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

Saturday, 29 August 2020

SECRET HISTORY, SECRET WARS! 'THRAWN - ASCENDANCY: CHAOS RISING' COMING THIS SEPTEMBER

The making of the villain we both admire and hate in equal measure, his origins finally revealed. The all-new Thrawn - Ascendancy trilogy, out this September, from Century.

We've now followed his progress as the ultimate Star Wars Expanded Universe humanoid villain for an incredible near thirty years, and across numerous best selling novels: from his seeming 'discovery' on an unknown world in the Outer Regions, to his swift and efficient rise up the ranks of the Imperial Navy hierarchy (an outsider resentfully accepted by his rivals), and to his ultimate leading of enemy forces that would complicate the New Republic and its iconic heroes during the critical years after the destruction of the second Death Star. A former spy of the most ingenious and resourceful kind for his own race, and later an officer seemingly loyal to Emperor Palpatine, he would be further recognised as the ultimate tactician, an intellectual warrior blessed with an all-round talent for evil. Thrawn has been all of these things and more to his beloved fanbase, within a rich history conceived by the equally popular and still unbeaten leader of the pack when it comes to the series long time novel adventures, Timothy Zahn. Now, the eagerly awaited Thrawn - Ascendancy: Chaos Rising takes us back to a different time and a different realm beyond everything we've ever known about Thrawn, kicking-off an all-new trilogy of uniquely different and uniquely alien adventures set in a time frame long before the Expanded Universe's introduction of the character, as the truth behind his origins and his true loyalties to his people, the mysterious but territory-loyal Chiss Ascendancy, is unlocked from its surely very complicated puzzle box.

Fresh yet full of all the elements that have made the previous entries in Thrawn's sphere of influence such a success with readers, Thrawn - Ascendancy: Chaos Rising is a welcome start to Star Wars fans Autumn reading, in UK hardback from Century, that will surely prove a well-plotted, momentum-building, surprises-packed epic for fans to devour yet also introduce them to new science fiction avenues, a new universe of sorts, for the franchise in novel form.

https://www.starwars.com/news/thrawn-ascendancy-chaos-rising-exclusive-excerpt

Release blurb:

Discover Thrawn’s origins within the Chiss Ascendancy in the first book in an epic new Star Wars trilogy from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

Beyond the edge of the galaxy lies the Unknown Regions: chaotic, uncharted, and near impassable, with hidden secrets and dangers in equal measure. And nestled within its swirling chaos is the Ascendancy, home to the enigmatic Chiss and the Nine Ruling Families that lead them.

The peace of the Ascendancy, a beacon of calm and stability, is shattered after a daring attack on the Chiss capital that leaves no trace of the enemy. Baffled, the Ascendancy dispatches one of its brightest young military officers to root out the unseen assailants. A recruit born of no title, but adopted into the powerful family of the Mitth and given the name Thrawn.

With the might of the Expansionary Fleet at his back, and the aid of his comrade Admiral Ar’alani, answers begin to fall into place. But as Thrawn’s first command probes deeper into the vast stretch of space his people call the Chaos, he realizes that the mission he has been given is not what it seems.
And the threat to the Ascendancy is only just beginning.

Get it here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Thrawn-Ascendancy-Ascendency/dp/1529124581 

Friday, 28 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: A CHANGE IN THE RANKS!


Immersed within his private quarters meditation/healing chamber, Darth Vader is incensed when he hears the news from General Veers that the incompetent Admiral Ozzel has foolishly brought the fleet out from Hyperspace closer to Hoth than it should have been. So incensed is the Dark Lord of the Sith, in fact, that it isn't long before Ozzel earns a swift demise from Vader's Force skills, whilst a more competent replacement is found in the unnerved former Captain Piett!
 
"I said to George Lucas, 'This man is a general. You don't get to be a general if you're a wimp.' Of course, you have to be subservient to Darth Vader; he's the guv'nor, but you don't have to be sycophantic. Then he (Lucas) said, 'No, absolutely not.' And in that one scene I stood up to Darth Vader a little."

