Ten Things...

...I Learned from The Making of The Empire Strikes Back

When it comes to The Empire Strikes Back, one of my all-time favorite movies, I figured there wasn't much left I didn't know about its genesis and production. But the definitive new making-of book I received for Christmas has proven that even Empire junkies like myself still have much to learn (or unlearn, as it were).

10. On the success of Star Wars, "It was a darn good story dashingly told, and beyond that I can't explain it," said Alec Guinness (Obi Wan Kenobi). "Failure has a thousand explanations. Success doesn't need one."

9. Luke getting attacked by the snow monster at the beginning of Empire was specifically written as a way to explain the facial injuries Mark Hamill received from a bad car accident not long after Star Wars came out.

8. In an early Lucas-penned draft, the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia had serious Attack of the Clones potential. Consider this goodbye line from Han,"They say I kiss very well. But don't worry, I'm not going to kiss you here—you see, I'm quite selfish about my pleasures and it wouldn't be much fun for me now. I'm going to wait for you to grow up a little more. I'm sure we'll meet again." Luckily, screenwriting duties were soon turned over to Lawrence Kasdan.

7. One early failed attempt at realizing Yoda involved putting a costume on a monkey (and in case you were wondering, no, Yoda was not modeled after Spencer W. Kimball).

6. During the filming of the "I love you... I know" scene, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher weren't speaking to each other off camera due to some momentary behind-the-scenes tension.

5. David Prowse (Darth Vader) was notorious for leaking plot details during interviews and other appearances. Thus he was often given dummy lines unknowingly, then the real lines were overdubbed later by James Earl Jones. Prowse didn't find out Darth Vader was Luke's father until the premiere screening.

4. An early Empire poster concept featured "Busty Leia" from the original Star Wars poster sharing a tauntaun ride with Luke.

3. The under 10 crowd at a preview screening provided some constructive feedback: "It was like a dream... Luke sometimes gross (hand)... Tan Tan animation could be better, otherwise movie good... It was kind of sad when Han Solo turned into ice... You should have less violence, or if you have violence, make it funny violence."

2. During the movie's initial limited release, George Lucas decided the end sequence in space was a little unclear, so he asked ILM to create three new establishing shots (who all thought Lucas was joking at first). The new scenes were completed in record time and added in for the wide release a few weeks later. (This tendency to tinker later evolved into a very bad habit.)

1. In this particularly prophetic quote, Lucas revealed, "If I wasn't a filmmaker, I think I might be a toymaker."


Cheeseboy said...

Greatest Star Wars movie of the set, no doubt. Interesting tidbits as well. The Spencer W. Kimball thing had to be a farce, I knew it! I wish I would have been the one to start that rumor though.

Krissy said...

Eddie says: "Nerd alert!"

Krissy said...

I imagine that "Busty Leia" would be rather chilly riding that tauntaun around Hoth. Her outfit looks rather breezy. Why didn't they also include "Busty Luke?"

Ben said...

Some thoughts:

What? You mean you don't ride around with your half-naked sister on animals in the snow? Are Luke and I the only ones?

It seems Lucas took that youthful constructive criticism to heart for The Phantom Menace: The animation is better, and the violence is now funny violence!

Who wants to be that ten years from now Lucas reissues Star Wars with a monkey Yoda, since that was his "original concept"? By then, technology will surely have caught up to this genius idea.

Dave said...

One of the concerns with the Yoda monkey was its ability to sufficiently emote. This was apparently no longer an issue when Hayden Christensen was cast in the prequels.

ScottBoomer said...

This, this is a good book. It should be on the shelf next to your scriptures.