Tuesday 30 June 2015


Grand Moff Tarkin. She recognised the "foul stench" of his evil the moment she boarded the oppressive Death Star space station, and now Princess Leia Organa has seen that evil at work, having lost her people, her world, to the orders of one cruel man commanding the universe's most fearsome energy weapon. Can anyone or anything help her or the Rebel Alliance in their desperate time of need?

Prior to the revised drafts for 1976 filming, it was planned that Tarkin would have met Leia earlier than this important scene, joining Vader for her prior torture in the cell bay. The idea ultimately made it into Alan Dean Foster's film novelisation.

James Luceno's highly enjoyable novel TARKIN now arrives in UK paperback from ARROW. Find out more about the man, the monster- his psychology and his shocking service and dedication to the Empire: Tarkin: Star Wars: Amazon.co.uk: James Luceno: 9780553392906: Books


Get it here: Star Wars: Tarkin (UK Edition): Amazon.co.uk: James Luceno: 9781784750077: Books

Monday 29 June 2015


There's been no official confirmation word yet from LUCASFILM because of their prior "Gentleman's Agreement" with PARAMOUNT PICTURES over publicity for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- Rogue Nation, but the first in the new series of STAR WARS ANTHOLOGY movies, directed by Gareth Edwards, has apparently been shooting for at least three weeks at STAR WARS new filming home at Pinewood Studios, London. STAR WARS AFICIONADO's version of the Bothan Spies have informed us that some new jungle exterior sequences, involving a massive air/ground bombardment, have been filmed at the studio (inside and out), including one key part of an action sequence involving star Felicity Jones (fresh from weeks in and out of the gym in preparation for the action heavy role), plus some kind of scene-setting on board the original Death Star, with sets for The Force Awakens re-dressed alongside some familiar and new areas of the Battle Station specifically designed to have fans agog. Pinewood Studios legendary water tank facility looks set to be used, too, but not necessarily in the way you think. Beyond the UK, prior location scouting in America (Florida) and Venezuela for specific types of land mass and plantations has also been indicated.

More news as and when we get it...

Sunday 28 June 2015


If anybody told me I'd have to film a movie scene in the company of over 5,000 real snakes, I'd run a mile. Thankfully, the cast and crew of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK were a lot braver than I ever could be, as seen in this superb behind the scenes image at Elstree Studios, where Harrison Ford's Indy and Karen Allen's Marion find themselves trapped in the reptile-packed Well of Souls.

Saturday 27 June 2015


Personifying the might and evil of the Galactic Empire, a lone TIE fighter makes an explosive entrance in this unused showcase poster concept art by Joe Johnston, one of several stunning visual ideas for the original STAR WARS. I love the clever use of the words forming a trench like the one on the Death Star.

Image restoration by Chris Baker.

Friday 26 June 2015


Shocked at the fires and chaos raging around the Jedi Temple, poltician and humanitarian Bail Organa goes to investigate. What he discovers is shocking - the aftermath of ORDER 66 and the slaying of an escaping Padawan - soon stirring him to action in helping the surviving Jedi. An important moment from EPISODE III.

Thursday 25 June 2015


Our favourite golden protocol droid is not having a good day on Jabba's Sail Barge. All hell has broken loose amongst the vessel's incumbent scum and villainy whilst Luke Skywalker initiates his daring escape plan, resulting in that pesky beast Salacious Crumb trying to get some payback on Threepio by tearing out his eye socket!

An intriguing image showing the fine detail of the Hutt mural background behind Threepio, barely seen in the film until the 2011 Blu-ray.

Wednesday 24 June 2015


He'd been haunted by persistent visions of his mother, Shmi, and, now that he's arrived on Tatooine, a crisis in the Skywalker/Lars family is fully revealed. Will Anakin be too late to stop a tragedy?

The true beginning of the end for a once heroic Jedi Knight, during EPISODE II.

