CELEBRATING FORTY GLORIOUS YEARS OF 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK' AT STARWARS.COM

Thursday, 31 October 2019

AFTER IMAGE. ANTHONY DANIELS: MY LIFE WITH THREEPIO!

Man and machine in perfect harmony. Anthony Daniels and his incredible lifetime friend. Image: STARWARS.COM

Alas, poor Threepio! I knew him well.

He's portrayed the character on and off for over forty-plus years, and now its time for actor and Star Wars icon Anthony Daniels to say goodbye to his golden friend C-3PO within his cinematic realm, as The Rise of Skywalker prepares to reveal the final destiny of the universe's most popular protocol droid- a truly unique and faithful hero to his friends both human, alien and robot, even if he was mostly out of his dizzying depth in the action and heady drama of the saga!

A classy raconteur right from the early days of the franchise's publicity turns, Daniels' funny, sublime, insightful and anecdote-packed life inside that often uncomfortable golden costume, from Tunisia, 1976 to Jordan, 2018, across nine films, is revealed in his new autobiography: I Am C-3PO - The Inside Story, out now from DK Books. And an essential read, charting an incredible and very personal film-making journey, it will surely be...

Star Wars Insider promo interview:
https://www.starwars.com/news/anthony-daniels-star-wars-insider

Radio Times online interview:
https://www.radiotimes.com/news/film/2019-10-29/c-3po-death-anthony-daniels-reacts/

Daily Mail interview:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/article-7608863/Anthony-Daniels.html

Independent book-related article:
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/anthony-daniels-star-wars-c3po-memoir-book-inside-story-a9178096.html

Book launch interview:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAWTn6etmeA


More book info:
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/607926/i-am-c-3po---the-inside-story-by-anthony-daniels/

Get it here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Am-C-3PO-Inside-Foreword-Abrams/dp/0241357608/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=C-3P0+ANTHONY+DANIELS&qid=1572477731&sr=8-1-fkmr0

'HAPPY HALLOWEEN!' - 2019


With its 20th anniversary continuing, it's only right that EPISODE I gets in on the crazy Halloween act, as seen in this great poster art re-imagining for The Zombie Menace, from the mind and brushwork of the ever-talented Matt Busch.

'HAPPY HALLOWEEN!' TO ALL READERS WORLDWIDE!

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

CLASSIC ART: HIS SECRET OBLIGATION...

Art by Travis Charest for Star Wars Legacy #16. Dark Horse Comics.

The respected Jedi Master who survived the brutality of the galaxy-wide Order 66 wiping out his friends, teachers and 'family'. The Jedi who fought, and for a short time believed killed, the madness of his former Padawan turned dark side acolyte, Anakin Skywalker. The Jedi who volunteered to spend the rest of his life in self-exile, in noble duty to protect the true 'New Hope' to the Galaxy in Anakin's newborn offspring, Luke Skywalker, on a far-out and hostile desert world whose clime and inhabitants would prove challenging to adapt to, during a critical history-making time he must deliberately step back from- a Republic he once served now a tyrannical Empire with his long absence.

The life story of the iconic Obi-Wan Kenobi continues next year, as Ewan McGregor and Lucasfilm/Disney reveal what happened with the beloved character in those wilderness years/ chapters of his residing on Tatooine, of which some important questions will be tantalizingly answered...

On Episode VII:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDqHGE9K3K8

McGregor talks SW return on Ellen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmI7WKrAtqs

On Jimmy Kimmel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jeq8la3kQg

With Conan O'Brien:
http://www.jedinews.co.uk/film-music-tv/articles/ewan-mcgregor-talks-new-obi-wan-disney-series-lightsaber-battles-with-conan-obrien/

https://www.cnet.com/news/star-wars-disney-plus-star-wars-obi-wan-kenobi-release-date-plot-cast-tv-show-ewan-mcgregor/

The Disney Expo event where McGregor revealed the news of his return as Obi-Wan. Image: StarWars.com

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: AWAITING THEIR FATE...


The art and skill of creating believable and awe-inspiring matte paintings really came into their own with the Classic Trilogy, especially for The Empire Strikes Back and this gorgeous image of the main entrance leading to Bespin's Platform 327, where our Falcon landed heroes wait for Lando Calrissian. It's a shot that also reveals some more of the enchanting cloud city's overall landscape. On screen in 1980, I thought the main door in the wide shot was real- a genuine tribute to their dedicated work.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

'THE MANDALORIAN' - SEASON ONE, TRAILER TWO ARRIVES!


