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

Friday, 25 December 2020

'HAPPY CHRISTMAS!' (2020)


Even Imperial war machines can get into the festive spirit, as seen in this great ILM Christmas image (artist unknown) created for Yuletide greetings during the 1979 filming of the epic Battle of Hoth stop-motion sequences for The Empire Strikes Back.

Star Wars Aficionado wishes all its worldwide readers a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! and a safe, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, 24 December 2020

CLASSIC ART: CAUGHT IN 'THE APPROACHING STORM'!

Image composition by Steven D. Anderson.

It was supposedly to be just a minor 'border dispute' sorted out by Obi-Wan Kenobi and his young Padawan learner Anakin Skywalker on the far away realm of Ansion, but it soon turned into something far more dangerous for our Jedi heroes, also accompanied in their journey of adventure by another Knight/Padawan team in fan favourites Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee, as the enjoyable original Expanded Universe lead-in to EPISODE II debuted in January 2002 - The Approaching Storm, written by the ever-talented stalwart Star Wars author, and the man who launched the printed universe into the continuing highly profitable success story it is today: Alan Dean Foster.

https://www.thewrap.com/star-wars-novelist-alan-dean-foster-disney-owes-royalties-open-letter/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/star-wars-novelists-seek-years-of-missing-royalty-payments-from-disney-11608393600?fbclid=IwAR1x5urak18N5EfsKBVQFa2qaKhQ70t7WvOvBiIWR-1Va9LzmQn27iz-qng


Wednesday, 23 December 2020

CLASSIC ART: FUSED LEGENDS!


The iconic Drew Struzan always delivers the goods when it comes to capturing the excitement and characters of the saga, as seen in this stunning piece from 2016 (we assume a private commission work) blending the two trilogies of Skywalkers' and their adventures of light and dark into one exciting composition, 

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

CLASSIC ART: THOSE ENDURING ICONS!


The true heart of the entire Star Wars saga that will never be diminished - Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa may be older but are never less than heroic, dedicated to keeping peace in the galaxy many years after their battle against the Empire at Endor. Lovely art by Xavier Thomas for the Brazilian exclusive cover edition of Troy Denning's Crucible, the retirement of the Skywalker saga in the original version of the Expanded Universe, prior to 2014's Disney takeover.


Monday, 21 December 2020

CLASSIC IMAGE: HEROES INCOMING!


The Coruscant-based aerial/space battle to rescue the captured Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of General Grievous sees all kinds of ships involved in the struggle, like these formidable Republic Star Fighters, ready to do their part against the enemy. A great composite publicity image for EPISODE III.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

CLASSIC IMAGE: 'SLAVE LEIA' ATTACKS!


The battle by our Classic Trilogy heroes to rescue Han Solo and escape Jabba's Sail Barge and the Pit of Carkoon continues, with the unchained Leia now making a surprise attack on an enemy deck gunner, in this great new image, recently posted to social media, from Return of the Jedi.

Friday, 18 December 2020

GOODBYE, JEREMY BULLOCH...

Back in the armour for a special fan photo shoot: Jeremy Bulloch as the lethal bounty hunter Boba Fett.

The universe of Star Wars lost one of its finest ambassadors, and beloved members of the 'family', with the news that Jeremy Bulloch, the original actor to don the ultra-cool helmet and armour of lethal and charismatic bounty hunter Boba Fett, from the Original Trilogy, has sadly passed away at the age of 75. By 1979, Bulloch was already a well known and much-liked actor/'face' on the UK film, TV and stage circuit- in fact, he'd continue to be right up until his retirement of a few years back, but he became an instant hit with fans worldwide thanks to his short but sweet appearances playing Fett in The Empire Strikes Back and later Return of the Jedi, having been luckily offered the chance to inhabit the special and swiftly iconic costume for UK filming, thanks to the shrewd opportunity given to him by his half-brother, producer Robert Watts.

If the shoes fit... Jeremy Bulloch in full costume in April 1979 as Boba Fett, for The Empire Strikes Back.

When another actor was unavailable for filming, Bulloch would step in to play an important Imperial Officer keeping Leia hostage to ensnare Luke Skywalker on Bespin.


One of the few BTS shots of Jeremy Bulloch unmasked, for The Empire Strikes Back, alongside Dave Prowse and Irvin Kershner. Image via The Star Wars Archives.

Pictured alongside one of the Nikto's in Jabba's Palace, Bulloch returned to play Boba for Return of the Jedi sequences filmed at Elstree Studios in Jan/Feb 1982.

A ROTJ behind the scenes shot featuring Jeremy with his children, Robbie and Jamie.

