To that end, I’d say that very little of the aesthetics of the Original Trilogy look like those of the Prequel Trilogy. Of course, different time frames can have different artistic palettes, but as others have pointed out these worlds didn’t appear to exist in the same universe. Sure, we visit a few places again, and maybe there was some mild fascination in that. Still, this time around Tatooine looked cleaner, healthier, and vastly more populated than audiences were ever led to believe in 1977 or 1983. Tatooine – once deemed by Luke to be the planet farthest from the bright center of the universe – became “civilized” in Lucas’s own historical revision. In fact, the only place from the Original Trilogy that even remotely resembles anything from the Prequel Trilogy was Bespin’s Cloud City, a place I’ve long argued was used as the prototype for any Apple Store. Most of Cloud City never felt quite right for me, except for the torture chamber, Chewbacca’s brig, the Ugnauts junkyard, and the carbonite freezing chamber. Otherwise, much of it seemed far too sterile for a place deemed a ‘mining colony.’
I mean … have you seen Pennsylvania? Hello? Coal country?
Above: Star Wars mining colony; Below: real mining colony
Of course, there are those who say that certain aspects of my argument are built-in to the stories of the Original Trilogy. “Those rebels were in hiding, they were always on the run,” they say. “They’d never make it if they went to big cities ‘cause they’d be instantly recognized.” Really? You accept me to believe that the Rebels couldn’t have hidden out on Coruscant, of all places, where even the Emperor-in-the-making himself hid? You’re telling me they couldn’t blend in or hide-out there? Have you seen Coruscant? It’s China without that whole ‘one-child-per-family’ rule. It’s the Little Ol’ Lady Who Lived In A Shoe times ten trillion times ten trillion. On Coruscant, Mace Windu couldn’t feel Palpatine’s Sithness from the other side of the room, yet, somehow, Luke Skywalker would’ve stuck out more than Princess Leia wearing white after Labor Day, right?
Sure, for most of us, Star Wars is much like sex – we’ll gladly take the good with the bad so long as that means there’s another attempt in the offing. And, heck, we’ll even wait three years between sequels (if we must). Aesthetically, the Original Trilogy had far more going for it than George Lucas would have you believe. It was the classic tale of Good Versus Evil, but it was set in a universe that was as much a real and present danger as the all-powerful Sith were. For my tastes, that means something.
Okay, Walt Disney … what are you gonna do about that?