back to article PAH! Four decades of Star Wars: No lightsabers, no palm-sized video calls

When Lucasfilm recently unveiled its tribute reelto the late Carrie Fisher, one of the most memorable monologues in cinema sat right in its center. “General Kenobi. Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars... Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire...” Reading those words, we can see the …


  1. Kaltern Silver badge

    Great piece, but sadly nothing to do with lightsabers... which is what I was expecting. Clickbait... *grumble*

    1. Kaltern Silver badge

      Why the thumbs down? I got this from El Reg's Twitter post, which mentioned nothing about Leia... "Where the £$%^ is my lightsaber? 40 years"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If you want a sort of "bloody dangerous type light sabre, but not quite slicing in half" check out Wicked Lasers

        then add this:

        1. Kaltern Silver badge

          Only £250 for a purple one.. damn... my birthday is coming up... :P

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      ...and almost 50 years since 2001: A Space Odyssey and still no Pan Am space plane, orbital hotels, moon base or manned trips to Jupiter!

      1. illiad

        Re: John Brown (no body)

        AAAAH the wistful dreaming days of the late sixties......:P :/

        we thought computers were all powerful, until reality and recession started....:(

    3. illiad


      Did you 'jump' before you read the rest????? :P

      *NO* lightsabers, *NO* palm-sized video calls...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And as for Star Treks transporter ....

    still waiting ..

  3. LDS Silver badge

    SW was never about our future.

    It doesn't happen in our future. It's another time, in another corner of the Universe. It was never designed to understand how our world could evolve. It was cunningly set in a different world, with different rules albeit, cunningly again, a lot was taken from Earth history and mythology, from King Arthur to the Nazi "empire", to be easily recognizable, and palatable. It's Good vs Evil, among appealing and improbable vehicles and weapons.

    It was never Star Trek.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: SW was never about our future.

      Thanks for pointing that out. I'd spent the last 40 years thinking it was a documentary.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SW was never about our future.

        There is a very big clue that it's fictional: given its vintage, if it was real then it would have featured Kate Adie reporting on the final battle above Yavin IV

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: SW was never about our future.

          The first Star Wars movie predates Kate Adie's war reporting - that didn't start until the 1980s.

          1. illiad

            Re: SW was never about our future.

            Kate Adie started on a national news team in 1976... :)


        2. F111F

          Re: SW was never about our future.

          I still think Kate was sleeping with her cameraman...about the only way she could get video from a hotel room window of the USAF F-111s flying overhead in the attack on Libya, and comment on it at the same time...not to judge, mind you, it was a neat bit of reporting.

      2. Midnight

        Re: SW was never about our future.

        "Thanks for pointing that out. I'd spent the last 40 years thinking it was a documentary."

        I also get Star Wars confused with Galaxy Quest all the time.

        1. F111F

          Re: SW was never about our future.

          Those poor people on Gilligan's Island... :-(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SW was never about our future.

      The clue that its not set in our future comes with the first writing on the screen .....

      "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."

  4. Alister Silver badge

    Leia was of course not the only visible holographic projection in the film - the game that See-Threepio and Chewbacca play uses the same technology, albeit a desktop version, if I'm not mistaken.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
  6. andy gibson

    Leia's problems recording the video on R2

  7. Natalie Gritpants

    3d holographic comms - load of wank

    Seriously, who needs this? Email/SMS/audio/morse is fine for relaying a message. It's only in Star Wars because that is a film and it needed something cool for the audience to gawp at. Other SF films have done it better.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: 3d holographic comms - load of wank

      Well in that case you can more or less have the same Star Wars story set in the wild west or medieval Europe or Shogun Japan.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        I would pay money to see any of those

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          "I would pay money to see any of those"

          Well isn't it your lucky day... Behold Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress - it's what Star Wars was based on anyway...

          1. bitten

            It's based on the Wizard of Oz: A scarecrow, a lion, a tin man, a dog, a wizard, the good witch and the black wicked witch.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our princess, vitally alive, needs something that will capture both image and essence

    she needs disrobing

  9. Tony Haines

    future displays are rubbish

    Currently, we have displays which are nice and big and clear, with a decent gamut, and in many cases almost free of visual artefacts.

    Why is it that practically every display in the future is defective in some way, being blurry or with poor colour rendition, or translucent? Do future-people really care so much more about 3d representation than image quality?

    1. Toltec

      Re: future displays are rubbish

      "Do future-people really care so much more about 3d representation than image quality?"

      Well people now seem to care more about the number of pixels than how good the picture actually looks, it killed plasma displays which are arguably better than anything produced now. AFAIK a 4K plasma could not meet the EU power requirements to prevent climate change so they just died a death.

      OLED tvs do look pretty good though.

