The Star Wars Mistake Hiding In Plain Sight For 39 Years

The Star Wars Mistake Hiding In Plain Sight For 39 Years

On behalf of the propmasters who worked on one of the greatest science fiction films of all time: uhh… whoops?

Lucasfilm executive Pablo Hidalgo recently took to Twitter to share an image which perhaps constitutes, considering Star Wars’ popularity, one of the biggest goofs in the history of cinema. We’ll put it this way: if you never knew that the Skywalker clan originated in the Big Apple, you’re in for a surprise.

We know what you’re thinking…

But bear with us. In Hidalgo’s tweet, the executive began by noting his belief that the Star Wars flicks offer something new to the audience upon every viewing, an assessment that probably has more to do with the series’ diligent attention to detail than it does boneheaded errors. But upon his latest viewing of Empire, Hidalgo had one small detail leap out at him like a vicious Wampa defending its territory: the etchings on the bottom of Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Remember the iconic scene in which the budding Jedi uses the Force to summon his weapon and free himself from his icy, upside-down imprisonment? It’s pretty cool fantasy stuff, right? But it turns out, this moment is much more grounded in reality than you might expect.

Hidalgo wrote,

“I’ve noted this before, but every time I watch a Star Wars movie, there’s something new to notice. Especially if I’m fortunate to catch it on the big screen. This latest discovery? that ‘NEW YORK’ is visible on the bottom of Luke’s lightsaber in EMPIRE.”

It certainly seems like a heck of an oversight on the part of the props department. So how did it happen?

In standard theatrical screenings, the markings would have been barely legible to the audience. But The Empire Strikes Back was a hotly anticipated sequel to the single most pop culture-dominating, visual effects-driven blockbuster the world had ever seen. As a result, it enjoyed a profitable run in theaters in the high-definition 70mm format, which makes the markings much more visible.

Still, it seems no one noticed or made note of the goof until 2019. How could it be that out of thousands of fans, viewing this scene in the highest resolution available, not one of them noticed that Luke’s lightsaber was apparently manufactured in New York?

For that matter, we’ll do you one better. Empire has been available on Blu-Ray for years, a release which boasts pristine resolution and has sold tons of copies – probably literally. And still, no one noticed the error.

Many Star Wars aficionados consider The Empire Strikes Back to be the undisputed high point of the entire series; there are probably some fans who have watched this movie more times than the sum total of every movie you have ever seen. So the fact that this blatant mistake has escaped the attention of one of the most dedicated and rabid fan bases on the planet for almost four decades is, quite simply, mind-boggling.

Hidalgo engaged in a lively exchange with fans in the wake of his post, many of whom were quick to point out that while the error was indeed visible, it wasn’t exactly legible. Hidalgo responded,

“On the big screen it can be seen; though of course, it took about 40 years for me to notice.”

Hidalgo also pointed fans who may be interested in a deep dive into the Star Wars series’ props toward a website,, that features a nifty compendium of all of the common, everyday objects which were used to bring the series’ world to life. In the tweet in question, Hidalgo referred to many of Star Wars’ props as being, quote, “eco-friendly.”

From looking at the collection of recycled gun parts, tape, and old TV equipment, it seems like “eco-friendly” could just be a synonym for”cheap.” This serves as an intriguing reminder that, for all their unprecedented scale, the original Star Wars trilogy was completely unafraid to employ guerrilla filmmaking techniques in service of its galaxy-spanning vision. That’s pretty rad, if you ask us.

On another wholesome note, when you think about it, it’s actually a testament to the skill of the filmmakers that the enormous worldwide audience for The Empire Strikes Back was so utterly sucked into its world that every last one of them failed to catch this glaring detail for so long.

#StarWars #MovieMistakes #EmpireStrikesBack