Cities in Star Wars

In Star Wars there are three cities I’m going to talk about. 1) Coruscant 2) Mos Eisley and 3) Cloud City.

 

Coruscant was the capital of the Galactic Empire. The whole planet had become one gigantic city, an ecumenopolis. It’s pretty interesting to note that there are many ecumenopolises in science-fiction, which seems to imply, for some, an ideological end to a city’s growth in total expansion around a planet. Coruscant is seen in Episode II, during an aerial speeder chase involving Anakin and his mentor Obi-Wan. They go on a chase “that eventually leads to a nightclub in the bowels of Coruscant’s Uscru Entertainment District.” In these scenes of Star Wars: Episode II, a sense of the kind of red light, seedy, underbelly of the city. We also see it as a political hub in the few scenes when Senator Palpatine is in the process of consolidating power. It’s an interesting, sort of dystopian idea of the city as something that completely takes over nature that’s interesting about Coruscant. I saw recently a video game coming out soon that takes place entirely on Coruscant and focused around a bounty hunter or something. It’s intended to be a detective-like future noir style game.

Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” Obi-Wan’s words to Luke, cautioning him of the dangers of this futuristic port city. Mos Eisley is representative of the kind of bustling, almost desert city reminiscent of cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Mos Eisley seems to be in incarnation of the city as a center of crime and corruption. Indeed, Jabba the Hut is stationed on Tatooine, the same planet as Mos Eisley. Jabba the Hut being a kingpin of organized crime especially in Mos Eisley. Indeed, it’s where Obi-Wan and Luke go to enlist some smugglers to help them get off the planet.

The third major city I want to talk about is Cloud City. It’s mostly an industrial city in the clouds of the planet Bespin. While all the cities in Star Wars have a large dependence on technology, none of them are so heavily dependent as Cloud City. That is to say, technology is how the city stays afloat in the clouds. The city is known for its casinos and hotels on the upper levels and its views. Sadly, it’s also a site of corruption. It’s where Lando Calrissian sells out Han to Vader.

The cities in Star Wars all seem to have resonance to corruption and evil, whereas the more natural environments tend to have a more innocent appeal. Dagobah, where Yoda trains Luke, and Endor, a strategic planet from which the rebels disable the Death Star’s shields, are both almost entirely undeveloped. This juxtaposition seems to be saying something about the role of nature in the fight between good and evil.

 

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Cities in Star Wars

  1. tinyopinions

    The idea of an ecumenopolis is so fascinating. A city that cover an entire planet is mind-boggling, especially when I think about it in relation to the large cities that I’ve been to, which already seem endless. How do they grow food? Does everything have to be imported from another planet? To apply Rainey’s ideas to this, I think an inhabitant of Coruscant would have to have a lot of trust in what he or she can’t see – trust that food will continue to be supplied, trust that the atmosphere won’t thin out due to a lack of vegetation, etc. (Or even when Luke learns to trust in the Force while training with Yoda on Dagobah, perhaps?)

  2. I was also fascinated by the term ‘ecumenopolis,’ and immediately went to Wikipedia to determine its etymology… Apparently the term coiner was a Greek city planner named Constantinos Doxiadis who hypothesized that London, Amsterdam, and Paris would eventually fuse into a eperopolis (“continent city”). It’s fascinating to imagine how much progress toward this end will occur during our lifetimes.

    Although the Star Wars prequels were terribly uneven, I really enjoyed getting to see Coruscant from the bird’s-eye and street-level views. I especially enjoyed seeing Obi-Wan play the role of detective–the scene in which he visits a futuristic diner and speaks to a four-armed chef for inside information was delightful.

    Episode II came out in May of 2002, and by that time I’d already immersed myself in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast… This game cast the player as Kyle Katarn, who was basically a Han Solo renegade with force powers. You could walk around cities and solve puzzles–I was totally absorbed by it. It’s amazing how experiencing something from that perspective can be so engaging and personal. I’ve had the same experience in actual cities… Even though I’d been taking trips to Atlanta since my childhood, I never felt a personal connection to it until I took walking tours, visiting, for example, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Centennial Olympic Park, and Little Five Points.

    @tinyopinions — Atmospheric concerns, I imagine, are only the beginning of those that could trouble the mind of a Coruscant resident. Of course, these cities have been in existence for so long that one can assume that residents might be more distrustful of a natural atmosphere than of one created by terraformation technologies. I imagine that when one is surrounded by an endless array of extraterrestials, androids, holograms, and futuristic weaponry, the average citizen has to maintain a vigorous myopia simply to remain sane. It’s interesting… City dwellers must have detective powers to capably traverse our metropolises, but it seems that Jedi powers are necessary to maintain clearheadedness on the mind-fryingly simulating planets of the Star Wars universe.

  3. jester365

    Firstly, let me tell you that I found this post to be particularly interesting (it appealed to my inner geek). I noticed some parallels between the ending of your post and my first post which revolves around nature and the city. The planet Coruscant that you mentioned in your post is entirely city. I agree with you that it suggests that this is the ultimate end-all to a city. Coruscant is a city that has utterly reached its expansion limit. I feel that this was Lucas’s way of hinting to how humans only have one desire in life, to extinguish resources and occupy every scrap of free space. I also can see how this argument could be extended into Cloud City. I mean, once you’ve populated all of the available land why not occupy the airspace? Perhaps you should investigate Lucas’s take on his own cities further, you may uncover something extremely interesting. Great post!

  4. lbbk91311

    Let me preface this by saying: I have never watched any of the Star Wars movies, but I think your post is brilliant. You have to be a true sci-fi buff with an analytical eye to make these kinds of in-depth observations.
    I was particularly attracted to your comment about the city’s destruction of nature. While I know very little about about Star Wars and sci-fi film in general, I do know a bit about literature; and this corruption of nature is a popular theme in tons of modernist literature. It was one of the major causes of anxiety at the time, and a lot of works were concerned either with the preservation of nature, or they sought to express a sense of barrenness (in regard to sexual reproduction, society, and/or culture). Nature–especially flowers–was/is usually associated with femininity, reproduction, regeneration, etc. So, when industrialization began to uproot nature, it evoked these feelings of anxiety, particularly in regard to life, vitality, fruitfulness, and and overall sense of uncertainty.
    Once again, I really enjoyed this post and wanted to contribute a little of my own knowledge…as irrelevant as it may be, I saw a connection there.

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