Star Wars Minute 115: The Actual Blowing Up

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November 8th, 2013


The Death Star bursts into a supernova, creating a spectacular heavenly display.


Tim Kreider



  • What a minute this is!
  • Starts with Darth Vader spinning off into space after being clipped by Tag or Bink and ends with Luke Skywalker arriving safely back at the Rebel base on Yavin 4 after blowing up the Death Star.


Note - The hosts misspeak in this podcast episode and confuse Yavin, Yavin 4 and the moons of Yavin / Yavin 4. The various points have been amended in the notes below.

  • There is a shot of Chewbacca in this sequence, although he does look like he's just woken up - maybe he had a nap after they left Yavin 4. Or he knew that he wasn't going to get a medal if they won.
  • The proton torpedoes and how they work.
    • They make a 90 degree turn into an exhaust port.
    • The gravity on the Death Star plays a role in this.
    • In the pilot briefing before the attack the torpedoes are shown taking this path so it was certainly part of the plan.
    • Are the torpedoes heat seeking?
    • There is no real consensus on this matter in Star Wars fandom.
    • The targeting computers may be linked to the torpedoes and the distance they travel before turning "south".
    • If so, does this mean that Luke is controlling them with his mind (using The Force) when he turns off his targeting computer?
    • Or is it just to do with when he (or Ben) fires / releases them?
    • They're certainly very cool and are not seen very often in Star Wars.
  • Luke's face when he fires the torpedoes reflects someone that has just had a 'welcome release'. There are a lot of connotations in this scene.
  • The Rebel spaceships then flee the Death Star. the Millennium Falcon, Luke, Wedge and the mysterious Brown Squadron Y-wing. There was terrible attrition for the Rebels in the battle of Yavin (90%).
  • A nice detail would have been seeing multiple Imperial spaceships fleeing the Death Star as well. However they didn't know what had happened, even though the Rebel ships had plenty of time to fly away.
  • The last shot before the Death Star blows up is Tarkin with a very pensive look on his face.
  • The Death Star explosions in Star Wars and Return of the Jedi are very different processes; the ROTJ process is much slower. Or maybe Tarkin is the last person left on the Death Star.
  • Presumably there are still Imperial Officers on the Death Star pulling levers and getting ready to fire the laser.
  • Referenced: O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi. the Death Star blowing up Yavin 4 just before the Death Star itself exploded, or the explosion of the Death Star somehow destroying Yavin 4 at the same time.
  • Luke is mouthing something to himself just before Ben speaks to him for the last time. "Please, don't let me hear any more Ben Kenobi."
  • Luke's X-wing is bouncing gently up and down as he flies away.
  • Ben's line is used in the Star Wars arcade game when (if) you blow up the Death Star.
  • Darth Vader's TIE fighter zooms off and we see the back of his spaceship. What does Darth Vader do from that point on, given that TIE fighters are short-range fighters. However Vader's TIE fighter is 'souped-up' and has extra capabilities.
  • The Star Wars conspiracy theory that Darth Vader let Luke (his son!) blow up the Death Star (possibly as a Secret Rebel Agent). Although it is noted that they probably don't know that each other are flying the respective spaceships, or their relationship, at this time.
  • Han's "one in a million" shot re-enforces that it wasn't the Force - it was just luck.
  • Luke blowing up the Death Star and all its occupants is morally ambiguous at best.
  • Plus the Dianoga dies. The poor Dianoga. Maybe the Dianoga wasn't trying to kill Luke - maybe it was just trying to mate with Luke. Will Luke give birth to baby Dianoga at some point?
 Tim became obsessed with explosions between the ages of 10 and 12 (or the ages of 10 and 42) because of this scene.
 He created a great drawing of the Death Star explosion.
 This image became very important to his sub-conscious.
 It is why he is here (on the show) - it's all about the Death Star explosion.
  • Talking about the actual blowing up:
    • It is the same chemical composition used for when the Jawas attach the restraining bolts to the droids.
    • However it is a much bigger explosion that is shot 300 frames per second (so very slowed down).
    • Also, the explosion is shot from below so that the fragments spread out and fall down.
    • The explosion is superimposed over a model (The Death Star model is only basketball size).
    • There is plenty of footage on YouTube of people blowing up Death Stars.
    • Pete had a Death Star model that was just eight grey segments to assemble into a sphere. It was the lamest model ever; no wonder people blew them up.
    • In the special edition a purplish shockwave ring is added to the explosion.
    • Tim is anti this addition as:
      • a) It's swiped from a Star Trek explosion.
      • b) More importantly, it ruins the effect of the tension being released (that is, the long still camera shot of the explosion fading to nothingness) by adding too much violence to the scene.
  • Tim talks about drawing explosions:
    • It's very difficult to portray the kinetic energy of an explosion in a drawing.
    • Tim's preferred genre of drawings is 'space explosions / battles', and he's very good at them. They're his specialty.
Tim shares his crossword puzzle story:
Every Saturday Tim does the New York Times crossword.
A recent clue was - science fictional battle of...
The answer was "The Death Star".
Tim thought that was cool but did roll his eyes as it's actually "The Battle of Yavin".
He suddenly realised how pathetic his life had become.
He was considering complaining to the editor regarding this mistake.
It would have made him the opposite to the 'King of the Nerds'; perhaps the 'Fool of the Nerds'.
Pete always takes solace in knowing that other nerds have dealt with the issue (whatever it is) already.
And actually, an answer of 'The Battle of Yavin' would have annoyed many more people.
'The Battle of Yavin' is now the point in time that all Star Wars chronology uses as its reference point:
 - The second Death Star was blown up 6 years ABY (after The Battle of Yavin).
 - "Sorry Pete": Obi Wan met Anakin 35 years BBY.
How old is Darth Vader? In his 40s. Everyone hates characters that are in their 40s.

Meta Minute

  • 26:34 podcast episode length.
  • We will learn the identity of the mysterious Y-wing pilot in an upcoming minute.
  • Along with Joe Viskocil, Bruce Logan, who worked on second unit photography for Star Wars was responsible for the explosions in the movie. He has a fantastic blog entry on how they actually blew up the Death Star and the technique of "zero-g" explosions.
  • Reminder about 'The Star Wars Holiday Special' live event. Visit the SWM website for details.


  • Tim: This is the minute I signed on for!
  • Pete: <Impersonates the Death Star blowing up>.
  • Alex: It's not a suck port.
  • Alex: As Darth Vader "I don;t understand these computers, I am 42 years old" Pete: Also as Darth Vader "I am on the leader; wait, which one of these buttons is Fire? How do I hit Shoot?"
  • Tim: As Darth Vader "Star Wars Minute!" Pete: "Oh, that's beautiful" Alex: Nice! Tim: "Thanks."


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