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Mark Hamill has been known to offer Star Wars fans insights, fun behind-the-scenes details and on set stories about his time in a galaxy far, far away, in particular when it comes to the original trilogy. Now the Luke Skywalker actor has relayed a fun fact about Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, revealing just how inexpensive his original lightsaber was. Take a look:
As you can see from this ‘Geek Fact’ relayed by Mark Hamill, the original lightsaber in A New Hope was made cheaply. Its industrial look was the result of the various items being repurposed to create it. Those items were a handle from an (at that time) decades-old press camera, pieces of T-strip and a piece from a calculator. All told, the whole thing cost about £12, which, even accounting for inflation and currency exchange (close to $15), was pretty cheap.
It’s almost as if George Lucas and company remembered at the last second that the film’s Jedi Knights needed weapons and asked some PA to see what they had lying around. I’m sure there was more thought put into it than that, but clearly the original lightsaber was not a purpose-built prop carefully made to exacting design specifications.
In Mark Hamill’s mind, this is testament to something George Lucas said about Star Wars being the most expensive low-budget film ever. Star Wars was by no means a cheap indie film at $11 million in 1977, but the scale of the world George Lucas was trying to depict onscreen meant that that $11 million would be stretched and they would use every penny to its full potential. Sothey had to get creative, and that’s apparently how you get this £12 lightsaber.
Like Mark Hamill said on Twitter, modern day toy lightsabers are more expensive than what the original one cost. Just looking on the ShopDisney site, the cheapest lightsabers are $32.99 and go all the way up to $200.00. If you want to build one at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, that's also $200. If you look to third party offerings or lightsabers built for dueling, those prices can go even higher.
Sure, the ones now light up and make noise and all that, but they are still based on a assemblage of spare parts from 1977 that cost £12. Like everything in that original film, that money turned out to be exceedingly well spent. That was the very first lightsaber audiences saw, and lightsabers went on to become the most iconic and coveted fictional weapon ever created.
That original £12 lightsaber wielded by Mark Hamill in A New Hope also wound up being the lightsaber of the franchise. That lightsaber was wielded by Anakin in Revenge of the Sith and it has since passed to Rey in the sequel trilogy. I’m sure they might have spent some more money if they knew how important it would be, but the result couldn’t have turned out better, and that rugged, industrial look fit well with the fact that this story takes place a long, long time ago.