|The striking Del Rey hardcover edition of Donald F. Glut's adaptation of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, from 1980.|
With the huge success of Alan Dean Foster’s ghostwriting of the original novelization of STAR WARS - a sell-out December 1976 hit before the film even arrived in cinemas, thoughts turned by 1979 on who would adapt the all-important first sequel, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and bring its more seasoned, depthful main characters, new enemies and exotic creatures and locations to reality on the printed page. In a blast of inspiration, and knowing hew good a job he could do, then Director of Fan Relations, Craig Miller, immersed in what would be “the science fiction literary scene”, suggested his friend Donald F. Glut to the publications department, knowing that George Lucas would approve of his talents and background CV in comics, cartoons and movie media.
Working against the clock, on and off in a small STAR WARS CORPORATION trailer on the UNIVERSAL STUDIOS lot in Los Angeles, with little photographic reference material available (the physical appearance of Yoda being kept particularly secret), plus changes constantly being made to the film script, Glut’s novelization arrived in paperback (with eight pages of colour photos!), and a special Young Reader’s Edition, from Del Rey books, on April 12th, 1980, quickly proving an equal bestseller (apparently around three million copies devoured by hungry SW fans) and garnering critically approved success.
Here’s a look back at some of the most noticeable differences between the film and the novelization…
The book opens as the film was originally intended to have done-with Luke atop a Tauntaun on patrol in the desolate ice regions of the sixth planet of Hoth-originally there was no Imperial Star Destroyer launching Probe Droids into space. The book quickly establishes that the Rebels have only been on Hoth, and established their base, for a month.
Recognizing the sudden unease of his Tauntaun, Luke reaches out for a sensor device, one of the batch that he has been planting for the Rebels monitoring, before his attack by the Wampa. This scene was filmed on location, as was his dialogue-calming attempt to the beast, “There’s nothing out there.” The novel and the script (2nd and 4th drafts) mention Luke grabbing for his pistol before he is knocked unconscious by the Wampa, but it never clears his holster in time. This was also filmed.
Hung up in the cave, Luke hears Ben Kenobi’s soothing words encouraging him to retrieve his lightsaber whilst trapped in the Wampa cave.
Back at the Rebel base, Han Solo’s additional sparrings with Leia, after he says that she could good do with a good kiss, can be seen on the 2011 Blu-ray deleted scenes.
|A deleted scene of the Probot filmed in Norway.|
The newly arrived Probe Droid kills a rogue Wampa whilst on surveillance of the icy wastelands. It then camouflages itself during a violent snowstorm. Footage of it firing on something was filmed (a small rodent creature during 1979 Norway filming, as referenced in J.W. Rinzler’s MAKING OF EMPIRE book). Later, the probe sees Rebel Snowspeeders and sends info back to the Imperials. In the process, it goes on to destroy Echo Station Three-Eight-footage of the Probe moving in on some kind of smoking wreck (or possibly emerging from its smokey original container) was filmed on location in Norway.
Unlike the film, there is no sequence showing 2-1B attending a slain Tauntaun in its pen and there are no other scenes involving the Wampas infiltrating the base, either. Like the completed film, that sub-plot has been eliminated.
|Worried about Luke's condition.|
The scene of a delirious Luke in the Bacta tank recovering from his injuries, watched by his concerned friends, would finally be seen in the 2011 Blu-ray deleted scenes. In the book, though, there was no kiss between the now rescued and facially repaired Luke and a relieved Leia in the medical centre, before Han and Chewie arrive, and, unlike the MARVEL comic strip, there is no mention of Luke telling her that he’s leaving the Alliance for a while.
The sequence establishing the Imperial Death Squadron appears in the book, and the original filming script, between the Rebels discovering the Probe Droid’s transmission and Han Solo ultimately destroying it on the Hoth surface.
With the later surprise revelation of Vader to Luke about his parentage, Lucas re-writes the opening title crawl giving us hints of what’s to come by telling us that Darth Vader is obsessed with finding young Luke Skywalker. Some extra lines are also dubbed onto the film in the scene where the Imperials receive the Probe Droid data on the Rebel Base. The line “And I’m sure Skywalker is there” was not in the Third Draft script.
Getting ready to leave before the Imperials show up, the filmed but deleted Millennium Falcon lifters comedy moment/scene involving Han and Leia, the latter smirking at the craft breaking down yet again, is intact within the book.
Leia addresses the pilots of the Snowspeeders as they are taking off to fight the Walkers, giving them the following additional instructions: “Attention, speeder pilots… on the withdrawal signal assemble at South Slope. Your fighters are being prepared for takeoff. Code One Five will be transmitted when evacuation is complete.” This dialogue may have been cut from the filming script or filmed but removed for time reasons in Post Production.
As the snow battle nears its end, Hobbie rams his ship into the lead Walker, killing General Veers and buying escape time for the remaining Rebel troops to evacuate the trenches and escape to the transport ships via an ice cavern. In the battle, the Rebel power generators aren’t specifically described as destroyed-we assume they are but it is not said-they were always to have been a target, but the Imperial’s objective was strengthened in the final editing of the movie.
What happened to General Rieekan? His absence is not explained in the book, either-we assume he had been killed when the Rebel command centre was hit. Rinzler's Making of book from 2010 is equally vague as to whether his death was filmed or not.
Though it seems that a Snowtrooper gives the information in the filmed, yet cut, sequence (and as seen in the Marvel Comics adaptation in 1980), in the book it is Admiral Piett who tells Vader that seventeen Rebel ships have been destroyed.