Julian Glover - 2005 interview

Admiral Ozzel feels Vader's unique wrath. George Lucas would compliment actor Michael Sheard on his classic death scene that was both chilling and enjoyed by audiences. Image: Star Wars Screencaps.com.




Various behind the scenes images.


Norman Reynolds impressive production design for Vader's meditation chamber.

Under construction at Elstree.

Views of the completed set.


Julian Glover and Dave Prowse film their scene.


Thursday, 27 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: THE BLOCKADE OF HOTH!


Emerged from Hyperspace into the nearby sector four, the Rebels are soon alerted to the newly arrived Imperial Death Fleet, whose Star Destroyers efficiently form a blockade around Hoth's sixth planet. A lovely shot of the Imperial war machines in orbit from the legendary Ralph McQuarrie.

Painting and thumbnail concepts by Ralph McQuarrie, 


Wednesday, 26 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: IN SEPARATE WAYS...



The Rebels are in full evacuation and battle readiness mode as Commander Luke Skywalker bids a touching farewell to Han and Chewbacca, both of whom are still racing to get the Millennium Falcon fixed and get back to paying Jabba the Hutt. 

This is one of my personal favourite scenes in the entire nine-film Skywalker saga, a subtly emotional moment of goodbye between friends where looks convey more character, emotion and friendship than any dialogue ever could. 

Luke gives Chewbacca a special greeting/goodbye, as previously demonstrated by Han Solo in The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978.





They've been through a lot together, now Han and Luke must say goodbye.


"Be careful."

"You too."


Film images: Star Wars Screengrabs.com.


Some fun behind the scenes images from the Summer 1979 filming at Elstree Studios.

Rehearsing the scene with a mask-less Peter Mayhew.

Harrison Ford in between filming. 

Kershner 'bins' Hamill!



Tuesday, 25 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: BACK TO DUTY!

Image: Star Wars Screencaps website.

With the Empire arriving in the Hoth system, the Rebels need their top pilots ready for action, and Luke Skywalker is discharged from the Medical Centre by 2-1B. This brief but notable little sequence was added to the film late in production to replace Summer 1979 Rebel hangar footage that didn't flow in the film's pacing, with the Medical Set being partially rebuilt after having been dismantled earlier in the year. The small sequence would be directorially handled by George Lucas and a special unit, of which Mark Hamill was very happy to see the Star Wars creator back at Elstree Studios.

Mark Hamill behind the scenes.

Monday, 24 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: EVACUATION PLANS AFOOT!


In the Rebel Transport bay, a Captain confers with his officers on the evacuation plans from Hoth. An insert shot that was handled in post production to help cover the jump of scenes set within the Rebel base, and after some previous footage set in the hangar had been cut out linked to Han and Leia, the sequence has ILM veteran Joe Johnston in the main speaking role, alongside Harrison Ellenshaw and a fellow colleague. Also about in the background as a Rebel pilot would be matte painter Michael Pangrazio.

The gorgeous painting used as the background for the insert scene.

An unknown ILMer with Joe Johnston and Harrison Ellenshaw.

Harrison Ellenshaw gets ready for filming.

Ellenshaw with Lucas and McQuarrie.

By far one of the best ILM cameos in this scene would be that of legendary concept artist and matte painter for the Classic Trilogy in Ralph McQuarrie, here having fun playing a brief walk-past moment as 'General McQuarrie'.

Behind the scene on the cameos filming.

'General McQuarrie' makes a background pass.


More on the scene:

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/2012/02/ilm-classic-image-empires-rebel-cameos.html

Matte paintings:

https://www.starwars.com/news/empire-at-40-5-amazing-matte-paintings-from-star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back?fbclid=IwAR0soc2HMyaliEpCJBbNguY7Q0p4QpPNUbvwU7iAOa36b2UU1S952c7fj-U

Sunday, 23 August 2020

EPISODE VII: AN AIDE TO THE RESISTANCE!

