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Implied starting date of the Empire from OT dialogue

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Hello, OTF! I love the OT, generally dislike the PT, and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the sequels.

With introductions out of the way, here is my question: Did the OT ever really nail down *when* the Empire began (disregarding the prequels entirely)? Some things about the timeline of the PT don't really match up with what we saw and heard in the OT which is why I choose to discard them.

One in particular was Luke's comment in ESB about how Dagobah "felt familiar". Personally I interpret this to mean that through some combination of circumstances, Luke spent a short amount of time on Dagobah at three or four years of age, right around the time the brain starts forming coherent memories.

Secondly, we were never actually told the ages of Obi-Wan and Anakin. For all we know the old man could be a hundred years old by ANH, his systems kept functioning by the power of the Force. 

Finally Grand Moff Tarkin's past always intrigued me. If the Empire hasn't been around for that long, then was he once an officer loyal to the Old Republic? If so, was he always the hard-driving, militaristic, fear-will-keep-the-local-systems-in-line type of dude, or was he once a more humane man who got hardened and battered by the strife of the Clone Wars?

I ask these questions because I'm working on a prequel rewrite where some common assumptions about the timeline get challenged, but I'm trying to make them plausible given the depiction of the OT.

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Assuming that you do take the prequels and the 3d clone wars cartoon as canon, I have a couple things to say.

I can't explain Luke's familiarity of Dagobah, but in said cartoon, Tarkin was an officer in the Clone Wars, Anakin worked with him, and he his personality was pretty much the same.

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We know in the first film from the first Death Star scene that power from the senate was gradually withering away, which leads me to believe the Empire was only around as we see it for several decades.

“After a time, you may find that having, is not so pleasing a thing after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.” - Spock

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 (Edited)

Frey said:

One in particular was Luke's comment in ESB about how Dagobah "felt familiar". Personally I interpret this to mean that through some combination of circumstances, Luke spent a short amount of time on Dagobah at three or four years of age, right around the time the brain starts forming coherent memories.

Huh, it seems obvious but I hadn't thought of that before. I can't figure out how and why young Luke would have been on Degobah but it'll be fun trying to imagine it.

Another similar date issue with the prequels is when did the Jedi begin? Ben says they've been guarding the Old Republic "For over a thousand generations". Apparently a "Generation" is considered to be about 25-years, so it was at least 25,000 years. Palpatine says it's no more than 1000 years in AOTC. Always amazes that Lucas didn't fact check his own script x-D

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 (Edited)

The way I see it the time line for the start of the Empire is sort of right in the PT.

It's long ago enough for Luke to have no memory of a world without it but near enough for his Uncle's generation to take sides.

It's established enough to keep most of the Galaxy under it's thrall but still has a large rebellion causing problems.

What the PT got wrong was the length of time it took for the Republic to fold.

Ben talks of Clone Wars (plural) of Vader helping the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi, not turning up at their HQ and killing the surprising few that were in residence leaving the Clone Troopers (who are clearly much better shots than their Storm Trooper replacements) to do most of the killing. All this before the formation of the Empire.

To be more accurate the first Clone War should have been shown in TPM, leading to a second when Anakin was old enough to participate both as a Jedi and as a Cyborg assassin.

I proposed a fan edit reason for Luke's comments about Dagobah...he was born there :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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Frey said:

Hello, OTF! I love the OT, generally dislike the PT, and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the sequels.

With introductions out of the way, here is my question: Did the OT ever really nail down *when* the Empire began (disregarding the prequels entirely)? Some things about the timeline of the PT don't really match up with what we saw and heard in the OT which is why I choose to discard them.

One in particular was Luke's comment in ESB about how Dagobah "felt familiar". Personally I interpret this to mean that through some combination of circumstances, Luke spent a short amount of time on Dagobah at three or four years of age, right around the time the brain starts forming coherent memories.

Secondly, we were never actually told the ages of Obi-Wan and Anakin. For all we know the old man could be a hundred years old by ANH, his systems kept functioning by the power of the Force. 

