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May the Fourth Be With You (or how to tell Dantooine from Tatooine*)

Happy Star Wars Day! You you bought Lord Vader a card. That guy can be a real jerk when he feels ignored. ("For the last time, boss, I'm not part of a rebel alliance.") Every May 4 is Star Wars Day ("May the 4th be with you" ... dare I say, classic? Or as Yoda would say, "Classic, I dare say"). Speaking of Yoda, you should know that May 21 is "Talk Like Yoda Day." Possibilities endless they are.

Of course, neither should be a holiday. The first Star Wars movie was released May 25, 1977. But here we are. So while you run home to get your plastic lightsaber, here are 10 nuggets of trivia about the original flick that are worthy of inclusion in the Archives of the Jedi Order.

1. MEET 'LITTLE ARTHUR': Ever wonder how the droid names sounded in other languages? Confusing! That's why some Spanish subtitled versions of the film renamed R2-D2 as "Arturito" (meaning "little Arthur") in Spanish. C-3PO simply became "Citripio," which has no meaning. (We would have thought "golden prissy one.")

2. NEVER TRUST A LEFTY: Stormtroopers all appear to be all left-handed. don't they? It's because their ammunition magazines on their weapons are on the left side, so it's easier to hold the guns left-handed. Of course, it could also be because most Stormtroopers are cloned from the bounty hunter Jango Fett, who could have been a lefty.

3. TIE GAME: How did those one-man Imperial starships get the name TIE Fighters? TIE is actually an acronym that stands for "Twin Ion Engines." The movie's model-maker reportedly came up with it, though other fans maintain TIE stands for "Third Intergalactic Empire." (How about "Time to Incinerate Endor" instead?)

4. OBI-WANTS OUT: The late Alec Guinness, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi, infamously regretted his participation in the movie. Guinness once told an interviewer that he talked creator George Lucas into killing off his character because a ghost would be a better mentor for Luke Skywalker. "What I didn't tell him was that I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines," he said. His role was greatly reduced for the next two movies. (Sorry, Alec, but would you prefer us remember you for 1983's Lovesick?)

5. CHEWY'S FURRY FOR A REASON: Mark Hamill once revealed that studio execs were frightened that Chewbacca had no clothes on and suggested that his costume be adjusted so he could wear shorts.

6. NOW WHO'S THE ASS? Do those crazy, gutteral sounds that the Tuskan Raiders (Sand People) sound like a day on the farm? That because mules were used as the main basis for the sound.

7. JUST PLAIN NUTS: When Darth Vader crushes the neck of Captain Antilles, on board the Alderaan Diplomatic Cruiser Tantive IV, that's the sound of walnut shells being crushed. The same sound is used in 1983's Return of the Jedi when Han Solo is freed from his carbonite imprisonment. (I find your lack of faith in sound engineering disturbing.)

8. ON SECOND THOUGHT... Lucas once told an interviewer that Luke was originally conceived to be a girl and that Han was supposed to be an alien. Next thing you'll tell us is that Chewbacca got the last line in the film...

9. OH, HE DID: Chewbacca's language and growl was a combination of various large mammals, mostly bears. But he does have the honor of speaking the very last line of the movie after Han and Luke get their medals from Leia. Way to go, Chewy.

10. THE ULTIMATE POWER IN THE UNIVERSE: After opening in May, Star Wars officially dethroned Jaws in November as the all-time box-office champion. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial snagged the record in 1982, holding it until Titanic rose to the top in 1997. Nowadays, another soon-to-be classic holds the record: Avatar.

[* Dantooine is where Princess Leia says the rebel base is hidden, though it's really on Yavin IV. Tatooine is Luke's home planet. And yes, I need to get a life.]


Posted by Steve Spears at 9:18:18 am on May 04, 2011