So, I’m sure everyone reading this has already seen Rogue One. If not… welcome, but what are you doing here? (See the movie… then return to us.) This movie is filled with so many iconic images and new favorite characters that it’s hard to pick what stood out the most. However, there is one lasting image that came out of nowhere and left an indelible mark on the minds of Star Wars fans across the galaxy:
The image of Orson Krennic’s ship descending towards Darth Vader’s castle on Mustafar.
That’s right, it was on Mustafar, the planet from Revenge of the Sith where Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi dueled while molten lava swirled around them. New details are arising about the residence of the Sith Lord thanks to a new interview with Doug Chiang, Lucasfilm’s Vice President and Executive Creative Director.
The interview covers many of the new people, places and things from Rogue One, including the design of the U-Wings, Krennic’s Shuttle, Shore Troopers, and even the Rebellion’s true hero, Admiral Raddus. However, some of the best discussions came from the look and design of Vader’s palatial estate.
“We were trying to go for a very iconic shape, and we always love tall towers. Ralph McQuarrie actually drew quite a few small thumbnail sketches [of Vader’s castle] that were very intriguing. They were kind of angular versions of a tower, and I saw the potential of where he was going, and I just exaggerated that quite a bit.”
It turns out many of the new locations were based on images Ralph McQuarrie designed for the original Star Wars. This follows the path of other recent Star Wars productions, such as Star Wars Rebels; the show used McQuarrie’s original concept art for Chewbacca in their creation of Zeb. It’s amazing how concept art created 40 years ago for George Lucas is still being used today.
As for his work on Vader’s Castle, the original art from the ’70s gave the structure a dark, Gothic look. That was something Chiang and the rest of the creative team looked to keep, especially in regards to the two-prong tower structure. In fact, that design left such a strong impression with the designers, that its look and secret meaning was worked into other structural designs.
“Well, maybe the structure is built this way because it is like a tuning fork. It’s tuning the dark side in terms of the energy,” said Chiang. “The Jedha temple, the tower there, mirrors this but on the good side. So when you see the film, you can start to see, ‘Okay, Jedha had its own tower, which was configured like a tuning tower. Vader’s tower, Vader’s castle, had the same thing but it was made in black, whereas Jedha was white.’ You kind of start to see the good and the bad.”
There always has to be that connection between the light and the dark sides of the force. And that connection is made more apparent considering a new fact that recently came to light: Vader built his new residence on top of an ancient Sith temple.
That’s right. Chiang confirmed that the actual tower was built on a Sith tunnel that used the lava to drain dark energy from Mustafar (that’s why it was a dam). So, now we get an idea on why the former Anakin Skywalker chose this planet as his new mailing address. Sure, there’s the fact that he’s making sure he won’t ever forget his encounter with Kenobi (which fuels his anger), but with the dark side of the force strong on Mustafar, Vader can use the planet to recharge his evil batteries.
“That perhaps this place had special meaning for him, and that this is where he comes to meditate and to heal himself. We started with the idea that maybe it should be built around his bacta tank chamber, and he comes back here to rejuvenate himself and also to meditate. So from there, the structure itself grew out from the bacta tank, and there were certain ideas that we tried.”
I wouldn’t expect Vader’s castle to be a cool Easter Egg for fans, never to be seen again. If the lingering rumors regarding Episode VIII prove true (that Luke Skywalker is looking for the original Jedi Temple), then perhaps a visit to a Sith Temple on a certain smoldering planet will also be part of the movie’s plot. If the Knights of Ren are Vader loyalists, clearly they will attempt to travel to a place that would serve as their Mecca.