Tuesday 23 June 2015


An Imperial AT-AT Walker prepares to make a leap (presumably over one of the enemy trenches) in an intriguing frame from the 124 early animatics created quickly by Peter Kuran and his animation team for the Battle of Hoth, during pre-production and production for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Many of these images/scenes were used in the editing stages by George Lucas as placers alongside the live action footage of location filming and speeder pilot cockpit scenes, whilst the model, motion control and stop motion work by ILM was being carefully achieved. Later on, Kuran's department would create/animate the cell rope that wraps around the Walker's legs to make it fall, plus, according to a FANTASTIC FILMS magazine interview from July 1980, a little cel-animated Rebel crawling up to one of the lumbering Imperial beasts in an effort to sabotage it- a shot that I don't recall seeing in the finished movie, unless Kuran is referring to Luke's ascending on his rappelling cord under the belly of the metal beast.

Monday 22 June 2015


The peace and beauty of the elite outer world of Naboo is soon shattered by the arrival of technological evil and greed, as the Trade Federation begin their occupancy of the now blockaded world. An early scene and a stunning model/CGI composite from EPISODE I.

Saturday 20 June 2015


The Ghost crew face new and imminent dangers. Images: DISNEY/LUCASFILM ANIMATION.

Their small war against the Empire is about to get a whole lot bigger, as the heroes of STAR WARS REBELS finally discover that they're not alone in their worthy cause, when the series second season  extended opener, The Siege of Lothal, airs today on US DISNEY TV. But the Empire isn't going to take any of this standing still, not when their most unceasing and brutally uncompromising warrior stands ready to track them down and destroy them: Darth Vader!

Dark encounter!

Star Wars Rebels Season Two Set to Premiere June 20 | StarWars.com
▶ Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Trailer (Official) - YouTube
Watch: Jedi's journey back to 'Star Wars'
Learning More About Rebels At The Celebration Press Conference - MakingStarWars.net
▶ The Dark Side Rises: Inside Season Two | Star Wars Rebels - YouTube
Dave Filoni Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Interview
Star Wars Rebels Strikes Back at Celebration | StarWars.com
Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Premiere Clip: Darth Vader Strikes! - IGN
New Featurette For Star Wars Rebels: Season Two Revealed | The Star Wars Underworld
Darth Vader returns: Get an exclusive look at the villain's comeback on Star Wars Rebels | EW.com

Tuesday 16 June 2015


We've all got photo albums packed with memories to treasure, but surly none could be as exciting, exotic and world travelled, nor as memorably diverse, as those held in the collection of top British Art Director Alan Tomkins, his pre-retirement working CV a veritable goldmine of some of the most iconic and successful blockbusters ever made, across all types of genres over the last fifty years. His new book from THE HISTORY PRESS, Stars and Wars, is a lovely assemblage of those rare on-set photos and Polaroids he'd take over the years, coming alive alongside his unique behind the scenes memories revealing his major, often understated, contributions to the films that we never tire of watching, blessed with a rare talent that would go on to impress and wow legendary filmmakers like Oliver Stone (who, despite his seemingly gruff exterior in the media, gives a genuinely warm-hearted and pleasing introduction to this book), the ultimate Kid-ult that is Steven Spielberg, and the late, great John Huston.

