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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 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. Despite not being "alive", the droid partners C-3PO and R2-D2 also received honors during the ceremony, being placed on the podium on the side of the Princess.

The medal awarding ceremony was followed by a series of speeches from Alliance officials, and then a feast, a time of revelry during which many toasts were drunk in honor of the new heroes. Chewbacca was also awarded his own golden medal in a more humble and intimate setting.

History

"They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally, they became heroes."
―Leia Organa[src]
Leiadeathstar

The Heroes of Yavin met on a mission to rescue Princess Leia from the Death Star.

In 0 BBY,[1] 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,[8] in the Outer Rim Territories,[9] and resulted in the the destruction of the first Death Star.[8] 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 rogue, 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.[4]

Preparations

"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.[5] 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.[10] 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 astro droid R2-D2, who had sustained laser cannon damage during the Death Star trench run, had been repaired and shined. His colleague C-3PO, a protocol unit with a golden plating, was so anxious to look pristine that he asked four times for more metal polish.[5] 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.[11]

The ceremony

"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]

The ceremony officially began when Skywalker, Solo and Chewbacca entered the Grand Audience Chamber with the sound of the trumpets. The heroes were dressed in their finest: Solo wore a clean cream shirt he had been saving for a special occasion, and Skywalker wore a black tunic under an Alliance-issue yellow flight jacket.[12] Hundreds of troops were gathered on either side of the hall, forming a guard of honor. Down the center aisle past all their troops, the Alliance officials stood on a raised dais.[4] Princess Leia Organa, who had been asked to preside the formal ceremony, wore the trademark white dress of the Alderaan Royal Family.[13] She was flanked by the generals Vanden Willard[5] and Jan Dodonna, and the Rebel senators. The refurbished R2-D2 and C-3PO were also on the podium.[4]

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.[4] Chewbacca stopped on a lower step than his companions because he was uncomfortable with the situation.[12] 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.[4]

Each of the heroes reacted to the royal honors according to his personality—Chewbacca was confused and showed signs of running for cover,[7] Solo couldn't take his award seriously and Skywalker humbly realized what a tribute he was being paid.[10] The shined-up R2-D2 started beeping with happiness, showing how proud he was of his new masters,[14] 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.[4]

Merry-making and last-minute award

"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 wouldn't put any meaning into tangible awards.[13] 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]

Legacy

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.[16]

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.[17] 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. The young Jaina, daughter of Han Solo and Leia Organa, once commented on the beauty of her mother, to which her brother Jacen added their father looked like a pirate.[18]

Behind the scenes

"At the far end stands a vision in white, the beautiful young Senator Leia. Luke and the other 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 triumph celebration was the final scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the first installment of the original trilogy, which was released in 1977.[4] The ceremony was shot at the massive Stage H of the Shepperton Studios, located in Shepperton, England, while most of the interior scenes of the movie had been filmed at Elstree Studios, just outside of London. At the time, Elstree Studios could not offer a stage large enough to portray the Audience Chamber, whence the shooting was relocated to Shepperton.[13]

The filmmakers originally intended to use a matte painting to create the vast assembly present for the triumph ceremony. However, this proved too difficult, anf the extras were filmed at the near end of the stage, then relocated into the middle and filmed again, and finally moved to the far end of the room and filmed one last time. Ironically, during the filming of this final scene, 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, so they whispered insults and openly mocked the actors while they were walking down the set.[13]

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, although the Grand Audience Chamber was decorated in "the banners of the many worlds which had lent their support to the Rebellion". The novelization also had C-3PO marching down the aisle beside the heroes, with R2-D2 joining the group once they reached the dais.[13]

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.[13] This similiarity is surprising, as the Nazi references in Star Wars generally involve the Galactic Empire of Palpatine, whose authoritarian regime mirrors Hitler's Third Reich.[19]

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?"[11]

Appearances

Sources

Notes and references

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