The Death Star is one of the most iconic things in the Star Wars universe, with the original station and its successors being important centrepieces in the original trilogy and inspiring the superweapons in the Disney-era sequel trilogy, such as Starkiller base.
However, the film Rogue One showed the gargantuan battle station in a completely new orientation, leading many fans to wonder why the Death Star was ‘upside down’. Why was this the case, and how did this affect the functionality of the Death Star?
Here’s what you need to know.
Why was the Death Star upside down?
There were several reasons why the Death Star was in the position seen in Rogue One, including an out-of-universe explanation for the decision to position the superweapon that way. Some things to consider when considering this include:
Was it really upside down?
The first and most interesting reason for the orientation of the Death Star is one that we consider surprisingly little considering the setting of the franchise; there is no up or down in space! This is true for everything in space, including our very own planet. In the endless expanse of space all orientation is relative, and we have Earth’s trusty gravity for giving us our sense of up and down here on the surface.
If not for gravity, there would be no up or down for us, either.
Since the Death Star used its own artificial gravity on board and is mechanically constructed to perpetually exist with no real option to dock anywhere, it makes sense that the superweapon could be oriented in whatever way and still function just the same, with the people within it also being able to move about and function as per usual. In light of the station’s spherical design and immense size which had it be mistaken for a moon on one occasion, this would be doubly important.
It was still under construction
While there is certainly no real upright position to be taken in space, we do see the Death Star in its ‘upright’ position in the original trilogy, as well as in other media. Another interesting reason why the Death Star might not have been in its proper position in Rogue One is that the superweapon was still under construction at the time the film depicts.
In fact, the actual laser weapon has just been fitted before we see it in action on screen.
It would certainly be easier to work on certain parts of the structure if it could be reoriented for that purpose, and the Imperial engineers assigned to the project likely did just that, leaving it in the most auspicious position for whatever installation or configuration was required.
We saw during Andor that the construction of the Death Star was on an extremely tight schedule, due to numerous delays.
The filmmaker thought it would be cool
Lastly, (and possibly most importantly) the Death Star was oriented differently in the movie because the filmmaker thought it would enhance the film and look cool.
Gareth Edwards likely had the picturesque shot of the Death Star firing straight down in mind and had the superweapon oriented to reflect that in the film, leading to one of the coolest shots in Star Wars film history.
While the image of the Death Star ‘right side up’ will definitely remain ingrained in the minds of Star Wars fans forever, it is interesting to depict it in other positions, as it is a great example of taking greater advantage of the space setting of the franchise than we usually see.
In addition, the positioning of the Death Star in Rogue One allowed for some particularly amazing scenes involving the laser, which will likely remain the most iconic scene from the film for many.
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