Monday, May 17, 2010
Since I am, by trade, an art director (and graphic designer), logos are something in which I have an interest. The evolution of logos is a particularly fascinating thing. Looking at Coke and Pepsi, for instance you see how the logos evolve over time, reflecting the period in which they find themselves, and yet retaining the recognizable 'essence' of what came before.
Logos in the Star Wars universe have been of interest to me as well—particularly the Rebel Alliance logo, since it is probably one of the most recognizable 'symbols' to come out of the Star Wars movies (It was, afterall, emblazoned on the Luke's flight-helmet throughout all three movies). There have been a lot of different backstories written for the meaning of this logo and what it is supposed to represent. The one generally accepted prior to the last couple years has been that of the 'Alliance Starbird' or 'Phoenix'. This story would have us believe that the symbol represents the phoenix-like rebirth of a 'New' Republic from the ashes of the Old. It seems plausible to me. I had always seen the symbol to be both bird-like and flame-like. This wrapped both of those 'looks' into one coherent reasoning.
And then a couple things happened almost simultaneously. The 'Clone Wars' computer-animated movie series came out in August of 2008 and the 'Force Unleashed' video game came out in September of 2008. The former was the first time that the 'Jedi Emblem' first appeared—on the shoulder plates of Anakin and Obi-Wan's armor. This emblem (the topmost logo in the included image), shows what looks to be a flaring lightsaber blade flanked by two crescent wings. To me, the similarities to the Alliance Emblem (the second logo down) were quite blatant. Here, I thought, is a very neat and rather subtle tie-in between the Clone Wars and Rebellion era of the Star Wars setting. It likewise made sense to me that the Jedi—the symbol for what was GOOD in the Old Republic—would be a rallying point for the Rebellion. Thus, it made sense to me that the Rebel emblem was an evolution of the Jedi emblem. And it didn't even rule out the 'phoenix rising from the ashes' symbolism, either—with the lightsaber being the 'flame', and the wings obviously the phoenix.
The Force Unleashed introduced an alternate theory. In this video game we learn that the emblem is actually the family crest of the main character of the game—Vader's secret apprentice. Through an intricate plot, it seems, this dark-jedi was responsible for the founding of the Rebellion (even though in the process he almost got all of its early leaders killed). After the (apparent) death of the 'hero', the Rebellion adopted his family crest as a way of showing respect to the man who started and 'saved' the movement. To me, this all seemed very heavy-handed and just didn't make a lot of sense for a lot of reasons—but then it was the major plot point in the game's story that was supposed to make everyone go 'Ooooh! See!? THAT is the origin for THAT!". And I suppose it is now officially 'Canon'. Meh. Personally? I prefer the first explanation a lot more. It makes a lot more sense that the Rebel Alliance would look to the Jedi as a whole for inspiration rather than to one dark-side apprentice who (supposedly) redeemed himself at the last minute. Of course, you should take this with a grain of salt, as my loathing for the Force Unleashed is legendary.
And before I go, I wanted to also mention the evolution of the Imperial logo. This logo (the bottom-most in the image) is seen most prominently on the helmets of TIE fighter pilots, but also on the shoulder patches of some Imperials personnel. The emblem of the Old Republic (the second to last logo shown in the graphic), is shown on many vehicles throughout the prequel trilogy. The connection between these two seems pretty direct as well—and interesting from an artistic perspective (of course, this perspective is highly subjective).
The Republic logo (to me) seems to show a sun-like symbol in its center, with various semi-circular line-segments in orbit of it and an unbroken outer boundary. To me, this seems to represent a union of 'equal' partners all 'in orbit' of the same 'ideals' and protected (via the unbroken boundary) by their union. Overall, the design is 'open' and even 'airy'—relatively welcoming. In contrast to this is the Imperial emblem. While it shares many similarities (sun-like center symbol, radiating spokes, unbroken boundary), it s a lot 'heavier'. Everything is tightly interlocked—rigid and unmoving.
Anyway, that's just my impression. And yes, I was an Art Student. So I am good as bsing stuff like this.