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Thread: Star Wars has too many desert planets (opinion piece)

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    Star Wars has too many desert planets (opinion piece)

    Think about it: haven't you had enough of desert planets?

    https://www.thrillist.com/entertainm...anets-tatooine
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    Depending on your definition of desert, one might say our own solar system has too many desert worlds... although Mars is the closest to being like the Star Wars desert planets in having an atmosphere and interestingly colored sky.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Think about it: haven't you had enough of desert planets?

    https://www.thrillist.com/entertainm...anets-tatooine
    Is it possible that the author of that piece would benefit from a long walk and a break from social media? I think it might be.

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    The very core of the Star Wars saga is Luke - a backwater country farmer boy who dreams of getting away from his home.

    "If there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from."
    - Luke Skywalker, ep IV

    If the author doesn't like Tatooine, then the author simply doesn't get Star Wars.


    Much more likely, the author said "What article could I write that would get Star Wars fans riled up enough to read and respond and share?"

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    Star Wars really is a Western, after all

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    Star Wars really is a Western, after all
    :like:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Think about it: haven't you had enough of desert planets?

    https://www.thrillist.com/entertainm...anets-tatooine
    Earth has deserts, are we sick of Earth now too?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    When I was a kid, my father was a subscriber to the Science Fiction Book Club for years probably starting before I was born, which sent him a new book each month, and he kept a bunch of them (maybe all?). I didn't read most, but sometimes I did go to the shelves and pull some out just to look at the old-school sci-fi book cover art. Those that showed natural environments on planets at all disproportionately showed desert scenes and bare rock formations. Those were just easier to draw than an environment that's more covered in life. But the tendency to show deserts for sci-fi art, as incidental as the reason might have been, seems likely to have been one of the two main influences on the choice to put Luke in a desert. The other, as I see it, would be that a large part of the scifi psyche by the time Star Wars was made had already been defined in books by the Dune and Barsoom series (which, of course, had not only the verbal descriptions of deserts but also more of that rocky desert cover art). Since Star Wars was so much an homage to earlier sci-fi that just hadn't been in movie form, and Luke's thematic journey needed to start with his life looking poor & bleak & hopeless, there's really no other setting Luke could have come from. (The same tendency toward deserts in sci-fi and their being easier to draw would also have influenced Eternia as drawn in the cartoons I watched as a kid.)

    But after that, there really was no need for Jabba to be in Luke's home environment/planet, and no need for Rey's home or the city Jyn went to for a while to also be in deserts on other planets. Nor is there any particular need to end TLJ with a battle on a salt flat, which I guess the article's author left out because it was white instead of yellow & brown. At that point, after you've done Hoth and Endor and wherever the grassy plains were where Anakin & Padme saw the giant ticks grazing, going back to deserts again & again is just getting mentally stuck for no particular thematic reason. So the article author does have a point that it's strange to see so much desert in these movies. Maybe it's just cheaper to secure shooting locations in deserts for some mundane Earthly reason. And maybe with Jedha, they were trying to make it look like an ancient early-civilization archeological site, and Occidental audiences tend to think of those kinds of places as being in what are now deserts.

    But (s)he shouldn't have called them all "desert planets". How many of them were ever said to be on a whole planet of desert? Maybe we're just not shown what the rest of each of those planets is like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    Maybe it's just cheaper to secure shooting locations in deserts for some mundane Earthly reason. And maybe with Jedha, they were trying to make it look like an ancient early-civilization archeological site, and Occidental audiences tend to think of those kinds of places as being in what are now deserts.
    I'll put my money on 'setting the appropriate stage for the story'.

    Desert settings are not an arbitrary choice, picked on a whim, just for colour.


    A location where people are barely surviving - making them huddle together for protection even while stealing and murdering for resources - is an ideal motivator for dramatic characters.

    Pick another habitat:
    Fire? Fire means chemicals, minerals and heat for reactions.
    Jungle? Plenty of water, plenty of food, plenty of building materials.
    Water? see Jungle.

    If Star Wars were centred around a jungle planet teaming with life, or a city-world like Coruscant, then:

    - Luke wouldn't have been a moisture farmer - poor, clueless and trapped on a remote planet, far from the action
    - Luke wouldn't have been attacked by Raiders - or Jawas - for his supplies
    - they wouldn't have had a Mos Eisely, with
    -- spunky hotshot pilots desperate for a gig and willing to get shot down by Star Destroyers for the resale price of a landspeeder
    -- killers that have the death sentence in twelve systems
    - Anakin wouldn't have been a slave, wouldn't have had to leave his mother behind
    - the Jedis wouldn't have had to go to desperate measures just to get off the planet

    And finally:

    - a well-populated, well-resourced place would be just as well-populated by the Empire, and thus a bad place for anyone fleeing the Empire's clutches to be.
    So our story must be here, where no one else wants to go, but desperate rebels have to go to hide from the law.


    Same goes for other desert planets (and ice moons).

    Lack of resources and the struggle just to survive tends to nourish the kind of people, places and motives that only desperate rebels fleeing the law would dare partake of.
    Last edited by DaveC426913; 2020-Jan-19 at 06:51 PM.

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    How many all-desert planets has Star Wars shown onscreen? They've mostly shown deserts on planets, but Tatooine is the only one that is explicitly a desert planet.

    The Jakku wasteland surrounded the wreckage of a Star Destroyer. Certainly if there had been life on that site before, it was wiped out during the crash.

    The all-ice planet Hoth, was near a dense asteroid field and canonically had lots of meteor activity, so it should be expected to have an inhospitable surface.

    Geonosis had a ring of debris, possibly remains of a moon that broke up? Again, no real expectation of a robust biosphere.

    So, fertile planets might be relatively uncommon in the SW universe.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    So, fertile planets might be relatively uncommon in the SW universe.
    The supplemental material shows many more of both kinds (fertile and inhospitable), but just limiting it to on-screen, Naboo has swamps, forests, and grasslands, Yavin 4 and Kashyyyk are jungle (as is the Moon of Endor, albeit not a planet), and Alderaan is Planet Switzerland with both icy mountains and valley meadows.
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    Tvtropes has a bit on this - single biome planet

    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.p...gleBiomePlanet

    They reference this comic about Star Wars:

    https://www.irregularwebcomic.net/87.html

    Of course, Stargate SG1 planets usually have forests and Star Trek planets usually look like Southern California, so it isn’t just Star Wars.

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    One thing also that occurs to me is this: the only places that you can film on earth that are nondescript, in the sense that the viewer doesn't immediately recognize them as the Earth are probably deserts and oceans. If you have a forest, it's pretty clear that it's actually filmed on Earth, because it defies commonsense (whether it's true or not) that other planets would actually have trees that look like those on Earth. While we know that other planets, like the Moon and Mars, actually look like deserts on Earth.

    I do wonder where they get the oxygen from, though...
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I do wonder where they get the oxygen from, though...
    Sandworms, of course.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Of all the problems that Star Wars has with science and physics, the least of its problems is ecology of alien worlds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Of all the problems that Star Wars has with science and physics, the least of its problems is ecology of alien worlds.
    Last night I watched the 2-1/2 hour story behind Lucas and his "The Star Wars" movie making. When they traveled to do the desert scene, Episode IV, they had the worst storm in decades. When they went to film the snow scene, Episode V, it was the worst blizzard in 50 years. They filmed Skywalker in the blizzard by having the film crew in the hallway and leaving the hall door open.
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