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

Saturday, 27 November 2021

CLASSIC IMAGE: UNSETTLED TIMES!


As part of the Jedi delegation, Plo Koon listens intently to the conversation between his colleagues Yoda and Mace Windu with the steadfast Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, his alien thoughts surely as concerned as they are with the rise of the Separatists under former Jedi Count Dooku, during the mystery-building beginning to EPISODE II.

Friday, 26 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: HERDED INTO A SPACE TRAP!


Escaping Cloud City and back in space, the Falcon, its deflector shields dying (in a deleted moment), is being relentlessly chased and attacked by a trio of TIE fighters, herded towards the ominous and powerful form of Darth Vader's flagship vessel.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: CRITICAL CARE!


Brutally wounded during his duel with Darth Vader, Luke has only just come out of the battle with his life, with deeper psychological scars and emotional revelations that will haunt him for a long time to come, as Leia takes him to the cramped medial area of the Falcon from which he receives additional oxygen whilst his severed hand injury is given a futuristic form of wrist cast. 

It looks as if this scene was likely a late addition to the script, certainly after the film's fifth draft of 20/2/79.

The Falcon takes further exterior batterings as Leia has to temporarily leave Luke.


The scene was originally shot longer, of which Luke discovers the fate of Han Solo at the hands of Boba Fett, but was ultimately truncated for timing and pace reasons.

The injured Luke senses a disturbance in the Force - an eerie siren call from Darth Vader.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: BESPIN ESCAPE - THE SECOND ATTEMPT!


With Luke safely rescued, Lando and Chewbacca make a fast escape for the Millennium Falcon from the underside of Cloud City, briefly avoiding three TIE fighters before they then resume doggedly pursuing the freighter out from the planet's atmosphere...

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: SAFETY GRAB!

 


Now atop the Falcon hull, Lando Calrissian desperately holds on to the injured Luke Skywalker and pulls him to safety as heavy atmosphere winds and soon TIE Fighter blast fire assault the craft in an uncompleted sequence that ultimately never made the film's final cut due to time and pacing issues. 






Monday, 22 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: LUKE'S RESCUE!

 

The deleted scene as rendered in spectacular art form by Hugh Fleming.

From The Empire Strikes Back Fifth Draft Script - 20/2/79:

SCENE 422: INT COCKPIT - MILLENNIUM FALCON - CLOUD CITY - DUSK

CLOSER POV out cockpit window of Luke getting bigger as the Falcon closes on him, until his falling body skims the cockpit window and we hear it land with a thud on the outside hull of the ship.

S423 EXT TIE FIGHTERS

The three TIE Fighters race to camera firing away.

423: INT - MILLENNIUM FALCON HATCH - CLOUD CITY - DUSK

The hatch pops open with a hiss of pressure. Lando reaches out to help the battered warrior inside the ship. Suddenly, there is a huge explosion near the ship, causing it to lurch wildly. Luke is almost thrown overboard, but Lando grabs his hand in time.

424: INT COCKPIT - MILLENNIUM FALCON - CLOUD CITY - POV

OVER THE SHOULDER POV - Clouds and flak burst as the Falcon banks away from the city. Leia and Chewie struggle with the controls.

425: EXTA UNDERSIDE OF CLOUD CITY - DUSK

The Falcon races over camera and away, followed by the three TIE fighters firing on the Falcon as they speed in pursuit.


Sunday, 21 November 2021

CLASSIC IMAGE: IN THE THICK OF IT!


Obi-Wan Kenobi heads the valiant surprise attack on the captured Theed hangar on Naboo, whilst young Anakin Skywalker rushes for blaster fire cover, in another great action shot from EPISODE I recently released in the excellent Paul Duncan written The Star Wars Archives book devoted to the Prequel Trilogy, available from Taschen Books.

Out now from Taschen Books.


Saturday, 20 November 2021

OUT NOW IN THE UK: 'THRAWN ASCENDANCY - LESSER EVIL'


The ultimate Star Wars Christmas present of 2021 must surely be the epic finale to Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy: Lesser Evil. Weighing in at a lofty 550 pages packed full of too-good-to-spoil story-wrapping political intrigue, absorbing-to-read space battles, cosmic drama and newly-revealed long-time secrets linked to the final destiny of the galaxy's most intriguing tactical genius commander. Determined to save his race from hidden enemies at work within the Chiss Ascendancy, no matter what the personal and professional cost, Thrawn is, undoubtedly, one of the finest (now officially recognised) non-George Lucas created franchise characters ever conceived, whose must-have climactic (?) 'event' title is out now in hardback from Century.

Here's the official release info:

The fate of the Chiss Ascendancy hangs in the balance in the epic finale of the Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

For thousands of years The Chiss Ascendancy has been an island of calm, a center of power, and a beacon of integrity. Led by the Nine Ruling Families, their leadership stands as a bulwark of stability against the Chaos of the Unknown Regions.

