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Royal Award Ceremony

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"Leia says there's going to be a big celebration later, and advised me to shower and rest. I've just realized how hungry I am. A feast certainly sounds good. We've got a lot to celebrate. And to remember."
―Extract from Luke Skywalker's journal[src]

A Royal Award Ceremony was held within the ruins of the Great Temple on Yavin 4 following the Battle of Yavin in 0 BBY. During this ceremony, Leia Organa, Princess of Alderaan, honored Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca for their heroic roles in destroying the first Death Star.

In front of hundreds of troops and technicians, the Heroes of Yavin were awarded the Medal of Bravery, the highest decoration for military valor given by the Alliance to Restore the Republic. C-3PO and R2-D2, the droid partners that carried the Death Star plans from Tatooine to Yavin, also received honors during the ceremony, being placed on the podium on the side of the Princess.

The awarding ceremony was followed by a series of speeches from Alliance officials, and then a feast, during which many toasts were drunk in honor of the new heroes, and Chewbacca was awarded his own gold medal. Years after the victory at Yavin, when a New Republic had been founded, those who originally attended the ceremony retained fond memories of it, as the crowning event of the Alliance.

HistoryEdit

"They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally, they became heroes."
―Leia Organa[src]
Heroes of Yavin
The Heroes of Yavin met on a mission to rescue Princess Leia from the Death Star.

In 0 BBY,[3] the Alliance to Restore the Republic engaged in its first decivise battle during the Galactic Civil War, the outcome of which was the first major victory against the Galactic Empire. This space battle, known as the Battle of Yavin, occured in the shadow of the gas giant Yavin Prime,[10] in the Outer Rim Territories,[11] and resulted in the the destruction of the first Death Star battlestation.[10] The victory at Yavin was the work of a set of unusual heroes: Luke Skywalker a farmboy from Tatooine turned Jedi Apprentice, Han Solo, a Corellian smuggler, and Chewbacca, Solo's Wookiee copilot. Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, who had been rescued from the Imperials by the heroes, became the figurehead of the Alliance. The blue astro droid R2-D2 and his colleague C-3PO, a protocol unit with a golden plating, were also associated with the heroes, since they had carried the Death Star plans from Tatooine to Yavin 4.[6]

PreparationsEdit

"Han Solo has refused to participate in the ceremony. Luke tried to talk him into it, but it didn't do any good. So Luke came to me. He asked me to try. "Use your diplomatic skills," he said."
―Extract from Leia Organa's journal[src]

Following the victory, General Vanden Willard suggested that a triumph ceremony was in order, to which Princess Leia agreed.[1] As the Alliance's headquarters were located in the Great Temple on Yavin 4, the ominous Grand Audience Chamber—the stone hall located at the top of the Temple—was chosen to host the ceremony. While the Chamber was being prepared for the gathering, Leia Organa suggested Luke Skywalker to take a shower and some time to rest in the meantime.[12] When the Princess heard that the Corellian pilot Han Solo intended to frown upon the celebration, she summoned him to her chambers in the Senatorial Quarters. Organa tried to convince Solo to show up, though she still was not sure he would at the end of their conversation. The droid companions of the heroes were also prepared for the ceremony. The astromech droid R2-D2, who had sustained laser cannon damage during the Death Star trench run, had been repaired and shined. His golden partner C-3PO was so anxious to look pristine that he asked four times for more metal polish,[1] and a dent in his head had been repaired.[13] The two robots nearly missed the ceremony, as the grooming of R2-D2 had taken longer than expected, but they finally made it in time.[14]

The ceremonyEdit

"Suddenly, the door zoomed open, and there we were. Rebels were lined up in formation like they were the leaders of the entire Galactic Empire."
―Han Solo to Sai'da[src]
Victory Celebration ANH
The Heroes of Yavin enter the Grand Chamber.

