Tuesday 2 April 2013


Luke's new hand is tended to by medical droid 2-1B on the Medical Frigate for the closing scenes of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. What's interesting about this image is that it's from the original version of the sequence, filmed at ELSTREE from July 12th 1979, which didn't make it into the final film. Note the facial bruising Luke has (not seen in the finished film) and the prosthetic interior mechanisms that would have been located within his palm. At the recent US STAR WARS Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition in California, AFICIONADO contributor Ian Trussler took these images of the hand/palm to have been partially used for the sequence.

Above two pics by Ian Trussler.

The original filming rehearsals of the finale scene in July 1979 at ELSTREE.

During that original July filming, Anthony Daniels was keenly aware that the final scene, in whatever scripted/storyboarded form it was in, might not prove satisfying to audiences when cut together, and vocally expressed his opinion that the sequence would need to be re-shot. His instincts would prove right, as new storyboards were drafted by ILM's Nilo Rodis-Jamero on 21st November 1979 (and listed as "added" shots) for filming of the interior scene, presumably done later that month (in the US (ILM) or at ELSTREE?) or into December 1979 with Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and the robot controlled Artoo. AFICIONADO assumes the shoot was actually done in December, near Xmas (that would account for the image below of Fisher with the Xmas party decorations around 2-1B!). In the re-shoot used in the completed movie, Luke has a new hairstyle and no facial bruising, with insert scenes of a new hand, instigated at the request of Irvin Kershner (as noted in J.W. Rinzler's MAKING OF EMPIRE book), presumably shot later or around the same time with an unknown hand double.

In the re-shoot, Luke no longer has any bruising and his haircut is different. Threepio watches 2-1B presumably make the final seal on Luke's new hand-a scene not in the completed movie. The palm scene was eventually abandoned with a new insert.

The less gruesome new insert scene for Luke's hand.

Carrie Fisher on the Medical Frigate set with 2-1B, presumably for the re-shoot during either November or December 1979 (near Xmas?-note the decorations around the droid).

Luke and Leia as they appear in the re-shoot seen in the final scene of the movie.

A further couple of exterior model effects shots, to clarify who was where on the Medical Frigate and the about to depart Millennium Falcon, were also added to the film at break-neck speed by ILM when the film made its US 35mm theatrical print debut in June 1980.

UPDATE 2/4/2013. Pablo Hidalgo's STARWARS.COM blog thinks that the hand is from JEDI, and not EMPIRE. Whilst he presents plausible proof from the official comic strip, it's still not an official confirmation-it really needs an original member of the ROTJ behind the scenes team to confirm it. Feature: Star Wars Mysteries: Let’s Give Luke a Hand | Star Wars Blog 

AFICIONADO contacted Mister Hidalgo through the site with this feature link for his perusal, but no return correspondence is likely forthcoming...

UPDATE: 8/3/2022. Mark Hamill on the final scene shooting, responding to a TWITTER fan question.

For more information on the making of EPISODE V, why not get hold of our exhaustive, info-packed behind the scenes PDF back issues on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK here: STAR WARS AFICIONADO "EMPIRE" BEHIND THE SCENES COMPANION and here: STAR WARS AFICIONADO DOUBLE ISSUE 11/12-THE MAKING OF "THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK"


Anonymous said...

The image of lukes hand with a hole in the palm is from when he gets shot on Jabbas sail barge not the med droid scene

aficionadofan said...

In JEDI, Luke was shot on the outside of his hand not in the inside...

Hooch said...

While that may be correct, I'm not convinced either.
Luke had his hand cut clean off, why would they need a blaster wounded hand like this?

Even if the script originally said that vader only wounds his hand, it doesn't look like the sort of would a saber would do, and why would the robotic parts be inserted into the wound and not a flap type thing as we see in the movie.

It seems more likely that it's a Jedi prosthetic that needed to be re-done, not a ESB one, and that someone who doesn't know what they are doing labelled that display.

Anonymous said...

Call sheet for the hand insert shoot:


aficionadofan said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for the call sheet. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

It's true that Luke was shot on the outside of the hand in RotJ, but consider that it could have come *out* the other side as well.

Admittedly, the prop with the palm damage is odd no matter which film it's from. I am having a hard time imagining any scenario in which the brand new cyber hand would have had the palm torn/melted open during that scene though.


Anonymous said...

With regards to: "A further couple of exterior model effects shots, to clarify who was where on the Medical Frigate and the about to depart Millennium Falcon, were also added to the film at break-neck speed by ILM when the film made its US 35mm theatrical print debut in June 1980."

These new exterior shots were made soon AFTER the film was released and then added or subtracted from the "original end scene", and then new prints were made for the theatres that were ALREADY showing TESB.
How am i sure of this?; i saw Empire soon after it's release and then saw it again months later for a total of 5 times. When i saw it on the 4th or 5th time i remember thinking, "oh wait those are new shots,...aren't they".
To me it seemed the original version ran longer with shots of ships, X-wings flying by. It was NOT a rush edit.
It was a calm and quiet end scene "of the ships" which would have been more appropriate after all the trauma the characters went through.

I hope someone can back me up on this, i have a very good memory specially when it comes to a film of this stature. How could it not. This is one of the reasons i've searched out for any information about what i originally saw. Thanks to SW-aficionado for at least giving some acknowledgement but not proof of my experience.

Anonymous said...

EMPIRE’s final scene in the initial prints was shorter, not longer, than the revised version sent out after the final scene was tweaked. Everything is explained in this in-depth article:


Anonymous said...

The hand is from Jedi...its in the comic adaption where it shows the damage on the palm