• Appeared in:
  • Affiliation:
    Techno Union, Confederacy of Independent Systems
  • Climate:
  • Terrain:
    Lava rivers and volcanoes

From the Movies

Located in the Outer Rim, the tiny planet of Mustafar is a fiery world where lava is mined like a precious natural resource. Its bleak landscape is a visual assault of jagged obsidian mountains with towering fountains of fire and lava blasting from beneath the surface. This lava also streaks the blasted landscape in huge winding rivers and plunging cataracts. Mustafar's skies are obscured by choking black clouds of ash, smoke and tephra. The intense geological activity creates natural scanning interference that has kept prying eyes away from Mustafar for most of its history.

These inhospitable features made Mustafar an ideal sanctuary for the ever mobile Separatist Council that led the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars. After repeated setbacks, General Grievous was ordered by Darth Sidious to secure the Council on Mustafar, where they would await further instructions. An enormous cliff-side industrial facility served as headquarters to the commerce baron war chiefs. Neimoidian soldiers and battle droid infantry provided security, while shimmering deflector shields protected the structure from the volatile surroundings.

Upon his ascendancy to Galactic Emperor, Darth Sidious had no further need of the Separatists. He dispatched his new apprentice, Darth Vader, to dispose of his wartime collaborators on Mustafar. Upon arrival, Vader silently stalked into the inner chambers of the mining facility. His lightsaber blade made short work of the Separatists, cutting them down and effectively bringing an end to the Clone Wars.

Amongst this apocalyptic landscape of erupting volcanoes, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi confronted Darth Vader, his former apprentice. The two entered into a spectacular lightsaber duel that worked its way through the Mustafar collection complex. Through the course of their battle, the protective shields were deactivated, and the facility was exposed to the planet's full geological fury.

A geyser of lava erupted, dropping molten rock on one of the outrigger collection arms of the facility where Obi-Wan and Vader dueled. The arm collapsed under the heat and strain, plunging into the lava river. Before the severed collection arm succumbed to the pull of a lavafall, Vader and Kenobi leapt from the doomed structure onto a nearby worker droid and harvesting platform, respectively. Their duel continued on these cooled repulsorlift surfaces before ending abruptly on the black sand shores of the lava river.

Kenobi bested Vader, leaving the Dark Lord to die on the Mustafar river banks. Darth Sidious sensed Vader's anguish, and arrived in time to rescue his fallen apprentice. Maimed and mortally wounded by lightsaber and fire, Vader was reconstructed as a cyborg and encased in a black protective life supporting suit.

Despite the hellish nature of its environment, Mustafar has nonetheless produced native life capable of surviving in the fiery extremes of the planet. The sentient Mustafarians -- of which two notable subspecies exist -- paid little heed to the galactic events that culminated on their world. They went about their business, gathering precious minerals and energy from the lava streams, riding their massive lava fleas across the stygian lands.

From the Expanded Universe

The young world of Mustafar is literally being torn in opposing directions, caught in a gravimetric tug of war that keeps it from becoming the moon of a nearby gas giant. Despite the close proximity of massive Jestefad, Mustafar keeps to its erratic orbit, pulled by the distant influence of another giant, Lefrani. The tidal strain heats up Mustafar's molten core, resulting in spectacular geological activity across the entire planet.`

The Techno Union owns Mustafar, having laid claim to the planet over 300 years ago. Scouts from that organization discovered the unique and valuable mineral allotropes that permeated Mustafar's crust and mantle. Though the Mustafar lava is hot -- a searing 800 degrees standard -- it is cool enough to be harvested by specialized equipment.

Techno Union officials signed a treaty with the provincial Mustafarian primitives, who benefited from the most basic and inexpensive of offworld items. In exchange, they guided Techno Union builders as they constructed massive harvesting facilities on the planet to exploit the mineral riches flowing in the lava streams.

The Mustafar collection facilities employ tractor beam and electromagnetic harvesting techniques to stir the valuable minerals within the lava flow. Roiled to the surface, the deposits are then scooped up by worker droids or rugged Mustafarians lifting heavy cauldrons by hand. Baskets of molten rock and metal are then returned to the facilities where they are processed and refined for distribution. Since lava-proof armor is more costly than energy-based deflector shields, the collection facility was sheathed in energy to protect it from the incredible temperatures.

After the destruction of the Separatist Council and the Imperialization of the Techno Union, Mustafar was largely forgotten. A Separatist stalwart, the fugitive Geonosian Gizor Dellso, holed up on Mustafar during the early days of the Galactic Empire and re-established an independent battle droid factory, requiring the attention of the loyal 501st legion of troopers to storm the hellish world.

Behind the Scenes

The world of Mustafar has been a legendary component of Star Wars lore for decades, even though nothing was known of the planet save for the most basic descriptions of its environment. Early interviews surrounding the release of Star Wars attributed Vader's form to injuries sustained in or near a volcano. In the novelization to Return of the Jedi, there are brief descriptions of Vader being exposed to molten lava. From these glimpses, the notion of a lightsaber duel against a volcanic backdrop became part of the Star Wars mythos, and fans longed to see the cinematic depiction of this epic confrontation.

During the development of Episode III, one of the first new worlds to be explored through concept art was "Mufasta," the lava planet. Not knowing the full details of the duel, the concept artists sketched out a variety of concepts, including Obi-Wan and Anakin dueling within an industrial cauldron, and a variety of horrible monsters native to the lava planet.

Mustafar was realized on screen through a combination of a wide variety of techniques. During preproduction, Mt. Etna in Italy erupted. George Lucas dispatched Producer Rick McCallum and Cinematographer Ron Fricke to capture images of the erupting lava. This footage became the basis of many lava elements in the finished movie.

Very little practical set was constructed for Mustafar. Aside from the installation interiors, the majority of the collection plant was filmed in isolated segments against bluescreen or greenscreen. An incline of lava river bank was built practically, to capture the last moments of Anakin and Obi-Wan together. Red-gelled lighting and wind and smoke machines were used extensively on set to capture the atmospheric interaction on the principal actors.

Once the film moved into postproduction, Mustafar came alive through the efforts of artists at ILM. Simulation systems created digital lava that would flow and burst realistically, particularly in the scene where a spew of lava lands on the collection arm. The collection facility environment itself was largely realized as a digital model. The mountainous surroundings was made up of a massive miniature permeated with actual moving rivers of stage lava.

The stage lava was dyed methylcyl, lit from beneath to simulate self-illumination. In a cost-conscious effort, Practical Model Supervisor Brian Gernand had to design the miniature environment so that the lava could be collected and recycled after each shot.

Further sweetening the growing Mustafar composites were digital and practical smoke and cinder elements that populated every exterior shot.

Keywords: Databank - Episode III

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