Anyone seriously interested in science fiction remembers the bar scene in Star Wars. The desert pub filled with miscreants of all shapes and sizes captivated young and old alike. Even having been born over a decade after the initial release, I still remember the first time I gazed upon the fine establishment.
What was it that made the atmosphere so enthralling? Surely, Harrison Ford cannot just transform a scene. Perhaps it was the miscreants around the bar? Bizarre aliens melding with poor humans in a post-modern Western scene. Perhaps it was the music? The strangest band making a novel scene even more novel. Perhaps it was what we assumed? The bar was full of potential criminals in a small enclave probably not unlike Arizona in the days of the West. Perhaps every piece of the diorama made it a masterpiece of film.
A backwoods desert bar in the mining section of the Adelphus’ only human inhabited island is more like the old west compared to the capital resembling Bangui more than Tombstone, Arizona. This setting is not far from that of the backwater bar in the Star Wars saga. Here, though, the story melds a more realistic science fiction with the same true grit as any western. Adobe walls contain a group of weathered miners, farmers, cowboys, old timers, and rabble rousers. Mead and whiskey flow freely, dust plumes fill the air; blues or perhaps dark country pours from a back room. The bar itself is caked in the sticky syrup of bad memories and hard days.
What, though, makes a Western? Corrupt officials, freedom, rebellion, dust, crime and all manner of things beyond cows. Sorry, Corb Lund.
It is here that, not unlike the titulating story from the Nixon and Carter years, a key plot element takes place.
Aiming for that feeling of entering the bar in Star Wars feels like a bit much but maybe, with enough spit and elbow grease, I can come close.