Unsung Heroes: Biggs Darklighter

biggs darklighter

They say that heroes are born, not made. Sadly, some heroes end up on the cutting room floor. This month’s unsung hero is Biggs Darklighter, Luke’s Tatooine pal, the rebel with the shortest ever career path, and proud bearer of the baddest ‘tache outside of Magnum P.I.

Before the Special Edition Star Wars release in 1997, Biggs only existed as one of a starting line up of rebel pilots (“Red Three, standing by“) attacking the Death Star, for whom Luke is surprisingly moved when he buys the farm. The Special Edition re-introduced their meeting in the hanger beforehand as old friends reunited. Before that, all else that fans knew of him came from various script drafts, the novelization, a radio adaptation, and hard to find deleted scenes. Now you can find these on the Blu ray, or Jamie Benning’s excellent filmumentary, Star Wars Begins.

Biggs is Luke’s oldest friend, slightly older, slightly more wordly wise. When Luke thinks he has seen a space battle in low orbit between Leia and Vader’s ships, he rushes to Tosche Station in Dusty Anchorhead to tell his indifferent friends, and is delighted to find Biggs, home on leave from the Academy, and about to start service on a space freighter, the Rand Ecliptic. He confides to Luke he isn’t going to be drafted into military service, and plans to jump ship and join the rebellion. He advises Luke to get out and do the same, frustrated by Luke’s hide-bound duty to look after his uncle’s farm.

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Biggs’ dialogue here echoes Ben Kenobi’s admonishment to Luke’s excuses: “That’s your uncle talking.” They both try to open his eyes to the larger picture of encroaching Imperial tyranny, acting as Joseph Campbell archtypes, calling the hero to the testing journey or quest ahead. Biggs and Luke’s talking about the future also more closely resembles George Lucas’ earlier coming of age film  American Graffitti, about car racing teenagers in small town 1960’s California. In it, Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard discuss what to do when High School is over. For this reason most likely, as well as the slower pace compared to the rest of the film, the sequence was dropped. It is a nice, poignant interlude showing Luke’s ordinary life with friends, and how he holds himself back as they move on. In the radio adaptation, this whole scene, plus Luke’s hot rod racing in Beggars Canyon, took up a whole 22 minute episode! Here is part of Continuity Supervisor Anne Skinner’s annotated script for the scene, recently exhibited at the British Film Institute as part of the “Days Of Fear And Wonder” Sci-Fi season:

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The inclusion of this scene would make their reconnection before the Death Star battle more impactful, albeit unlikely. Things happen really fast in the Star Wars universe, and coincidences are manifold. In many ways, the pilot Wedge, played by Dennis Lawson, replaces Biggs as a recurring minor character who doesn’t encroach on the friendship between Luke, Leia and Han.

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“I’m totally going to nail the Princess when this is over!”

Like many minor characters in the saga, Biggs has been elevated to mythic quality, even getting his own comic strip detailing his time between leaving Tatooine and pitching up in the final battle.

 Actor Garrick Hagon, who played him, believed it was “the best part cast in England, apart from Alec Guinness, because of the relationship he had with Luke.” For the first time, on the Star Wars Blu-ray, fans can see Biggs and Luke’s Tattoine deleted scene in as near to high definition glory as is possible. As Luke said in a chopped line, they will be like “a couple of shooting stars, that can’t be stopped.

 

 

Originally posted 2013-04-05 12:24:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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