair share of iconic costume designs as Princess Leia. Her hairdo in Star Wars has been much copied (and parodied) since the release of the film and the gold bikini she wears as a slave of Jabba in Return of the Jedi has caused many a Sci-Fi fans, including one Dr.Ross Geller, to experience thoughts more aligned to the Dark Side. There is one costume that rarely gets mentioned, however. When the rebels enter the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi, Leia has changed into a buckskin dress. Where on Endor did that appear from? Is it something she always packs alongside her blaster when travelling to hostile territories? Did the Ewoks have one in Leia’s exact size just hanging about the compound on the off-chance it may come in handy? It’s a leap of logic even wise old Yoda would struggle to explain.
6. The Youngling Materialisation
It isn’t just the original trilogy which is littered with careless continuity errors – the frankly rubbish The Phantom Menace is filled with glaring howlers. In the final scene of the movie, the characters have a parade to celebrate not having to espouse any more clunky dialogue. Standing behind R2-D2 and Anakin Skywalker is a youngling in a peach-colored dress. Though clearly visible one moment, she suddenly disappears and re-materializes in the foreground of a shot of the rest of the younglings throwing confetti onto the parade. A few shots later, perhaps mindful that audiences would have bigger issues to pick holes in throughout the film, she’s reappeared behind Anakin and the Queen.
5. Anakin’s Fireproof Eyelashes
The climactic scenes of Revenge of the Sith involve Obi-Wan and Anakin having a dust-up on a planet made of fire, which is definitely something you shouldn’t try at home. After lopping off various limbs, Obi-Wan rather coldly leaves the whiny Sith lord as a crispy mess at the shore of a lake of lava. As we see Anakin’s Vader mask being lowered onto his face a few shots later, in the redeeming scene of the prequel trilogy, we notice that his hair and eyebrows have been entirely burned off by the flames. Despite this, Anakin still has long and rather luscious eyelashes, clearly visible as his face is seen in close-up. Maybe a side benefit of the Force is flame-retardant eyelashes?
4. Dust No Match For Force
An epic lightsaber battle between Skywalkers Junior and Senior close out the original trilogy in Return of the Jedi. As Luke refuses to submit to the Dark Side and execute his father, Emperor Sidious takes the news rather badly and begins to fire Sith lightning at Luke. As Darth Vader watches on, maybe pondering why Yoda didn’t bother teaching Luke how to absorb Sith lightning as Yoda did in Revenge of the Sith, his emotional turmoil is mirrored by the constantly changing state of his helmet. As the shots fluctuate between the Emperor and Vader, the latter’s helmet changes from dusty, to shiny and clean and then back to dusty again.
3. The Millennium Falcon Flies Past Itself
Back to the asteroid field in Star Wars for a quick lesson on how not to apply the laws of astrophysics to your movie. As previously mentioned in this article, the special effects gurus decided to take it easy one afternoon and threw a potato and a shoe into the mix when shooting the scene in which the Millennium Falcon navigates an asteroid field. In later cuts of the film, one of the props that is seen through the window of the Millennium Falcon as it hurtles through space is very familiar indeed…it’s the Millennium Falcon. George Lucas had used footage from all three original films when preparing his remasters in the ’90s and spliced them into the asteroid scene. Sadly, such footage included the falcon itself, meaning Han Solo flies past himself.
2. Luke’s Color-Changing Light Sabre
The final duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is one of the highlights of the entire series, with it being almost impossible not to get caught up in the drama and tension of the moment on first viewing. Sadly, the editorial team must have been similarly caught in the moment. Along with the aforementioned clean/dusty helmet alternation, Luke’s lightsaber also changes between shots. He has a blue-bladed lightsaber for the first two films, then loses it after Vader cuts off his hand at the climax of The Empire Strikes Back. After constructing a new, green-bladed lightsaber, he uses this for the entirety of Return of the Jedi, up to and including the final duel with Vader. However, there are still several shots during this scene where Luke is clearly wielding his original, blue lightsaber.
1. The Unconvincing Ewok
For all the fanboy hate surrounding Jar-Jar Binks, it’s easy to forget that the cutesy teddy bears of Return of the Jedi were equally as loathed upon the film’s original release. The Ewoks were – and indeed still are – a cloying reminder that the films are essentially aimed at youngsters. It’s perhaps inevitable that the top entry in our list of annoying, needless mistakes concern the annoying, needless characters. Though the Ewoks would probably have been rendered in sterile CGI had they cropped up in the prequel trilogy, it was still more cost effective in 1983 to use the tried and trusted extras-in-costumes method to bring the bears to life. Sadly, this made for many instances of uncomfortable moments where it was all too obvious that it was all make-believe, most noticeably the fact that one particularly ill-fitting costume made it easy to see the actor within through the eyeholes.