This warm-hearted trip down memory lane includes so many great movie adventures and so many practical challenges for the rising star of the UK Art Department world to overcome and make his mark on- from getting his big break as a junior at the original ABPC Elstree Studios in London then making his way up through hard work, lots of luck and assembling a very strong list of contacts and friends that would prove invaluable in the years to come, primarily launched via the experiences of David Lean's spirited desert adventure Lawrence of Arabia. War movies would become a particular speciality of Tomkins, showing his expertise and love of aviation, from Guy Hamilton's epic sky drama Battle of Britain, to the epic Richard Attenborough helmed, star-packed A Bridge Too Far, Harrison Ford's shaky visit to Hanover Street, and the incredible exploits of those brave young pilots flying the flak explosions in their beloved Memphis Belle, followed by the genuine "war is hell" visceral and gritty qualities of Spielberg and Tom Hank's Saving Private Ryan. An altogether different type of war would encapsulate Tomkins imagination and attention to detail by 1979, that of the George Lucas fantasy variety. No stranger to blockbusters, what with numerous larger-than-life James Bond films under his belt, Tomkins would head out to the harsh climes of Finse, Norway to help bring The Empire Strikes Back's trench warfare of the Rebel soldiers of Hoth against the Imperial AT-AT Walker juggernauts to exciting life, working and often stuck in a genuinely hostile and danger-packed location but emerging to savour an experience that proved ultimately rewarding, and a sequence that has become much beloved by worldwide STAR WARS fans who'll certainly enjoy the intriguing section that Tomkins provides in this book, alongside some great snowbound imagery.

STAR WARS may be the main focus of the cover and of primary interest to readers of this blog, but the Classic Trilogy saga occupies but a small section of Tomkins invaluable collection of England and Hollywood-related memories and nostalgia, of which this tome contains sections both brief and detailed on all manner of other films large and small, some known, some not, but all pivotal landmarks or turning points in his growing career. Highlights include working with the genuinely one-of-a-kind charisma/whirlwind Stanley Kubrick -both heaven and hell for anyone working behind the scenes with him on what would become the benchmark science fiction wonder 2001: A Space Odyssey, landing back on planet Earth for a memorable stint on the seventies Paul Newman thriller, The Mackintosh Man (in which he famously got to direct the lead man and found the experience a joy), the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians (the challenges of creating sets occupied by so many gorgeous puppies), a demanding trilogy of Oliver Stone movies (from the stunning and authoritative JFK, to the psychedelic murder and mayhem of Natural Born Killers), then to the dark modern fusing of comic book and gritty urban thriller that would be the first Batman Begins from England's new "wunderkid", Christopher Nolan, helping to bring the Dark Knight's incredible war arsenal, the Batmobile, to such barnstorming creation. Tomkins ends his journey with the first of the Daniel Craig era James Bonds- the franchise reinvigorating Casino Royale, being one of the main contributors to its key finale sequence, where a Venice building sinks into the water as Bond fights his nemeses. As the book comes to close, Tomkins extensive filmography reveals other intriguing films that I wish he could have shed some light on, like Lewis Gilbert's sadly cancelled Terry & the Pirates, the Tobe Hooper UK horror Lifeforce, or Michael Mann's feature film debut, The Keep. Perhaps his contributions to those intriguing cult classics will come to light one day via an alternate route...

Bolstered by rare stills imagery and striking movie posters, plus other biographical details, and packaged in a nice, easy to read style highlighting Tomkin's generosity and amiable personality, Stars and Wars is another fine slice of publication magic for THE HISTORY PRESS. Don't expect too much in the way of anecdotes about working with the film stars, though. Instead, see how the incredible films they're a collective part of actually got made- through hard persistent work, long hours, spirited enthusiasm, and often genuine inspiration.


Get hold of Stars and Wars here: Stars and Wars | 9780750956178

With thanks to THE HISTORY PRESS


Monday 15 June 2015


It will be a day long savoured by Darth Vader, scourge of the Jedi, as he seemingly defeats his old master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in a fateful lightsaber duel within a Death Star hallway corridor linked to the captured Millennium Falcon.

An intriguing image showing the practical studio effect of Kenobi's disappearance that didn't go according to plan during filming (as briefly seen in the Making of STAR WARS TV documentary of 1977)- note the still lit lightsaber and the cloak on fire.

Darth Vader: From Concept to Screen | StarWars.com

Sunday 14 June 2015


The rod-puppet go-motion system developed by Phil Tippett for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is used for even grander things during the exciting speeder bike chase conceived for the all-action RETURN OF THE JEDI.

