Alas poor Darklighter, I knew him Calrissian! Luke Skywalker may not have a lot in common with the introspective, would-be-insane Shakespearian Prince Hamlet, but Luke’s cranky dad, Anakin Skywalker, totally had some Hamlet in him. In a fun homage to both Hamlet and Darth Vader, this 1982 behind-the-scenes photo from Return of the Jedi shows Mark Hamill clutching a skull while hanging out in the dreaded Rancor pit in Jabba’s palace.
In Return of the Jedi, Luke doesn’t have time for philosophical chats with the bones of the Rancor’s previous victims, but this great photo reinforces the ever-present connection Star Wars has with classic literature. And the Hamlet motif in Star Wars isn’t limited to just Mark Hamill clowning around with a fake skull. The idea of one person talking to a disembodied “head” actually shows up Star Wars stories a lot. It’s just that sometimes the skull isn’t a skull, but instead, a helmet or a robot head.
Check out this scene from Attack of the Clones where the very young clone Boba Fett holds up the helmet of this father, the recently slain Jango Fett.
Then, there’s this great Star Wars Tales Dark Horse Comic Book story from 2000 called “Thank the Maker,” in which Darth Vader gets misty over the droid he created, C-3PO. This short story also suggest that in a moment of kindness, Vader is the reason C-3PO is sent to Chewbacca for repair on Cloud City.
Finally, there’s the most recent Hamlet-esque Star Wars moment: Kylo Ren talking to the head/helmet of his grandfather, Darth Vader. Behind-the-scenes reports suggested this scenes was initially shot of Adam Driver without his helmet, meaning his Kylo helmet had to be digitally inserted later.
Here’s hoping there’s an “Alas poor Yorick!” moment in Rogue One in a few weeks.