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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

BEHIND THE SCENES: BACK FOR THE 'EMPIRE' - THE RETURN OF JOHN BARRY

John Barry (far left) consults with his team on footage being shot in the Rebel Hangar set at Elstree.

Having been forced off his own pet sci-fi directorial project of Saturn 3, the original Star Wars production designer John Barry's return to the universe he helped bring to life with The Empire Strikes Back was to prove most welcome by everyone in front of and behind the scenes at Elstree by Mid-May 1979, as he was handed the capable reins of Second Unit Director for the sequel film on its prestigious and then newly launched Star Wars Stage.

Eyeing up potential camera shots on the new Star Wars Stage at Elstree.

For a brief time, first and second units combined shooting on the newly launched Star Wars Stage.

Barry, nearly cropped out in this image, next to Harrison Ford - circa mid-May 1979, at the start of Rebel Hangar bay filming.

Directing Snowspeeder pilots in the hangar at Elstree - late May up to June 4th, 1979.

Barry and his script continuity assistant with one of the Rebel Snowspeeder background pilots, as captured by the BBC crew of The Risk Business ,circa late May 1979 Image: BBC.

Female Rebel technicians rush to their positions in footage believed to have been shot by John Barry's second unit.

Of special note, a glimpse of some of the filming that Barry was involved in on the superb Rebel Hangar set would be notably captured on UK TV by the production crew of the BBC 1 documentary team at The Risk Business sometime later in May 1979- whose finished production would talk about the eagerly awaited sequel, and the state of the UK film industry at that time (and aired the following April 1980). Sadly, it was a short time after Barry's arrival at the studios and beginning unit filming duties (of which his hangar/snowspeeder 'newsreel'-style shots were done up to 4th June, 1979), that his life was tragically cut short on 6th June (+) by a brutal and very rare form of Meningitis infection. In the end, exactly what TESB footage of Barry's made it to the screen is unknown- likely just a couple of shots of pilots rushing to/in their Snowspeeders. One day, let's hope more of this unseen material makes it on to Blu-ray/DVD.

+ Date from publicist Alan Arnold's Making of Empire book - 1980, not from online sources that state June 1st, 1980.

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