Luke Skywalker's entry into the cantina on Mos Eisley is the defining moment of the first Star Wars movie. The scene introduced a universe without definitions. It promised us that everything to come was an open-ended journey, in which every face in every crowd has a history if only you're lucky enough to hear what it is, or imaginative enough to invent it on your own. As the writer Patrick Cavanaugh said, "Even though we knew nothing of these ancillary characters, their appearances conjured all sorts of backstories in our minds, allowing us to flesh out countless adventures within this world in just a matter of moments."
So iconic was the Cantina scene that it created its own trope. Almost every other movie in the Star Wars franchise (and many other sci-fi films) has a scene echoing Mos Eisley. Although it's tempting to dismiss this as crass imitation, I see it in terms of epic poetry. An epic is defined by certain conventions: for example, there must be a scene in which the heroes partake in a counsel of war, and there must be a long, boring recitation of the order of battle (like Homer's "catalogue of ships" or Tolkien's description of the knights entering Minas Tirith). The cantina helped define the sci-fi genre by creating a new (and deeply satisfying) convention: the bar full of aliens.
|Haven't we met before?
Here are my renditions of some of the more famous faces in Chalmun's Cantina, all of which are repainted versions of plastic WOTC miniatures...
First comes Ponda Baba, the club bore whose arm gets cut off. I will always have a soft-spot for this Aqualish alien, because one of the first Kenner Star Wars figures I owned as a child was "Walrus Man."
Dr. Cornelius Evazan is Ponda Baba's companion. Evazan appeared in both A New Hope and in Rogue One after taking time off from his regular gig in the belltower of Notre Dame.
BoShek is the smuggler who introduced Obiwan to Chewbacca when the old Jedi was looking for a ride off of Tatooine. That black flight suit looks quite natty, if you ask me.
Can you imagine going through life with a name like "Muftak the Talz"?
And finally, we have my favourite: Garindan. He's the one who spotted the fugitive droids Threepio and Artoo outside the Cantina. He may be an Imperial spy and general cheese-eating tattletale, but he looks so good.