In the morning that followed the battle,[15] while they were waiting outside the Grand Chamber, the very nervous Skywalker, Solo and Chewbacca discussed their newfound glory at the Battle of Yavin. When the farmboy from Tatooine asked the smuggler why he had returned to save the day at the last moment, Solo humorously answered it was all his Wookiee friend's doing. Their conversation was interrupted when a Rebel officer announced them everything was ready for the ceremony.[16] The presentation officially began when Skywalker, Solo and Chewbacca entered the Grand Audience Chamber to the sound of the trumpets. The heroes were dressed in their finest: Solo wore a fresh-pressed cream shirt he had been saving for a special occasion, and Skywalker wore a black tunic under an Alliance-issue yellow flight jacket.[17] For the first time, Skywalker also wore a long barreled sporting blaster at his side.[13] Hundreds of troops were gathered on either side of the hall,[6] and members of the Rebel Honor Guard, most of whom were among the surviving Alderaanians, acted as sentries.[18] Down the center aisle past all their troops, the Alliance officials stood on a raised dais.[6] Princess Leia Organa, who had been asked to preside the formal ceremony, wore the trademark white dress of the Alderaan Royal Family[19] and an ancient family necklace.[20] She was flanked by the generals Vanden Willard[1] and Jan Dodonna, and the Rebel senators. The refurbished R2-D2 and C-3PO were also on the podium.[6] Gold Squadron member Keyan Farlander, who had served alongside Skywalker in the battle, also attended the ceremony among the lined up soldiers. He had undergone an award ceremony of his own—receiving the rank of Commander and the Star of Alderaan—earlier for his role in the battle[21]

Heroes of Yavin and their medals
Skywalker and Solo receive their award from the hands of Leia Organa.
The heroes of the day then walked down the aisle, the two Humans in the front, followed by the Wookiee. When the three friends reached the end of the room, the troops made a quarter turn to the left in order to face the dais.[6] Chewbacca stopped on a lower step than his companions because he was uncomfortable with the situation.[17] Princess Leia stepped forward and placed the Medal of Bravery around Solo's neck, who winked at her with a smile. The Princess then repeated the ceremony with the young Skywalker, who was very moved.[6]

Each of the heroes reacted to the royal honors according to his personality—Chewbacca was confused and showed signs of running for cover,[9] Solo couldn't take his award seriously and Skywalker humbly realized what a tribute he was being paid.[12] The shined-up R2-D2 started beeping with happiness, showing how proud he was of his new masters,[22] and his friend C-3PO patted the small droid's dome in approval. The heroes then bowed to the princess, turned and finally faced the assembly, who gave full vent to their feelings by applauding and cheering loudly.[6] Although he did not receive his medal, General Jan Dodonna stood proudly in front of the amassed soldiers and technicians, as he knew many of them cheered for him, too.[23]

Merry-making and last-minute awardEdit

"Up you go, your worship—there's unfinished business that was a bit too lofty for the steps of the Ceremonial Hall."
―Han Solo to Leia Organa[src]
Toast in the Audience Chamber
During the feast, many toasts were drunk following the destruction of the Death Star.

Once the official ceremony was over, the Grand Audience chamber transformed into a reception hall and hosted a grand feast. The victory against the Galactic Empire had been a great one to the Alliance, and so too was the merry-making in its name. During the party, the toasts came often and exhuberantly, with many attendants rising their glasses in honor of the Heroes of Yavin. At some point during the revelry, Solo and Skywalker carried the Princess away, arguing there was "unfinished business" that needed to be taken care of.[15] Indeed, Chewbacca had not received a medal, as Wookiees would not put any meaning into tangible awards.[19] However, his Human friends decided he deserved his Medal of Bravery regardless. The Princess of Alderaan, who was too short to reach the Wookiee's neck, stood on a table and presented Chewbacca with his own decoration.[15] A second celebration was thereafter organized on the lush Kashyyyk, homeworld of the Wookiees, so Chewbacca could share his pride with his entire species.[19]

