40. Mos Eisley Cantina vs. The Prancing Pony
What was the Mos Eisley Cantina? Bar on the Tatooine city of Mos Eisley catering to all sorts of scum.
Who was the Prancing Pony? Bar in the city of Bree catering to all sorts of adventurer.
Verdict: Both of these bars and the scenes set in them are well-positioned in the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings stories. They are both featured early on in the first movie and serve to set the scene a bit. They tell us, the viewer, that there’s a wider world than just the one we’ve seen so far. Such settings as these are chances for writers to do a whole lot of world-building.
Luke and Obi-wan’s exploits in the Cantina do that and so much more. We see all manner of alien and monster, fleshing out a demographics of what must surely be a wide and varied galaxy. We see the violence of this galaxy, the anti-droid discrimination, the shady dealings taking place in poorly lit booths. We meet Han Solo and Chewie. This is as evocative and important of a scene as Lucas could have deployed early in Star Wars.
The Prancing Pony scene in Fellowship admittedly wasn’t meant to do precisely the same thing as the Cantina scene. Rather, it was a stopping off point for our hobbit heroes and a chance to introduce Aragorn. Not a terrible amount happens beyond some awkward moments with the surly staff and drunk patrons, plus, of course, the visit from the Nazguls.
It’s not a missing opportunity per se, but it contrasts the two stories pretty well. Star Wars is in-your-face, loud and preposterous. Lord of the Rings is more subtle, more concerned with detail than one-off weirdo background characters. There are virtues in both, but in the end it’s always going to the weirdos.
Star Wars wins
Next: 39. Empire vs. Mordor