Saturday 13 June 2015


On Kamino, Master Shaak Ti confers with alien leader Lama Su on the emerging problem linked to Clone Trooper Tup's unexpected, murderous slaying of a Jedi Knight. Is this a one-off occurence, or a systematic start in the breakdown of the psychological welfare of the Clone Trooper battalions- a situation that could threaten the lives of their war comrades? A scene from THE CLONE WARS: THE LOST MISSIONS episode Conspiracy.

UK fans will finally be able to see this last batch of episodes on SKY from sometime later in the year.

Friday 12 June 2015


Images: Disney/LUCASFILM.

Mission seemingly accomplished, Kylo Ren's Bat-like shuttle and escorts make their way back to the First Order Star Destroyer, Finaliser. But just who, or what, are they bringing aboard it?

Christmas isn't too far away now, for The Force Awakens.

EPISODE VII and spin-off related news:

Star Wars filming may return to Skellig Michael
Simon Pegg says Daniel Craig will star in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens | Daily Mail Online
Star Wars Force Awakens toys: First look | EW.com
Miltos Yerolemou Discusses Time Spent on The Force Awakens Set | The Star Wars Underworld
Daisy Ridley and Kathleen Kennedy Talk 'The Force Awakens' and More | The Star Wars Underworld
Lando Calrissian Not Finished in Star Wars Movie Universe - IGN
Kathleen Kennedy talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens | Vanity Fair
Lawrence Kasdan Says There’s a Future for Lando Calrissian in Star Wars | Vanity Fair

J.J. Abrams confers with a First Order Stormtrooper. But is it Daniel Craig in the outfit?

Capturing a Galaxy: An Interview with Annie Leibovitz - Exclusive | StarWars.com
George Lucas Explains His Sequel Trilogy Treatment Featured Children "In Their 20s" | The Star Wars Underworld
Costume Designer Michael Kaplan Discusses 'The Force Awakens' With Vanity Fair | The Star Wars Underworld
'Star Wars: Rogue One' to Be Filmed With Arri's 6K Large-Format Camera - The Hollywood Reporter
Rumor: Early Details About Episode VIII | The Star Wars Underworld
Rumor: What Han Passes on to Rey in 'The Force Awakens' | The Star Wars Underworld
Rumor: 'The Force Awakens' Plot Synopsis Leaked | The Star Wars Underworld
John Williams on Star Wars: The Force Awakens | Vanity Fair
Carrie Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd NOT playing young Princess Leia in Star Wars | Daily Mail Online
New Photo Of Oscar Isaac In Costume On The Set Of 'The Force Awakens' | The Star Wars Underworld
Angelina Jolie is revealed to be a big Star Wars fan (and her favorite character is NOT Princess Leia) on her 40th birthday | Daily Mail Online
▶ Star Wars The Force Awakens Pip Andersen Interview - YouTube

Thursday 11 June 2015


War hero, singer, writer, actor, raconteur, world-travelled, classy and sophisticated man. Christopher Lee was all these things, but it will be his cherished and genuinely diverse career as an actor for which he will forever be remembered by his world of fans; the definitive on screen interpretation of that must survive Vampire, Dracula, created by Bram Stoker; as the paid hit-man Scaramanga, handling his unique Golden Gun against Roger Moore's James Bond and his license to kill in The Man With the Golden Gun, as the benevolent flowing white-haired alien leader Captain Zantor in a classic early episode of Space:1999, or as Saruman, the mighty wizard turned corrupt servant to the evil all-seeing Sauron in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. To STAR WARS fans, we will always enjoy and celebrate his work as the rogue Jedi turned Sith Lord, Count Dooku, master of betrayal and the lightsaber blade, fighting for evil against his former friends in the Prequel Trilogy's final two movies, joining his late friend Peter Cushing in contributing to George Lucas's ultimate cinematic playground and making crowd-pleasing screen history with his now iconic lightsaber duel against little Master Yoda during the finale of Attack of the Clones.

