« M2019 | Main | Ingredients »
Friday
Sep232011

Spaceships that became other spaceships #1: The Millennium Falcon

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!

Reader Comments (8)

Interesting note - if I'm not misremembering, the Falcon was also intended to rotate and fly vertically, with the cockpit spinning to remain oriented to the "mythical space ground plane" or whatever it is that all spaceships automatically mutually agree is "down". This orientation effect was kept for Fett's ship.

March 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott Wetterschneider

vaguely interesting article, but this line: "If it had boobs I would get it drunk and try to kiss it." Made me throw up in my mouth.

March 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSlavoj

Great article. And I liked the line about it having boobs and kissing it.

March 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVin

If this article had boobs, I would get it drunk and try to kiss it.

March 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason Scott

Sometimes my heart hurts so much, I beat it with my fists. I try to run. But you cannot run from this. It waits for you. Even when you think you have escaped it, it is there.

March 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWerner Fassbinder

When Han said the Millennium Falcon could make the Kessel Run in under 12 Parsecs he was referring to the shorter path he could make by flying closer to the black holes in the Maw, not directly to the speed. </nerd>

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA

And if I had boobs I would get Slavoj (see above) drunk and try to kiss him. I bet he could do with it.

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpaddy K

"When Han said the Millennium Falcon could make the Kessel Run in under 12 Parsecs he was referring to the shorter path he could make by flying closer to the black holes in the Maw, not directly to the speed."

That's a piece of ret-conned crap dreamed up by geeks to excuse Lucas's ignorance of astronomy. Lucas used the word parsec because he thought it would add "realism" to his science-fantasy about future-history wizard-knights. The fact that he couldn't be bothered to look up what a parsec was simply shows how sloppy a writer he really was.

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMouldy Squid

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>