Tag Archives: Star Wars

Darths & Droids Clarifies The Kessel Run

Darths & Droids is quite an enjoyable webcomic where David Morgan-Mar takes screen-caps from Star Wars and makes up an entirely new story as if the characters in the movie were characters being role-played by normal people playing some sort of fantasy/sci-fi role playing game.

Which sounds convoluted, but he does it very well.  And he changes the story in meaningful ways so that you’re actually surprised by where the story goes.

Anyway, he always puts informative or funny commentary with each strip, and today’s issue explained the Kessel Run:

Han’s line about the Kessel Run in the movie has a long and convoluted back-story. The various drafts of the film script include notes about Han’s boast that the Millennium Falcon is “the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs”. The problem of course is that a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. (At least in English it is – but then the characters are speaking English on the screen, so one may reasonably assume that words have the same meanings they do in regular English.)

The revised fourth draft of the film script makes it very clear what Han’s line means. Immediately after the line, it says:

Ben reacts to Solo’s stupid attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation.

In other words, Han is trying to boast, and using a word he doesn’t know the meaning of, which makes it obvious to Obi-Wan that he’s lying through his teeth. Even in the shooting script, Han’s line is followed by a note stating that he is “obviously lying”.

Which is all well and good, but unfortunately even the acting talent of Sir Alec Guinness did not make it quite clear enough that Han’s line was intended to be interpreted as a completely bogus fabrication. The result is that masses of Star Wars fans have tried to come up with a reason why the Kessel Run really could be flown in “less than twelve parsecs”.

If you take Han’s line at face value (rather than a transparent lie), the most favoured explanation is that the Kessel Run is a smuggling route that skirts a cluster of black holes (known as The Maw). The standard, relatively safe, route around The Maw is somewhat circuitous and measures 18 parsecs long. Daring pilots can cut closer to The Maw, trimming distance off the route, at some risk to life and limb. Han Solo, being the daring pilot he is, managed to cut so close that he got the distance down to less than twelve parsecs, and thereby making the run in record time.

This explanation eventually became so favoured that it has been officially adopted into the Star Wars Expanded Universe canon.

Which raises a whole bunch of other questions about the consistency of what was actually intended versus what has later become canon. In short, a whole Galaxy of woe could have been prevented if only it was made clearer in the first place that Han was simply clueless.

Now it makes sense!  I always just assumed George Lucas didn’t know what he was talking about.