Tauntauns: Strangely Useless?

I’ve been re-listening to the Star Wars Radio Dramas.

They’re amazingly compelling theatre of the mind, highlighting the best of a lost art. Even the most ardent fan will find new layers to their love of a decidedly “visual” film, as they re-imagine how certain characters look in their mind with slight twists on familiar situations.

I lament still that the prequels will probably never be turned into radio dramas. I consider it a tragically missed opportunity. If Disney® ™ wasn’t sure to sue the living existence out of me, I’d put them together myself.

Anyway, as you’ve noticed lately, I’ve been asking provocative questions ranging in topic from interspecies sexual ethics to command structure and strategy of a fictional space empire.

So re-listening to the first couple of episodes of The Empire Strikes Back Radio Drama recently, I had cause to mull over something that happens in such short order in the film that I never really paid it much mind. Heck, I don’t think anyone else has either.


As far as anyone knows, tauntauns were a part of the bafflingly still-existent animal ecosystem on the sixth planet of the Hoth system. They were the free-range meals for Wampas, and therefore useful steeds for the rebel alliance.

Luke’s tauntaun tries to warn him about the Wampa, but he doesn’t notice. Somehow those gargantuan creatures are as stealthy as T-Rexes at the end of Jurassic Park.

Han then rides a tauntaun out to find Luke. Han’s tauntaun then…freezes to death.

Now, I’m not complaining about that plot point. It increased peril, demonstrated Han’s willingness to do anything to save Luke and provided for a wonderful story that I related to my our elderly neighbors at the time about tauntaun guts looking like macaroni. (This resulted in the first of many talks about what to discuss in polite company.)

However, I was thinking as I listened this time about the fact that the tauntaun froze to death, and both Luke and Han had not. Because a species indigenous to an icy planet really shouldn’t be more susceptible to exposure death than the two humans.

There are only two possible ways it makes sense to me.


Han’s tauntaun has been pushed to a breaking point by the time it reaches Luke. Under normal conditions, instinct would have driven it to find shelter of its own and conserved energy. Energy that its system would have needed to ensure its survival in nighttime conditions.

In other words, since Han only had to ride the tauntaun, the effects of exposure were lessened since his body had conserved energy.

Of course, then there’s Luke. Who had been wandering for a while in a blizzard as night fell on an ice planet. Which leads me to the only all-encompassing explanation.

The Force

The Force was strong in Luke and so he was able to survive the exposure. After all, his father had survived dismemberment and then being set on fire.

So the Force kept Luke alive. Not intentionally (it seems to be extremely hands-off in the fate of the galaxy), but Luke’s attenuation to it made him more capable to survival in extreme conditions.

So where do you weigh in? Have I resolved the question?

7 thoughts on “Tauntauns: Strangely Useless?

  1. I always saw it that the Tauntaun died from exertion. The tauntaun was already knackered from it’s first foray out. It could not have possibly frozen to death that soon.

    On another note, Denis Lawson is in a new film coming out, and, although I think I have heard it before, he is the Uncle of Ewan McGregor.


    1. Lawson is McGregor’s uncle, and I heard at least one story that supposedly he told McGregor *not* to do the films (when he was first cast) because it would dominate his career forever after. Grain of truth there, as I’ll flat out admit I couldn’t tell you a single thing Lawson did outside of the original films, and I had to reach adulthood before I realized David Prowse was anyone but Darth Vader.


      1. I knew as a kid that Prowse was someone other than Vader, but that is because he used to be the Green-Cross-Code man over here, a road safety guide. One of the reasons they didn’t use his voice was in case he was recognised by children and they wouldn’t listen to his safety talks.

        I know programs Lawson has been in since Star Wars, but they are generally UK based things like Holby City, Bleak House, Marchlands, and a couple that I can’t remember. Also, Admiral Piett lives in the town where I spent my teenage years, about 15 miles from here


  2. The Original first Three Star Wars Movies are great except the ewoks. The new Star Wars Movies are crime against humanity. The two new Star Trek Movies kick their ass


    1. Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but two things:

      Your comment, “[t]he new Star Wars Movies are crime against humanity” indicates that one of the two of us has the wrong definition of a “crime against humanity.” I’m willing to bet heavily on you in this case.

      Your closing comment, that “[t]he two new Star Trek Movies kick their ass” is evidence of rather questionable movie taste so far as fans of that franchise (I am one) are concerned. Because Into Darkness is just a mess. Still, I wouldn’t ever call a film a “crime against humanity” considering it’s just a matter of, you know, opinion.

      But thanks for reading and participating!


    2. metal goddesses, stick to your guns! it is your opinion and you have every right to have it and not be talked out of it. plus, it’s spot on. you’re just repeating what many have said here before: the new SW movies are terrible, jar jar binks is in constant need of being explained, and you’re right, the ewoks were ridiculous too.

      notice the wordiness of the response, passive aggressive. usually a sign the responder is troubled by what your saying, defensive.



      1. M,

        Way to restate my own point about everyone being entitled to their opinions, then proceeding to troll for no reason other than the fact that you like to see people argue.

        Now go back to watching and liking Avatar, alone in a dark room, convincing yourself that it’s any good even though no one besides you and James Cameron even remembers that movie was made.




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