Star Wars Tattoos Special: Dave Prowse/Darth Vader Tribute

Star Wars Tattoos Special: Dave Prowse/Darth Vader Tribute

This series of posts began because of the return of Disney+’s The Child (meaning Baby Yoda) to a screen near you. The Mandalorian has connected even more to Star Wars lore this season, and many fans couldn’t be happier as Clone Wars, and Rebels characters show up in earnest. However, this extra instalment on this theme will be in tribute to Dave Prowse, or, as most of us know him, the man who portrayed the most iconic cinematic villain of all time – Darth Vader. The actor passed away on Sunday, November 29th, 2020, at 85 years of age. 

Darth Vader

The original Vader

Prowse played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, Episode IV to VI. If you are reading these posts, probably an explanation of the order is not necessary. But just in case a nudge is needed to jog the memory, the original trilogy is actually in the middle of the chronological timeline. (Episode I – the Phantom Menace, was released in 1999, 22 years after Episode IV – A New Hope. The first of the final trilogy, Episode VII – The Force Awakens, was released in 2015.)

There are conflicting opinions as to how one should go about watching the Star Wars films. Some suggest watching them in timeline chronological order, rather than the order they came out. However, this author is on team watch-according-to-release-date. Otherwise, the dissonance between production value and CGI etc. may be a little off-putting. Also, the introduction of certain characters may be less impactful if one starts with Episode I. Such as the moments that have immortalised Dave Prowse with his characteristic mask, ominous breath and epic film score in the minds of not only fans but every single person not entirely shielded from pop-cultural references for the past 40 years. 

David ProwseNever knew his father

Dave Prowse was born in Bristol in 1935. He was supposedly raised by his mother and never knew his father at all. Perhaps a reason why Vader spoke to him as a character. He began bodybuilding early on, and competed in Mr Universe competitions, along with another soon to be Hollywood favourite bad guy, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also went on to win the British heavyweight weightlifting championship no less than three times. 

Everyone remembers the villain

Prowse had played several monsters and villains up until the point he was asked to join the cast of A New Hope. George Lucas asked if he would prefer to play Chewbacca or Darth Vader.  When later asked why he chose Vader, Prowse replied: “Everyone remembers the villain.” And how true that was to become. Topping every single list of the greatest movie villains of all time (Heath Ledger’s Joker comes in a close second), Darth Vader has become an icon like no other, Force chokeholds and cape and all.   Darth Vader Kylo Ren Tattoo by Andrei

He is also one of the most popular characters from the franchise for tattoos. Whether or not someone feels more attracted to the Dark Side (but seriously though, why?), wants to commemorate a film experience and character that has moved millions for over 40 years, or just thinks he looks really, really cool, he has been reiterated by thousands of needles across the globe. In this way, Dave Prowse’s iconic interpretation of the powerful but conflicted Sith Lord continues far beyond his own life. 

Even though our physical bodies, and thus, the ink we have collected on them, are transitory and impermanent in nature, the character of Vader will live on as an idea. Part of a saga impactful enough for fans all over the world to want to display their affection permanently on their skin. Now that is surely a life well-lived. Thank you for the most beloved bad guy in the galaxy, Mr Prowse. 


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