Mos Eisley Cantina

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The exterior of the Cantina from Star Wars fame, located in Ajim, Tunisia.
Exterior of the Cantina, at Ajim, Tunisia

The Chalmun's Cantina (often called the Mos Eisley Cantina or the Star Wars Cantina) is a fictional bar (cantina) of the Star Wars universe located in the "pirate city" of Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine. It is the haunt of freight pilots and other dangerous characters of various alien races and contains booths, a bar counter, and some free-standing tables, and sometimes a band of musicians named Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes.

The establishment is extremely rough in nature, and the clientele and the management give incidents of deadly violence no more than a moment's attention. Droids are not allowed inside; a droid detector near the front door alerts the management of any entering droid.

The exterior scene was initially filmed in 1976 at the little town of Ajim, which is a fishing port on the Isle of Djerba, Tunisia in North Africa. The film crew added some false frontage to the structure, giving it a more dramatic appearance. The building has seen no refurbishment since 1976. The interior set was constructed and filmed on Stage 6, Elstree Studios in London.[1] In early 1977, Lucas added several alien close-ups at Hollywood Center Studios, because he was dissatisfied with both the make-up and the limited coverage he had from the Tunisia footage. The new material was cut into the film by Lucas' editors, including then-wife Marcia Lucas.[2][3]

A New Hope[edit]

The cantina is first introduced in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The following events occurred in the cantina in A New Hope:

Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina[edit]

The anthology of intertwined short stories Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, edited by Kevin J. Anderson, explores the cantina and its clientele further. The book also explores the reasons for the cantina's ban on droids: the bartender Wuher claims to dislike everyone, but lashes out at droids because they are the only thing that will not try to fight back; the proprietor, a Wookiee named Chalmun, does not tolerate droids because they do not drink, and therefore occupy valuable space.

Apparently, patrons are not allowed to use blasters inside the premises; this is apparently largely ignored, as Solo, Greedo, and Ponda Baba all carried blasters.


In popular culture[edit]

The Cantina segment was enhanced by composer John Williams' jazz instrumentals, featured on the soundtrack album as "Cantina Band" and "Cantina Band #2". The score reflects Williams' interest in jazz from the 1950s; the composer later cited his intention to invoke kind of a "1940s feel" for the scene, sounding "both alien and yet familiar at the same time."[4]

Drinking-dining establishments were featured twice in the prequel Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

The segment in Maz Kanata's castle from Episode VII: The Force Awakens is a homage to this scene.

The cantina scene is referenced in the movie Team America: World Police where the protagonists are at a bar in Cairo, Egypt, looking for terrorists. The music played in this scene is a blend of stereotypically Middle Eastern music and the music played during the original cantina scene in A New Hope.

Mos Eisley cantina.
Mos Eisley cantina (exterior) in 2011.

The band Ash released a song called 'Cantina Band' as a B-side to the single 'Girl From Mars' in 1995.

The Country Teasers' 2006 album The Empire Strikes Back features a song titled "Mos Eisley". The opening lyrics satire those critical of the growing multiculturalism in Europe: "The world is much more like Star Wars than it used to be. But the world is no more like Star Wars than it should be. There is nothing wrong with a world a bit like Star Wars. I like Star Wars. London is a lot like Mos Eisley. It's a lot more like Mos Eisley than it used to be. For instance, in the fifties and the seventies, it was like the Death Star."

The indie rock band Silver Jews has an instrumental song named after the scene on their first EP The Arizona Record.

The rock band Eisley was originally named Moss Eisley, but ultimately shortened their name in order to avoid any possible litigation.

In 1998, the "Cantina Band" music was used as background music for a sketch on the Alvin and the Chipmunks album The A-Files: Alien Songs.

The band Blink-182 references the cantina in their song "A New Hope", with the lyrics "But when you were available, I was drinking Colt 45s with Lando. I was hanging out in the cantina on Mos Eisley".

Barney Stinson, from the show How I Met Your Mother, said that he was "one drink away from the cantina scene from Star Wars" while he was looking for girls in the bar.

The band Mr Bungle has included the music of John Williams in their live shows with a medley of "Cantina Band", "Imperial March" and "Main Theme".[5]

The band Brave Combo includes a bar of the cantina music in their polka rendition of the William Tell Overture on their album "Box of Ghosts".

Musician Voltaire makes many humorous references to characters of the Star Wars series on his song "Cantina".

The 2011 science fiction comedy film Paul features a scene in which the main characters walk into an American bar and the band is playing the "Cantina Band" song.

The 2007 episode of Family Guy, Blue Harvest, which parodied A New Hope, featured the Cantina Band. When they finish playing their signature song, the bandleader asks for requests, then mutters "play that same song" in a high voice as if to a mimic a request from the audience. The band then starts the same song over again.

The television series Face Off features a challenge where the contestants must create an alien to go in a present-day scene at the Mos Eisley Cantina. All creations at the end were put in their own version of the Cantina scene.

The scene is also frequently referenced in political discussions, such as in referring to the United Nations General Assembly as "the Star Wars bar scene."

Parody song[edit]

Mark Jonathan Davis, later of Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, made a parody song of Barry Manilow's "Copacabana", called "Star Wars Cantina", released in 1996.[6] Davis used the melody of that song; his lyrics are a rough outline of Star Wars Episodes 4 through 6. The song received significant radio airplay, along with "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Yoda", in the run-up to the 1997 release of the Star Wars Special Edition VHS box set and the 1999 release of The Phantom Menace. "Star Wars Cantina" is often erroneously attributed to Yankovic. The song was not released on CD due to copyright complications.

The musician Voltaire also did a parody on his album Ooky Spooky.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hearn, Marcus. The Cinema of George Lucas, Harry N. Abrahams, Inc., 2005, p.116-117
  2. ^ Rinzler, J. W. (2007). The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film. New York: Del Rey Books. ISBN 0-345-47761-8. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Williams, John (2004). Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Audio CD (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD) – liner notes. MCA. ASIN B0002YCVIS. 
  5. ^ Mr Bungle FAQ
  6. ^ Burton, Bonnie. "Richard Cheese: Star Wars Swings!", 12 May 2006. reprinted online at Interviews of Richard Cheese at Cheese's website.

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