Goodbye, Christopher Lee, and thank you for such an incredible and accomplished body of work.

Sir Christopher Lee Dies Aged 93
▶ Star Wars Celebration Day - Interview with Christopher Lee - YouTube
Sir Christopher Lee Passes Away | StarWars.com


Battle Droids, well they're easy to take out. But as for General Grievous's Magna Droids? They're a lot more labour intensive, as Obi-Wan Kenobi discovers in this early scene of conflict from EPISODE III.

Wednesday 10 June 2015


Entering the dark, foreboding atmosphere of the oppressive Carbon Freeze Chamber on Bespin, with enemies on all sides (including bounty hunter Boba Fett), our captured heroes can now only fear the worst, as the ending of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK draws ominously near.

Tuesday 9 June 2015


Natalie Portman/Padme Amidala's status as a magazine cover star continues, showcasing the UK EMPIRE magazine's detailed coverage of the newly arrived EPISODE II in 2002.

“I took a long time to decide to do the films. When you’re 14, you don’t really jump at the chance to sign you’re life away until you’re 24.”

“The strangest place I saw my face was definitely Kentucky Fried Chicken, on a big poster. I’m a total vegetarian, animal rights, and they’ve got this big poster of me advertising KFC. I was like, “This is unreal.” It’s frustrating, but that’s what the movie is about. It’s a big marketing extravaganza type deal, and I knew that when I was getting into it.”


STAR WARS AFICIONADO sends Birthday Greetings out to Natalie Portman on this day.

Monday 8 June 2015


Image: Ann Skinner/BFI.

He's lovingly maintained his Landspeeder since he was young, but Luke only just gets the sales money he needs for Obi-Wan when bartering with Mos Eisley speeder dealer Wioslea (played by Barry Copping, also credited to David Stone), in this scene filmed at Elstree Studios in April, 1976.

Script supervisor Ann Skinner's handwritten costume notes for Wioslea (aka alien dealer): "Purple top cloak-over head beige brown long dress under cloak." Also in her notes, a "Chicken Legs" creature (played by Peter Barbour, wearing stilts and later terrorising "Little Flash Gordon" (Marcus Powell) in a deleted scene), "red/white robot goes across R to L as Luke moves to get poncho", and "white 3po" with "dustbin droid' lurking about.

Other Skinner hand-written notes talk about one of the street extras: "Woman sitting on right side of alley with a silver bowl of dark veg on her knee and small bowls in front" and "Mouse R(2?) of doorway."

Anthony Daniels in a cameo as CZ-3.

As well as the above image, two further colour Polaroids from Skinner, not yet revealed outside the BFI, show Ben with a blue treadwell track robot with squat head, and a three-quarter length of Anthony Daniels as the white droid later named CZ-3 (similar to the above image).

With thanks to Ann Skinner and the BFI Special Collections.

Sunday 7 June 2015


Firmly gripped on what he'd on-set call the "Rolls-Royce" of lightsabers, Liam Neeson would bring the kind of gravitas and warmth to his starring role of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, in the opening film of the Prequel Trilogy, as Sir Alec Guinness did for the original STAR WARS.

▶ Star Wars The Phantom Menace: Liam Neeson Interview - YouTube

STAR WARS AFICIONADO sends out Birthday Greetings to Liam Neeson on this date.

Saturday 6 June 2015


Captured but certainly not intimated, our Rebel General Han Solo questions the insult he's just received from Imperial officer Lt. Renz, in this classic deleted scene moment from RETURN OF THE JEDI that appeared on Blu-ray in 2011.

