I know it’s very common to consider the 1997 tweaks to A New Hope “the mustache on the Mona Lisa,” but I for one love them all. I love seeing all of Mos Eisley in its ugly to death glory, and I especially love the cantina. I have always loved the cantina, but I especially love the special edition’s cantina.
There’s a reason my Yahoo! Group dedicated to Star Wars love was set in a cantina on Tatooine called the Smoking Orange. And that reason is, I love this bar. The assorted villainy of twelve systems all congregate at Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina, and I love it.
First of all, the soundtrack. This song comes out of nowhere, not like anything I was expecting to hear in a space epic, and there’s nothing scum and villainy love more than some good old fashioned space jazz, am I right? (Star Wars books dubbed this style of music “jizz,” presumably because the Urban Dictionary didn’t exist yet. I’m heartily sorry I have to tell you this, but I am the Star Wars Librarian and my head is crammed with this kind of knowledge.)
This is the sound my phone makes constantly because it’s both my alarm and like the only assigned ringtone I ever use. (Unassigned calls go to the Imperial march, and I wonder why I get so nervous every time I have to answer the phone. . . .) These two cantina song are quite easily two of my favorite tunes ever.
Bar scenes are classics in westerns, and Star Wars has more than a little in common with westerns as you know I’ve discussed before. Their clientele isn’t likely to be moisture farmers, but rather the traders and spacers who float through trying not to be noticed and looking for cash. The barroom fight, too, is a staple, though Obi-Wan handles it a lot quicker and with less orthodoxy than John Wayne.
It’s Luke’s first step into a larger world. This kid who has never traveled past Anchorhead, never known any outside of his small circle of human friends unless it was itinerant Jawas, suddenly sees the reality of his daydreams put right in front of him. And it’s dark and smelly and a little intimidating. But he tries to play it cool.
In short, there is nothing not to like about this great scene. Music, barroom fight, Han Solo . . . It’s all good!