For years, the San Francisco Bay Area has been proud of the fact that The Empire Strikes Back's AT-AT Walkers were inspired by the container cranes at the Port of Oakland. (You can even buy a t-shirt that demonstrates said pride.) But a recent story in the San Francisco Chronicle threatens to wipe all of that away in one fell swoop of truth.
Chronicle journalist Peter Hartlaub had the chance to get to the bottom of the similarity between the port's container cranes and the Empire's lethal mechanical dog machines when he spoke to George Lucas himself last year:
I asked Lucas about the similarities - making sure it was my last question, in case it got me kicked out of Skywalker Ranch.
"That's a myth," Lucas said, politely but firmly. "That is definitely a myth."
Sadly for everyone living in the town they call the five and dime, Phil Tippett, who also worked on the creation of the machines, agrees:
"Everybody asks that… I think everyone [involved] would pretty much disavow it."
Tippett allows for the small chance that somewhere in the process someone looked at the cranes. But he said the original vehicles looked nothing like a container crane.
"At one point in the design they were going to be big and kind of radio controlled," he said. "More like big armored vehicles with wheels."
Seriously. what's this all about? It's not enough to destroy the one thing that Oaklanders could be proud of (Besides Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and the Black Panthers)? Now you have to tell us that the AT-ATs were originally just going to be big tanks? What's next? Telling kids that Santa doesn't exist? Thanks a lot, Chronicle. Thanks for nothing.
Nah, dude, they weren't cranes, they were garbage trucks [SF Chronicle]