LegacyEdit

Jaina Solo: "Every time we come in here, I think of those old videoclips of the ceremony where Mother handed out medals to Uncle Luke and Dad. She looked so pretty."
Jacen Solo: "Yeah, and Dad looked like such a ... such a pirate."
Jaina Solo: "Well, he was a smuggler in those days."
―Jaina and Jacen Solo[src]

Around 4 ABY, Han Solo mentioned the Award Ceremony when Sai'da, a history-enthusiast B'omarr Monk, asked him about the his involvement with the Alliance. Solo confessed his initial reluctance to stay for the ceremony and admitted that Princess Leia was the one who got him to do it. The Corellian then gave Sai'da a detailed and somewhat emotional account of the event. Solo stated the ceremony made him wonder what kind of better man he could become, not just how he would make the next cash transaction.[24] The following year,[25] Solo and the Princess Organa planned on getting married, and the ceremony was to take place in the Grand Audience Chamber. While standing on the dais with the groom, Luke Skywalker mused that the wedding day was very much like the Royal Award Ceremony.[26] However, the wedding was interrupted when a mind-controlled Triclops, son of the late Galactic Emperor Palpatine, broke into the Chamber. That incident set the actual wedding back[27] for three more years.[28]

Luke alone in the Chamber-JKJO
The Grand Audience Chamber in 12 ABY, now part of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Academy

Years later, the Galactic Empire was defeated, and the Alliance established a democratic government, the New Republic. The Great Temple of Yavin 4 had become a Jedi academy where Luke Skywalker, now a Jedi Master, taught many students the ways of the Force. Everytime he gathered his apprentices in the Grand Audience Chamber, Skywalker had fond memories of the victory celebration following the destruction of the Death Star, remembering how Princess Leia had presented medals to him and Han Solo and Chewbacca.[29] Images and sounds from the Royal Award Ceremony had been recorded so the future generations could watch holographic rebroadcasts of this important milestone in the history of the Alliance. Although the official holo had been lost at some point before the Battle of Hoth, one of the mechanics who attended the ceremony had taped it for himself, which allowed to preserve its memory.[30] The young Jaina, daughter of Han Solo and Leia Organa, had seen the tape. She once commented on the beauty of her mother, to which her brother Jacen added their father looked like a pirate.[31]

Behind the scenesEdit

"At the far end stands a vision in white, the beautiful young Senator Leia. Luke and the others solemnly march up the long aisle and kneel before Senator Leia."
―Extract from the final script of A New Hope[src]
Yavin celebration at Shepperton
The triumph ceremony was filmed at Shepperton Studios, England.

The triumphal celebration on Yavin 4 is the final scene of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the first installment of the original trilogy, released in 1977.[6] The scene was shot at the massive H Stage of Shepperton Studios, located in Shepperton, England. Most of the interior scenes had been filmed at Elstree Studios, just outside of London, but Elstree could not, at the time, offer a stage large enough to portray the Audience Chamber, and the shooting was relocated to Shepperton.[19] This scene was filmed over two days, May 13 and 14 1976, right in the middle of principal photography, when the camaraderie had grown between the main actors.[13] The extras hired to portray the assembled troops wore orange X-wing pilot costumes and olive-green US Marine suits.[32] Aside from R2-D2's bleeping and Chewbacca's roar, the scene featured no line[6] and was highlighted by "The Throne Room," a march written by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.