Finally Grand Moff Tarkin's past always intrigued me. If the Empire hasn't been around for that long, then was he once an officer loyal to the Old Republic? If so, was he always the hard-driving, militaristic, fear-will-keep-the-local-systems-in-line type of dude, or was he once a more humane man who got hardened and battered by the strife of the Clone Wars?

I ask these questions because I'm working on a prequel rewrite where some common assumptions about the timeline get challenged, but I'm trying to make them plausible given the depiction of the OT.

Obi-wan says that he and Anakin were jedi knights, yet he says the jedi were the guardian of peace BEFORE the empire. So it seems they were the last jedi generation (at least as guardians of the Republic), thus the empire may have risen up to 50 years before.

About that "felt familiar", my guess is that Luke had a vision of Dagobah (like later with Cloud City), but he doesn't remember it anymore as usually happens with dreams. It's just a "cloudy picture" in his mind :D

The Original Trilogy’s Timeline Reconstruction: http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/Implied-starting-date-of-the-Empire-from-OT-dialogue/post/786201/#TopicPost786201

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Good one on the observation about the implications behind Luke's comments about the familiarity of Dagobah, OP. Like some of the other posters, this had never occurred to me (and I've spent a lot of time thinking about the Prequel Trilogy that the dialogue of the OT hints at, but which we never got).

Biowings makes some very good points about the ridiculously rushed turn that the Republic makes into the Empire (and about the clear implication that "Clone Wars" refers to more than one conflict). Personally, I think Episode III (I'm referring to the hypothetical one, not the one we got, which I find irredeemable) should have ended with only the very beginnings of the Empire having been established, so that by the time we get to Episodes IV-VI we're shocked by how complete that change has become. Having Episode III end with OT-style Imperial uniforms and Star Destroyers, the Death Star already under construction, and Palpatine already looking like the hooded death-spectre he becomes in ROTJ is just plain stupid. It's an insulting bit of pandering to an audience the director contemptuously assumes is too stupid to understand what has occurred unless everything looks exactly as it does in the OT. 

This is just another example of the PT having been made with zero respect for the Saga as an episodic continuing story. Wouldn't it have been great if the PT never explicitly showed that Vader is Luke's father, that Leia is his sister, and that Yoda is actually a tiny green critter? Likewise, imagine if the PT had ended with a Palpatine who, having just declared himself Emperor, still looked more or less like the charismatic Senator he had been at the start of the Saga? Imagine how much more impact it would have to return to him in TESB and ROTJ, and seeing how ultimate power and isolation have turned him into a shrouded, wizened monster...

Lucas won't live forever. Once he's gone, and once the ST and spinoffs are said and done with, I hold out hope that Disney could give us a decent remake of the PT - which they could market as an "alternate" version of the story, so as not to seem disrespectful to GL.

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I never interpreted the dagobah dialogue in that way either, but it does mesh with one of my bigger PT gripes.

I always imagined Jedi training would be mysterious, grungy, and very under the radar. Luke going to dagobah was a pilgrimage that all Jedi candidates would undertake when they were ready. Instead it was portrayed like attending grade school.

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To me it has felt like 30 years... But there are a few "compromises", if that's a good word, to be made.

Firstly, the last Jedi were still in business when the Empire began and they were hunted down during its rise. I mean, you can't take control of the galaxy in a few weeks so this could have easily took like 10 years. Also it's an interesting thought that the Jedi tried to serve the Empire to keep the peace and justice but after the Empire got power, they were hunted down.

Secondly, the Empire started before there was Vader. IIRC, Luke & Leia were 18 in SW? So Anakin had to be human about 20 years before SW, and to me, the Empire can't be as young as them. Now I want to think that Luke & Leia were conceived by a good guy because the option is a little disturbing, which would mean that Vader has been Vader maybe 15-18 years? So I think Vader's timeline isn't that far off from the PT, I just wouldn't have let Anakin know that he was going to have kids at all. Oh, and if I remembered Luke & Leia's ages wrong, add a couple of years.

