"A long time ago in a galaxy far far away. . . ."
Those ten immortal words that defined a generation have preceded every Star Wars film and almost every game to date in some shape or form. When taken at face value, they're pretty much meaningless and have virtually no importance to the plot, but just to amuse ourselves, let's analyse them for a second. It'll be fun, I promise.
While the "Galaxy far far away," is pretty self-explanatory, the time setting has always bothered me. To quote the title:
How Long Ago Is “A Long Time Ago”?
When I first decided to write something about this, I spent literally minutes scouring through all the available Star Wars material I could get my hands on in the vain hope of finding something I could use to date the films. After a hefty searching through almost three books, a couple of games and a few comic books, I found…
Yup. Even after a search online there is no way of dating Star Wars in relation to Earth with any Star Wars material available, be it Canon or Legends.
Well. Kind of…
After trawling through Wookieepedia for what felt like hours, I came across a short comic titled: “Into The Great Unknown,” in which Han Solo and Chewbacca crash land in the Pacific North West and encounter none other than Indiana Jones and Short Round.
Now, before you all take to the comments, let me make it clear that this comic is quite definitely NON-CANON, making this analysis pretty flaky from the get-go, but just hold up for a second; it’s all we’ve got to go on. It is, as far as I am aware, the only way we have of comparing our two universes, so let’s just see how this goes.
So, the comic begins with Han and Chewie trying to outrun an Imperial Star Destroyer. In the heat of the moment, Han makes a jump to hyperspace without calculating any kind of coordinates and shoots off, arriving dangerously close to a blue planet in an area of unchartered space. The Falcon crashes onto the planet and Han and Chewie escape the wreck. As they adventure into the forest where they came down, they encounter a tribe of Native Americans, who attack the pair with bows and arrows. Han is mortally wounded and dies aboard the Millennium Falcon in Chewie’s arms, stating with his dying breath:
Chewbacca leaves Han’s body to rest and takes off into the forest, mourning the death of his best friend.
One hundred and twenty six years later, a familiar archaeologist by the name of “Doctor Jones” and his plucky sidekick “Shorty” come across an odd looking temple while searching for the alleged “Sasquatch” that’s been terrorizing the area. A short interaction between Dr Jones and Han’s corpse follows, in which Dr Jones decides that he’d rather leave the monster as “part of the great unknown.” The comic ends with an emotional shot of Chewbacca hunched over in the trees, watching silently.
Like I said, this is about as non-canon as you can get, but bear with me. From this, we can determine when Star Wars was set, or at least make an educate guess.
Let’s weigh up the facts:
- Han references his kids, placing the story later than 9ABY (After The Battle of Yavin) at least. However, the Empire is clearly still at large, dating it earlier rather than later, so let’s stay with 9ABY for now to be on the safe side.
- When Indy finds what remains of the Falcon, he references his experiences in Atlantis, which occurred in the 1992 video game, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, set in 1939. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else to use to date it from this end, so again, if we just stick with this year, we should be fine.
Still with me? Good.
Now, assuming the second part of this tale takes place in 1939, we can determine the year Han died as being 1813. From there, assuming the year length in Star Wars is 365 days rather than the canon 368 for simplicity’s sake, we can finally start to put the pieces together:
The Phantom Menace took place in 1772, meaning exciting trade disputes were taking place before the US was even a country!
The Clone Wars therefore began in 1782, the same year Mozart's opera "Das Entfuhrung aus dem Serail," premiered in Vienna, Austria! (Nope, me neither.)
The Death Star became fully operational in 1804 at the same time Napoleon Bonaparte was declared Emperor of the French. Coincidence?
- And finally, for all you KOTOR fans out there, Revan awoke on the Endar Spire in 2152BCE! That means while the Republic waged an intergalactic war against the Sith Empire, the Ancient Egyptians were the most powerful civilisation in the world. Hell, I’m pretty sure they were still building the Pyramids back then.
So there you have it. It seems Star Wars wasn’t set too long ago after all. Of course, all this was only possible due to a non-canon source, which you can read here, meaning that all of this is up for debate.
Comment below if you think I’ve missed anything!