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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Star Wars: The Deleted Scenes #7: Darth Vader and the Death Star commander

Leslie Schofield as Commander #1 – later renamed Bast – with Darth Vader in a deleted scene from Star Wars 

As our look at the deleted scenes of Star Wars nears its end, we look at some intrigue unfolding on the Death Star and ask ourselves: Who is Bast?

Leslie Schofield's key moment
in Star Wars, opposite
Peter Cushing 
After the Jabba the Hutt scene I discussed last time, Star Wars as scripted would have cut back to the Death Star, where Darth Vader is talking to an Imperial officer.

In the film, the officer is known as “Commander #1” and is the last cast member on the credit roll. In the “expanded universe”, the character would come to be known as Bast. But it’s probably easier to remember him as The Guy With the Big Sideburns. 

The Guy With the Big Suideburns is in two scenes of the released film, and is the officer who later asks Grand Moff Tarkin whether he wants to get off the Death Star just in case any of those Rebel pilots manages to land a shot in the thermal exhaust port.

Leslie Schofield in Star Wars

Sideburns Guy was played by Leslie Schofield, then a 37-year-old actor who had appeared in several British films, including Twinky (1969), Villain (1971) and The Ruling Class (1969). The latter film also featured Declan Mulholland, the original Jabba the Hutt. Schofield had also made the first of two appearances in Doctor Who. He would later appear in Blake’s 7 and EastEnders among other.

The deleted scene is a short one, featuring Vader and the commander walking down a corridor. “We’ve closed the space port of Mos Eisley and started a search operation. It’s just a matter of time before we find the droids,” says the commander. 

Vader (still voiced by Dave Prowse in the scene on the Blu-ray) replies: “Send in more troops if you have to. It's her hope of the data being used against us which is the pillar of her resistance against the mind probe.”

The officer replies: “Till then, we waste time with Governor Tarkin’s foolish plan to break her.”

That’s all, except that the camera follows them as they head to an intersection where more Imperials and droids go by.

Does this scene add anything to the movie? Well, visually it's impressive, and it must have been difficult to shoot. The camera dollies backwards as Vader and the officer walk down the corridor, and it's all done in one shot. At the start of the scene, we see storm troopers marching past in the background, and when Vader and the commander reach the other end of the corridor, we watch them walk among a collection of passing humans and droids, all of which must have been tricky to choreograph.

But story-wise, the scene has little to offer. The hint that some Imperials are unhappy with the way Tarkin is running things is quite interesting. After all, we've already seen that not everyone in the Empire is content with Vader and his religion occupying an exalted post in the chain of command, so the idea that ranks of officers might be split between Vaderites and Tarkinites is intriguing.

That one line aside, however, there is little to commend the scene. It simply reiterates that the Empire really, really want to get those plans. Perhaps Lucas originally though this point might need repeating – that the audience might have been so diverted by the sights and sounds of the movie’s universe by this point that they needed reminding of the plot. But by this juncture, the Empire has already incinerated Luke Skywalker's aunt and uncle, not to mention an untold number of Jawas, in their search for the data tapes. Anyone who had not got the message that the plans were really quite important could not have been paying much attention.

Bast returns in The Star Wars Holiday Special

The 'Bast' scene saw the light
of day in the bizarre
Star Wars Holiday Special
This is one deleted scene that did not go completely to waste, because in 1978, it was incorporated into The Star Wars Holiday Special. For that production, it was shortened a bit, and the dialogue was changed. Leslie Schofield’s voice was replaced by that of another actor, whose words don’t match the lip movements, and who says: “We’ve started a search operation. It’s just a matter of time before we find the rebels.”  Vader, now voiced by James Earl Jones, says: “I want the rebels located and identified if it means searching every household in the system.”

Anyone who had watched the film closely, and was hoping the Holiday Special would make sense as some sort of sequel, would have asked an obvious question: How come the officer with the sideburns is still alive to talk to Darth Vader? In the film, we last saw him standing next to Grand Moff Tarkin, about one second before the Death Star exploded, so either he beamed out, Star Trek-style, or he has a twin. Or, indeed, a clone.  But that would be the least of anybody’s problems with the Holiday Special.

Of course, George Lucas was so embarrassed by the Holiday Special that it was put back into the vaults and never broadcast in the US again. Fans in many parts of the world have never legally seen it at all. We may have been treated to some of Star Wars’ much talked-about deleted scenes on Blu-ray, but there isn’t much hope of the Holiday Special turning up as a bonus feature any time soon. Lucas seems to want the whole thing deleted from history.


Dec Cart said...

The guy with the big sideburns? Nah, he'll always be Johnny Brigg's Dad to me.

Darren Slade said...

Ha! Have to admit I've never seen Jonny Briggs, but I realise now I probably should have mentioned it in the piece.
Thanks for the comment, Dec.

Artois52 said...

Fascinating stuff. I stumbled on this site by accident while idly surfing, but I will be back for more.

Darren Slade said...

Thanks Artois. I've been a while posting, but there will be more soon.

John white said...

It's very insightful the way you look at a scene, Darren, and can see that it brings nothing extra to the story, except for another look at the baddies.
As a kid, this would have been enough for me, but you're right that it'd be a waste of screen time and our attention. It makes me look at bad movies differently now. It's a bit like pointless dialogue. Heroes escape - baddie shouts "No! They've escaped!" Heroes in ship celebrate, "We escaped, we escaped!" I often notice how good actors seem to drop lines of dialogue and use a 'look' instead. If a thought or feeling is understood by both characters then what's the point in articulating it?