The filmmakers originally intended to portray the assembly of Rebels present for the ceremony using a matte painting. However, this proved too difficult, and the scene was filmed by moving the extras to different positions in the frame until the illusion of an large assembly was achieved: the extras were first filmed at the near end of the stage, then relocated to the middle, and finally to the far end of the room. According to Star Wars: Behind the Magic, the extras were anything but reverent toward Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, who portrayed Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Extras believed the film would be a flop, and whispered insults, openly mocking the actors while they were walking down the set.[19] Originally, the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, played by Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels, were meant to march up the aisle with the rest of the characters. However, due to their costumes' limitations, Baker and Daniels could not climb stairs, so it was decided that the droids would wait on the platform with the Princess.[33] On her performance as Leia Organa in the final scene, Carrie Fisher once declared: "The last line in the script was that the Princess is way down the hall and she is staggeringly beautiful. I crossed off the 'ly' and 'beautiful' and felt this new wording more approached what I would bring to the character."[34]

Triumph of the Will - Congress Hall
The ceremony from Triumph des Willens

This end ceremony segment emulates, almost shot-for-shot, a similar scene in Triumph des Willens, a 1934 Nazi propaganda film made by Leni Riefenstahl. Both segments feature a large and enthusiastic crowd gathered in a ceremony hall bounded by columns, with a low podium where the leader stands—in Triumph des Willens, Adolf Hitler was the leader in question.[19] This similiarity is unusual, as the Nazi references in Star Wars generally involve the Galactic Empire of Palpatine, whose authoritarian regime mirrors Hitler's Third Reich.[35]

Many of the versions of the movie script ended with a celebration. In the rough and first drafts, Princess Leia was crowned Queen, and in the third and early fourth drafts, Obi-Wan Kenobi attended the ceremony, having survived his encounter with Darth Vader. In the novel adaptation of A New Hope, the scene was almost identical to the one in the movie, with the added detail of the Grand Audience Chamber being decorated in "the banners of the many worlds which had lent their support to the Rebellion." The novelization also has C-3PO marching down the aisle beside the heroes, with R2-D2 joining the group once they reach the dais.[19] The Star Wars radio dramatization also presented an alternate version of the scene, complete with dialogue from all of the major players—such as Princess Leia giving a speech and Luke Skywalker commenting on how R2-D2 had been repaired.[16] While this event has been mostly referred to as "the ceremony", its official name was revealed by the protocol droid C-3PO in the final issue of the Star Wars: Droids series of comics: "Yes, you will look nice for the Award Ceremony Art—the Royal Award Ceremony?"[14]

Non-canon depictions and in-continuity nodsEdit

The Award Ceremony was also featured in a number of sources that are not considered canonical. In the 2000 one-shot humor comic book Sergio Aragonés Stomps Star Wars, where author Sergio Aragonés portrayed himself as delusioned Star Wars fan who got accidentally into the digitized reels of Star Wars Episode IV. The ending segment of the story had Aragonés downloaded Aragonés out of the film, just as Princess Leia was about to kiss him in front of the assembled Rebels. This version of the ceremony has two Rebel soldiers acting as Cable News Network reporters filming the scene.[36]

In the equally jocular 2001 comic Tag & Bink Are Dead 2, the title characters Tag Greenley and Bink Otauna wound up in the Grand Audience Chamber months after the Evacuation of Yavin. The only things they found were leftover trash from the Rebel award ceremony, including a torn-down astromech droid, various party hats, confetti, streamers, noisemakers and a rabbit costume. Greenley and Otauna also discovered a discarded medal reading "Chewie,"[37] alluding to the fact that Chewbacca was seemingly forgotten in A New Hope.[6]

In the 2006 real-time strategy game Star Wars: Empire at War, the Award Ceremony was featured in the ending of the Rebel campaign. However, its appearance should not be considered canon, since the victory over the Death Star can take place around any planet. The ceremony cutscene is even shown if Yavin 4 has been destroyed by the Empire earlier in the game. Additionally, the ceremony is shown following a battle over Coruscant if the player wins by conquest instead of destroying the Death Star.[38]

In The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural, a medal ceremony organized in 3660 BBY in the honor of Hylo Visz was mentioned. The artwork depicting the ceremony mirrors the scene from Episode IV, with the assembled troops on both sides of a long aisle, the slanted walls, and the dignitaries waiting on a podium with window-slits in the back.[39]

