It would be foolish not to mention Tatooine in my month of planet haikus and a part of me really thought I should put Tatooine first on my list.
This sums up the perfect description of the planet:
Han: I think my eyes are getting better. Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big light blur.
Luke: There’s nothing to see. I used to live here, you know.
I think it’s easy to overlook the significance of Tatooine. It’s quite boring when you think about the landscape. It’s a desert. Nothing more, nothing less (well, not counting the Sarlacc Pit). What is interesting about Tatooine is that it is the first planet that us, as fans, were ever introduced to. Threepio and Artoo landed on the planet after escaping the Tantive IV and this is when the movie really begins – it’s the quest to find Obi-Wan Kenobi after a deadly space battle.
Who is the Obi-Wan Kenobi? Why are we following two droids across a desert landscape? Who are those hooded creatures with glowing eyes that capture Artoo?
It’s world building at it’s finest. Why? Because Lucas doesn’t explain anything to us – he throws us into everything and hopes that we are intelligent enough to piece together things bit by bit. And if we don’t, then we’ll have to watch it another time.
Tatooine is a used, lived-in world that was very different from what most people were watching in sci-fi movies at that time. Most movies that came out during the sci-fi craze showed other worlds as a futuristic, gleaming place with technology beyond our dreams and abilities we could only fathom might happen on Earth thousands of years down the road. Tatooine showed us that some planets, even those in far-off galaxy, can be run down and nitty-gritty.
Most importantly, we see that this is where Luke comes from and where he was raised. Tatooine is the equivalent, I think, of the country side in the deep south. There’s not much there to entertain you, only a small town center and vast expanses of corn fields, but in this case, sand. You can understand Luke’s desire to see the world better when you understand the planet and environment better. You see why he has this thirst for adventure, beyond being Darth Vader’s son, because living on Tatooine means monotony and the same thing over and over.
In A New Hope, we saw Luke’s hardworking family: honest and ethical. In the last movie, we get a glimpse that perhaps Luke was lucky in where he lived on the planet as there is a seedy gangster underground and it’s where Jabba the Hutt has his residence. We see a Sarlacc Pitt that gives hint to a planet that is hiding more than it seems.
Tatooine is also the birth place of Anakin, the future Darth Vader and father of Luke. The planet then gets another significant reboot in the Prequel Trilogy as we see a different aspect to it. We see the slaves, the gambling, and the shady side that is not as ethical as the Beru and Lars homestead. You realize that perhaps the glimpse of the gangsters in ROTJ is not so isolated on the planet, but more prevalent and a ruling faction. We also see why the sandpeople/Tusken Raiders are not to be messed with and how they can not only destroy a person physically, but also ruin families.
Tatooine, in case you have never counted (I’m sure you have), shows up in 5 out of the 6 original Saga movies. The only movie we do not see it in is The Empire Strikes Back. When I think about Tatooine, I feel like it’s a conflicted planet. It’s boring but dangerous at the same time. In fact, if you fall into the trap of overlooking the planet just because of it’s outer appearance, you miss out on the rich history of the habitants who call this planet their home. Tatooine is not about the sand, it’s about the life that lives on it.
(NB: I did not have time to go into TCW and SWR, but feel free to add some thoughts in the comments below!)
What are your thoughts on this significant planet?