Friday 5 June 2015


They said it was their biggest and most most ambitious event staging yet, and they were right. SECRET CINEMA's presentation run of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK got off to a great start this week at a massive venue in London, of which STAR WARS AFICIONADO attended yesterday (4th June 2015). Aimed primarily for mass appeal rather than the hardcore, the overall planning was strong, the set recreations/production design and sound effects were impressive, the immersive actors (inhabiting classic heroes and aliens of all shapes and sizes) clearly enjoyed themselves, the variety of drink and food (though pricey) flowed and the Special Edition movie and sound presentation was excellent (with some added surprises going on around the audience that were well received by both regular SECRET CINEMA attendees and STAR WARS fans). My only personal downer prior to all this was the REBEL X online clothes store- five working days on from my purchase and the order never arrived- very poor customer service with no customer replies.

SECRET CINEMA makes the cover of the London ES MAGAZINE (5/7/15).
Some old faces enjoy Shoreditch. Image: ES MAGAZINE.

So, was it worth the controversial price of £78? Overall, I'd say yes- it certainly looks like the maintenance costs of this until September will be expensive. If you can afford it, it's definitely an experience to remember, especially in this exciting lead-up to THE FORCE AWAKENS. And if you go, try to make the most of it- a Princess needs to be rescued!

With confidentiality agreements signed, look out for AFICIONADO's first-night review at the end of the run.

Secret Cinema: Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

SECRET CINEMA main site and tickets: Star Wars

FACEBOOK: Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

UPDATE 6/7/15: Rebel X stores got back to AFICIONADO, informing us that online orders have a 10 day delivery window.

UPDATE 10/6/15: The Empire Strikes Back Returns To UK Box Office Top Ten


As the damaged Invisible Hand enters Coruscant's atmosphere and begins an intense crash-landing approach, Republic Emergency firespeeders come to the rescue and put out some of the vessels worst raging fires, in a scene from EPISODE III.

Thursday 4 June 2015


On the ice planet of Hoth, brave Rebel Soldiers remain entrenched in their trench pits waiting for the call to arms, in this intriguing shot likely framed specifically in homage to war-weary images taken in the tenches of World War One.

Ralph McQuarrie's production painting linked to the photo.

As equally challenging as the Battle of Hoth was the battle by dedicated filmmakers to get the sequence filmed in the worst weather conditions of Norway in early 1979. Find out more about how this was achieved in Alan Tomkins new photo biography: Stars and Wars: The Film Memoirs and Photographs of Alan Tomkins, published by THE HISTORY PRESS.

Out now, get the book here: Stars and Wars | 9780750956178

Wednesday 3 June 2015


At the "Old Folks Home" on Coruscant, Jedi Masters Yoda and Windu confer with Obi-Wan Kenobi about the mysterious and previously unaware creation of a Clone Army on Kamino, and the appearance of Bounty Hunter Jango Fett. Deadly revelations indeed, from EPISODE II.

The Jedi Temple: From Concept to Screen | StarWars.com

Tuesday 2 June 2015


Devastated by the murder of his adoptive parents, a visibly grief stricken Luke Skywalker makes his way back to his Landspeeder, away from the smouldering wreck of the Lars Homestead, in this deleted moment from the original STAR WARS.

Script Supervisor Ann Skinner would take a so far unpublished colour Polaroid, currently archive preserved in the BFI, from the completion of this scene in March 1976, with George Lucas, half out of frame, walking back to the speeder prop alongside a noticeably upset looking Mark Hamill, now pushing his hair back. Additionally, Skinner would take a colour image of the Landspeeder on its turntable (she'd refer to it as a "speedergoround"), and a close-in shot of the homestead "Igloo" with the charred bodies of Owen and Beru Lars nearby. In the continuity script notes, yellow smoke would be indicated at the site.

The two grisly corpses of Owen and Beru were stock skeletons used and redressed by Set Decorator Roger Christian from the Elstree Studios props facility. At the end of filming, the props weren't wanted back, so they were ultimately left in Tunisia!

Lucas going through the scene with Hamill at the location.

With thanks to Ann Skinner and the BFI.

Monday 1 June 2015


Anakin Skywalker's torpedos score a direct hit inside the Trade Federation Control Ship, as inept Battle Droids and Neimoidians face obliteration, during the end to the Naboo conflict of EPISODE I.