Parodies in pop cultureEdit

Family Guy Royal Award
A parody of the ceremony shown in Family Guy

As an iconic moment of the original Star Wars film, the Award Ceremony has been parodied in pop culture. The American animated sitcom Family Guy has closed off an episode with a recreation of the ceremony, using sounds, music and even characters—Chewbacca and the droids—from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. According to the episode's DVD commentary, Lucasfilm Ltd. permitted the use of copyrighted Star Wars elements in the episode.[40] Similarly, the animated series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic also featured an award ceremony sequence at the end of its twenty-eighth episode. According to director Jayson Thiessen, a storyboard artist decided to board the ceremony sequence as a shot-for-shot transposition of Star Wars Royal Award Ceremony.[41] Another similar emulation was used in the fourth episode of the cancelled animated series Undergrads, in which the Award Ceremony was reenacted in the hallways of a college. One of the caracters, Mump, even beeps and whistles like R2-D2.[42] In the eleventh episode of the adult animated sitcom Drawn Together, Captain Hero's fantasy wedding also parodies the Royal Award Ceremony, with characters from the show standing in for Star Wars characters.[43]

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

External linksEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Star Wars Journal: Captive to Evil
  2. Star Wars 25: Siege at Yavin
  3. 3.0 3.1 The New Essential Chronology
  4. The Essential Atlas states that the Battle of Yavin occurred in year 35, which is the zero point of the BBY/ABY year-notation system, so the difference between the calendar based on the Battle of Yavin and the Great ReSynchronization's year-notation system is thirty-five years. This date is derived from simple math based upon other confirmed dates.
  5. Galaxy Guide 2: Yavin and Bespin, Second Edition
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 SWInsider small "Rogues Gallery"—Star Wars Insider 133
  8. SWCCGsmall Star Wars Customizable Card GamePremiere Limited (Card: Rebel Guard)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novel
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Second Edition
  11. Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
  12. 12.0 12.1 Star Wars Journal: The Fight for Justice
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 SWInsider small "Massassi Temple Throne Room"—Star Wars Insider 98
  14. 14.0 14.1 Star Wars Droids 8: Star Wars According to the Droids, Book III
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 The Day after the Death Star!
  16. 16.0 16.1 Star Wars radio drama
  17. 17.0 17.1 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope junior novel
  18. Hasbro logo Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collection (Pack: REBEL HONOR GUARD (Yavin))
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 Star Wars: Behind the Magic
  20. SWCCGsmall Star Wars Customizable Card GamePremiere Limited (Card: Organa's Ceremonial Necklace)
  21. X-Wing Collector's CD-ROM: The Official Strategy Guide
  22. SWInsider small "Inside Artoo!"—Star Wars Insider 111
  23. The Essential Guide to Characters
  24. Star Wars Journal: Hero for Hire
  25. The Essential Reader's Companion
  26. Prophets of the Dark Side
  27. Star Wars Blog "The Star Wars Spy Game: SPIN Declassified," The Official Star Wars Blog (link)
  28. The Courtship of Princess Leia
  29. Dark Apprentice (novel)
  30. Star Wars: Chewbacca 3
  31. Young Jedi Knights: Heirs of the Force
  32. SWInsider small "Jedi Archive"—Star Wars Insider 111
  33. SWicon Seizing the Day on StarWars.com (content now obsolete; backup link on Archive.org)
  34. SWInsider small "Life After Leia"—Star Wars Insider 23
  35. Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
  36. Sergio Aragonés Stomps Star Wars
  37. Tag & Bink Are Dead 2
  38. Star Wars: Empire at War
  39. The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
  40. Commentators (2005). Family Guy volume 4 Region 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Blind Ambition" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  41. BroNYcon Jayson Thiessen Q&A (2011-09-24). Retrieved on September 25, 2011.
  42. IMDb favicon Undergrads: New Friends at the Internet Movie Database
  43. IMDb favicon Drawn Together: Captain Hero's Marriage Pact at the Internet Movie Database
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