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Thursday, 12 July 2012

CLASSIC BLOG: THE CANTINA CONUNDRUM (UPDATED)



Looking through the ART OF STAR WARS book the other day, I came across something I hadn’t noticed before. Legendary costume designerJohn Mollo did a chart of all of the Mos Eisley Cantina characters that would be appearing for the ELSTREE Studios filming in April 1976 (dated 4-3-76-we presume the British date arrangement rather the  US one-Mollo being British), listing all the human and alien characters that were to appear in the sequence at that time-this chart, though not always totally accurate, is the basis for discovering which UK background artist played which character, and has since proved invaluable to official STAR WARS scholars at LUCASFILM, Jason Joiner guest signings for events like COLLECTORMANIA, and for researcher fans like me. Some text caught my eye on the bottom right corner of the art spread (pg 60-61 of the revised TITAN BOOKS version) that I hadn’t noticed before. It seems that there was a 4 piece human cantina band, listed as an “orchestra”, for the interior scene which I wasn’t previously aware of-the Modal Nodes aliens obviously being created later on during inset photography filming by Rick Baker and George Lucas in 1977.

The famous John Mollo costume chart for the UK Mos Eisley/Cantina extras from March 1976.

Certain creatures from Mollo’s drawing didn’t make the final film, or were adapted differently to the way they finally looked, but it would be logical to think that the human Cantina band made it into the UK filming-every Cantina has a band or music of some kind playing, right?-before being later replaced with their now iconic alien counter-parts-the move made by Lucas, perhaps because the originals looked too human, or the footage just didn’t work (I’ve previously looked at the black and white footage of the Cantina scene and didn’t see any of them (has anyone else out there got sharper eyes than me?)).
  
Do any pictures/footage exist of the Human band? Perhaps on-set photographer John Jay or Gary Kurtz may have taken costume reference pictures? We assume they were wearing stock Tatooine type clothes like the ones worn by the Bartender, Wuhrer, or Luke. But what instruments/ props did they have? Could they have been similar to the ones later played by the Modal Nodes, perhaps? Or even the same instruments previously kept in storage? And on theUK set, were there any backing music tracks used or did the Human band just mime to nothing?

If anyone knows more about this intriguing new addition to the world of STAR WARS mysteries, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and solve this…


UPDATE (12/7/2012): Ian Trussler recently got in touch to inform me that, in conversation at a British signing event with actress Pam Rose, who played one of the Cantina alien ladies, and EPISODE IV Elstree set builder Ted Western (involved in the set building of the original cantina and the Millennium Falcon prop/Docking Bay, as well as an extra), no human band ever made it to the UK Cantina filming. Western's call sheet for the filming doesn't have the band listed in its artistes references, either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The pic says the Orchestra is 1x#3, 1x#7 and 2 others. Thats a Bartender type, a Corellian Pirate type and 2 others, by my reckoning.

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