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Friday, 9 October 2015

BEHIND THE SCENES: THE TRASH COMPACTOR!

Taking a break: Carrie Fisher on the Trash Compactor set. All images: Ann Skinner/BFI.

Its an uncomfortable time for our main actors filming their scenes within the flotsum and jetsum of the Death Star Trash Compactor set. With the exception of Peter Mayhew's Chewbacca, standing on a mostly concealed plank support near the pressure hatch door (so as not to get the expensive yak-hair costume too wet and dirty), all the actors are wearing tight rubber diving suits under their costumes, its hot under the studio lights, and the water is soon smelly and disgusting. So much so with the latter that, after repeated takes going down into the water to simulate the attack of the Dianoga creature (the practical prop tentacle changed from its originally planned version), plus a further ducking from an unhappy George Lucas (who didn't find one of the actor's on-set singalong jokes funny!), Mark Hamill would get a resultant serious eye infection that would cause some problems later in the filming schedule.

Ultimately, the finished sequence would be one of the highlights of the film, though the opening half of John Williams scored music was unused in post production (though apparently staying in its entirety for the sequence during the film's original German theatrical screenings back in 1977/78), eventually getting an official worldwide airing as part of A New Hope: Special Edition's newly inserted CGI scene of Luke and company's arrival into Mos Eisley.

Above and below are some of the continuity Polaroid pictures from the early Summer 1976 filming at Elstree, courtesy of the film's original Script Supervisor Ann Skinner, whose collection is now a part of the prestigious BFI Archive.

Trouble in the Trash Compactor room.
Luke is attacked by the Dianoga!
Han searches for the submerged Luke.
The walls are moving!
Can the support hold?

With thanks to Ann Skinner and the BFI.

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