What struck me about life in the Republic


When people asked me for my reaction to the most recent Star Wars movie, I replied that what struck me most was that the Republic doesn’t appear to have any building codes. There are these platforms several hundred meters above the ground with no railings. For example, Padmé Amidala’s fancy apartment has a front porch far above the ground. Consider: You’re carrying a load of packages to the car, the kids are running around, you turn around to yell at one of them, miss a step, and over the rim you go. How many people fall to their deaths in that galaxy?

Comments (41)
  1. Andy says:

    Maybe the building were built by the same contractors they talk about in the movie "Clerks". The ones who get blown up while working on the Death Star. So perhapse they get repaid for their unsafe building practices later on when the Death Star explodes taking them all with it.

    Either that or maybe it’s mandatory to build that way so they keep the population size stable using a modified Darwin effect. If you are rich enough to live high above the ground, you had better not be clumsy or you will be removed from the gene pool.

  2. Daniel Garlans says:

    You can’t forget about Star Destroyers and the Death Star and Cloud City and their strange fascination with having extremely deep practically bottomless pits in the middle of their systems with few if any means of safety.

    heck, the Emperor in Return Of The Jedi had his own bottomless pit right in the middle of his office!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Lucal told me that there are Jedi patrols whose only purpose is to use ‘The Force’ and levitate people that have fallen back onto a ledge.

  4. In a big, big galaxy far, far away, population control is a major concern I would think. 200 foot high porches with no railings would be a definite benefit.

  5. Aaargh! says:

    There’s probably a invisible force field around the platform, with a ‘real’ railing left out for aesthetic reasons.

  6. Yup. It’s an odd phenomenon. I once read a review of the classic <i>Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight</i> that also commented on the absence of guardrails.

  7. John Goewert says:

    Actually, they all wear med-alert bracelets. In case they fall off, they press a button and activate a levitation field.

    "Help, I’m falling and I cannot go up."

    The emporer was so old and crotchety that he just forgot his that day. Mace Windu’s wristband got sliced off, so no help there either.

  8. heaths says:

    A force field is what I was thinking, too. If they aren’t utilizing force fields, though, where do I sign up to get in line for one of those fancy condos?

  9. Andrew says:

    Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

  10. Apropos, I saw a funny cartoon doing the rounds the other day of Yoda with a caption that read "I can sense subtle emotional changes in people but I couldn’t figure out a conspiracy involving half a million storm troopers" or something like that.

  11. Adrian says:

    The Republic Patent and Trademark Office issues a patent on guardrails, and most developers are too cheap to pay the licensing fees.

    Some tried to build little retaining walls but the courts ruled that they also infringed. Force fields are considered a software implementation of guard rails.

    Seriously though, I had a friend at ILM who worked on the special edition versions of some of the original movies. Someone he knows made a test shot in which he digitally added reflections to the windows on Bespin to make them seem more realistic. Lucas rejected the change and explained that the cloud city uses force fields for windows.

  12. Maurits says:

    I’m going to invoke Douglas Adams’ principle of beauty in architecture. People don’t fall off unless it’s aesthetically correct for them to fall off.

  13. David says:

    I always figured there would be droids or something patrolling the areas near buildings. If they spotted someone falling they’d zip over there and catch them.

    It’s not just the guardrails either. You KNOW that not everyone flying around in one of those sky cars wears a seat belt.

  14. Miles Archer says:

    Clarke’s law

  15. Thomas says:

    Klaus H. Probst,

    the cartoon you are thinking of is authored by <a href="http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/">Maddox</a&gt; and you may find it in <a href="http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=episode3>the article</a> presenting his take on Star Wars: Episode III.

  16. Kevin Dente says:

    Ha! I blogged the exact same observation a few weeks ago.

    http://weblogs.asp.net/kdente/archive/2005/05/29/409630.aspx

    Apparently they don’t have lawyers in the Republic.

  17. dakirw says:

    Well, Anakin certainly didn’t wear a seat belt during the chase scene in episode II.

  18. Scott says:

    The Pont du Gard in France has no guard rails, and visitors are free to walk on the very top walls with only a scramble up a head-high wall. At least that was the case in ’89 when I was there.

  19. Michael Dwyer says:

    Lawyer-safe guard rails must be more of a western innovation.

    I noticed the same thing as Scott about the castle walls in Nagoya. You could walk wherever you wanted.

    I was fond of that, actually. It enables Darwinism to actually work.

  20. Howard Cheng says:

    LOL! I’ve been wondering the same thing since the first Star Wars — OK, a slight exaggeration, since I was only seven at the time, but it did strike me a long time ago that the Empire (or the Republic prior to that) didn’t seem to have an OSHA-like agency. How else to explain the numerous catwalks in the Death Star, all spanning near-bottomless chasms? Maybe there are no lawyers in the Empire.

  21. Jason says:

    … is that they have some realy nice floors – and they keep them so clean!

    Even on the lava planet, as the newly dubed darth vader walks into "deal with" the trade federation, I couldn’t help but notice the super shiny floor. I mean, come on – ITS A LAVA PLANET!? Shouldn’t there be some dust on the floor? ;-)

  22. mb says:

    As a programmer, I can only assume one thing:

    Lack of specs.

    Apparently, they had this problem a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

  23. Charlie T. says:

    There’s a huge company that makes scrapers for scraping people off the sidewalk. It bought all the little companies that made railings and shut them down to protect its market.

