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BTS SW Costumes: Concepts and Designs (Note: Image heavy, may contain Ep VII spoilers)

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by ATMachine, Jun 24, 2014.

  1. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2007
    As I've noted in the past, While writing the original Star Wars film in 1975, George Lucas considered having Princess Leia’s torture at Imperial hands be considerably more graphic. Among other injuries, Leia’s back would likely have borne half-healed whip marks from a flogging, and one of her eyes would be swollen shut, like Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo.

    Darth Vader’s thugs would even have installed a cyborg dataport on her head, in order to access Leia’s memories, leaving one side of her head half-shaved afterward. Anyone who’s seen THX-1138 might find this imagery familiar.

    The end result, as seen in the Ralph McQuarrie storyboards below, was that once Luke rescued Leia, he’d be running around the Death Star corridors alongside a bare-breasted, blaster-wielding princess with a punk hairstyle and a very pissed-off mood.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Eugene Delacroix would be proud.


    Oddly enough, on the last season of History Channel’s Vikings, the character of Thorunn the shieldmaiden received injuries in battle which are a pretty good approximation of what George Lucas wanted for Leia’s facial wounds:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    They even worked in the half-shaven hairstyle.

    (This is even more remarkable when you consider that, judging by McQuarrie's 1975 concept sketches, Lucas evidently wanted Leia to be a Wagnerian-type blonde who shared Luke’s hair color.)
     
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  2. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Here's another John Mollo sketch from SW 1977 of Ben Kenobi in Tatooine farmer garb, a costume which was eventually cut (likely for budget reasons).

    In the final film, of course, Obi-wan wears his old Jedi robes from the start, instead of putting them on during the trip to Leia's homeworld as planned in the third draft.

    [​IMG]

    If this costume had remained in the film, imagine how many Internet threads complaining about the PT Jedi wearing "Tatooine farmer robes" wouldn't have been created... :p
     
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  3. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2015
    ATMachine

    This is a fascinating and great thread, thanks for taking the time to share this wealth of information.

    Regarding the Imperial uniform, I'd like to add that John Mollo did a fabulous job of blending characteristics of various "bad guy" WW II (and beyond) uniforms into a new mold that carries allusions to all of these
    • German Wehrmacht trousers
    • Soviet and Chinese jackets
    • Japanese duty caps
    It would appear that you might just as well be my proverbial "last hope".

    I also own a copy of Star Wars Costumes but find the information on the Imperial uniform and its variations (not to mention the lack of informatio on the rank plaques / badges) Rinzler provided rather superficial.

    For example, what was the "light" uniform designed for, worn by one of the Death Star Conference attendants to the right of Motti?

    We see the uniform and its wearers (conference attendant, officer who approaches Tarkin after they entered the Alderaan system) pass by as Han, Luke and Chewie wait for the elevator, but there is no hint what Mollo (or Lucas) intended this uniform to represent:

    http://starwarsscreencaps.com/star-wars-episode-iv-a-new-hope-1977/48/

    Regarding the McQuarrie Imperial uniform costume sketch we see a sidearm, interestingly we don't see anyboy wearing a sidearm in the film, yet Admiral Motti and Officer Cass wear an ammunition belt (Tarkin, Taggi and Commander Number One do not).
     
  4. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2007
    IIRC the later EU suggests that these were officers in the Imperial secret police. I suspect that something of the sort might have been intended from the get-go -- either secret police in the Gestapo vein, or perhaps Soviet-style political commissars, hanging around to make sure everyone else adheres to the orthodoxy of the regime. Note their black hats, after all -- Mollo intended black and stark white as the color scheme of the Empire, versus off-whites and blue for the Rebel soldiers.
     
  5. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2015
    ATMachine

    Yes, that's the same EU conjecture I heard - and it makes absolutely no sense, IMHO: So the elderly guy ("Yularen") attends, and his light jacket is a "red flag" for everybody attending. After he has left the room any conspirators know they can have a private conversation how to overthrow the Emperor by using the Death Star.
    Had Tarkin's aide (Commander # One) or the old Romodi guy been a mole that the others wouldn't suspect as such, that would make more sense.

    Regarding their black hats I find these inconclusive. The engineers or technicians that are ordered to scan the Falcon also wear black hats.

    Therefore, I'm rather led to believe that the light uniform actually belongs to the Engineering Corps and that the Death Star conference attendant is actually the staff engineer.

