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

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: A PRINCESS ARMED AND DANGEROUS...


Now armed, Princess Leia Organa is desperate to rescue Han Solo. Her blaster readiness is captured in these great behind the scenes images used for publicity purposes.



Colourized version of a B/W image.


Monday, 30 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: STILL A CHANCE TO SAVE HAN...

Alternate B/W shot of Chewbacca's strangling Lando Calrissian.

Now freed form his bonds, Chewbacca lets loose his wrath on Lando Calrissian for their current predicament, though the Baron is soon released when he offers the chance of rescuing Han from Boba Fett at the East Platform...

Irvin Kershner gives direction for Chewie's strangulation of Lando.

Off camera, Anthony Daniels recites Threepio's lines whilst practical effects manipulates the droid's pieces atop Chewbacca with fishing wire.


Carrie Fisher confers with Gary Kurtz between takes.



Sunday, 29 August 2021

CLASSIC IMAGE: THE WEAK SPOT!


In an unused angle not seen in the film, General Dodonna (Alex McCrindle) goes through the Death Star schematics with his Rebel pilots, to show the battle station's weakness point, in a scene filmed at Shepperton Studios for the original Star Wars. This shot is also further interesting as it shows a moment from what available computer generated image footage (created by Larry Cuba) could be back projected live on-set, presumably during filming on May 17th, 1976- the last day of filming on the briefing room.



Saturday, 28 August 2021

THE CLONE WARS: MASTER OF MALEVOLENCE!


The venomous red lightsaber-wielding former Sith Lord, Darth Maul, seems to have the luck of the Devil. Even being cut in half and sent down a seemingly bottomless pit by venerable young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the early stages of his assassin's career has failed to stop his bloodlust and need for revenge against the Jedi, his former master, and the galaxy itself.

Whether you were a fan of Maul's resurrection in The Clone Wars animated series or not, he's here to stay for the foreseeable future in the Star Wars universe, both onscreen (a reappearance in one of the many upcoming live-action Disney mini-series is most likely) and in the authorised Expanded Universe...

Friday, 27 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: AMBUSHED!


Having sent a secret coded signal to his loyal servant, Lando Calrissian watches as the Imperial escort are swiftly surprise captured by Lobot and his Cloud City security squad. The tide is turning, but can all our heroes escape Bespin?

In the Empire comic book adaptation (mostly based on the fifth draft screenplay), Lando gives the ambush a code to his arriving men: 'Code Force Seven', though this never made the film...

Amongst the Bespin guards would be a blink and you'll miss it cameo from set-visiting American actor Treat Williams, who'd also play a Rebel soldier alongside friend Carrie Fisher during a sequence on the Hoth hangar bay set.






"Hold them in the security tower, and keep it quiet..."

Thursday, 26 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: LUKE's NEW SKILL SETS!


With battle scar make-up applied, Mark Hamill prepares to rehearse another part of the lightsaber duel.

More exciting, more challenging, and more exhausting than his prior work bringing Luke Skywalker to life with the original Star Wars in 1976, Mark Hamill would recall of Empire's action-packed filming:

"It was unlike anything I'd ever done. Physically, 'Empire' was an ordeal I'd never experienced before. After the end of the training you felt you going to die and waited in the corner for Death to come and take you by the hand. I'm rolling, falling, hanging upside down, flying out the porthole, battered and beaten. I didn't have any free time to myself. The sword fight took about six to seven weeks to film."

"I did all my own stunt work in 'Star Wars', In 'Empire' there were a couple of things the insurance people wouldn't let me do. The ones they let me do were bad enough. I sprained my thumb, they had to shut down the film for a week."

Mark Hamill - Questor magazine 1980

In one of Elstree Studios storage bay areas, Mark Anderson goes through his lightsaber duel moves with Olympic fencing coach Bob Anderson, watched by Peter Diamond.



A winded Hamill talks to Michel Parbot's documentary crew about the lightsaber duel training.

Learning new skills like Kendo and Karate, alongside weight-training, Hamill was determined to do as many of the stunts and practical lightsaber duels scenes possible for the film, ultimately becoming a member of the British Stunt Association for his incredible hard work. The actor was keen for the action to be bigger in scope and more impressive to audiences than anything seen with the original Star Wars, remembering how several kids conversed with him in how they thought the surprise Tusken Raider attack against Luke had looked 'hokey' back in 1977.

Ever the trouper, Hamill, now a proud dad to his first child, would incur many bumps and bruises during the fight scenes- so much so that his wife Marilou took Polaroids of his bruises, whose body patterning he jokingly referred to as looking like a relief map of South America! Recalled Bob Anderson: “Mark Hamill (in Empire and Jedi) was naked compared to Darth. Darth was completely covered. You could hit him anywhere and it wouldn’t hurt.” 

It is said in the unauthorized behind the scenes book Empire Building (by Garry Jenkins) that, as Hamill and Anderson filmed the lightsaber duel, Kershner criticized the young star's facial expression at one point. Hamill, suffering in the oppressive heat and increasingly worried about his wife and child, would take an exception. When Kershner shrugged and told Hamill he would see what he meant when he saw the finished movie, the alleged argument apparently degenerated into childishness, with Hamill snapping: “I don’t even want to see the movie”. To which Kershner replied, “Really,” before shouting, “Cut the lights, cut the camera, cut everything.” If Hamill was not interested, why make the movie, he asked? Within moments, both men’s faces were allegedly wreathed in embarrassment - another tense time between the pair on a difficult and intense set at Elstree.