  24. Andy says:

    I just thought of another thing it could be.

    It could be what retired Jedi’s do. They get hired on under the table by unscrupulous contractors to go **these are not the building violations you are looking for** whenever the building/OSHA inspectors come around.

  25. Jeff says:

    My concern is just the opposite: With antigrav technology being so plentiful (and, one has to assume, affordable) why did so many dramatic moments in the series hinge on people hanging from a great height? Everyone should have several of those little hovering doo-hickeys clipped to thier belt.

  26. Geoff says:

    What everyone seems to have glossed over is that it was "long ago, in a galaxy far far away". Obviously, long ago, pretty much everyone in that galaxy died out from falling off the blaconies. The remaining smart ones were so embarassed by this obvious goof (forgetting railings) that they decided to move to a different galaxy (ours) and start again from nothing (pan-spermia theory?). I don’t see any hover cars or star destroyers when I look around now, but that’s possibly because the stupid gene has been able to mutate and take control of the majority of the population due to the reduction in darwinism, thereby halting that level of technological innovation…

  27. paul says:

    also all space scenes are 2d :) never a mix of horizontal + vertical either one of the other.

    I was impressed they actually tried to move from this classic SCI-FI FX style though and intersperse h+v shots.

  28. Michael Dwyer says:

    No dust? Well, I imagine the Roomba robots are a whole lot better in a galaxy far, far away.

    As for the scraper company, I’m reminded of the old poem about "The ambulance at the bottom of the cliff".

    Also, on the Death Star, at least, one might assume that it is possible that a bottomless pit would be perfectly safe. You’d just oscillate around the core of the planet…

  29. Yoz says:

    … which says that "Bottomless Shaft Construction Co." is one of the five most profitable companies in the Star Wars galaxy:

    http://brunching.com/starwarscompanies.html

  30. James C says:

    Here in Australia we have a scenic lookout in the Blue Mountains called "Kanangra Lookdown". It’s a sheer 100+ meter drop to the valley below.

    I took some visitors from the USA there to see it and they were astonished that it wasn’t fenced off at the edge. Cultural difference perhaps?

  31. Tristian says:

    Its like walking into an antique store. Everybody is more careful with how they step and hold things so that nothing gets broken.

    There is a similar idea, which I think was mentioned on this site, where removing road signs and road markings causes people to drive safer and with more awareness of their surroundings.

    Maybe a lack of railings is a sign of an intelligent society.

  32. "…miss a step, and over the rim you go. How many people fall to their deaths in that galaxy?"

    Don’t worry. It is a managed world. There is a GC at the bottom and as they say there are no problems with overruns anymore.

    2 Canadian cents.

  33. MGB says:

    I was just thinking about why they might not have gaurd rails. The only conclution I can come to is … perhaps they simply don’t need them?

    Think about it. In a culture as hyper advanced as the Star Wars galaxy, with light sabers, Hyper Space travel, planet smashing Death Stars, Lightspeeders, X-Wings, Droids, interplanetary travel & trade, AI virtually equal to actual real human thought, Thousands of alien languages to learn and remember if your just going to survive…

    These people don’t need gaurd rails, they are quite simply too damn intelligent to require something so pedestrian.

  34. Mark Heath says:

    The correct solution to the problem of people accidentally falling off edges is to present them with an "Are you sure" messagebox, with Yes, No and Cancel options, and a message that warns "This action cannot be undone".

    All software engineers know that this is the ultimate way to stop people doing bad things by mistake.

  35. Tito says:

    Reminds me of the several page rant about the trash compactor in the Death Star.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1400042240/ref=pd_sxp_f/102-8182067-5560133?v=glance&s=books

  36. DWalker says:

    You might as well wonder why, when two ships in any space story meet in space, (Star Trek is a great example) why are they always oriented with the same way "up"? It seems that randomly, one of them would be upside down (relative to the other one).

    Is there some universal frame of reference?

    David Walker

  37. Moi says:

    Not everyone needs a "Are you sure you want to fall to your death? [OK] [Cancel]". A way of weeding out the worthy from the unworthy, it is.

  38. Wakela says:

    This is slightly off topic, but I always wodered if anyone in the Star Wars universe had invented the wheel. Until Episode 3 which has an obviously wheeled vehicle, the closest thing we get are the treds on the sandcrawler. Maybe no one ever made the leap from treds to wheels. It’s implied that R2 and some other driods roll but we never actually see thier wheels. They could be floating. Why else would the Empire rely on the gangly and dangerous walkers?

  39. Bart says:

    Look, the people are just a lot smarter in this galaxy! I mean, even royalty can pick up an arc welder and work on the innards of an X-wing fighter! They wouldn’t conceive of being so stupid as to fall off!

    And i can tell you there’s no force fields. Remember Luke hitting the brakes while running away from the StormTroopers in Episode IV?

  40. Maurits says:

    Consider the red/green light rule on ships and planes today. One wing has a red light, the other a green (red left, green right, IIRC). You can tell whether a plane in front of you is heading with you or toward you by whether their lights match yours (with you) or are switched (toward you.)

    It is VITAL that the other plane not be upside down.

    So for backwards compatibility, all spaceships must orient themselves with "up" toward the positive electromagnetic pole of the nearest planet.

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