Sunday, 24 May 2020
With its subtly dark moments - the Jabba's Palace creatures having the potential for true grotesqueness, and the struggle between Luke and Vader manipulated by the scary visage of the Emperor (as seen above) - the idea that George Lucas would reach out to singular and unique filmmakers of the quirky, sometimes nightmare-ish and outside the box side kind, like David's Lynch and Cronenberg, as potential directorial candidates for Return of the Jedi was not as implausible an idea as you might thank - both filmmakers then and now being creative mavericks like Lucas, and both could have effectively handled these darker shadings fused with the visual side of the saga if they'd really wanted. Lynch didn't ultimately want to work in someone else's imagination sandbox- a tour of ILM and Lucas's early plans making him queasy, especially the too cute potential of the Ewoks.
As for Cronenberg? Well, here's what he had to say:
Saturday, 23 May 2020
There can be no further mistakes made by Zam Wesell in her assassination contract on Senator Padme Amidala, as the bounty hunter meets her shadowy employer amidst the colour, hustle and bustle of Coruscant's busy night life, in this scene from EPISODE II.
Friday, 22 May 2020
|Hamill, Fisher and Kurtz pose at the Oslo press conference for TESB, also showcasing their snazzy logo-clad cold weather jackets for cast and crew.|
It may be the start of the coldest winter of that time in Norway but there's still lots of warm smiles to enjoy from Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, as they, with producer Gary Kurtz (and his wife Meredith), launch the soon start of principal photography in Norway for the once called 'Star Wars II', now properly titled The Empire Strikes Back, on March 1st, 1979, amidst a plethora of keen-for-a- story world journalists and photographers arrived at the Scandinavia Hotel, Oslo.
|Mark and Carrie clown around to the delight of headline-wanting photographers.|
|The main press conference.|
Thursday, 21 May 2020
|Our heroes poses for a terrific cast photo on the then newly inaugurated Star Wars Stage at Elstree Studios, June 1979.|
From May 25th, 1977, a new group of hero icons would quickly and deservedly be added to the rosta of cinematic and pop culture history. Heroes from 'A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...' And by 1979, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and faithful wookiee Chewbacca, as played by Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Peter Mayhew, would return for an all-new sequel, coming May 1980, with lots of building story/action expectations from fans with the production's clearly ambitious and expensive wake, and with an all-new set of behind the scenes problems having to be sorted out in order to make an Empire truly strike back...
HAPPY 40TH ANNIVERSARY TO 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK'!
|Charles Lippincott, the key man responsible for selling the original film to the sci-fi community in 1976/77.|
As anyone reading this site will know, the original Star Wars in its all creative and production phases over 1975 to 1977 was seemingly going to be a tough sell to audiences, or so believed the people at Twentieth Century Fox, who thought the film was destined to be a flop. Fortunately, its writer/director George Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz had a secret weapon up their sleevies in selling and marketing their unique film, not just to generic audiences but to the sceptical sci-fi community worldwide: Charles Lippincott, a genuine star on the rise Wunderkid who would be instrumental in getting many major and very press worthy merchandise deals done prior to and during the film's release, would cleverly build up interest in key magazine/newspaper sectors, interview/look after the film's young (and sometimes wild) stars across various international press jaunts, and be just a solid, reliable, trusted presence to Lucasfilm in the crazy worlds of Hollywood and the movie-making system.
|With Kermit Eller as Darth Vader at the famous Chinese Theatre footprints event - Summer 1977.|
No stranger to sci-fi/fantasy, having worked on Westworld a few years earlier than Star Wars, for MGM, Lippincott's talents in advertising and marketing, and his interest in the genre, were to be equally well used on subsequent projects like the original, and terrifying Alien (also for FOX), the colourful 1981 Sam Jones-starring version of Flash Gordon, and producer of Sylvester Stallone's nineties take on the UK comic antihero Judge Dredd.
|Lippincott in his later years, and still with that classic T-shirt 1976 McQuarrie logo shirt. Image: Facebook.|
Talented, insightful, opinionated, but most of all dedicated and an all-round nice guy, Lippincott, who had a lively and very informative social media presence these last few years as one of the definitive paperwork holding/remembrances historian of the original Star Wars, will be greatly missed by the SW fan community and film fans worldwide...
