LUKE SKYWALKER RETURNS TO THE GALAXY, FROM DECEMBER 15TH, 2017

ARRIVING IN LONDON, FROM 18TH NOVEMBER, 2016. BOOK NOW FOR THE ULTIMATE 'STAR WARS' EXHIBITION

Sunday, 31 October 2010

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

LOOKING BACK: OBI-WAN LIVES!

Obi-Wan Kenobi makes the ultimate sacrifice for his escaping friends in STAR WARS.

Prior to March 1976, Sir Alec Guinness, playing the wise and noble Jedi Knight, Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi, thought he was going to survive his duel with Lord Darth Vader and go on to the Rebel Base on Yavin IV to provide both support for Princess Leia and encouragement to Luke Skywalker whilst piloting his ship against the Death Star. Here are the late 1975/ early 76 storyboards by famed UK artist Ivor Beddoes of the original sequence, which culminated in a shield door cutting the devil horned, helmeted Vader off from Kenobi (injured in battle, the Jedi is then helped back to the Millennium Falcon by Luke Skywalker):


George Lucas, however, had other ideas, and didn't want Sir Alec as an actor and Kenobi as a character having very little to do but stand in the background for the films final act. So, in advice and consultation with wife Marcia, he took the brave step of killing Kenobi off- a wise move that added drama and sadness to the film and gave it a harder edge-that main characters, despite their abilities, could be killed off unexpectedly in the STAR WARS saga- though it was a decision that Lucas struggled with right up to the start of the films shooting in Tunisia and which worried Guinness. Fortunately, Lucas also had a little plan of having Kenobi come back as a spectral Force voice at the end victory, which meant that a return of some kind for Guinness/Kenobi, in person or in voice-over, for the future (if the film was a hit) was possible.

Friday, 29 October 2010

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS - "SUPPLY LINES"

Jedi Master Di - one of the major characters of THE CLONE WARS episode SUPPLY LINES.

SKY MOVIES have kindly sent us the latest press release for the next episode showing on SKY MOVIES PREMIERE and HD this weekend.

New Allies and Returning Heroes Provide Revelations and Insights into Key Conflicts in an All-New Episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

Joined by familiar faces – from the live-action Saga, previous seasons of The Clone Wars and even the expanded universe – the heroes of the Republic are leading the charge into extended storylines examining the backstory of the Star Wars galaxy. In the series’ third season, The Clone Wars expands and explores stories beyond the front lines – revealing new insights and fresh revelations about the characters, the conflict and even some of the stories we’ve seen so far. “Supply Lines” takes the narrative back before the series’ very first episode. It’s an all-new facet to a fan-favorite storyline - at Saturday 30th October on Sky Movies Premiere/HD.

Ryloth is under siege. Trapped on the surface, Jedi Master Di rallies the local forces with the help of rebel leader Cham Syndulla. Desperate to save them, Senator Bail Organa and Representative Jar Jar Binks are dispatched to the planet of Toydaria, where they must convince the King Katuunko to send aid to Ryloth – before it’s too late.

“This is one of the fun aspects of being this deep into the series,” says Dave Filoni, supervising director of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. “Now that we have two seasons already under our belt, we can go back and look at some different aspects of key moments from the Clone Wars; we can jump around in the timeline. We can explore different aspects and different stories. We have a neat opportunity to blow out stories that we’ve seen already, and look at them from a different perspective, a different point of view – and that’s been an important aspect of Star Wars since the original trilogy.”

Taking place before Yoda’s fateful meeting with King Katuunko on the moon of Rugosa – chronicled in the series premiere episode, “Ambush” – “Supply Lines” sheds light on some of the dramatic events that forged The Clone Wars. It also explores the origins of the Ryloth occupation and the subjugation of the Twi’lek people occupation, explored in the first season’s two-part season finale.

“This conflict is vast, to say the least,” says Filoni. “It’s a big galaxy, and there’s a lot going on at all times. Even two seasons in, we’re only seeing a fraction of the war – key moments that are really focused on the primary heroes from the films. But those moments are framed by heroism and villainy, too, just as there are important events happening concurrently with the key scenes we’ve explored. We’ve got 22 minutes per episode and 22 episodes per season, and we’re still only scratching the surface of the Clone Wars.”

Serving to support existing stories and to build on the overall mythology of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, “Supply Lines” nonetheless promises its own action and surprises. Featuring the return of some fan-favorite characters from the live-action films, the episode also introduces some brand new characters – such as Jedi Master Di.