Artoo almost defies Luke as he makes his X-Wing ready to go to Dagobah. In the book, the droid is worried about Luke’s physical and mental health, which the pilot shrugs off.
|Early concept art for 'Minch Yoda' by Joe Johnston.|
With Yoda’s appearance not yet confirmed whilst Glut was beginning his writing of the adaptation, the Jedi Master has long white hair parted in the middle, and a blue face-similar to early Ralph McQuarrie/Joe Johnston paintings rather than Stuart Freeborn’s final work. He wears very tattered rags and enjoys chewing on a Gimer stick.
“Soon, Admiral. Soon.” This deleted line in the book, referring to the imminent capture of the Falcon, was to have originally ended Vader’s conversation with Piett in the formers meditation chamber.
Arrived inside the Asteroid “cave”, before Threepio is about to be plugged into the Falcon’s computer, he and Chewie watch Han and Leia’s bantering dialogue in the cockpit- dialogue that is mostly different to what’s seen on screen.
|A princess and a scoundrel!|
As Imperial cruisers (not TIE Bombers) begin unleashing their weapons on the Asteroid surface, noises can be heard within the cave and the Falcon crew look up as they hear the bombardment- Chewie is high up the ceiling as a shockwave/tremor hits the cave and Threepio falls over, recovered by Solo. The scene, not in the book, was filmed as is partially seen in one of the EMPIRE trailers. This then leads into the sequence, where Threepio’s talking to the computer and saying “Where is Artoo when I need him?” The book has Chewie a bit frustrated by Han’s romance with Leia-something that Lawrence Kasdan wanted to see explored in the film- a possible jealously from Chewie. There is no interruption by Threepio of the kiss between Han and Leia- it is Leia who then kisses him a second time (as seen in the 2011 Blu-ray deleted scene) then draws away, whilst Chewie looks on.
Twenty Imperial fleet captains are seen in the hologram scene talking to Lord Vader (from six Star Destroyers, and also from across numerous other little ships around the fleet entering the asteroid field also).
In Yoda’s hut, as the Jedi Master reveals his identity, Luke’s cut line of filmed dialogue, “I follow my feelings”, is retained in the book (this line can be heard said by Mark Hamill on set in 1979 filming, as shown in the EMPIRE OF DREAMS documentary).
|Luke's Jedi training begins...|
In his training on Dagobah, Yoda, catching Luke off guard, throws a metal bar for Luke to cut in half with his saber, and fails, blaming exhaustion. Yoda tells him to “Unlearn, unlearn!”- A sequence shown with no sound on the 2011 Blu-ray. Other planned but deleted before filming parts of Luke’s training, before he tries to raise his X-wing from the swamp, and after (involving two seeker balls), also make the printed page.
Han and Leia’s romantic scene in the Bespin apartment, before being broken up by the arrival of Chewie with the in-pieces Threepio, is mostly the same, with a few additions from the finished film, as seen in those excised scenes, later refilmed, presented in 2004’s EMPIRE OF DREAMS documentary.
There’s a wonderful description of Boba Fett that enters the hearts and minds of fans for years to come: “He was dressed in a weapon-covered, armoured spacesuit, the kind worn by a group of evil warriors defeated by the Jedi Knights during the Clone Wars.”
Lando’s welcoming party on Bespin Landing Pad 327 includes aliens and droid alongside its security officers.
|Enjoying the Bespin vistas.|
Before arriving for dinner with Darth Vader, Lando takes his party onto a veranda overlooking the spiraled top of Bespin, and flirts once more with Leia, watched by a bemused Solo. This scene was shot on a blue screen background walkway, in a later deleted scene.
Inside Yoda’s hut, Luke lightsaber deflects another seeker attack. Later, on the ground outside, he has recurring bad dreams about his friends and confers with the apparition of Ben Kenobi and Yoda. Then, by dusk the next day he talks to them again as he readies his X-wing for takeoff.
Arriving in Bespin airspace, Luke and Artoo are baffled by the lack of patrol ships. It is unknown if this shot was filmed.
As Han is about to be carbon frozen, there is no “I know.” As Leia finally declares her love for him, he confidently replies: “Just remember that, because I’ll be back.”
|Beyond the publicity image, did Luke use his blaster onscreen?|
Discovered by Boba Fett and his party, Luke responds by shooting two of his Stormtrooper escorts (a scene also in the comic adaptation), whilst two Bespin guards whisk the carbonite Solo into another corridor. Fett provided lethal covering fire then disappears. Turning round, Luke then runs into Leia’s captured party and falls into a trap.This scene was more than likely dropped before or during shooting.
“I’ll die first,” Luke defiantly tells Vader, who wants the boy to join the Dark Side, before being dispatched into the freezing chamber- a line of dialogue that was filmed but cut. As Luke fights back after escaping the pit, another filmed but deleted line is said: “I will not become a slave to the dark side of the Force.”
Revealed early, ahead of the film's release, and shocking readers across the world: Darth Vader, after threatening him with his blue lightsaber, “You will join me or you will join Obi-Wan in death!”, tells a devastated Luke, “I am your father.”
|A close shave for Lando in rescuing Luke.|
Rescuing the bruised and beaten Luke from his solitary weather vane trap, Lando, at the Falcon's top hatch, and seeing three approaching TIEs firing weapons, reaches out to get Luke, but almost loses him when enemy fire lurches the vessel, resulting in the boy going over the side. This scene was partially filmed but ultimately abandoned when Mark Hamill received an injury that shut down production for several days during Summer 1979.
As Luke and Leia, now back with the Rebel fleet, watch Lando and Chewie depart for Tatooine, the former knows that he has to return to Yoda and complete his training before helping to rescue Han- something that doesn’t happen by the 1983 opening of RETURN OF THE JEDI.
Glut’s 2007 Interview with the UK's JEDI NEWS website: http://www.jedinews.co.uk/news/news.aspx?newsID=10516