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In-universe, did Darth Vader or Emperor choose to have that mechanical breathing sound (which is trademarked/ soundmarked) for the purpose of intimidation maybe? Or, they didn't have a choice because of technological limitations?

I want proper citation. Legends allowed.

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    I like this question. We've got hyperspace travel and space stations that can blow up planets but we can't get this guy's sleep apnea resolved?
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 21:44
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    There's always none of the above. There's "deliberation", for a specific purpose like intimidation. There's "inability", if there were technological limitations. There's also "indifference", e.g. the technology used worked that way and suppressing breathing noises was never a concern.
    – DariM
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 1:35

1 Answer 1

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From Darth Vader's Databank page:

He was found by the Emperor and encased in frightening black armor that kept him alive, and given mechanical lungs that emitted an ominous breathing sound with his every step.

It seems that it's just how the technology of the mechanical lungs work. They suck air in and pump it out, making a breathing noise as the air rushes through the ventilator.

The noise is also possibly amplified due to Vader's synthetic voicebox, which enhances the sound coming from his damaged vocal cords, allowing him to speak. This also allows him to laugh and even sigh, so it could be that every time he breathes out, the voicebox interprets it as speech and amplifies the sound. Again, that's just how the technology works.

Bonus Out-of-Universe fact: The sound itself was created by sticking a microphone in a Scuba regulator and breathing into it.

As for the intimidation factor, the breathing was not meant to be intimidating, that was just a bonus, but the aesthetic designs of the suit, with the face mask resembling a skull as much as possible, and the large, arguably unnecessary cape, were all included to make Darth Vader more intimidating and fearsome and present him as The Dark Lord of the Sith, who has no equal.

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  • Right; I think the cinematic reason to give him an audible breath was to remind people that he (A) was not a robot but (B) was indeed using mechanical aid for his breathing. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 19:11

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