In this edition of Star Wars Insights I float a theory that might answer one of my colleagues biggest Star Wars shaped gripes...
If you've been listening to the podcast for a while now you'll be familiar with, Talk Star Wars PodCast co-host, Steven's biggest gripe about Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. His complaint has been that the galaxy in the final moments shouldn't be rotating. His argument is that the galaxy would be so huge that movement would be imperceptible to an observer... or something. No matter how many times we tell him to chill, that this is a movie, he can't let it go. So. You can imagine my excitement when we recorded the audio commentary for Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back last week and I noticed something about the shot in question.
I don't think it's a galaxy at all.
I believe that what Steven has been seeing as a galaxy all these years is in fact an accretion disk. What's an accretion disk I hear you ask. Well, simply put its a mass of crap gathered around a celestial body that has the potential to become a system of planets. I've hideously over simplified that explanation to suit my argument. Here's a more scientific explanation -
There is theory, one I quite enjoy, about a planetoid called Theia, that once collided with proto-Earth and caused the two planets to merge into this one, gifting the Earth with it's eccentric axis (which affords us the seasons) an axis which is sustained by the Moon, itself the result of accretion. The theory being some material was suspended out of the reach of New Earth's gravity and so accretion allowed it to cluster together into a satellite that would become known as the Moon.
That's an example of recent, local accretion, but what about this long ago, far away example. Well, consider how this fits into the narrative of Star Wars. In A New Hope we had a planet destroyed and then the Death Star itself was destroyed. That's a lot of stellar destruction in a relatively hopeful film. In Empire, a relatively hopeless film, a film where our heroes take a beating, it seems fitting that the final shot would be of a new beginning. A hopeful, fresh start for the galaxy, illustrated through this one simple, apparently hidden shot. A tiny star, born from the destruction of what came before, is quietly, hopefully, building itself a new solar system. Right there in front of us for over 30 years.
So there you go Steven. Suck it. It's an accretion disk, not a galaxy. It's a symbol of renewal, a symbol of hope, in the closing moments of a movie that left us and our heroes with little hope.
Thank you for reading,