But that stability has been eroded by a cunning foe that winnows away trust and loyalty in equal measure. Bonds of fidelity have given way to lines of division among the families. Despite the efforts of the Expansionary Defense Fleet, the Ascendancy slips closer and closer toward civil war.

The Chiss are no strangers to war. Their mythic status in the Chaos was earned through conflict and terrible deeds, some long buried. Until now. To ensure the Ascendancy's future, Thrawn will delve deep into its past, uncovering the dark secrets surrounding the ascension of the First Ruling Family. But the truth of a family's legacy is only as strong as the legend that supports it. Even if that legend turns out to be a lie.

To secure the salvation of the Ascendancy, is Thrawn willing to sacrifice everything? Including the only home he has ever known?

Get it here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Thrawn-Ascendancy-Lesser/dp/1529150086/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2UYL4Y84J1FX6&keywords=thrawn+ascendency+book+3&qid=1637320785&sprefix=thrawn%2Caps%2C177&sr=8-1

Friday, 19 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: LANDO THE RESCUER!

 

Image via StarWarsScreenCaps.

Rising to the Falcon's top hatch, Lando goes into hero mode as he prepares to rescue Luke Skywalker from the perilous antenna under Cloud City.

On a platform operated by a crane at Elstree, Billy Dee Williams prepares to film his elevator ascent to the Falcon exterior. Madelyn Most once more holds the clapperboard for the camera crew above.


At ILM, work continues on the close-up section of the Falcon exterior where Lando's (puppet) head will emerge to rescue Luke.


A look at the detailed puppet Lando built by ILM for the exterior shot


The model/puppet insert shot briefly used in the movie.


Thursday, 18 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: RESCUING LUKE!



The Falcon moves slowly and carefully into position as Lando readies himself via the to hatch to rescue Luke Skywalker.

Originally, it was planned that the bruised and beaten Luke would fall from the damaged underbelly antenna after pieces of it snapped, and the Falcon would speed to his rescue, catching his descent on its exterior hull. This was likely changed for time and effects filming practicalities.

Ken Ralston makes an adjustment to the Luke figure on the upside down cloud city landscape, which made things easier for camera filming.

Storyboards for the scene.


Rescuing Luke, the Falcon makes a swift departure as TIE fighters arrive and pursue.

As originally scripted and adapted in the original 1980 Marvel Comics Special: Luke falls when the vane breaks and the Falcon catches his fall. Art by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon.


Wednesday, 17 November 2021

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO 'THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL'! (2021)

 

Terrific fan art by Alex Griendling.

Is he truly friend or foe? That's the big question facing Luke Skywalker and Artoo Detoo, newly crash-landed on Panna in their search for the missing Millennium Falcon, now seemingly saved by the mysterious Boba Fett from being the dinner of one of the planet's unusual underwater life forms...

It's great to see that The Star Wars Holiday Special legacy surviving and thriving via its animated segment form, now showing exclusively on Disney+. And there's now a terrific children's book for it, too, available from late January 2022!




Tuesday, 16 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: AT THE EDGE OF DEATH!


Luke continues to hang precariously on the under vane of Cloud City as the Millennium Falcon heads to rescue him. Can they reach him before its too late...

Matte Painting of the Cloud City lower point.


Monday, 15 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: 'BRING MY SHUTTLE!'


As Imperial Stormtroopers continue invading Cloud City, an angry Darth Vader (Dave Prowse), frustrated with Luke's sacrifice, makes ready to depart to his Star Destroyer in this outtake shot from the classic posed publicity image, alongside film extra Patrick Ginter as an Imperial Officer.  

As dictated in the original Fifth Draft script of 20/2/79, Vader walked onto the landing platform as the Falcon escaped into the air. Aware of Luke's dangerous predicament, Vader would say to himself: "Ben cannot help you now, young Jedi!" It's quite possible the scene was filmed as scripted (with Vader referring to one aide rather than the two in the script) but rearranged in the final cut with new dialogue as he instead angrily calls for his shuttle (James Earl Jones dialogue recorded in late post production). The scripted scene (5408) is, however, in the Marvel Comics adaptation, also released before the film in May 1980.



 

Sunday, 14 November 2021

'SPECIAL EDITION' CLASSIC IMAGE: DESTINATION - DEATH STAR!


Ahead of them lies one of the most terrifying sights the Yavin base-launched Rebel fighter assault squad has ever seen. But that won't stop them from initiating their boldest and most dangerous mission - penetrating the Empire's planet-killing Death Star, and its immense shielding and heavy weaponry, in order to destroy it via a small thermal exhaust port! May the Force truly be with them!

A terrific revised CGI effects image from the 1997 'Special Edition' of Star Wars: A New Hope.