The consequences of the Rebellion's victory against the Empire after the events of Return of the Jedi form a vital part of The Mandalorian's opening season plotlines and character arcs, as the second official, exciting feature-film quality-esque trailer debuts online:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmI7WKrAtqs

Season One arrives on the all-new US Disney+ streaming service from November 12th, 2019, but there's aggravatingly no sign of a UK debut yet in any kind of entertainment media form...


THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: THE MAESTRO OF A UNIVERSE!

Together again! George Lucas and John Williams.

With Lucas back in the writing/directing duties for EPISODE I, it was a given that his ultimate collaborator in bringing the sweeping musical scope to the Star Wars saga would also return in John Williams. Williams had seen a raw temporary cut of the movie, mixing live-action with animatics, by October the previous year, with recording of the composed music beginning from January 1999, and back in the UK.

Over the sessions period (normally at weekends), the unbeatable London Symphony Orchestra were reunited with Williams to bring the new Prequel saga to life, with music engineering duties once more be handled by Williams longtime friend and SW veteran Eric Tomlinson. Meanwhile, in the recording booth area, an impressed and enthused Ewan McGregor, as well as Anthony Daniels and other key production team members, would be guest visitors to the recordings, taking place at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios in London.

"The challenge for me was to write music as effective as in the first trilogy but that would also be wedded to the tapestry of the earlier films so that it would sound like a natural outgrowth."

John Williams - Empire magazine - 1999

Using the talents of the London Voices choir as part of the 'Duel of the Fates' theme for EPISODE I.

"My first impression upon watching these things that George comes up with is that it's always fantastic, but then I think about how difficult it's going to be. It's a phenomenal thing, the opportunity to create a whole glossary of musical themes, and keep adding them to the body of work of a much larger piece."

John Williams - Premiere magazine - 2002


"There is a stanza in the poem (Robert Graves' "The Battle of the Trees' - translated into Sanskrit for Williams epic 'Duel of the Fates') which is roughly translated as "Under the tongue root a fight most dread/Whilst another rages behind the head." And for no conscious or sensible reason, the idea of a fight, something more raging and imagined in the head more than anything else, seemed to be a good mystical, cryptic piece of business (for EPISODE I)."

John Williams - Empire magazine - 1999

Monday, 28 October 2019

CLASSIC IMAGE: BATTLE PREPARATIONS!


On the superb Death Star hangar bay set at Elstree Studios of Summer 1976, the principal stuntmen of the original Star Wars (Peter Diamond, Colin Skeaping and Reg Harding, plus two others uncredited) get ready for their upcoming action scene against the escaping Rebels. Note the mattress in the chasm ready for Diamond to later fall on. A terrific camera angle and another look at the partially built, highly-detailed Millennium Falcon prop.

The remote controlled Artoo prop stands inert on the set.

A great filmed angle of the Falcon, not used in the finished cut.

'SOLO': WOOKIEE COIFFURE!


With all the careful work gone into making the Chewbacca masks for the modern Star Wars films, the creature make-up teams have to constantly maintain their hair quality for filming, as seen with these two immaculate heads - one of which is bearing the ultra-cool googles he'd wear for the action sequence on Vandor, for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

EPISODE IX: NEED A PILOT?


The reborn Rebel Alliance couldn't have better nor more skilled pilots aiding their brave cause than the Millennium Falcon's former owner Lando Calrissian, his friend and co-pilot Chewbacca, and top X-wing captain now commander Poe Dameron. All three are encouragingly supported by droids BB-8 and D-O in this great image by Annie Leibovitz shot exclusively for Vanity Fair magazine earlier in the year to launch EPISODE IX.

EPISODE VIII: ROSE AND THE FATHIERS!


It's a dream come true for plucky mechanic Rose Tico, if not in the best of circumstances, as she meets the charming but ill-treated beasts of beauty and speed, the Fathiers, held in their enclosed environ pens at the ill-repute Canto Bight, in this sweet little Black Beauty-esque moment from The Last Jedi.


Saturday, 26 October 2019

EPISODE VII: REY OF THE REBELLION!


