31 May 2013

Let the Wookiee Win

The wonderful thing about the props and costumes that make their way through Disney’s Hollywood Studios is that repeat guests get to regularly see pieces from new and old films alike rotated through the park's galleries. The bad news is you never know when a piece you’re attached to will disappear. Such is the case with today’s artifact, the holographic table from the Millennium Falcon that resides in the queue for The Great Movie Ride. I can remember marveling at this piece as a teenager before it was moved to make way for new props. Luckily, it has once again returned!

This table comes into play in the original Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope. While soaring through hyperspace Chewbacca and R2-D2 engage in a friendly game of dejarik. Many equate the game to chess, and while there are similarities, the Star Wars universe does in fact have chess. Given that both games are played on checker patterned boards and are based on combat strategies, however, it makes for a perfectly reasonable comparison. Dejarik was a creation of the Jedi as a way to hone their perception and combat skills, but became popular throughout the galaxy.

Just as portrayed in the A New Hope, the dejarik pieces are holograms that range in size from five to thirty centimeters and move as the creature they are modeled after would move and attack or die. I would give you the names of some of these creatures, but I’m fairly certain you would think I am just making up nonsense words. Creature designer Phil Tippett crafted each of the pieces which were filmed with stop motion. Just like real creatures and players alike, if the pieces are left unmoved or if the game is abandoned for too long and not turned off, the pieces will begin to show the signs of boredom.

The game may not be a critical moment in Star Wars – A New Hope, but it is this layering of the world around the characters that has made Star Wars such an indelible part of our film and entertainment culture. Plus, dejarik provides a backdrop through which viewers gain insights into the personalities of C-3PO, R2-D2, and the mayor of Star Wars Weekends, Chewbacca. And as Han Solo reminds us, “It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.”

1 comment:

Rich T. said...

One of my favorite props from the entire saga! My favorite SW film is--and might always be--the 1977 original. One of Lucas's strokes of genius in that first film was making everything look used and "lived in," and that game table is a perfect example. It looks like it's been through the hands of several owners (including Lando!) before winding up with Han.