Saturday, 13 November 2021

OUT NOW IN THE UK: 'HOWARD KAZANJIAN - A PRODUCER'S LIFE'


Howard Kazanjian
is best known as the producer of the worldwide box office hit conclusion to the original Star Wars saga with Return of the Jedi, where he had to bring his lifelong friend George Lucas's epic blockbuster filmed across the world in on both budget and time for its then May 1983 release, as well as vitally making sure it delivered the storytelling goods to millions of devoted fans eager to see the further adventures of Luke Skywalker and friends. No easy task for sure, but one that Kazanjian ultimately handled and professionally realized via strong discipline, creative inspiration, some occasional no-nonsense directness, and using the rare ability to 'listen' to people and work things out when there were problems. Most importantly, Kazanjian had, and still has, a wealth of knowledge and life-experience about how to make Hollywood/Independent movies, and make them work well. Discover his career, not just on Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark (where you'll see and appreciate his critical input on both in new ways) but over a variety of other movie and TV projects across fifty years (most notably in the seventies and mid-eighties - an incredible and certainly magical time), within a rightfully celebrated in-depth, all-new book: Howard Kazanjian - A Producer's Life, available now from Cameron Books.

Adapted with Kazanjian by the late and much-missed film historian and novelist J.W. Rinzler (with additional support from archivist Brandon Alinger), packed with terrific rare photos, and featuring some diverse collaborators happily recalling Kazanjian's hard work and dedication to all the projects he's worked on (including contributions and a foreword from the producer's rarely interviewed friend, Marcia Lucas - a major coup for the book), A Producer's Life is well worth adding to your behind the scenes collection and will prove a must-have for aspiring film-makers.

https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/2020/12/coming-soon-howard-kazanjian-producers.html

Get it here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Howard-Kazanjian-Producers-J-Rinzler/dp/1951836189/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3GO0U7569GB74&keywords=howard+kazanjian+a+producer%27s+life&qid=1636640827&sprefix=howard+kaz%2Caps%2C250&sr=8-1



Friday, 12 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: WE HAVE TO GO BACK!


Luke's predicament at Cloud City is unknown as the Falcon speeds away and attempts to pursue Boba Fett's Slave 1. Then a call for help in the Force suddenly awakens Leia to the terrible fate currently befalling her friend, and she soon knows his location, coercing Chewbacca and a disgruntled Lando into heading the ship back to the underside of Bespin...


In the Fifth Draft Script of 20/2/79 there was extra opening dialogue during this scene- whether it was filmed is unknown.

SCENE 413. INT COCKPIT -MILLENNIUM FALCON - CLOUDS - POV

OVER THE SHOULDER POV of clouds through cockpit window in Millennium Falcon. Leia seems to be lost in a fog, her expression troubled. Chewie is busy operating the ship. Lando stands next to the Wookiee watching a readout on the control panel.

LANDO  (to Chewie): It looks like three fighters. We can outdistance them easily. I knew that set-up was too good to last... I'm going to miss it.

LEIA: Luke?

LANDO: What?

LEIA: We've gotta go back. Chewie, head to the bottom of the city.

LANDO: Wait a minute. We're not going back there!

CHEWIE: Barks an argument.

LEIA: No argument. Just do it. That's a command.

LANDO: What about those fighters?

CHEWIE: Turns on Lando, the newcomer, with an ominous growl.

LANDO: Okay, okay...




Thursday, 11 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: 'HEAR ME, LEIA...'


Perilously close to death, a near-powerless, seriously injured, psychologically broken Luke reaches out into the either of the Force to Leia, as captured in this great ILM storyboard art by Nilo Rodis-Jamero.


Wednesday, 10 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: HANGING AROUND!


With Colin Skeaping having handled the stunt exit descent, Mark Hamill takes over for Luke's perilous scene hanging under a control vane beneath Bespin.




Peter Suschitzky films the sequence of Luke's struggles on the control vane.

Waiting between filming set-ups.


Tuesday, 9 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: DEATH DESCENT!


Plummeting from the vent tunnel into the atmosphere of Bespin, has Luke Skywalker come to the end of his life and journey to Jedi-dom? It's more than likely that Star Wars stuntman regular Colin Skeaping performed this dangerous drop from above one of the Elstree sound stages, especially after Mark Hamill, tense from filming strains of the last few months, and worried for the upcoming arrival of his first child, had sprained his lightsaber hand thumb a few days prior, during a stunt accident.

Soon enough, whilst this scene's filming was being completed that Mark's wife, Marilou, would give birth to Nathan at the London Hospital.

The underside standalone section on one of the Elstree soundstages.

From the mini crane, Peter Diamond watches a Luke-wigged Colin Skeaping test the Cloud City underside section.


Monday, 8 November 2021

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: VENTILATION TUNNEL DESCENT!

The injured Luke (Mark Hamill) captures in close-up in the ventilation tunnel

Caught in an unexpected air flow, Luke Skywalker is seemingly saved from death whilst propelled into a ventilation conduit at high speed, stopping to barely gather his bearings before then being propelled again - this time towards the underbelly exterior of Cloud City.

Colin Skeaping doubles for Luke in the slide down, attached to a concealed skate board-esque panel. Skeaping uses the bloodied stump of Luke's hand to control his speed...

Early storyboard idea that would see a matte painting used for the descent sequence.