CELEBRATING FORTY GLORIOUS YEARS OF 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK' AT STARWARS.COM

OUT OF HYPERSPACE AND ONTO HOME ENTERTAINMENT FROM MARCH 2020

Sunday, 9 August 2020

CLASSIC IMAGE: THE DREAM MAKERS!


The artistic future of the then upcoming Star Wars Prequels couldn't have been in better hands via new recruits Doug Chiang and Iain McCaig, both respecting fans of the Classic Trilogy and its iconography, working on creating a varied and altogether more different galaxy for the Old Republic from within one of the attic areas of Skywalker ranch, in top secret mode for an enthused George Lucas, from the mid-nineties onwards.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

CLASSIC IMAGE: A LEGEND IS BORN - ANIMATION STYLE!

A secret message and mission revealed!

It's always fun to see the original Star Wars translated into any kind of animated endeavour, and here's one of those projects that's definitely worth a look from a while back: STAR WARS: The Animated Movie, realized with both affection and some nice visual attention to detail from the people at Tales from Weirdland. Plus some fun moments reminding us of the era context/influences of the time the film was made, and showing us also some different and alternate story/character perspectives and environments, notably the film's finale battle.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GS9wLMyvn8

Friday, 7 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: THE FORBIDDEN KISS!

Image: via Star Wars screencaps.com
An angry Leia's out to prove a point against the ego-fuelled confidence of Han Solo, in a way that certainly pleases Luke Skywalker, for a fun comedy moment that got a good laugh in cinemas back in 1980, best enjoyed without the later 1983 revelation that Luke and Leia were actually twins- which would go on to make their 'kiss' a true 'yuck' moment in Star Wars history! Here is a selection of images from the scene (the only time the main cast are together in the film) and behind the scene moments interacting with director Irvin Kershner.











Thursday, 6 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: IN BACTA RECOVERY


Now out of his Bacta tank soak, Luke Skywalker receives further tender skin repair treatment from the 2-1B medical droid, watched by a relieved and happy Princess Leia. A tender moment between the pair begins, but when Luke announces he has to leave the Rebel Alliance to go somewhere not too far away, Leia is soon understandably angry that, along with Han Solo, her reliable friends and comrades in battle are seemingly deserting her. Shot on March 21st, 1979, this was a deleted scene, cut for time reasons more than anything else so as to instead focus on the fun banter involving Han Solo, that has not yet been fully released on home entertainment.



















Newly returned to the UK from Finse, Gary Kurtz, with the also recently arrived George Lucas, watch some of the earliest studio footage for The Empire Strikes Back being shot at Elstree. Lucas's presence there is much appreciated by the cast and crew, now more appreciative and respecting of his talents since the huge success and public acclaim of the original Star Wars.

A facially frost bitten Gary Kurtz and George Lucas supervise the rehearsal before filming.

Lucas, Kurtz and Graham Freeborn watch a scene rehearsal of the Medical Droid arm attending to Luke.

Some serious discussion between Kershner and Hamill.

Anthony Daniels is partially costumed as Threepio, assisted by John Birkinshaw (aka on set as 'Mother'), whilst DP Peter Suschitzky talks to a crew member.



Producer Gary Kurtz sneaks in some quick fun photography.

Kay Freeborn makes some lip make-up adjustments.

Going through the scene with Kershner.

Filming Luke close-up shots.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: BACTA OBSERVERS!


Responding well to the Bacta treatment, much to the happiness of his concerned friends, Commander Skywalker is soon removed from the tank and put into the recovery area of the medical centre.

Here are a selection of images from this curtailed sequence.








Han and Leia worry about Luke's delirious words, before good news comes from the Medical Droids.


Tuesday, 4 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: BACTA TANK REPAIRS!


With severe frostbite and facial injuries that need urgent attention, a delirious Luke Skywalker, talking about his late mentor in Obi-Wan Kenobi, and mysterious words like 'Yoda' and 'Dagobah', is installed in a Bacta tank for physical repairs, in a scene ultimately truncated in The Empire Strikes Back.





The Medical Centre set built on Elstree Stage 1 contained a treatment room (housing a 7’6” high and 3’8” in diameter tank for Bacta tissue (filled with 400 gallons of chlorinated water) and a recovery area (a bed was originally planned for the set, as in the McQuarrie painting where Han, relaxing on it, with Leia next to him, looks towards the window where Luke is in the Bacta tank). The area also houses two UK built medical droid props-2-1B and FX-7.


Early concept sketches for 2-1B, which had limited upper body movement when created on set, suggest that the droid’s design came about from rejected masks that human surgeons would wear. Early notes described the droid as having a “human brain.”

2-1B is brought to life at the Elstree workshops.

Prior to filming in the Bacta tank at ELSTREE, Mark Hamill wore scruba gear and tested safety equipment for the upcoming scenes apparently at a nearby girl’s school swimming pool (the only place in the time provided where it could be done). Hamill remembers all the giggly school kids present at the pool that day, watching him in his swimming briefs as he was lowered in and out of the make shift tank erected in the water for filming.

Later in the studio, with Hamill in the water (though a wet suited Colin Skeaping was lowered into the tank to check its safety before filming), a different way of lighting and photographing the scene has to be accomplished. Peter Suschitzky enhances the sequence with careful lighting, formulating a method of illuminating the important moment of Luke’s healing by making it the focal point, and brightest part, of the scene, creating the almost purity of his recovery in the tank by suspending a mirror from the studio ceiling and positioning a massive search light below the tank. The light would bounce off the mirror with the end result successfully showing Luke immersed in the eerily “glowing” Bacta fluid (the aqualung Hamill wears also incorporates a light emitting diode that pulses green, red and yellow). Skywalker’s friends, carefully silhouetted in the foreground, frame Luke in the shot and draw the audience’s focus towards him. Luke’s delirious crying out in the tank about Ben, Yoda and Dagobah were never dubbed on, the mentions of all three being used instead for a new audience plot clarification scene shot later in post production, and appearing earlier in the film, with Luke by his injured Tauntaun, being rescued by Han Solo and deliriously imparting the words.

Set reference diorama created by Elstree Production Design department.


Medical droid FX-7



Colin Skeaping tests the water tank which will be coloured red but appear blue with the set lighting of filming.

Graham Freeborn applies some make-up adjustments to Mark Hamill prior to filming.

Hamill is hoisted out of the tank after completing his scene.