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I noticed the other day that Luke Skywalker drives his landspeeder from the right-hand side of the front seat, and I was just wondering whether or not this was an intentional creative decision—perhaps meant as a small additional indication for American viewers that Tatooine was an alien place.

These are not the droids you're looing for.

In real-world automobiles, the driver is normally seated on the left side of the vehicle if cars drive on the right side of the road, and vice versa. This places the driver on the side of their car closer to oncoming traffic, giving them a better view of the vehicles speeding towards them. Many of the cast and crew were from Britain, where cars drive on the left side of the street. However, all the Tatooine scenes were filmed in the United States (in Death Valley) or Tunisia—both countries where cars drive on the right.

Alternatively, may there have been some technical reason why George Lucas preferred to shoot the speeder heading to the right, rather than the left? That means that placing Luke on the right side put Mark Hamill slightly closer to the camera.

Cantilever Arm

The cantilever rig that supported the speeder had to be out of sight when it was attached, meaning that shots of the speeder in motion largely had to be from the right side of the vehicle, with it correspondingly moving toward the right of the picture. The whole process of setting the speeder in motion can be seen here (starting at 0:55):

So, is it known whether there was a creative or technical reason for making the landspeeder right drive?

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The landspeeder was designed to be driven under its own power and was based around a right-hand drive vehicle called a Bond Bug. The Bug was produced solely for the UK market, hence the driver side was on the right.

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As to why they chose a British vehicle to modify, that's actually pretty straightforward. Lucasfilm approached a British company called Ogle Design to make several working vehicles for the film including Luke's X-34 Landspeeder and the Y-Wing. Their decision was largely down to Ogle's experience making fancy cars and connections with the movie industry but also because Lucasfilm got a chunky tax rebate on every pound spent in the UK.

The Lead Designer at Ogle, Tom Karen had ready access to the Bug as a result of having designed the original prototypes for Bond Cars and was intimately aware of how to modify them for film.

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    What a lovely mundane reason. Dec 14, 2023 at 13:13
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    @StrangerToKindness - It's not like they went to Tatooine and bought a real speeder for the film :-)
    – Valorum
    Dec 14, 2023 at 13:15
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    I actually didn't know about the lever rig mentioned in the question, I did know that there was a version of the landspeeder that was drivable - and apparently they hid the wheels behind a mirror hung underneath it for shots of it driving in the distance. Dec 14, 2023 at 13:39
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    One can of course fairly ask why a British car was selected, in place of an American one which "would of course be superior". However my understanding is that there is a photographic convention where action moves into the frame from the left, and the choice of an RHD car positions the hero nicely in front of his passengers. Dec 14, 2023 at 16:29
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    @MarkMorganLloyd Fifteen years ago I was taught that the full convention was that right-to-left was possible, but specifically meant for a bad omen. For instance there are films about WWII where the characters move right-to-left just before one of them gets killed by nazis.
    – Stef
    Dec 14, 2023 at 19:32

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