darth vader's castle ralph macquarie concept art

Was The Castle Inspired By Old Concept Art?

Yes, the castle was inspired by old concept art created by legend Ralph McQuarrie. George Lucas played around with the idea of Darth Vader having a villainous castle lair while developing Empire Strikes Back, but it was something that never made it into the movie itself.

vader bacta tank

Is That A Bacta Tank?

We first see Vader’s attendant Vanee visiting Vader as he meditates within a rejuvenation chamber — this is a call back to when we first saw Luke Skywalker submerged in a Bacta Tank to recover from his wounds in Empire Strikes Back. The concept art above was posted by IO9.

Concept artist Christian Alzmann talks about the idea behind the Bacta tank in the Art of Rogue One Book that “this is where Vader stays, because it’s the only place he feels comfortable.”

“The idea is that he would have a massive cylindrical machine in the center of his room — and in the center of that machine is a one-person bacta tank that looks out through a window onto the lava fields of Mustafar. It’s both a meditation and a healing chamber. There’s a lava river underneath, bottom-lighting the room earily. These arms would come down to pull apart the chamber the way you might seperate a pill capsule, and the bacta would leak out on the hot grills to create steam — partially because steam is so atmospheric and awesome, and partially because you don’t really want to see a naked Vader. But there would be hints and glimpses of his twisted body breaking through the steam. And then, at the end, you might barely read a silouette of the helmet as it comes down.”

Original screenwriter Gary Whitta says the original idea was that Vader “would need to sometimes remove all of his armor to completely replenish his depleted body, but that his private place wasn’t actually an Imperial location–but we pictured it as this really dreadful place with Albert Speer-like brutalist architecture.”

Whitta also says the image of Vader in the take makes you realize that “he’s this crippled, broken, tragic figure.” Whitta says that when Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy saw the concept art for the bacta tank, she “really responded to the idea that Vader would choose for himself such a hellish kind of chamber.”


Why Wasn’t The Planet Named On Screen?

Most of the planets in Rogue One were given a text-on-screen name (something new to the Star Wars franchise), the lava planet where Darth Vader’s castle resides was not.

When asked why they chose not to name the planet in the movie, Lucasfilm Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo has revealed that he believes it was “a filmmaker choice regarding the reveal of the location and its inhabitant.”

And if you haven’t yet, check out our previous Rogue One coverage:

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