Wednesday, 25 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: IN PRAISE OF BOB ANDERSON!


An experienced Olympic fencing coach and master of creating intense and exciting onscreen sword fights on film and TV, working primarily with his friend and fellow stuntman in Peter Diamond, Bob Anderson may have been a mature veteran by the time he was portraying Darth Vader within a difficult and cumbersome costume on the Carbon Freeze Chamber set, but his agility and prowess against his combatant in the exuberant and professional Mark Hamill proved spectacular onscreen.

Two posed images of Bob Anderson as Vader that originally appeared on the official Star Wars website.


In addition to wearing heels in order to match the height of Dave Prowse in the role, for Empire, Anderson's Vader suit and mask were specially recreated in ways that would give him as much flexibility and sight as possible during the filming.


A look at the Vader stunt masks/costume pieces.

Recalls Anderson of wearing the costume to STARLOG magazine in 2000: “It (the costume) was very restrictive. I lost a lot of weight. The week they shot that freezing chamber in Empire, when Han Solo gets frozen in the block, on that fight - which they did in one week- I lost fifteen pounds. And the main reason was that they had to keep the studio temperature high to keep the steam in. So, we were working in about 80 degrees all the time! I had all this armor on, two cloaks and a helmet. I did more inside that suit than anybody else. It took up a lot of my life, actually. It took two films- about eight months on the first (Empire) and six months on the second (Jedi). It was a great experience. I’ve always been spacey anyway. It was a joy for me to get in a spacey costume and fight with a sword.”

Image: Kurtz/Joiner Archive.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: BEHIND THE DUEL - THE OPENING CLASHES!


A selection of images showcasing the talents of British Olympic Fencing Coach and Stuntman Bob Anderson and Mark Hamill at work rehearsing the start of the epic duel between Luke and Vader, supervised on the difficult and hot set by Stunt Coordinator Peter Diamond.






Monday, 23 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: PRACTICE SESSION PALS!


On a specially arranged day handled by the film's publicity department, Mark Hamill and Dave Prowse pose for lightsaber choreography images at Elstree Studios in advance promotion for Empire, though Bob Anderson will primarily handle the main requirement of fighting within the Darth Vader costume through the summer months of 1979. Prowse had previously done the entre lightsaber duel with Sir Alec Guinness on the original film in 1976, but this new duel, also arranged by Stunt Coordinator Peter Diamond, is more ambitious, more complex and potentially dangerous to the actor, hence the need for a more experienced sword veteran like Anderson taking his place.





Sunday, 22 August 2021

EPISODE IX: BACK FROM THE (UN)DEAD!


From his secret lair deeply hidden on the hard-to-reach world of Exegol, the hideous and seemingly more powerful than ever Emperor Palpatine's resurrected, if bodily incapacitated, form presses on with his final plans for dominion or extermination of the galaxy, in The Rise of Skywalker.

https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2492873/star-wars-explained-exactly-how-palpatine-survived-hisreturn-of-the-jedi-fall

Saturday, 21 August 2021

'SOLO': IN THE SHADOWS OF FREEDOM!


He's played his escape hand, now Han Solo and Qi'ra are on the run from their enslavers on Corellia, making their bid for a new life offworld in the fun and memorable speeder chase scene at the beginning to Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Friday, 20 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: THE DUEL BEGINS....


"Luke is a pawn in an interstellar adventure that has been going on longer than he's been alive..." 

George Lucas interview quote - Mediascene Prevue -1980 

Another great selection of now classic posed mages from the start of the duel...




Many hours and moves, over a period of eight weeks, would be choreographed and filmed on the Cloud City sets where the duel was to take place, and documented by the 'making of' team led by Michel Parbot. Later in the schedule, some of the sword fighting was discarded or had to be re-shot after being viewed in the dailies, so that the combatants didn’t clash with only one hand holding their lightsabers. At that time, Lucas stipulated that they stored a great deal of energy and were heavy to use, hence the two-handed style of fighting, and that he also wanted to maintain existing continuity from the Vader/Kenobi duel of the original Star Wars. A few scenes involving one-handed lightsaber fighting did make it into the final film but only because they were too integral to be cut out. 

Recalls Bob Anderson to Starlog magazine: "George Lucas wanted it (the Empire duel) to be two- handed. I liked the idea of swinging it with one, but he told me to use two hands. It’s a bit restrictive when you have a light weapon and you have to use two hands all the time. Also, George told me it looked more powerful when you have two hands on it.” 


Wednesday, 18 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: THE DUEL - BY MCQUARRIE!


The duel between light and darkness we'd all been waiting for, spectacularly rendered within the confines of Cloud City's Carbon Freeze Chamber, in two great production paintings by Ralph McQuarrie crafted to additionally showcase and compliment Production Designer Norman Reynolds striking new set designs for the film.



Tuesday, 17 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: PREPARING TO DUEL!


He's trying to keep his need for revenge against Darth Vader in check, but Luke's keenness to fight and defeat his sworn enemy could be his undoing as the two combatants test each other prior to the lightsaber duels full commencement. A terrific colour posed image that has become iconic and synonymous with The Empire Strikes Back, and its unfolding dark drama and tragedy.


On the busy set capturing the classic scene..

Monday, 16 August 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: THE FIRST MOVES OF BATTLE!


Luke sizes up his opponent's power with his first moves against Darth Vader, as both are soon locked in doomladen, brutal lightsaber conflict...



Having been lightsaber-repelled back by the physical strength of his opponent, Luke picks himself up to duel Vader.