“We’re going to meet Jedi Master Di,” says Filoni. “I like him a lot; he’s cool and I’d like to be able to do more with him. But you should remember that this is a prequel, and that it takes place before the episodes we’ve seen already. There may be a reason we haven’t seen him after the events of this episode. Here’s a hint: Star Wars characters have a history of suggestive names. Greedo was a greedy bounty hunter. Lobot’s a guy with a computer implanted in his brain, like a lobotomy. General Grievous and Darth Maul are both intent on causing pain and suffering. Han Solo’s a loner. So I’m just saying that maybe Jedi Master Di should watch his back.”

CLASSIC IMAGE: LITTLE FURBALL!


One of Stuart Freeborn's created Ewoks takes part in a late 1981 costume reference film/photo test, videotaped by Producer Howard Kazanjian and Robert Watts, at ELSTREE prior to the commencement of REVENGE (later RETURN) OF THE JEDI's principal photography in January 1982.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

AN "EMPIRE" MAKES THE "SHORTLIST"!

The latest issue of the UK's biggest circulated free giveaway men's lifestyle and entertainment magazine, SHORTLIST (number 149, on sale date 28th October 2010), has a special cover and feature on the new THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK book written by J.W. Rinzler (published in the UK from AURUM PRESS), and is packed with photos from it.

If you can't get hold of a printed copy, here's a link to its web edition:
http://magazine.shortlist.com/1I4cc5a837dab10012.cde

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

AFICIONADO STAR WARS MYSTERY: KENNY BAKER IN CHICAGO!


Sometime between 1977 and 1978, Kenny Baker, in his US public appearances for the lovable droid Artoo Detoo, took part in what would apparently become a controversial STAR WARS related OLYMPIA beer promotion in Chicago, without the prior knowledge of LUCASFILM, which had the slogan: "The best thing to come out of a can since R2-D2."

Does anyone out there have this advertising image, or more information about the advert in general? Apart from the ONCE UPON A GALAXY BOOK written by Alan Arnold from 1979, and J.W. Rinzler's recent MAKING OF EMPIRE book I'd never previously seen or heard about this.

If anyone can help, please get in touch.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

CLASSIC IMAGE: A LITTLE HELP FOR A JEDI


Two technicians make some adjustments to Ewan McGregor's make-up and costume during shooting of EPISODE II at the FOX STUDIOS in Australia in 2000. Note the lady on the right wearing a ribbed dark leather outfit that could be something worn by Darth Vader!

Additionally, here's a little bit of Ewan/ STAR WARS related news from the DAILY MAIL website (17/10/2010):


Ewan McGregor stars alongside his uncle Denis Lawson in his latest movie.

Ewan, 39, plays the head chef of a posh restaurant, while Local Hero star Denis is the owner in Perfect Sense.

‘It was strange sitting together in the make-up trailer,’ recalled Denis at the ITV3 Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards. ‘Ewan would say, ‘‘Morning, Uncle Denis.’’ 'I’ve directed him twice before but we’ve never acted together. It was great and I’m pleased to say he didn’t offer any constructive criticism on my acting.’

Monday, 25 October 2010

"THE CLONE WARS" COMING SOON: QUINLAN VOS


Created by writer John Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema, Jedi Master Quinlan Vos, the EPISODE I inspired Expanded Universe CLONE WARS comic favourite (later mentioned by name in EPISODE III by Obi-Wan Kenobi, though his on screen death during ORDER 66 was animaticed but never filmed (it fortunately exists in vosual form in the DARK HORSE 2005 comic adaptation)), is a Jedi who walks a dangerous path between the light and dark sides of the Force in his missions, and was once partnered to Aayla Secrura (who mentions him, but not by name, in THE CLONE WARS first season episode JEDI CRASH), and he'll soon be making his much anticipated first animated appearance in the hit show (presumably this third season- as they're using him on series promotional material currently (as seen in the above image). Intriguingly, Vos was to have appeared in the first season episode BOMBAD JEDI, alongside Jar Jar Binks, but he was dropped as the production team didn't have the budget to create additional new characters in the shows opening year). I think we can also assume that wherever Vos is in this new tale, Secura will be involved, too (who knows, perhaps she even gets a solo episode linked to his!).

More news on Vos and his episode (could it be linked to his Dathomir/ Witch Sisters upcoming plotline?) as and when we get it...

UPDATE - 1/11/10. Vos will be seen in Episode Nine of SEASON THREE - THE HUNT FOR ZIRO - alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi.

TOGETHER AGAIN FOR XMAS


Our favourite droids are back together for this terrific UK TV advert, just in time for the Xmas present buying season, that wonderfully captures the spirit of both the characters and STAR WARS.

Here's the link to the full version of the ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVjTBHEnj04

Saturday, 23 October 2010

THE 'EMPIRE' AT 30: BACK TO BOBA!



