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

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: "MY FRIEND!"

 


His love and his best friend and first mate look set to be held captive forever on Cloud City, whilst Luke Skywalker has been lured into a trap by Darth Vader. Lando's certainly fixed things in his favour, an angry Han thinks, soon lashing out with all his available strength to thump his former friend in this tense scene.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: BACK IN DETENTION!


Distracted from his continued efforts with Threepio, Chewbacca assists the weakened, tortured frame of his best friend after he's thrown to the floor by uncaring Imperial Stormtroopers...


Leia returns, back in her rebel fatigues, as Han tells her, "They never even asked me any questions..."


Monday, 28 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: PRISONER OF THE EMPIRE!


Captured by Imperial forces, Han Solo awaits his fate inside the force fielded Bespin Cloud City holding cell, whilst Boba Fett, Darth Vader and Lando Calrissian confer, in this highly detailed and elegant production painting art from Ralph McQuarrie that was never used for the final set to have been created at Elstree Studios for the dramatic scene, presumably for cost and set space availability. A smaller set that could be used for both the torture and prison rooms would ultimately be created by Norman Reynolds.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

'SOLO': HOW TO MAKE IT RIGHT?


Within the lavish top level chamber of his sleek flying-knife yacht, an enraged (and facially inflamed) Dryden Vos makes a grim threat to hired gun Tobias Beckett, in a serious life-or-death moment from Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

EPISODE IX: THE VADER CONNECTION!


Deep within his secret chamber aboard Kylo Ren's First Order Star Destroyer, Rey locks lightsabers once again with the Force visitation of her nemesis, whilst the ominous remains of Darth Vader's visage haunt the scene, a memorable moment from The Rise of Skywalker.

EPISODE VIII: ONE MAN WAR MACHINE!


He's stalled for time long enough, now ace pilot Poe Dameron makes an incredible one-man (and droid) X-wing fighter assault on the First Order dreadnought's heavy duty laser cannons - his plan ultimately being the first stage to an even bigger offensive during the memorable space conflict start to The Last Jedi.

Friday, 25 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: TREACHERY AT CLOUD CITY!


"No one's giving Han to this bounty hunter!"

An angry Lando finds the original deal he'd conceived with Darth Vader for the safety of his rebel fiends being compromised once again, especially with the presence of the deadly bounty hunter Boba Fett and his bounty from Jabba the Hutt for Han Solo's life. 


"Perhaps you think you're being treated unfairly...?"

With other commitments to a London stage play, Jeremy Bulloch is not available to play Boba Fett for the day's 21st May, 1979 filming, leading to the stills photography of a classic scene. Of similar height and build, actor John Morton, who'd also play the ill-fated Rebel Snowspeeder pilot Dack, fills in for the other actor. Morton is given advice by Bulloch on the character's unique body movements and subtle, dangerous gestures for the filming. 

Billy Dee Williams clowns around alongside Boba Fett (John Morton).

Irvin Kershner positions a stormtrooper at the entrance to the torture chamber.


Thursday, 24 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: LOT OF TORTURING TO DO!


Han Solo faces his darkest hours yet on Cloud City. Firstly, suffering a bizarre and brutal interrogation from Darth Vader in which no questions are asked of him. But the worst is yet to come for our brave smuggler...

The torture sequence (which featured lots of sparks and screaming from Harrison Ford) was ultimately cut down by Irvin Kershner in the editing process- the film was already approaching its darkest point story-wise, and this scene would already upset younger audiences if dwelled on too long. The screaming sounds were instead transplanted to the next scene, now heard in the background as Vader confers with Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian.

A selection of images from the sequence...


Part of the torture device prop at Elstree.

UK FOX boss Peter Beale watches the preparations to film the scene.





Vader departs as the torture continues...

...then looks back one last time to see Solo's suffering in either a deleted scene moment or posed publicity image.


Wednesday, 23 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: ALAS, POOR THREEPIO...


In a true 'Hamlet considers Yoric' moment, Chewbacca looks towards the debris that was once their loyal if irritating protocol droid and decides to put Threepio back together, if only the wrong way round at first! One of the most sadly poignant but also charming scenes to showcase Peter Mayhew's performance as Chewbacca during The Empire Strikes Back,

Irvin Kershner works with Peter Mayhew on the scene.