Happy to shoot an Ewok, Bulloch's last official (of sorts) appearance as Boba was in the David Tomblin directed mini-film especially created for Warwick Davis, shot alongside Return of the Jedi, humorously titled Return of the Ewok!


Always a huge lover and supporter of the saga, Bulloch was truly one of the nicest and most gracious of people that Star Wars Aficionado ever met outside of the films, during too-numerous-to mention-publicity appearances/convention work, much of which particularly exploded in interest with the debut of the Special Editions from 1997 onwards, of which Fett's character had gained expanded appearances. He was always a great raconteur of behind the scenes tales (not just on Star Wars, but other well known projects he'd appeared in, such as several James Bond films and Doctor Who), had a passion for cricket, adored travelling (his official website brimming with photos and info), and was always enthused to be in the company of so many dedicated and enraptured fans who truly appreciated the physical work he put into making Fett such a dangerous yet admired character onscreen, doing so in a way that truly cemented the villain's important legacy in the saga, as well as being a future inspiration for Star Wars in its new life on the small screen, what with the huge success of The Mandalorian...


As Captain Colton, an Alderaanian pilot, for a brief but fun cameo in Revenge of the Sith, filmed in extra principal photography in London - 2005.


Our deepest sympathies go out to Jeremy's wife and family in this sad time. RIP, you will be much-missed. May the Force be with him... always.

Obituaries/remembrances:

http://jeremybulloch.com/

starwars.com/news/jeremy-bulloch

bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-55358301

https://variety.com/2020/film/news/jeremy-bulloch-dead-boba-fett-star-wars-1234865498/

https://www.jedinews.com/film-music-tv/articles/in-memoriam-team-jedi-news-pay-tribute-to-jeremy-bulloch/

fanthatracks.com/featured/rest-in-peace-jeremy-bulloch/

 

Thursday, 17 December 2020

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: THE MODEL WAY OF THINGS!


Despite their pioneering CGI work launched during the nineties, the old fashioned way of practical model work special effects photography was still very much in evidence at ILM during the early noughties, often considered the best and most practical option on certain aspects of specialist film projects. This was especially so in bringing the diverse worlds of the Prequels to life, as seen here with the busy and buildings-packed realm of Tatooine's Mos Espa spaceport, for EPISODE II.

Paul Duncan with his all-new The Star Wars Archives Book. Image: Paul Duncan/Facebook.


Having efficiently charted the making of the Classic Trilogy for Taschen Books with his superior, must-have title The Star Wars Archives - 1977-1983, first published in 2018 (and now available in a  reformatted edition), respected author and media historian Paul Duncan returns to cover the behind the scenes genesis, release and legacy of the underappreciated Prequel Trilogy era with further exhaustive detail in the all-new, and thoroughly recommended The Star Wars Archives - 1999- 2005, full of rare photos lavishly printed, and new information, all wrapped once again around a new and thoroughly detailed, often enlightening interview with saga creator George Lucas. It's the ultimate gift for Prequel fans thirsting for more on their beloved heroes and villains from the time of the Old Republic.



Get the book here:



Wednesday, 16 December 2020

A NEW LOOK BEHIND THE CAMERAS ON 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK'!


The official Fortieth Anniversary celebrations of The Empire Strikes Back conclude this month with a real treat for fans, as a special behind the scenes compilation featurette aired earlier this week on the Disney Owned ABC channel's Good Morning America show, and which is now online. 


I'm assuming that this featurette was originally created to tribute the first sequel's 40th at the cancelled Celebration 2020 event States-side. Also interesting was the superb remastering of the majority of the behind the scenes 1979 footage filmed by documentarian Michel Parbot -perhaps for some kind of future 4K/online release? And, of special interest to deleted scenes aficionados, there's a fun glimpse of a Han and Leia inside the Echo Base hangar, too.

UPDATED: 17/12/2020. More great BTS on Empire below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xngN4xf2Qlk


Tuesday, 15 December 2020

CLASSIC IMAGE: A 'BELEAGURED' POLTICIAL FORCE FOR GOOD


Though sadly underused in his role as Supreme Chancellor Valorum during the political Coruscant-set events of EPISODE I, the casting of iconic sixties/seventies actor Terence Stamp in the role was nonetheless a welcome one, with the character thankfully going on to appear in The Clone Wars animated series, too. Posed character reference shots, also used for merchandise and publicity, taken at Leavesden Studios Summer 1999, by Keith Hamshere.




Monday, 14 December 2020

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: IMPERIAL PURSUER!