Wednesday, 20 May 2020
|An early over jacket design for Luke in his X-wing fighter garb on Hoth. All art by John Mollo.|
Thrilled with the unexpected success of Star Wars, and even more thrilled to receive an esteemed Academy Award for his work on the film, British Costume Designer John Mollo was back to work the day after his win (3rd April, 1978) to work on The Empire Strikes Back, revising and improving certain old characters and fractional costumes, and, more importantly, creating lots of new wardrobe items large and small for the scenes set on the ice planet Hoth and the 'Art Deco' styled Cloud City at Bespin.
|Mollo with Natalie Wood and Darth Vader (Kermit Eller) at the 1978 Academy Awards event.|
Mollo would be working alongside new director Irvin Kershner, whom he ultimately didn't have quite as strong a relationship with in comparison to George Lucas back in 1976, allegedly with some new work often frustratingly being altered many times by Kershner in the pre and production phases of the sequel.
|Early Rebel soldier and snowtrooper concepts.|
|Imperial Snowtrooper design.|
|The Rebels: Luke, Han, fighter pilot and snow trooper.|
|Leia, Rebel Command Crew and Obi-Wan Kenobi.|
|The Empire: Darth Vader, Imperial Trooper, TIE fighter pilot.|
|The Empire: General Veers in AT-AT outfit, Imperial technician and officer.|
Tuesday, 19 May 2020
Alongside the grim visage of Darth Vader's castle, the 1977 story ideas for Star Wars II being fleshed out by George Lucas and Leigh Brackett saw another intriguing and mysterious set of structures being considered to appear by the time of the film's February 17th, 1977 rough draft script - an incredible abandoned alien castle/spires cityscape partially snow submerged under which the in-hiding Rebels have adapted the interior environment to suit their purposes as the story begins, of which Han strides in on his snow lizard.
Linked to this alien castle, Ralph McQuarrie's primary concept painting idea has characters that look like Han and Chewie treading the snow with the massive environment behind them. Other McQuarrie thumbnail ideas, archived as being from late 1977, show the pair encountering their own 'snow monster' out on the wilderness, though the idea of Luke being attacked at the start of the film had already been conceived by Lucas earlier in the Summer.
By the time that Lawrence Kasdan came aboard to finish the final screenplay for filming by early 1979, both Vader's castle and the original Rebel Base concepts had been scuppered.
Monday, 18 May 2020
For Star Wars II, it was always planned that Darth Vader would be leading the hunt for the Rebels with his Imperial forces in the realms of deep space, but the original idea was also to show further interesting facets to the character within the Galactic Empire, in particular his unique home, an ominous castle of immense size whose mighty corridors even revealed a unique flag insignia linked to either the character or the Sith/Empire.
Ultimately, the castle idea was scrapped from the film's later screenplay changes but this intriguing concept work, mostly by Ralph McQuarrie, thankfully remains as a visual indicator. Of course, a home of sorts was ultimately revealed for Vader, switched to the fiery hell of the volcanic world of Mustafar, for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
|An emblem for Vader and the Sith/Empire (?) adorns one of the castle chambers.|
Sunday, 17 May 2020
In Watto's junkyard at Mos Espa, Jar Jar Binks' inspection of a unique work droid soon gets him into trouble- I know, what's new about that! - along with a blink-and-you-miss-it kick to his lower regions, in this comedy moment from EPISODE I.
Saturday, 16 May 2020
|Rehearsing action moves for the Death Star chasm battle.|
It's relatively easy to write/create a universe and see it in your mind, but even harder to bring that universe to exciting and believable reality on a major motion picture budget of around nine million dollars in 1976! George Lucas bet the farm and his career with the vision he had for Star Wars, and won! And the world is all the richer for it!
HAPPY 14TH MAY BIRTHDAY TO GEORGE LUCAS!