Over at Motherboard, Alex Pasternack wants everyone to think about the wonderfully blinky, perfectly analog buttons of Star Wars. In a series that exemplifies the tension between CGI and practical effects, the lived-in aesthetic of the first Star Wars trilogy is most obviously seen in the Millennium Falcon and its constant need for repairs and hyperdrive failures. But just as important are the lights, dials, and manual levers that all add to the films’ reality.
Pasternack celebrates the way the old-school interface built the world from the ground up, one button a time: “But it’s also a world where sometimes you have to hit a robot or a spaceship to get it to work, like an old dashboard radio, a place where the supercomputers are operated manually and where buttons and control panels and screens seem far removed from our own galaxy: tactile, lo-fi, and elegantly simple.”
One of the interesting notes in the article is how George Lucas, who would later embrace CGI for the prequel trilogy, encouraged the designers to keep things practical:
George Lucas “didn’t want anything to stand out,” the legendary set designer Roger Christian told Esquire in 2014. “He wanted it all real and used. And I said, ‘Finally somebody’s doing it the right way.’ All science fiction before was very plastic and stupid uniforms and Flash Gordon stuff. Nothing was new. George was going right against that. My first conversation with him was that spaceships should be things you see in garages with oil dripping and they keep repairing them to keep them going, because that’s how the world is.”
Pasternack goes on to trace the ways the original aesthetic find its way into The Force Awakens through color palettes and typography – which somehow makes us even more excited for Rogue One. You can check out the whole article over at Motherboard, and join us in marveling at the way tiny innocuous details can add up to a larger world.