A terrific shot (taken by the late Grant McCune) of the mighty Imperial Star Destroyer (later named Devastator) model that will onscreen chase Princess Leia's soon-damaged Blockade Runner above the wastes of Tatooine, during the classic opening to the original Star Wars of 1977. It's amazing that this original three-foot long model was built smaller than the expensive to build six-foot long Blockade Runner at ILM, yet ultimately appeared so large and lengthy on screen- the power of the camera and the talented visual effects artists!

ILM technician Doug Smith prepares the model for filming.

COMING 2021: 'STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH'!


The diverse Clone Trooper legions fighting across the galaxy are highly skilled in warfare, genetically engineered from one of the best Bounty Hunters in the universe. But when our Republic heroes need their troopers to think 'out of the box' and 'get creative' battling the many elusive and dangerous Separatist forces hatching their plans, then The Bad Batch are definitely the guys you're after, as the next story evolutionary spin-off step in The Clone Wars animated series, set around the consequences of Order 66, was recently unveiled, coming exclusively to Disney XD during 2021. Veteran series star Dee Bradley Baker's Clone Trooper voicing schedule must be pretty busy these days!

https://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-the-bad-batch-series-announce


Sunday, 13 December 2020

COMING SOON: 'HOWARD KAZANJIAN - A PRODUCER'S LIFE'

Lorne Peterson and Howard Kazanjian inspect the in-development Death Star II model at ILM.

Involved in every production facet of Return of the Jedi during 1981-83, making the top secret production an exciting and then eagerly awaited reality for fans worldwide, Howard Kazanjan's role as producer to this beloved film is revealed to the highest engrossing detail, likely stetting straight a few long-festering legends and myths along the way, straight from the respected Hollywood veteran's mouth, so to speak, alongside reminisces of his many other notable productions (across nearly sixty years) inside the all-new biography: Howard Kazanjian - A Producer's Life, edited and written by the equally talented filmmaker, film historian, and all-round former keeper of the Classic Star Wars Trilogy behind the scenes flame, J.W. Rinzler. It's to be published September, 2021 by Cameron Books.

CLASSIC IMAGE: BEST OF THREE?


Watched on by Prequels duel alumni Nick Gillard, alongside Australian colleagues and key fighting doubles Kyle Rowing and Michael Byrne, Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, in costume as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, are put through their fighting paces at FOX Studios, for a specially posed image taken by the esteemed photographer Annie Leibovitz, part of an EPISODE III special edition/ behind the scenes tribute for Vanity Fair magazine, published in 2005.



The duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin was one of the main highlights of Revenge of the Sith, and as Lucasfilm news broke these past few days of what to officially expect with the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi limited run series, coming to Disney XD in 2022, a rematch between the former 'brothers' is very much on the cards, before A New Hope, in a beyond Tatooine-spanning adventure for the older Jedi that will be set six years after the dangers of III. McGregor has confirmed that both he and Hayden will have "another swing at each other" before the end of the series. As well as the happy news that Hayden Christensen is returning to play Vader, let's hope that Prequel Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard can be equally persuaded back one last time for this special pre-re-match re-match.



The many new Star Wars series coming within the next few years exclusively to Disney XD

Saturday, 12 December 2020

COMING 2022: 'STAR WARS: ANDOR'


Before his heroic demise at the Battle of Scarif, we knew he'd been fighting the tyranny of the Empire at an early age, and that he'd been a spy, saboteur and recruiter for the Rebel Alliance over many years. But there's still much, much more to discover about Diego Luna's fascinating and subtly dark-edged hero Captain Cassian Andor beyond what we originally saw in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, as the all-new limited series Star Wars: Andor, from Tony Gilroy, finally begins shooting in London, for exclusive debut on Disney XD in 2022.

https://www.starwars.com/news/cassian-andor-live-action-series-announced

https://www.empireonline.com/movies/news/star-wars-new-look-at-cassian-andor-series-and-more/

CLASSIC INDY: HAVE PLANE, WILL TRAVEL!


The mysterious and ancient Nazcar Lines of Peru await Indy as he prepares to board a transport plane. Note Mutt's bike ready for transport. A deleted scene from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


The latest official news on Indy V, coming July 2022:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-55270909

Friday, 11 December 2020

EPISODE IX: BLUE BATTLING!


The classic red visaged Revenge/Return of the Jedi poster, originally concocted by Drew Struzan in 1982, with its key lightsaber duelling between Luke and Vader, gets an inspired blue realm tribute in this great exclusive poster originally for the American Cinemark chain screenings of The Rise of Skywalker during December 2019, with Rey and Kylo Ren the showcased characters of an all-new conflict.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

'SOLO': LABYRINTH DANGER!


