“Reel 2, Dialogue 2.” I read that Walter Murch had a system of abbreviations for recording these things, and when reading “R, 2; D, 2” aloud, George Lucas, reading or scribbling in the back of the editing room, glanced up and said, “What a wonderful name!”, and jotted it down. I never liked R2-D2 aesthetically; …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - When you're this big, they call you R2: The real star of STAR WARS

When you’re this big, they call you R2: The real star of STAR WARS

He's an "R2 unit"… *and* they all call him "R2" as a nickname, like if your friends and allies nicknaming you "human".

He’s an “R2 unit”… *and* they all call him “R2” as a nickname, like if your friends and allies were to nickname you “human”.

“Reel 2, Dialogue 2.”

I read that Walter Murch had a system of abbreviations for recording these things, and when reading “R, 2; D, 2” aloud, George Lucas, reading or scribbling in the back of the editing room, glanced up and said, “What a wonderful name!”, and jotted it down.

I never liked R2-D2 aesthetically; probably that’s part of the point. If he were human, he’d steal the show, and you’d already think of him as the hero.

R2-D2’s the first active, acting character seen on-screen, and he’s immediately given a mission to accomplish: Go get Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet below and bring him ASAP because he’s OUR ONLY HOPE.

He contends with obstacles, like Imperial troops and an insufferably demanding, nagging pessimistic colleague.

He encounters complications; even without opposable thumbs or feet he crosses a desert, and survives kidnapping and sale into slavery, before he cleverly cons and deceives his way out of his restraining bolts to escape his new owners and continue on his quest.

Tracked down by the new owner and the pessimistic nag, R2-D2 is attacked by Sand People but saved… by Obi-Wan Kenobi, the object of his mission. He gives the reigns over to Obi-Wan and follows to Mos Eisley and then Alderaan, which no longer exists, and is taken prisoner inside the Death Star aboard the Millennium Falcon. Co-operating with the team, he discovers and alerts everyone to the fact that Princess Leia is in fact RIGHT HERE.

Once his master Luke and their pilot Han have saved Leia, R2-D2 soon saves their lives from the Death Star’s trash compactor. Not only has he saved the day for the human protagonists to finish the movie, but he’s also been carrying the actual Death Star plans inside him, all along (and you thought Han Solo was the smuggler in this story!).

Returning to the Rebel Base at Yavin with Leia and the other survivors of the Death Star, R2-D2 next goes into the fight of his life with Luke, who refuses all other R2 units and chooses to go with R2, the proven Droid Friday that Luke trusts with his existence.

R2-D2 is seriously damaged in the fighting but his is the fighter jet that accomplishes the Rebel mission: destroy the Death Star. Even his ball-and-chain C-3PO gladly offers up his own parts to help R2-D2. Luke, the golden child R2-D2 has brought back to the Rebel Alliance, is unscathed in the fight that takes such a toll on R2.

By the end, as medals are doled out (not to R2-D2), he’s functioning again and well.

They say STAR WARS is based on THE HIDDEN FORTRESS. I was amazed when I rented this THE HIDDEN FORTRESS movie; I didn’t see any very strong parallels. Maybe the Death Star is the Hidden Fortress. I get the sword-fighting part. There’s a girl whom I believe is a Princess.

It took me a very, very long time (I saw THE HIDDEN FORTRESS back in Vancouver) to ever put that movie’s farmers and STAR WARS’ droids together. From that perspective, some parallels are clearer (THE HIDDEN FORTRESS is one single inspiration among many (though perhaps a prime plot-specific one). I’ve heard the idea that “the droids are the protagonists” before; in the sense that Rob Schneider is ‘a whiny protesting protagonist’ in JUDGE DREDD, perhaps C-3PO counts. R2-D2 is the Sylvester Stallone here.

R2-D2 never quarrels; he never complains or gripes; he never shirks. He’s a team player with loyalty to a cause and fidelity to his orders, and he’s always in an upbeat mood, ready to do whatever needs doing. He’s given a mission to bring the last Jedi up to bat to save the galaxy, and he returns instead with a new Jedi who has the right stuff to bring New Hope.

For an aesthetically un-pleasing second-class citizen with no fingers who’s not even allowed in sleazy bars (and can’t even speak goddamned English!), this R2 unit is an inspiration to us all, and, in one light, the protagonist of his movie.