Anyways, it seems the Empire has been around about Han's age but then the old Rebel beards were there during the Republic.

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 (Edited)

The OT doesn't concretely nail down the date of the Empire's formation.

One could infer from Ben's dialogue in the first film that it happened relatively late in the lives of Ben and Anakin, but that's only if you decide to take his words at 100% face value. Personally, I choose to be more liberal with my approach and run with the idea that the Republic became the Empire over fifty years before the events of the original movie -- before the Clone Wars came to an end, even before Palpatine rose to power -- and interpret Ben's comments about the Old Republic as reflecting a longing for a past golden age he's heard much about but never personally experienced.

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It's very vague, it could be any number of years, 20 prior or more. There was NO absolute time set by the dialogue. Anyone who says there is, is simply dreaming up what their own timeline based on vagueness.

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Where do you dream up 50 years? Guinness would have been like 11 years old. He turned 62 while filming ANH. Some people try to place him at much older. But that was his age.

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Sevb32 said:

It's very vague, it could be any number of years, 20 prior or more. There was NO absolute time set by the dialogue. Anyone who says there is, is simply dreaming up what their own timeline based on vagueness.

 That's why this thread starts with the word "implied".

Sevb32 said:

Where do you dream up 50 years? Guinness would have been like 11 years old. He turned 62 while filming ANH. Some people try to place him at much older. But that was his age.

 50 years sounds a little too much for me too, but we aren't talking about Guinness' age but Obi-Wan's (if even that). Mark Hamill wasn't a teenager either nor Dave Prowse was a cyborg.

And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns.

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Yes, but I think it's fair to surmise that the human lead actors were at least portraying at least within 5 years of their actual ages. Hamill was around 24 portraying 19. If they had wanted Guinness to be even older they would have kept his toupee off. Baldness generally makes you look older. Truth is, writers didn't know how long it had been since The Clone Wars. It was left open. As much as you seeth with burning hatred towards the prequels, there is nothing to disprove their timeline in the context of the original films.

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One thing I'm confused about was Obi-Wan's claim of haven't been called Obi-Wan since before Luke was born yet he was definitely known as Obi-Wan for all of ROTS. I know the original poster of this thread wanted to keep the prequels out of this but thought I'd mention that. I guess it's no more confusing then Obi-Wan claiming Anakin wanted look to have his lightsaber.

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crissrudd4554 said:

One thing I'm confused about was Obi-Wan's claim of haven't been called Obi-Wan since before Luke was born yet he was definitely known as Obi-Wan for all of ROTS. I know the original poster of this thread wanted to keep the prequels out of this but thought I'd mention that. I guess it's no more confusing then Obi-Wan claiming Anakin wanted look to have his lightsaber.

Here's my weak thoughts about it, figured he switched to be calling ben when he started living in his exile as a sort of weak..but stronger cover or something.

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crissrudd4554 said:

One thing I'm confused about was Obi-Wan's claim of haven't been called Obi-Wan since before Luke was born yet he was definitely known as Obi-Wan for all of ROTS. I know the original poster of this thread wanted to keep the prequels out of this but thought I'd mention that. I guess it's no more confusing then Obi-Wan claiming Anakin wanted look to have his lightsaber.

 And THESE are the problems with the prequels, every damn time I watch the OT I notice more and more continuity errors between the trilogies which were made by the same guy! Disney just needs to remake the stupid movies and pretend the PT didn't happen, even if these films were good, they don't work in the canon at all.

Prequel Fan-Edit thread: http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Yet-another-series-of-prequel-edits/id/17329

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Sevb32 said:

Where do you dream up 50 years? Guinness would have been like 11 years old. He turned 62 while filming ANH. Some people try to place him at much older. But that was his age.

I assume you're replying to me, correct? Well, not only did I say more than 50 years (54 if you want an exact number), I was talking about the age of the Empire, not Ben himself. Ben himself I imagine as having been born about six years before the transition. That would make him about 59/60 in the first movie, which isn't too far off from his real-life age at the time.

