I always wince when I see a really cool bit of concept art that never made it into a film and so I'm always intrigued when I find out that a design was re-purposed from it's original role. A prime example of this is the Millennuim Falcon. I love this ship. It's gorgeous. If it had boobs I would get it drunk and try to kiss it. One thing I always love about Star Wars is the way they stress the speed of this ship. It's fast. Very fast apparently. It made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. Which is especially impressive as when you consider that a parsec is a unit of length used in astronomy and measures approximately 3.26 light years. It's the equivalent of saying "I'm fast. I ran the London Marathon in 250 metres". Now that is FAST.
However, the Falcon started off as a very different design, which is also beautiful and I would invite into my drunken kissing session. The Tantive IV.
The vehicle was quite long and George Lucas and the team at ILM felt it was somewhat similar in overall shape to the Eagle transporters from space 1999. So they started looking for a new approach.
Legend has it that George Lucas found inspiration in a burger sat on a plate with an olive on the side. However, ILM had already completed an original version of the Falcon before this decision was made which you can see below. It's basically the Tantive IV model with the iconic cockpit bolted onto the front. So the Falcon became the Tantive and the burger became the Falcon. I've got to say that overall this turned out to be some great decision making as both of these ships are gorgeous and both deserved the time they got on screen. It does make me wonder what the Blockade Runner would have looked like though had this model been used as the Falcon. Perhaps inspired by a half-eaten Dairy Lea Dunker?
The original design came from Colin Cantwell and started with these drawings.
Ralph McQuarrie took these designs and worked them into his original Star Wars portfolio, as seen in the piece depicting the captive Falcon being held on the Death Star, below.
Here's a pic from a recent exhibition where you can see the initial rough model built by Colin Cantwell as a proof-of-concept before they went ahead with the screen-ready version. Look how different it is. This is the original Falcon in all it's glory. Stormleader and Erik Deutscher took these pics at a ILM exhibitions and for that we must salute them.
So all in all I think we can agree that the correct decisions were made and everything came up butter. Sexy space burger go FAST!