Both living and surviving in such a harsh realm that is the desert world of Jakku, Rey staves off another day of potential boredom in between salvage work with as much creative diversion possible, this time briefly imagining herself as a Rebellion fighter pilot with her discovered helmet, in this lovely moment from EPISODE VII.

ROGUE ONE: WHEN A MURDERER'S WORK IS NEVER DONE...


Emerging from the body and tech debris littered beach front of the war-torn Scarif, brutal Director Orson Krennic readies his trusty ancient blaster in order to efficiently do the job that those fools in the military couldn't - namely destroy the surviving Rebel Alliance operatives at work inside the Imperial base's communication dish facility, in a deleted scene from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

EPISODE IX: THE FINAL TRAILER IS HERE!

The new US release date poster for The Rise of Skywalker.

Truly putting the capital 'E' into 'Epic'!

Enjoy, and book your tickets for December 19th/20th, 2019...

(12) Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | Final Trailer - YouTube

https://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-final-trailer

https://uk.ign.com/articles/2019/10/22/star-wars-rise-of-skywalker-running-time-how-long-length

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: A TIME FOR CELEBRATION!

The heroes of EPISODE I assemble for the closing ceremony sequence on Naboo.

Celebrating the return of their freedom, the streets of Naboo are filled with joyous people and children in song, as the Gungans begin a new alliance with the humans, a unification cemented via a special peace ceremony and the giving to them by Queen Amidala of a unique energy globe - the Bola Crystal.

With the election of a new Supreme Chancellor promising to bring goodness back to the Republic Senate, as well as a new and powerful young Jedi into the ranks of that esteemed order, the future looks bright for our heroes as EPISODE I ends on a memorable high...

Keeping Natalie Portman's costume clean and accident free for Natalie Portman between takes.

A stunning shot of Natalie Portman as Amidala.

With her once adviser and now galactic ruler, Chancellor Palpatine.

The cast between filming.

Jake Lloyd has fun on the Leavesden backlot.

The new-look Anakin Skywalker is revealed, as his training is about to commence.

The full Jedi Council are present for the scene, shot on the Leavesden Studios backlot.

Amongst the many extras in the scene would be a variety of people linked to the Star Wars production/merchandising divisions worldwide, or family members linked to key cast. Enhancing the scene further, ILM would also provide digital crowds in post production.

The Naboo guard line up.

With the Bola Crystal, awaiting the Gungan party.

Boss Nass arrives at the Palace plaza.
"Peace!"
Jar Jar is ready to celebrate. Note the background extra to his right: Les Conrad, who originally appeared as a Blockade Runner Rebel Trooper in the original Star Wars

The end to EPISODE I.

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: A VISION OF SERENITY!

The splendid outfit of light and beauty worn by Natalie Portman for the film's closing ceremony.

A special day of celebration for her people means that Queen Amidala must wear a special costume in response, of which Trisha Biggar and her team pulled out all the stops to deliver a truly beautiful silk and petals design for Natalie Portman to wear outdoors during Summer 1997 filming at Leavesden Studios, of which celebrated film unit photographer Keith Hamshere would take the representative publicity shots/wardrobe reference images.

Photographer Keith Hamshere at work in the studio.

"It had to be very light and beautiful with the feeling of a wedding dress. George also liked a drawing Iain McCaig had done that showed a very large, unusual collar at the back at the dress."

Trisha Biggar - 1999

The costume and designs as compiled for a TOPPS Card.



A rare publicity image taken on set at Leavesden Studios, on a palace corridor set recreation.

Monday, 21 October 2019

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: TO MOURN A JEDI...

A tribute to the fallen...

The victory of liberating Naboo has come at a terrible price, as important mourners from across the galaxy join the Queen and her people in honouring the passing of Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, his body burnt to ash but his soul transferred to the Force.

Above set showing the mourners at Qui-Gon's funeral.

Sio Bibble (Oliver Ford Davis), a Handmaiden, Ric Olie (Ralph Brown) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) are also among the background attendees.

"There's no doubt the mysterious warrior was a Sith..."

Having promised Qui-Gon to train the boy, Obi-Wan takes the upset Anakin Skywalker under his wing. A filmed but deleted line from Obi-Wan to Anakin: "He is one with the Force, Anakin... You must let go." 

Meanwhile, the Jedi Council ponder the continuing mystery of the returned Sith.

"Always two there are. A master and an apprentice..."

