CT Grand Moff Tarkin - how well fleshed out a character is he in ANH?

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by Iron_lord, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. Iron_lord Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 8
    I've seen it argued that he's "one note" and I've seen it argued that there is much more to his character than that - any thoughts?
  2. SlashMan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2012
    star 4
    He's wise and cunning, but also completely insane. Him and Vader give us the idea of what the Empire is all about. He could have been explored more, but I like how he succumbed to his own overconfidence.
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  3. Iron_lord Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 8
    That's certainly the tack The Rise & Fall of Darth Vader takes:

    "I think it's time we demonstrated the full power of this station," Tarkin said. Turning to Motti, he commanded, "Set your course for Alderaan."
    "With pleasure," Motti replied with an evil smile.
    Realizing what Tarkin intended, Vader surveyed the man with new respect. The Dark Lord had done many horrendous and unpardonable things, but it seemed that Tarkin- at least in this situation- was even more diabolically inventive. However, Vader had one problem with Tarkin's scheme. "Alderaan is one of the foremost of the inner systems," Vader said. "The Emperor should be consulted."
    "Do not think to challenge me!" Tarkin snapped. "You are not confronting Tagge or Motti now! The Emperor has placed me in charge of this affair with a free hand, and the decision is mine! And you will have your information that much sooner."
    Vader had long suspected that Grand Moff Tarkin was insane, but it was not until Tarkin had addressed him just then, without a trace of fear, that Vader was left without a doubt. Vader said "If your plan serves our purpose, it will justify itself."
    "The stability of the Empire is at stake," Tarkin said. "A planet is a small price to pay."


    An Imperial officer entered the conference room and reported that scout ships had travelled to Dantooine and discovered only the remains of a Rebel base that had been deserted for some time. After the officer left, Tarkin exploded with rage.
    "She lied!" Tarkin snarled. "She lied to us!"
    As much as Vader respected Tarkin's indifference to mass murder, the Grand Moff's rattled outburst indicated that Princess Leia had clearly won this particular battle of wills. Unable to resist driving a splinter into Tarkin's demented psyche, Vader said, "I told you she would never consciously betray the Rebellion."
    Tarkin scowled at Vader. "Terminate her … immediately!"
    Vader moved across the conference room to a communications console. With his helmet facing the comlink, he said, "Detention Area Security. Schedule the prisoner in cell 3187 for execution in one standard hour."
    "Yes, Lord Vader," answered a voice from the comlink.
    Glaring at Vader's back, Tarkin said, "I said immediately, Lord Vader."
    Vader was about to respond when a comlink buzzed on the table in front of Tarkin. He pushed a button and said, "Yes?"
    From the comlink, an Imperial officer announced, "We've captured a freighter entering the remains of the Alderaan system. Its markings match those of a ship that blasted out of Mos Eisley."
    Processing the information, Vader hypothesised, "They must be trying to return the stolen plans to the Princess. She may yet be of some use to us."
    Last edited by Iron_lord, Mar 7, 2014
  4. DARTHLINK Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2005
    star 4
    Tarkin was fleshed out enough for me to get the hint that he was a man blinded by his own power and cunning. Even when an officer suggested retreat when it looked like they could potentially lose the fight, Tarkin scoffed, acting as if it were the officer that was insane.
  5. Among the Clouds Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2001
    star 4
    For his purposes within the larger story, I think he was handled just right. We knew that he was in charge of the Death Star and that he was also (at least at one point) a governor. We also get the sense that he's been around a long time and that he's close to the emperor. We also know he's quite evil and doesn't hesitate to blow up entire planets at will. That's far more backstory than any other Imperial officer in the OT.
  6. Iron_lord Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 8
    True. If a single "note" can be given for him, it would probably be "ruthless".
  7. Garrett Atkins Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 11, 2013
    star 4
    Tarkin is a completely evil villian with no soul as shown in ANH- even more evil than Vader.
  8. sharkymcshark Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 12, 2013
    star 3
    He doesn't get any real development but you definitely get a sense of what kind of villain he is - calculating but will let his hubris get in the way, which eventually leads to his downfall.
  9. DRush76 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    For a one-dimensional villain, Tarkin was pretty damn good. Very impressive.
  10. Force Smuggler Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    I could feel the evil radiating off of him.
  11. DARTHLINK Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2005
    star 4
    Yeah. For a guy who doesn't have Force abilities, he's pretty damned evil. See him ordering the destruction of an entire planet as if he were simply asking for takeout. <shivers> Even Vader wouldn't have dreamed of zapping an entire planet without first consulting the Emperor.

