Fal­con Facts

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - The Millennium Falcon -

How scrap me­tal be­came cin­e­matic gold

Pro­duc­tion de­signer John Barry didn’t have the stage size to build the en­tire ship so only half of the Fal­con was ac­tu­ally con­structed. Matte paint­ing was used to re­alise the other half of the ship.

To con­struct the Mil­len­nium Fal­con, scaf­fold­ing was first as­sem­bled, then a wooden frame was built be­fore ply­wood pan­els with ac­tual scrap me­tal parts were screwed on. These were cast in plas­ter to repli­cate the de­sign. The scrap was all sourced from dis­carded air­craft car­rier parts.

Set dec­o­ra­tor Roger Chris­tian also used scrapped un­der­car­riage from eight mas­sive RAF air­craft trans­port car­ri­ers to help dress the ex­te­rior of the Fal­con.

Chris­tian care­fully ob­served how air­craft were fu­elled and as a re­sult hung sim­i­lar pipes and oil drips from the Fal­con’s ex­te­rior to fur­ther en­hance its raw and re­al­is­tic look.

PVC pip­ing and a mix­ture of pre­built switch pan­els were used to make up the in­te­rior of the Main Hold con­trol sec­tion. The re­main­der of the in­te­rior walls was built up layer upon layer with pipes and se­lected pieces of air­plane scrap. Oil and rust was used to give the Fal­con that un­mis­tak­able lived- in aged look.

Jet fighter seats were sourced and adapted for the Fal­con’s cock­pit. The lever Han uses to en­ter hy­per­space was also scoured from scrap aero­plane parts.

Due to bud­get re­stric­tions, in­stead of build­ing an ex­pen­sive gim­bal to twist and turn the cock­pit set dur­ing com­bat scenes, the cam­era was tilted ac­cord­ingly to mimic move­ment.

Upon com­ple­tion of pro­duc­tion the Fal­con was dis­man­tled to make room for Stan­ley Kubrick’s work on The Shin­ing. An en­tirely new Fal­con was built for sub­se­quent Star Wars films.

Roger Chris­tian won an Os­car for his Star Wars set dec­o­ra­tion and has fit­tingly ti­tled his forth­com­ing memoir Cin­ema Al­chemist, ( about his work on the set dec­o­ra­tion in Star Wars and Alien) be­cause he says he man­aged to turn scrap me­tal into gold!

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