As mentioned before on Cracked, the Millennium Falcon we all know and love came about only because the previous iteration looked too much like the Eagle from a television show called Space: 1999. The notion of naming your spaceship after a bird of prey, however, was simply too cool to abandon. Here's what the Millennium Falcon was supposed to look like:
And this is the Eagle, from that TV show nobody remembers or cares about:
Just like no one remembers the ancient year of 1999.
But those similarities were noticed only after countless hours and just as many dollars were spent on a kickass model of the original Millennium Falcon design -- the ship was intended to be the cinematic centerpiece of all the princess-rescuing hyperspace shenanigans, so it had to be jumbo-sized and nothing short of magnificent. But once the similarities between the Falcon and the Eagle were discovered, the Millennium Falcon needed to be redesigned, which meant the effects crew had to start over from scratch. The original ship they spent so much time and money on was suddenly a six-foot, highly detailed model of their own wasted time.
That is, until they needed to build the blockade runner, the ship in which Princess Leia is captured by Vader's Star Destroyer in the opening scene of Star Wars. Rather than design another spaceship entirely from scratch, the filmmakers simply dusted off the old Falcon, made a few changes for scale, and renamed it the Tantive IV. It was one of Star Wars' largest, most detailed models, and it appears on screen for all of half a minute.
It was, however, a very Freudian half minute.
In reality, the Tantive IV model absolutely dwarfs the Star Destroyer, but the difference in size is impossible to tell thanks to some old-school Hollywood voodoo.
Just the ass end of the Tantive IV (bottom) is about the size of the entire Star Destroyer (top). Baby got back.
Plus, Lucasfilm got a little more mileage out of their giant original Millennium Falcon model in Return Of The Jedi, where it was reused again as the Corellian Corvette.
So, to summarize: If J.J. Abrams really wants to commit to the "old-school special effects" feel he's promised for Episode VII, he needs to skip CGI, creature effects, and high-quality resin sculpting and just spray-paint a bunch of random shit lying around the prop room.
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