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Saturday, 23 February 2013

IN CONVERSATION WITH J.W. RINZLER (2007)



George Lucas and Mark Hamill discuss the heroes Death Star escape, in a behind the scenes image from 1976 for STAR WARS. 

Compiled by Scott Weller

(with thanks to Ian Trussler and Chris Baker for additional info)


The STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE team got the chance to talk to J.W. RINZLER in the FAN CLUB lounge at CELEBRATION IV. Impressed with his recently released MAKING OF STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE, now out of print in 2013 and commanding huge prices on Amazon and Ebay, we managed to ask him some burning questions that we thought needed to be covered, and glean some additional information that we think readers might find interesting:


1. That no photos or information exists in the LUCASFILM ARCHIVES on the creation of the Vader mask/main costume. Very few behind the scenes shots available in the LUCASFILM ARCHIVES of Dave Prowse as Darth Vader from A NEW HOPE.

2. Of all the photos taken for the films, A NEW HOPE is the one that is the least represented in the archives with few discs of images compared to the two sequels that followed it and the Prequels.

3. Very little was documented of the pre-production build up to filming. With the film being green-lit for filming so late in the day by FOX, no one was thinking properly about creating any visual documentation. Additionally, so much documented information from that period is not in the archives (either lost, destroyed or in private collections).

4. There were also very few images of behind the scenes production personnel in the LUCASFILM ARCHIVES, with Rinzler having particular trouble finding good images of British Special Effects Technician John Stears (we at AFICIONADO can attest to this-we had great trouble finding images for our MAKING OF STAR WARS issue as well!)

5. According to Rinzler’s information, the on set photographer (we assume he means John Jay) was not present for every day’s filming- apparently only handling a certain batch of days a week. For some sections of the book where filming of certain scenes was not apparently covered, Rinzler had no choice but to use screen grabs (kindly supplied to him by his friend John Knoll-some of which were from the SPECIAL EDITION and had been used in Knoll’s own 365 DAYS book). From information AFICIONADO has, however, we believe that Jay was present throughout the location and ELSTREE/SHEPPERTON filming. There were other photographer so the set as well, like David Steen and Terry O’Neill, who may not have been around for the full filming (often handling the posed studio pictures), so I’m wondering if there is some understandable confusion there on Mister Rinzler’s part.

6. A longer, full length transcript version of Alan Arnold’s ONCE UPON A GALAXY: THE MAKING OF EMPIRE STRIKES BACK book exists, which is a possibility to be used when Rinzler ultimately begins work on his own MAKING OF EMPIRE edition (something that looks very likely, after he has completed work on his INDIANA JONES book, as sales of the MAKING OF A NEW HOPE book have been very encouraging, alongside several very positive reviews).

7. In some instances, the best behind the scenes information came from Lucas and his lawyer (who kept very precise notes on the creation of the first film, and the director’s relationship with TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX).

The paperback edition of Rinzler's addictive behind the scenes look at STAR WARS.

8. A full cast list for A NEW HOPE exists in the LUCASFILM ARCHIVES but there is no pressure for them to release the information.

9. The Midichlorians reference in the character notes of the hardback edition was not added on to ease pressure on Prequel criticisms. Rinzler confirms that this was in Lucas’s original reference material/commentaries given to Carol Titelman in 1977/78 (of which Threepio’s original origin, as having come from the planet Affa, would later be confirmed by Anthony Daniels to Presenter Chris Kelly in the UK 1980 edition of the Children’s film-making television programme CLAPPERBOARD.

10. For reasons unknown, possibly timing (as he was not present for all the filming-traveling to and from the States), Charles Lippincott did not interview the enigma that was Sir Alec Guinness, or Peter Cushing (who was only on set filming for a select period of days in early May). Additionally, other actors, such as Dave Prowse, weren’t either. In some cases, Rinzler had to use quotes from other sources, from 1976/77, for Alec Guinness, and later 1990’s quotes for Peter Cushing.

11. The full script for REVENGE OF THE JEDI (RETURN OF THE JEDI) exists in the archives. There are no plans to release it at this time.

12. As far as Rinzler is aware, the LOST CUT that was featured in David West Reynolds STAR WARS INSIDER article back in 1998/99 is the FIRST ROUGH CUT and was never apparently intended as a real version of the film (we don’t know what to make of this info-John Jympson, who was hired, and later fired, for his work on the FIRST ROUGH CUT was an acclaimed film editor at that time-why would Lucas hire someone so prestigious to work on a ROUGH CUT?)

I offered Mister Rinzler, who kindly gave an excellent talk and was an extremely nice guy, a copy of the MAKING OF STAR WARS AFICIONADO special issue (which contains behind the scenes information not in his book, which I thought might help fill in some of the information gaps in the LUCASFILM ARCHIVES) but, for understandable legal reasons, he was not able to accept it.

J.W. Rinzler talks about THE MAKING OF STAR WARS BOOK: How STAR WARS Almost Never Was (Star Wars: The Making of the Original Star Wars) - YouTube

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