They've rescued the Princess (or did she rescue them?) from the cell bay, but our heroes have now had to retreat to a place even Stormtroopers wouldn't go - a trash compactor, home to smelly rubbish, a creepy underwater Dianoga creature, and, worst of all, crush-deadly moving walls!
Filmed in late June, 1976 at Elstree Studios, UK practical special effects supervisor John Stears and Production Designer John Barry (with set decorator Roger Christian) construct the Garbage
Compactor room on Stage 4 over a half-filled studio water tank, added with oil and specially selected
rubbish (the material
also includes many
Styrofoam pieces selected for it’s lightweight ability
to crush and collapse
easily). The garbage
room walls would be made
from metal clad
plywood, mounted on
tracks and linked
together by a series of
wires and pulleys to a
tractor. As the tractor
winch picked up, the
walls slid along the
track to a certain point simulating the walls closing in to crush our heroes!
|Our heroes survey their new environment. |
|The Dianoga attacks!|
The Dianoga creature (originally derived from the First Draft of the Star Wars
screenplay- being the name of the Galactic Warriors that would eventually become Jedi) was firstly conceived and designed as a transparent, Jellyfish-like creature with see-through vein/ tentacles that would shoot up at people (of which the effects men would eventually create, what Lucas called, “an eight foot high, twelve foot wide brown turd!”). When built, however, the creature turns out to be bigger than the actual set it was to reside in! Sadly not living up to Lucas’s effects expectations, a replacement, built with little remaining money, is used for the ELSTREE filming, this one being a long tentacle several yards long (operated from below water by a pair of divers), whilst the rest of it will be replaced, for a close up shot, with a model miniature by the effects people in Van Nuys, California only a few short months before the film's eventual US 1977 release date.
|Saved by the droids! At last!|
The principal actors would all wear rubber suits under their costumes which, after a couple of hours, would become uncomfortable when under the hot studio lights, and would shrink whilst working in water. The only person lucky to escape the rubber suit is Peter Mayhew as Chewie, who would walk along a partially concealed four-inch plank, located at the back of the set near the sealed exit door, so that the expensive mohair suit wouldn’t be damaged by his treading in the combined water and oil around him (though, after filming of the sequence, the costume would nonetheless retain an unpleasant odour from the set's overall dampness for a short period). For the shot-heavy sequence, extra filming time was cleared at Elstree, with one day’s shooting hours being extended until 21.42pm on Tuesday June 22nd, though a Second Unit crew were also required on the set for the 29th.
Behind the scenes images in the grimy Trash Compactor....
Between takes where Luke is submerged by the Dianoga, Mark Hamill has to remove his costume, get blow dried, and then be re-suited in his Stormtrooper costume for the next take, only to be pulled under water again (of which, on one of the filming days, some scenes required Hamill having to be shot from a side angle due to the whites in one of his eyes having a burst blood vessel - from the results of having to be continually submerged various times and after staying underwater for too long. Then the filming of certain close-ups of Luke would be postponed and later cut from the filming schedule. The third time he goes under, Hamill, picking up a piece of slimy looking debris from his white armour, turns to a deep in concentration for the next take George Lucas, and sings “Pardon me, George, could this be Dianoga poo-poo?” (to the tune of “Chatanooga Choo-Choo”). Did Lucas find Hamill’s humour amusing? Certainly not, as, a few seconds later, the director apparently sends Hamill back underwater quicker than he anticipated!
|Filming our heroes last minute rescue, as cameramen capture an unseen moment from Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.|