Rather than randomly evolving the machines and machine worlds of Star Wars to make things look more advanced the things we saw in the first 6 films, the maker of Episode IV should to honor the first film's conceptual origins as described by George Lucas: "A lot of my interest in Apocalypse Now was carried over into Star Wars" explained Lucas. "I figured I couldn't make that film because it was about the Vietnam War, so I would essentially deal with some of the same interesting concepts that I was going to use and convert them into space fantasy..." That is how Lucas explained Star Wars not just to himself, but to all those around him when he was making the first film.
Before Star Wars became a blockbuster, or a even trilogy, much less a multi-billion dollar corporate franchise, everyone who worked on the film knew they were making a scifi film that cast American Modernism as a fascist Empire. It was a film that glorified rebellion, but it also evoked an Old Republic - a time when Rebels had ruled the roost.
One of the most important cultural experiences of the generations that grew up from the '30s to the '50s was the Saturday afternoon serial of the Buck Rogers type - alien villains, true American heroes, heroines in distress, the death ray or the doomsday box, and the cliffhanger at the end whose miraculous resolution was to be witnessed next Saturday afternoon. Star Wars reinvents this experience in the form of a pastiche: that is, there is no longer any point to a parody of such serials since they are long extinct. Star Wars, far from being a pointless satire of such now dead forms, satisfies a deep (might I even say repressed?) longing to experience them again: it is a complex object in which on some first level children and adolescents can take the adventures straight, while the adult public is able to gratify a deeper and more properly nostalgic desire to return to that older period and to live its strange old aesthetic artifacts through once again.
In both Len Wiseman's Total Recall and the Wachowski siblings' Cloud Atlas we are shown visions of doughnut-urbanism. In Total Recall chemical warfare has forced earth's entire population into two small areas: the Colony (Australia) and the United Federation of Brittan. The two mega-cities are connected by a hole, called the Fall, that passes through the earth's core. In Cloud Atlas we are shown the consumerist Dystopia of Neo Seoul - a dense crescent of flashy towers built around the drowned remnant of the "old" city. The urbanism of the two couldn't be more different.
In Wiseman's Recall is a realization of a whose-who of visionary 60s architecture, most notably the Brutalism of the Smithson's mashed up with Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67 and Constant Nieuwenhuys' New Babylon. The Watchowskis meanwhile, populated their cored Seoul with "futuristic" towers borrowed from today's skylines of places like Hong Kong and Dubai. Of the two, Recall made for a far more singular futurama. Again, because of flying cars, I have a very hard time judging either of there's as pure-Dystopias. Utopia/Dystopia are not a binary system, but a spectrum. The original 1977 Star Wars occupied a unique position on that spectrum: because the bad-guys occupy the Modernist "good-places" (the Death Star Was the most perfect Utopia ever imagined) and the good-guys occupy the "bad-places" (both the moisture farm and the Millennium Falcon were slums).
While it is riddled with nostalgia for the trappings of n earlier machine age, Star Wars is an artifact of the machine age that we now call "High Modernism." The late 1960s and early 1970s were dominated by the clean lined aesthetic of pre-war Europe "Utopians." Those continental Modernists had valorized more than an aesthetic however, their ideas were born of an ethic of economy, utility, and promised social and material progress by design; by decree. In the chaos of the early 20th century they had developed a plan to "bring order" - if not to the galaxy, but to the chaos and confusion of urban congestion. The modernists had found the cause of the world's problems, and in the US they found a regime ready to implement their ideas on a global scale.
As we see can in Kubrick's 2001, the Modernists' "style" had become associated with the American Cold Warriors' ethics of black box compartmentalized secrecy, rock ribbed intransigence, and air of authoritative competence. In 2001 reflects an ambivalence about the Cold Warriors. Their Utopia is shown in full flower with space shuttles, video phones and huge moon bases. But the ambivalence is their. There are nuclear weapons in space. The Cold Warriors themselves are robotic, almost inhumanly so, but they are self assured, competent, and most importantly: they are still the good guys. In Star Wars was made, everything had changed. As John Barry explained, "you are in your conventional 2001-type spaceship - and then the door blows down and in comes Darth Vader - black against a white hallway!"
...so you'd have essentially a large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters or human beings... a small independent country like North Vietnam threatened by a neighbor or provincial rebellion, instigated by gangsters aided by empire... The empire is like America ten years from now, after Nixonian gangsters assassinated the Emperor and were elevated to power in a rigged election; created civil disorder by instigating race riots aiding rebel groups and allowing the crime rate to rise to the point where a 'total control' police state was welcomed by the people.
Empire Strikes Back (1980); Ken Ohyama, Interchange (2007)
Robert Smithson, Terminal-feat.-Cloud City; Cedric Delsaux , Dark Lens