Breaking the speed record in navigating the Kessel Run is one thing, actually getting out of it alive is another, as Han Solo and his motley crew of thieves inside the Millennium Falcon discover in this great art for the limited edition Mondo double vinyl LP release of John Powell's rather excellent score for the still criminally under-appreciated anthology adventure Solo: A Star Wars Story.

https://thefutureoftheforce.com/2020/09/22/breaking-solo-a-star-wars-story-expanded-score-coming-in-2020/#:~:text=John%20Powell%20has%20taken%20to,of%20the%20end%20credits%20suite!


Extended track list back sleeve details.


Wednesday, 9 December 2020

EPISODE VIII: FALCON SEARCHERS!


Having destroyed their First Order TIE fighter pursuers with flying skills and cannon fire, Rey and Chewie pilot the Millennium Falcon in search of their besieged Resistance colleagues, in this great angle image from The Last Jedi.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

ROGUE ONE: IN THE DOMAIN OF SAW GERRERA! (DELETED SCENES)


'Escorted' by his unique band of Rebel soldiers fighting for his cause on Jedha (and part of the 'Cavern Angels' squadron), Jyn Erso and her new friends are taken to the lair of the enigmatic and dangerous Saw Gerrera, an isolated but nonetheless powerful force of violence and retribution against the Empire. Early conceptual art ideas saw the group make their way via the catacombs of Jedha, where dark tunnels were chillingly filled with hundreds of ancient, eerie skulls.

Conceptual art clearly envisaging Forest Whitaker as the enigmatic and aggressive Saw Gerrera.

In the originally filmed version of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Saw Gerrera was still the bald, flight suit/armour wearing figure originally seen in communication with Galen and Lyra Erso years before on Lah'mu. Saw's talk with the grown-up Jyn on Jedha had him concerned at her future well being with the other side of the Rebel cause. The early teaser trailer has some of that concerned and angry dialogue ('What will you do when they catch you?', 'What will they do if they break you?', and 'If you continue to fight, what will you become?'). With his deteriorating medical condition, several deleted scenes would see him talking whilst sitting in an old starship flight chair turned into a medical monitoring device, a moment from that can be briefly seen in the first teaser trailer of 2016. By the time of the film's infamous reshoots by April 2016, the character of Saw had visually, physically changed to reflect an older, even more severely ill figure. His death scene was filmed twice, firstly outside the caverns as he helps Jyn escape the Jedha catastrophe, then reshot with him inside his chamber, ready to embrace the onrush of death.

Saw in his medically reconditioned flight chair.

Mentioned in the official Rogue One sticker encyclopedia, Saw Gerrera had a 'secret mission' to accomplish whilst on Jedha - presumably linked to the uncovering of the Death Star with the finished movie but also altered once the character of defector Bodhi Rook was changed and expanded with the reshoots - Gerrera's plot element linked to the discovery of the Death Star was later developed within the Star Wars Rebels animated series, of which he made several special episode appearances, the character also voiced by Forest Whitaker.

A 2-1B medical droid would be constantly at Saw's side monitoring his ever-deteriorating conditions. The sequence was deleted from the movie as reshoots saw the character of Gerrera change.

More behind the scenes info:



Gareth Edwards confers with Forest Whitaker during the original shooting for Rogue One.


A look at Saw's interior domain used in both the original shoot and the later reshoots for Rogue One.


Monday, 7 December 2020

EPISODE VII: DRINKING BUDDIES!


The company might not be so hot, but an exhausted Finn's desperate need to quench his thirst far outweighs such worries, in this quirky scene set at the Niima Outpost of Jakku, from The Force Awakens.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: A LITTLE HOTH HUMOUR!


The Battle of Hoth was no laughing matter during the opening events of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. But that didn't stop US humour magazine Cracked getting a chance to spoof it in this great cover art adorning issue 173, from John Severin.

AFICIONADO's primary anniversary coverage of The Empire Strikes Back takes a pause, and will resume in 2021.


Saturday, 5 December 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: A FALCON IN FLIGHT!

At ILM, Ken Ralston supervises a filming shift of one of the new Millennium Falcon models against blue screen.

"The fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy", she would be described as in The Empire Strikes Back, of which this first sequel truly showed the Millennium Falcon living up to Lando Calrissian's description of her, with many ambitious new flying chase sequences showcasing the vessel, and several new models being used and filmed alongside the large scale vehicle built for the original Star Wars in 1977, against the new motion control camera/system created for model filming at ILM by Richard Edlund.