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Handman said:

We know in the first film from the first Death Star scene that power from the senate was gradually withering away

This tells us two things:

1. The Empire was once the "Old Republic."

2. Palpatine isn't openly a Force-user. Motti's comments to Vader also point to Palpatine's use of the dark side being a secret.

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"I haven't gone by the name of Obi-Wan since, oh...before you were born."

I took that as meaning on a regular basis. Padme called him Obi-Wan just before she died after having the twins. He went on to live on Tatooine almost immediately after. This is about nitpicky as you can get.  The twins birth and his move to Tatooine is about the time he stopped being called Obi-Wan on reg basis.  How else could this have possibly been done to line up with what you thought it meant? Of all things to criticize, I think this is nothing.  So telling Luke he hasn't gone by that name since, oh before you were born. Is not inaccurate. Some people wanna take everything extremely literally, when people don't necessarily talk that way in real life either.

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Sevb32 said:

"I haven't gone by the name of Obi-Wan since, oh...before you were born."

I took that as meaning on a regular basis. Padme called him Obi-Wan just before she died after having the twins. He went on to live on Tatooine almost immediately after. This is about nitpicky as you can get.  The twins birth and his move to Tatooine is about the time he stopped being called Obi-Wan on reg basis.  How else could this have possibly been done to line up with what you thought it meant? Of all things to criticize, I think this is nothing.  So telling Luke he hasn't gone by that name since, oh before you were born. Is not inaccurate. Some people wanna take everything extremely literally, when people don't necessarily talk that way in real life either.

 Plus, the line really sounds as if it's supposed to give Luke an impression of how he hasn't gone by it in a long time, probably to sound a bit old and wise, and if he's being rational about it, avoiding the interest he'd get if he said "At around the same time you were born". I'd assume at this point Obi-wan is still being coy with Luke. Even taken as literal truth, he probably hadn't been introduced as Obi-wan to new people since before Luke had been born.

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valinkrai said:

Sevb32 said:

"I haven't gone by the name of Obi-Wan since, oh...before you were born."

I took that as meaning on a regular basis. Padme called him Obi-Wan just before she died after having the twins. He went on to live on Tatooine almost immediately after. This is about nitpicky as you can get.  The twins birth and his move to Tatooine is about the time he stopped being called Obi-Wan on reg basis.  How else could this have possibly been done to line up with what you thought it meant? Of all things to criticize, I think this is nothing.  So telling Luke he hasn't gone by that name since, oh before you were born. Is not inaccurate. Some people wanna take everything extremely literally, when people don't necessarily talk that way in real life either.

 Plus, the line really sounds as if it's supposed to give Luke an impression of how he hasn't gone by it in a long time, probably to sound a bit old and wise, and if he's being rational about it, avoiding the interest he'd get if he said "At around the same time you were born". I'd assume at this point Obi-wan is still being coy with Luke. Even taken as literal truth, he probably hadn't been introduced as Obi-wan to new people since before Luke had been born.

 Exactly.  Yes, we know it all wasn't fleshed out from the beginning. But this one works as is.

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Frey said:

 

Finally Grand Moff Tarkin's past always intrigued me. If the Empire hasn't been around for that long, then was he once an officer loyal to the Old Republic? If so, was he always the hard-driving, militaristic, fear-will-keep-the-local-systems-in-line type of dude, or was he once a more humane man who got hardened and battered by the strife of the Clone Wars?

 I imagine Tarkin was always  a bastard, and the dog-eat-dogstar culture of the Empire finally let him climb the ranks, unhindered by his general bastardry. 

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I assumed from the beginning that Tarkin was ethically loyal to ruling order of the day.

I never saw him as an arch-villain but more a pragmatic military leader who saw ruthlessness as necessary to insure order and stability.

He thinks he is doing the right thing.

I assume he would have acted in a simular manner during the last days of the Republic which even pre-PT seemed to be a time of chaos and unrest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M