Mise-en-scène (French: [miz. ɑ̃. sɛn]; "placing on stage") is the stage design and arrangement of actors in scenes for a theatre or film production, both in visual arts through storyboarding, visual theme, and cinematography, and in narrative storytelling through direction.
This week and next, we’re looking at more locations on Lothal, one of the locations of Star Wars Rebels that changes the most dramatically throughout the series- this week specifically, we’ll be looking at Old Jho’s Pit Stop, a cantina nestled among Lothal’s plains and rock spires.
Old Jho’s Pit Stop
Old Jho’s Pit Stop is a place we primarily see in season 1 of Star Wars Rebels. Old Jho’s is nestled in the outpost of the similarly named Jhothal. It stands out when we first see it, as the outside is adorned with the cockpit and wings of a Republic gunship from the Clone War era of Star Wars.
Even for the (likely very few) viewers that don’t recognize exactly what those ship parts are, we can still get a sense of what kind of place this is- it’s older, the people running it repurpose things rather than buying them new, and they value handiness and reusability over just having the credits to buy whatever they like. We get a worn-out, roughed up cantina vibe from just the outside of Old Jho’s.
Inside the bar, seats and booths all look aged, again supporting the idea that this place is older and has seen its share of wear and tear. We also see various crates, bottles and glasses scattered around the bar, as well as a phase I clone trooper helmets. We learn a lot about the place that the pit stop has in its community, from this- it’s a cantina more for those who live outside of Imperial law, and a place where illegal (though not necessarily immoral) activities take place. While the light is dim, there’s still warmth in the place, and in the episodes we see, many of the seats are occupied.
However, we can see even back in season 1 that the Empire isn’t leaving the stone of this old cantina unturned.
Jho has a big screen up above the bar, and when Imperial TIE Pilots stop in, they make Jho play Imperial propaganda on the screen. This is just one little peek into the way that the Empire is impacting Old Jho’s and by extension, Lothal as a whole. While we don’t see Old Jho’s very much once the Ghost crew gets off of Lothal, but we finally see it again in season 4- and it’s changed drastically.
The difference between the two is stark. Old Jho’s was warm, and while the lighting may have been low, we saw it during the daytime, so sunlight flooded in from the open entrance. Now, the bar is just dark and empty. Rather than being filled with characters of all different species, wearing a variety of colors, we see stark Imperials uniformed in blacks, grays and whites. Instead of various Clone War knick-knacks and colorful bottles serving as Jho’s decor, the only color is the harsh reds of Imperial propaganda posters.
The new Jho’s, now an Imperial bar without that name, has lost a lot of its charm and warmth. Old Jho’s played light music, and characters would hang around to talk or play sabacc (and bet droids that they shouldn’t have been betting). Now, we see most of the seats are empty, and Imperial officers just sit and drink quietly. The atmosphere of the place has completely changed.
The complete change of Old Jho’s is just one small part of the show that demonstrates through its set design how the Empire colonizes each planet it touches. And while we don’t see what becomes of the bar that was once Old Jho’s after Lothal is liberated, I like to think that it goes back to being much closer to its original state.
Next week, we’ll be looking at he Capital City of Lothal, and how it changed over the seasons as the Empire’s grip on it tightened, and what happened once it was released.