Anthony Daniels provides the voice of the near destroyed Threepio from the floor speaking into a microphone set-up. 

Peter Suschitzky works on the scene's filming as Anthony Daniels (bottom right) rehearse works the C-3PO droid puppet.


Tuesday, 22 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: DINNER WITH A DIFFERENCE!

 

Unseen angle from the diners facing Vader.

"I'm sorry. They arrived right before you did" - Lando Calrissian

"I'm sorry, too." - Han Solo


Weaponless, with Imperial Stormtroopers behind them, our heroes, and Lando, have no choice but to accept Darth Vader's terrifying and unforgettable invitation to a surely terrifying meal at Cloud City, his meance soon backed up by the ominous presence of bounty hunter Boba Fett. 

Having some rehearsal fun.

More alternate outtake angles.


Boba Fett flanks the Dark Lord of the Sith.



Dinner awaits as the UK prop team worked hard to find food that looked unusual alongside futuristic placements.


Monday, 21 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: ENEMY REINFORCEMENTS!


Weaponless, Han Solo and his friends are soon cut-off from any escape by the presence of Lobot with Imperial Stormtroopers. Lando's betrayal of his subtly shocked 'friend' is now complete...

Rehearsing the scene with Irvin Kershner whilst David Tomblin (half seen at the top of the stairs) positions the extras playing Stormtroopers.


B/W image used for publicity.


Sunday, 20 June 2021

ROGUE ONE: 'HOPE!'


The beautiful final moment from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that sees Carrie Fisher 'return' as Princess Leia Organa for a special audience-loved cameo, taking the custodianship mantle of the stolen Death Star superweapon plans that will save her people and bring freedom to the galaxy. 

Interestingly, this specific image utilizes incredible 'Deep Fake' technology from fans that solidifies Miss Fisher presence in the role even better than was possible for the original behind the scenes effects team in 2016. 

https://geektyrant.com/news/deepfake-tech-drastically-improves-cgi-princess-leia-in-rouge-one

Saturday, 19 June 2021

CLASSIC STRUZAN: THE FORCE CONNECTION!

Image: Drew Struzan/Facebook.

Who can forget the excitement and anticipation for the return of the Star Wars saga with The Force Awakens during 2015. Iconic artist Drew Struzan's return to the saga for official commission work was certainly one of the showcase memories from that terrific time.

Friday, 18 June 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: SHOOTING VADER!

The moment we'd all been waiting for, as Han Solo quick draw blasts at Darth Vader.


Filmed on the 14th May, 1979, the Bespin Dining Room scene was a hive of action and pyrotechnics. To create the exciting sequence where a surprised Han quickly pulls his gun to fire on Darth Vader, the scene would be filmed from multiple views and required numerous types of practical effects, edited together to look convincing on-screen. 




Rear angle not used in the film.

Firstly, in a full length master shot, Harrison Ford pulls his gun and shoots blanks at Prowse as Vader on the other side of the room, who deflects the bolts (pyrotechnic squibs detonating on his hands to simulate the bolt deflections). 








Then, close-ups were filmed of detonating laser blast explosions on Vader’s hand (performed with Prowse in the costume). This was then followed by a closer-in shot with Han, in front of Leia and Chewie, firing at an off set Vader. When this is filmed, the camera continues rolling, photographing Ford’s gun being pulled out of his hand firstly by a stage hand and then by wire. This is then followed with Ford being filmed with the gun replaced with a strings attached prop that is soon firmly out of his hands. A separate scene is then shot of the gun, photographed on its own, being thrown across the room by studio hands, and then photographed being thrown on a wire towards Vader (taking numerous takes and angles to accomplish). When portions of all these sequences are put together in the editing room the illusion is created that the Dark Lord has used his powers to resist Solo and pull the blaster from the smuggler’s hand and into his own. A tight close-up shot of Solo quickly pushing Leia behind him, as he pulls his gun on Vader, was not used in the film, appearing only in the April 1980 trailer. 

A great outtake image showing the on-set pyrotechnics. Image: The Ben Ageros Collection.

Once again, Han Solo’s blaster during filming was an adapted World War II German Mauser C-96, reduced down and given a new scope and muzzle.