    2. Midnight

      Re: future displays are rubbish

      I used to think that way. Then I "upgraded" the antenna sitting on top of my TV to an IP-based...



      ...streaming ser...




      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: future displays are rubbish

        Faulty AE35 unit?

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    " long would it take to post-process her message?"

    How can we possibly answer that question when we have no idea of the processing ability of R2 ? Or of any other droid, for that matter ?

    C3PO is capable of recognizing a face in the same timeframe a human can, something that our sprawling computer installations are just starting to become able to do and certainly not within the confines of a humanoid robot frame for which facial recognition is but a tiny percentage of its duties.

    I disapprove of these throwaway comparisons that acknowledge that some sci-fi universe has robots and other sci-fi tech, then proceeds to draw computing comparisons that assume the same amount of processing power we have.

    Even Star Trek's ship computer has far greater processing power than we have today, because it can understand when its crew is not actually giving it orders. Siri still has a ways to go on that front.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: " long would it take to post-process her message?"

      Well, the TOS computer was still pretty primitive. You had to address it as "computer", and it always replied "working". I guess that made sense to the writers given how the mainframes of the day operated!

      What is frankly ridiculous about Star Trek is that they have all this fantastic tech centuries ahead of ours (if not more, transporters will never happen) and then computers that are shittier than the ones today. Seriously, you need a helmsman to steer "evasive pattern beta nine"? Or to "lay in a course"? The computer should be flying the ship, firing weapons, and doing pretty much everything if you can have FTL travel and transporters!

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        How is

        addressing a computer as "computer" worse than saying "OK Google" I will not say fucking "OK Google".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "These “holograms” [..] are nothing of the sort. The only thing “holograms” have in common with holography is that both generate a three-dimensional representation."

    This is correct; but at the same time, is the 3D projection ever *actually* referred to as a "hologram" (or in any way that implies this) in the film itself anyway?

  12. Tikimon Silver badge

    Somebody has to say it...

    "sums up the aspirations of two generations. “What I really want is Princess Leia NAKED on the table in front of me.”"

    Fixed that for all of us!

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Somebody has to say it...

      I'd rather have her still alive.

    2. illiad

      Re: Somebody has to say it...

      its on rule 34...;)

  13. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    40 years?!?

    A New Hope was 40 years ago?!? Now I feel *so* old :-(

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, it's a turkey

    Props to George Lucas for pulling it off, but I just rewatched A New Hope, and it is a stinker. Not at all the exciting classic I saw in 1977 aged 7. Go on, stream it now and watch it, I'll wait.


    You see? Laughable plot. Feeble script. Drippy Luke Skywalker. I was beginning to suspect that the destruction of Alderon and the Death Star was a scriptwriter's plot device to ensure they wouldn't be called back to work on any more of this junk. Didn't turn out so well for them, sadly.

  15. DropBear Silver badge

    While SW's classic hologram is, well, a classic for me the most memorable hologram came from another film - it's the shark from "Back to the future"...

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Stevie Silver badge


    "We need to be very careful of a confusion of terms."

    We do indeed. 25 years ago the US release was of a film called "Star Wars".

    That's it. No subtitle. No "Part IV".

    The numbering and subtitling came later, when the gate was enough to get funding for The Empire Strikes Back. I well remember a collective (and loud) "You wot?" in a Birmingham (UK) cinema when the titles for that claimed it was "Part V".

    My American wife argued this point with me for years until AMC showed an original print about five years ago, along with unredacted opening credits.

    1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

      Re: Bah!

      Didn't the scroll at the beginning start out with "Episode IV: A New Hope" even in the initial release?

      (Need to find John, the guy from my school who claimed to see Star Wars over 100 times in the theater. He'd remember for sure!)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        According to this, it was titled Episode IV on its rerelease in 1981, after Episode V came out in 1980.

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        When I was as school I was taught that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

        Star Wars redefines this by having a middle, an end, a beginning, a bit after the end, a bit just before the middle...

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          When I was at school, we were told that we were not allowed to end stories with "and it had all been a dream."

          Therefore the most popular ending became "and it had all been a dream. So I went downstairs and had breakfast."

        2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: beginning / middle / end

          Oh Simon, why do you always have to be so linear.

      3. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        "Didn't the scroll at the beginning start out with "Episode IV: A New Hope" even in the initial release?"

        Did you read my post with your eyes closed?

        1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

          Re: Bah!

          Nope, my eyes were wide open, even had just had a second cup of coffee. It was a genuine question, my apologies that you took it as some kind of insult.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The media referred to recent French presidential campaign rallies as using "holograms" for the candidate simultaneously addressing audiences at several locations - presumably live. The media pictures looked like a hologram. What was that technology?


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