    But that's what I like about Tarkin's character. He's a completely normal human, no magical abilities at all; yet he's able to do just as much evil as Vader with one word, using only the power of his authority. Something about that, when it's the *normal human character* doing all this evil using only his authority, it makes Tarkin much more terrifying than that lumbering, loud Sith with all the sorcery.
    Last edited by DARTHLINK, Mar 8, 2014
  12. Lord Miggler Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 6, 2013
    star 2
    He may be one dimensional or one note but he's memorable and that's what counts in that sort of role, he doesn't need a fully fleshed out arc or backstory he's there to represent the Empire and in being an utter ruthless son of bitch he leaves us in no doubt what he and the Empire are all about.
  13. MOC Yak Face Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2004
    star 4
    Tarkin may have come across as a bit of a mannequin in the hands of a lesser actor than Cushing. As it is, I think, as others have said, that he works well as the human face of a ruthless and evil Empire.
  14. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 7
    You guys make me sad but I find your comments completely unsurprising.
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  15. The_Phantom_Calamari Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 10, 2011
    star 4

    Admitting that Tarkin wasn't particularly three-dimensional or developed doesn't mean we dislike the character, or dislike Peter Cushing. In fact, if it weren't for Peter Cushing, the role wouldn't be nearly as memorable as it ended up being.

    Of course, even then, if you ask the average moviegoer of 2014 who Grand Moff Tarkin is, you're more likely to get blank stares than anything.
    Last edited by The_Phantom_Calamari, Mar 9, 2014
  16. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

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    Jun 8, 2006
    star 7
    I didn't say it did. He has a lot to him because it's Cushing that did him.
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  17. Ananta Chetan Jedi Master

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    Aug 11, 2013
    star 4
    Tarkin: Vader, release him.

    Vader: As you wish.

    One of the most memorable, iconic and succinct exchanges between any two movie villains, imho.
  18. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 7
    Agree with that all except the usage of 'villain'.
  19. Garrett Atkins Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 11, 2013
    star 4
    You don't think Tarkin's a villian?

    Or did you mean Vader?
  20. MOC Yak Face Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2004
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    I'm curious about that also...
  21. Seagoat Music and PT Section Sentinel (and PT Trivia Host)

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    Jan 25, 2013
    star 4
    I don't really think that Tarking was one-dimensional. He was more than just "Grr I'm evil"
    Yes, he was cruel, sadistic, but he wasn't "up in your face" direct about it like Palpatine. He's more subtle about it. In a way, that makes him even more frightening. As much as I love Palpatine, especially in the PT, I think Tarkin made more of an impact as an antagonist. I wish we'd seen a bit more of him in the PT other than a 10 second cameo.

    @Cushing's Admirer - it might just be the avatars, but I always read your posts in Cushing's voice :p
  22. squir1y Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 1, 2003
    star 2
    I think as good of a performance as Cushing gave (dude never disappoints) in the film, the character's best portrayals are in the radio drama and the Death Star novel. Really expanded on Tarkin's motivations and ultimate intentions.
    Iron_lord likes this.
  23. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 7
    To answer those that have asked: No, I don't consider either Tarkin or Vader a villain but I was speaking of Tarkin.

    Thank you for the compliment @Seagoat, I don't think he was sadistic or cruel. I for one didn't like the RotS cameo and I won't personally accept anyone but Cushing as Tarkin. Eveyone else is entitled to do as they choose. As done by Cushing in SW he wasn't scary in the least nor all that terrible. No, that doesn't mean I'm blind or stupid about Alderaan, either.
    Last edited by Cushing's Admirer, Mar 9, 2014
  24. Anakin Solo Revanchist Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 9, 2011
    star 4
    I shudder to think how deep into the dark side Tarkin would be if he were Force-sensitive. That being said, I don't believe him inherently evil, I think it was just the downfall of all those who are pieces in a dictatorship, the power corrupts. He believed he wielded the ultimate power, and it got to his head.
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  25. Seagoat Music and PT Section Sentinel (and PT Trivia Host)

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    Really now? I don't disagree with you off the bat, though I'd like to know your pov on why Tarkin isn't cruel. I mean, forcing Leia to watch the destruction of her home planet and its billions of inhabitants, then ordering her execution seems pretty cruel to me. I suppose you could use "good is a point of view" and say he was just fighting for his side, but genocide of an entire planet sounds a bit overkill
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