    My reasoning is that:
    1. All these imperial officers at the Death Star conference didn't just leave the room after Tarkin had announced the "road map". They were probably talking and discussing the operation schedule of their new battle station. At such a briefing it makes sense to have the main and/or staff engineer present to be able to answer technical questions, as such he is Motti's most important man and correspondingly seated to Motti's right.
    2. We see the elderly guy later together with another officer (and a few seconds later yet another) pass Han, Luke and Chewie in front of the elevator. As staff engineers their presence deep within the Death Star personnel section is to be expected, as "political" officers their presence raises some questions why they are all heading in one direction (and obviously not on their way to the detention block to question Alderaan survivors or guests).
    3. The biggest hint for these guys to be staff engineers, IMHO, comes in the scene where they just entered the Alderaan System. The "third" officer in this uniform approaches Tarkin, informs him about something, but Tarkin raises his hand ("not now" or "I got it, move on"?) and the officer leaves.
    Here are the screencaps (starting at frame # 125): http://starwarsscreencaps.com/star-wars-episode-iv-a-new-hope-1977/37/

    It's Motti who informs Tarkin they entered the Alderaan System, so what could that officer have told Tarkin that was relevant? Since Tarkin was going to destroy Alderaan anyway, I'd say that this officer told Tarkin that the Death Star had been charged or whatever and was ready to fire at Tarkin's command.

    Yet, Tarkin could already hear the footsteps of Princess Leia being brought in, therefore wanted to cut the report short to ensure that Leia wasn't accidently hearing that Tarkin was about to destroy her home planet anyway.

    While I'd like to think my conjecture is a reasonable and matches the onscreen events, the ultimate authority to answer remains Mr. John Mollo, hence my curiousity to learn what he really intended this uniform to stand for.
     
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  6. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Returning to this thread: in a little-noticed detail, Ralph McQuarrie’s 1975 designs for stormtrooper armor differed from the film version by giving lower-ranking troopers helmets with chrome tops.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This was probably the inspiration for Captain Phasma’s chrome armor in TFA (albeit used to signal higher rank rather than the opposite).

    Also, not a costume per se, but here’s a Ralph McQuarrie design for the Death Star torture robot, along with a probably-unrelated helmet design:

    [​IMG]

    JW Rinzler in The Making of Star Wars erroneously describes this image as a sketch for a droid "in the bottom-left corner" of McQuarrie's painting of the Death Star prison-block elevators. But one look at those threatening mandibles (not to mention the needle in the droid's right claw) reveals that this is an early iteration of the torture droid used on Princess Leia.

    This seems to be deliberate obtuseness (or censorship?) on Rinzler's part... since the droid's two pincer arms in McQuarrie's sketch were almost certainly inspired by the early Christian legend of the martyr Saint Agatha (a frequent subject for Renaissance painters). During the persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire, Agatha, a convert from a Roman noble family, was tortured and had her breasts cut off by red-hot pincers.

    And what's on the very same page of The Making of SW, in the bottom left corner? Ralph McQuarrie's pencil storyboards of a bare-breasted Princess Leia.
     
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  7. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2015
    Actually no. The costume designer had made a chrome armor sketch but didn't submit it. Then Kathleen Kennedy stopped by his office, liked it and the rest is history. I read the article but can't relocate it.
     
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  8. {Quantum/MIDI}

    {Quantum/MIDI} Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Man, the OT would have been a lot darker...
     
  9. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 27, 2007
    It would have been thematically on a par with THX-1138. As it was, the lack of menace that resulted when GL took out the violent bits from the 1975 drafts compelled him to kill Obi-Wan in revisions during shooting.
     
  10. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

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    Sep 30, 2012
    What you're thinking of is the Imperial Security Bureau. However, there's nothing secret about the ISB in either canon. ISB agents and officers don't hide themselves whatsoever. An example of an ISB agent is Agent Kallus from Rebels.
     
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  11. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2015
    Here is a Lucas statement (from the photo pages in the ANH novelization) why that's the one thing he didn't aim for:

    "I came to realize that since the demise of the western there hasn't been much in the mythological fantasy genre available to the film audience. So, instead of making "isn't-it-terrible-what's-happening-to-mankind" movies, which is how I began, I decided that I'd try to fill that gap."
     
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  12. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

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    Sep 30, 2012
    Also, the combination of Vietnam and Watergate left the country in a pessimistic mood. This was reflected in the films of the era. Lucas wanted to make the world more optimistic.
     
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  13. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 27, 2007
    But of course there was also the issue which occupied GL from the fourth draft on: the box office.

    It's evident that in 1976, GL really began to worry about the idea that Star Wars, as unlikely as it now sounds, would be a massive flop. Thus in the January '76 fourth draft and the March shooting script, he revised the story to make SW stand on its own if no sequels were made: the fact that Vader (ostensibly) killed Luke's father is now explicitly stated, while Grand Moff Tarkin is introduced as a bureaucratic villain, an Emperor stand-in whose death symbolizes the Rebellion's victory over the Empire. Likewise, lingering plot threads like the Kiber Crystal (which along with Luke's sword was meant to be further explained in future sequels) were written out.