A turning point for the galaxy lies ahead...

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: A TIME OF CHANGE!

A posed publicity image of Yoda and Obi-Wan.

In an empty area of the palace, Yoda confers with Obi-Wan on the uncertain future of young Anakin Skywalker, but Obi-Wan, now qualified from his Jedi trials against Darth Maul, is resolute. He will train Anakin, without the approval of the council if he must. Yoda has no choice but to agree, despite the potential warning he gives to the former Padawan of "The Chosen One" prophecy believed in by the late Qui-Gon Jinn.

A line early in the conversation from Obi-Wan was filmed but never made the final cut:"Qui-Gon believed in him. I believe in Qui-Gon."

Frank Oz, properly returned as Yoda.

The opening wide angle scene featuring Yoda walking was achieved as a digital shot (from a created CGI version of Yoda that wasn't used - deemed not up to scratch technology-wise - apart from this one moment). The rest of the sequence was shot at a time period after the main batch of principal photography had been completed, with Frank Oz returning to primary puppeteering/voice duties alongside Ewan McGregor (wearing a hair piece) on a raised set built at Leavesden Studios.

One of only two shots in EPISODE I filmed with a test digital camera.

"The actors were so taken by Yoda it was extraordinary. I was very flattered. I think people respond to the character because he is very much like a Zen master- and I think everyone would love to have someone like him to talk to. Yoda is universally appealing."

Frank Oz - 1999
Obi-Wan confers with Yoda on Anakin's future.

"We could see what Yoda was doing on TV monitors beneath the set. If George was satisfied with a take, we'd move on. Other times, we'd play back the performance and decide to make some adjustments."

"From a physical standpoint, Yoda is very demanding, but I'm always happy to revisit the character and to work with George."

Frank Oz - 1999

"Frank is the character. We (his puppeteer team assistants) just tried to give him freedom, and to work with his performance, to flow with it. No matter what we rehearsed, Frank would always do something a little more, a little different for the real take."

Kathy Smee (Yoda Puppeteer) - The Making of EPISODE I book - 1999

Sunday, 20 October 2019

THE CLONE WARS: AHSOKA THE LIBERATOR!


She's been happily reunited with her former Master Anakin Skywalker and friend/fellow Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mandalore during the Outer Rim sieges, now they have full confidence in her as she leads a special Clone Trooper force into battle- during their emergency absence- against the tyrannical former Sith Assassin turned crime lord Darth Maul, in this great teaser image for the upcoming finale wrap up season of The Clone Wars, coming to the all-new Disney+ US cable channel in early 2020.


THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: THE NEW PEACEMAKERS!


Naboo has been freed from the slimy grip of the Trade Federation, and joy has come for the planet and its people with the news that the noble, dutiful Senator Palpatine has been elected to the highest office in the galaxy- the Republic's Chancellor. Surely this will be a time of new peace and prosperity for all as the happy Palpatine arrives to congratulate Jedi hero Obi-Wan Kenobi and the intriguing powers of young Anakin Skywalker, whose career the statesman will watch 'with great interest'!

A terrific scene with subtly grim foreboding, and one added onto the film late in the day during additional reshoots during early 1999. Care had to be taken to keep Jake Lloyd out of close-up shots because he had gotten older-looking a year and a half on from the original period of filming.


Due to the late scheduling of the reshoots, so close to the film's release, many of the actresses playing the Handmaidens were not available to return, so other members of the production team (including Nick Gillard, who fitted one of the available costumes) and Jake Lloyd's mum, Lisa, took the back ground roles. Another extra filled in for Sio Bibble when actor Oliver Ford Davis was not available - a fact all too clear on screen!

The re-shoot handmaidens, including middle left to right: Lisa Lloyd, LUCASFILM's Lynne Hale, and Nick Gillard! 

Additionally shot in that extra principal photography was the departure of the captured Trade Federation villains, awaiting trial on Coruscant. This replaced an earlier scene filmed but cut, set in the Throne Room with Amidala.

Filming the Trade Federation leaders being taken away.


Rounding off the VIP cameos at the Chancellor's arrival were three key men from the making of the Star Wars films, including Sound Designer/Editor Ben Burtt, Producer Rick McCallum and co-Film Editor Paul Martin Smith.


Ben Burtt in character for blue screen filming insertion 

Burtt, McCallum and Smith line up for the shot filming.