A man walks into a bar — not just any old bar
Co-creator of the infamous Star Wars 'Cantina' reminisces at Tokyo Comic Con about making the first movie 40 years ago
The Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisley has to be one of the most famous watering holes ever. If it doesn’t ring any bells, that’s because you probably know it better as “the Star Wars bar.”
The fictitious drinking haunt of space pirates on the planet Tatooine has become one of the movie franchise’s iconic scenes since resident band Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes first struck up a few chords in 1976.
The original “cantina” set was fondly remembered by its co-creator Alan Roderick-Jones on Saturday.
He was talking at the Tokyo Comic Con, a celebration of all things comics and pop culture which kicked off at the weekend with real-life Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee in town along with actor Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in Marvel’s Avengers films.
The convention held just outside of Tokyo was jammed with superhero wannabes such as Spiderman and characters from blockbuster movie franchises like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Guardians of the Galaxy and, of course Star Wars.
Roderick-Jones was interviewed on stage about that famous set that he created with the late production designer John Barry for the first movie, Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.
“I still remember when the costumes came in for the first time. I was 36 back then and my job was all about construction and fabrics. Then all of a sudden I saw all these people with alien costumes coming in,” said Roderick-Jones whose production design work spans five decades across multiple industries.
He said the film’s director, George Lucas, had everything planned in his mind. “People working in different departments often wouldn’t know the big picture — people working on music, sets, costumes and so on. We just put our heads into our jobs.”
Of the latest Star Wars movies, Roderick-Jones said: “Now we have the technology to make anything we want. But John came up with all the original designs, so I think now people try to reproduce the look we achieved in the first film.
“You just don’t feel right if you don’t see the scene in a star wars movie,” he said.
Asked how he dealt with all the nostalgia that surrounds the movie, Roderick-Jones said: “I’m afraid that after 40 years Star Wars has become part of me. What hits me the most is the force.
“I think what George is trying to tell us is that that is who we are; we are the force, and we just gotta let go.
“It’s very simple, just let go. Like what Ben’s voice says in the 1977 Star Wars movie: Luke, let go.
“In this business, if you are to design something, most of the time you just go with the flow. The director wants something green, you pull out 30 different kinds of green.”
At the end of the question and answer session Roderick-Jones said: “I don’t have any regrets except for one: make sure your name is on the unit list. I was unable to receive an Oscar because I forgot that.”