    At the same time, though, Lucas took the decision to keep well on the safe side of the PG rating, by taking out the violence and nudity from earlier drafts. I mean, in the third-draft storyboards Darth Vader literally rips a Rebel soldier's arm off -- a scene which makes the blink-and-you'll-miss-it cantina fight look tame. This decision also meant that he had to tone down Leia's torture, and any thoughts of having her run around bare-breasted like a Eugene Delacroix cosplay were right out.

    In fact, Lucas went so far in this direction that during shooting it became evident to him that SW was shaping up to be a bloodless, child-friendly film where the villains never put the heroes in any real danger. Scrambling to fix this problem and restore the sense of jeopardy from the 1975 third draft is why he ended up killing Obi-Wan... which led to a whole host of problems down the road.

    And one could argue that SW lost something in 1976 that it never quite regained: GL's early drafts speak repeatedly about how the Empire was meant to be an allegory that could stand for a corrupted future America as well as other totalitarian states. But ever since Ronald Reagan and his "Star Wars" missile defense program, this point has been largely lost to the general public (thus the mild controversy over the politics in ROTS). Frankly, I very much doubt Ronald Reagan would have embraced the imagery of a film where the beautiful Princess spends half the film half-naked and badly bloodied.
     
  14. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 27, 2007
    Again, that sounds very much like Soviet commissars -- political officers in the Red Army whose chief duty was to ensure "ideological orthodoxy" among the other generals (ie, send anyone making snide remarks about the Glorious Leader to the gulag). Unlike the pre-WWI secret police of continental European nations, Commissars wore special uniforms openly marking their status as official spies for the Kremlin, which increased the terror they spread (if not their effectiveness).
     
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  15. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

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    Sep 30, 2012
    ATMachine Why do the Stormtroopers wear white rather than black considering that they're villains?
     
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  16. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 27, 2007
    Because it's part of the whole "the Empire is a dark version of America" idea: the Imperial officers think of themselves as "white knights" (Ku Klux Klan reference intentional) bringing order to a galaxy beset by chaos and insurrection. They imagine themselves as the heroes of the piece -- the guys wearing the white hats, in Western parlance -- when really they're the villains.

    As I said in my earlier post, a lot of viewers (most notably Ronald Reagan) missed this point entirely.
     
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  17. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

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    Sep 30, 2012
    Interesting. Does this mean that Vader doesn't see himself as a "white knight"?
     
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  18. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 27, 2007
    I was just pondering that very question myself.
     
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  19. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

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    Sep 30, 2012
    There are things that suggest that Vader cares about honor. He warns Motti about his arrrogance and he insists on facing Obi-Wan alone. Lightsaber dueling comes off as an ancient and obsolete tradition that Vader and Obi-Wan are the last practictioners of.
     
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  20. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

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    Sep 30, 2012
    I noticed that the helmets of the Death Star guards and technicians have a similar shape to Vader's helmet. Does this mean that that helmet shape is or was intended to be standard for the Empire? It fuels my belief that with the exception of the second draft, the Sith were intended to be Jedi who remained loyal Palpatine instead of to their fellow Jedi.
     
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  21. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 27, 2007
    I agree with your headcanon about the Sith Knights being Jedi who didn't join the rebellion against Palpatine.

    Actually, the other Sith Knights were meant to wear helmets very similar to Vader's, as seen in several of John Mollo's costume sketches.
     
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  22. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

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    Sep 30, 2012
    One theory that I've considered is that GL used white for "lawful evil" and black for "chaotic evil", so the Stormtroopers wear white because they're obedient orwellian soldiers while Vader wears black because he's power-hungry and thinks independently.
     
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  23. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 7

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    Oct 4, 1998
    I think white works for stormtrooper armor because it makes the helmets look like skulls.
     
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  24. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Jedi Master star 4

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    Dec 8, 2015
    Vader's desigation had been "Dark Lord of the Sith", in this context the black armor made sense.

    darklordoftech

    The Imperial security guards and controllers in the John Mollo sketches (published in Starburst magazine) got the Mollo designation being members of "Darth Vader's Guard Corps"

    ATMachine

    Assuming that Lucas really intended to have Princess Leia walk around bare-chested he then must have really had a change of mind. IIRC, Lucas insisted to have Fisher's breast fixed, "no mushy stuff".
     
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  25. ATMachine

    ATMachine Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 27, 2007
    Lt. Hija

    As I said above, the overriding need in GL's mind c. 1976, to maximize box-office revenue by staying well on the PG side of movie ratings (this being before PG-13) was likely what caused this shift. Thus the gaffer tape.

    Still, as we know from Carrie Fisher, GL did have it as a personal canon of sorts that bras aren't a thing in the GFFA... because he'd already thought about it when planning to have Leia do an impromptu Liberty Leading the People cosplay, apparently.


    PS: do you remember which issue of Starburst magazine featured Mollo's designs for the other Sith Knights?