The full terror of the First Order is revealed. 

Sent to the heart of the New Republic to plead the Resistance's cause in taking firm and official action against the now confirmed threat of the First Order, the life of General Leia Organa's cause-inspired aide, Korr Sella, is cut tragically short as the enemy Starkiller Base unleashes its Hyperspace travelling crimson death blasts against the planet and system.

An attractive and youthful member of the cast and onscreen characters, it's a shame that rising British star Maisie Richardson-Sellers' scenes in EPISODE VII, including a prior conversation on D'Qar with General Leia Organa, ultimately had to be cut for time and pace reasons, with only her death scene making it to the finished movie.

TOPPS character card.

A deleted scene as Korr confers with Leia on D'Qar.


https://www.jedinews.com/film-music-tv/articles/maisie-richardson-sellers-talks-working-with-carrie-fisher-on-the-force-awakens/

Saturday, 22 August 2020

DELETED SCENE: A REBELLION IS BORN!


Meeting under top secret and politically sensitive conditions, a group of disenchanted senators (led by Bail Organa with Mon Mothma, and Padme Amidala) meet regarding the disturbing decisions affecting the galaxy being made by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. From their early actions as the peace-seeking Delegation of 2000, a Rebellion will soon be born. A deleted scene of future importance, sadly cut for storytelling reasons being more centred on the fate of Anakin Skywalker, from EPISODE III.

Friday, 21 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: BIG HEROES, SMALL HEROES!


Heroes come in all ages and sizes, as young children from the film's production team (including the family of Gary Kurtz) happily volunteer to play Rebel soldiers for background scenes, primarily to make the Rebel Hangar set look bigger and longer distanced in camera, a trick used in other sci-fi films of the time like the UK-filmed Alien (linked to the Nostromo space vehicle), and Star Trek - The Motion Picture (The Enterprise's vast engine room).

Thursday, 20 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: WAMPA - KEEP OUT!


Captured with the aid of sonic technology, the Wampas attempting to break in to Echo Base have now been contained in a special holding section, its hatch door adorned with a warning sign. The creatures' wild and erratic noises soon catch the attention of our favourite droids, in another Wampa-related deleted scene which has still not been released on any home entertainment format.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: "SET YOUR COURSE FOR THE HOTH SYSTEM"!

Darth Vader returns, searching for Luke Skywalker and his hidden Rebel Alliance fraction.

Darth Vader's determination that the Imperial Probe Droid dispersion will find the Rebels has paid off, with footage from the sixth planet in the barren, uncharted Hoth system revealing footage of a power generator and a Snowspeeder. Despite the concerns of the incompetent Admiral Ozzel, the Imperial Death Fleet is soon on its way there, ready for cold weather warfare!

The Super Star Destroyer bridge expanded with reverse footage/spilt screen and a matte painting.

Vader looks at the Hoth probe droid footage with Captain Piett (Kenneth Colley).

Admiral Ozzel (Michael Sheard) and General Veers (Julian Glover) arrive on the bridge.

The foolish Admiral Ozzel, so well played by sci-fi film/TV fan favourite Michael Sheard.

The nervous officers watch the departing Vader from the bridge.

A kiss for a Dark Lord!

Dave Prowse in partial costume for a rehearsal with Kershner.

General views of the Star Destroyer bridge set, which used existing, in-UK storage pieces of set from the Death Star of the original Star Wars (notably the hangar control room), was expanded in size during production and post production with matte shots and reversing the pit section from left to right. Once again, futuristic UK set decorator/artist Harry Lange was at work creating the numerous control panels and keeping the visual continuity previously established.


Constructing the side alcove are of the bridge set at Elstree.



Back view of the Bridge set and main corridor/holographic chamber