Our anniversary celebrations for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK continue with this great behind the scenes image of British stand-in, extra and Bossk performer Alan Harris donning an uncoloured prototype costume for bounty hunter Boba Fett (previously a "Superstormtrooper" concept) at Elstree, during the film's 1979 pre-production. With an actor was needed for Fett's scenes from April onwards, Robert Watts offered the role to his half-brother, Jeremy Bulloch were he able to fit the costume, which he ultimately did.

Friday, 22 October 2010

AFICIONADO MYSTERY: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO "THE MIDNIGHT SHADOW"?


With the start of the new Third Season of THE CLONE WARS in the UK this weekend, we're getting another 22 episodes full of STAR WARS goodness. Some of these new season episodes were created during Season Two and held over for Three, a practice that also previously applied with Season One (where the superb CARGO OF DOOM, listed in books at the time for the premiere year (to have been transmitted before what was later to be Cad Bane's first appearance in HOSTAGE CRISIS), was held over as the second episode of Season Two instead). But there's one episode from Season One, also listed on many fan sites and online episodes guides in 2008/2009, which seems to have disappeared never to be seen again- I'm talking about the evocatively titled BATTLE FOR THE MIDNIGHT SHADOW. Exactly just what is the Midnight Shadow of the title? A planet? A spaceship? A disease? Does anybody out there have any more details on the "lost" story and why it had disappeared from the run? Was it an early title for an episode we've already seen (like the BLUE SHADOW VIRUS), perhaps? Did it even exist, or was it an early idea abandoned, or, more excitingly, an idea being re-configured as an episode for a later season?

If anyone can help solve the mystery, please get in touch...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CARRIE FISHER!


Still the greatest as the Stormtrooper blasting, Rebel leading, Scoundrel loving, Wookiee hugging, medal giving, bun wearing, Bikini stunning babe of the Original STAR WARS saga.

With thanks to Chris Baker for the image.

THE REPUBLIC FIGHTS BACK: "THE CLONE WARS" SEASON 3

Clash of the Titans! Anakin Skywalker and Asajj Ventress lock sabers once again!
The clock is expectantly ticking for UK STAR WARS fans with the new season of THE CLONE WARS, and SKY MOVIES have very kindly sent us this great publicity info below in red, and some great photos linked to early episodes of the season:

The war wears on, and the Republic is pushed to its breaking point. Support for the Jedi Knights and their noble cause comes in the form of valiant clone troopers – steadfast defenders of peace and justice, even as the Jedi falter and the mighty Republic begins to crumble. Joined by familiar faces and confronted with deadly new threats, these everyman heroes lead the charge into a transformative new season of Clone Wars adventures – where alliances will be tested, truths will be questioned and galaxy-changing secrets will be uncovered to shake the very foundations of the Star Wars universe. The next chapter of Star Wars: The Clone Wars begins with a must-see two-part premiere at Saturday 23rd October on Sky Movies Premiere/HD.
Shaak Ti addresses the Clones, and makes her first appearance in the series
Can the Clone Domino Squad succeed in their training?

In “Clone Cadets,” five headstrong cadets – Hevy, Cutup, Droidbait, Fives and Echo – struggle to complete their training on the ocean planet of Kamino. Unable to work together as a team, they must learn to embrace their future as soldiers before they are drummed out of the academy.

“It’s a band-of-brothers story that takes you back before most of the episodes we’ve seen so far; it’s one of the earliest episodes – chronologically – in the series,” says Dee Bradley Baker, voice of the clones. “We’re going to see how the ‘shinies’ [new recruits featured in the first season episode, ‘Rookies’] learn to work together. Starting off, they’re not a team at all. They’re just everymen; they’re human. And now they’ve got to pull it together. There’s something really cool about how the show brings out the heroism from characters like that – not just the superpowered ones.”

A revealing look at clone development and training, the episode also introduces a unique new character. Clone Number 99 is a unique clone – and imperfect model relegated to menial, custodial duties at the Kamino production facility. Still, despite his physical flaws, he nonetheless identifies with his genetic brethren – and he aspires to make his own small contributions to their noble war efforts.

“He’s a great example of the show’s creative risks,” says Baker. “I was nervous going into this episode. Does he sound real? Is he believable? I agonized over it; he’s a very special character, and a very unique challenge. Kinda high stakes for me, because I wanted so badly to get it right. He’s a little bit slower…quieter…softer than your basic clone voice. I skewed his dialect toward cockney to give him a blue collar, salt-of-the-earth flavor. I’ve got a lot of favorites, but 99’s definitely one of them. His story is very affecting – really beautiful on a lot of different levels.”

The Clone Trooper valiantly defend their home world of Kamino in ARC TROOPERS
On the heels of “Clone Cadets” comes “ARC Troopers,” which revisits the clones after the notable events of “Rookies” – with the surviving squad members tasked with defending Kamino from a large-scale Separatist attack. After the Republic repulses the Separatists’ first assault, the real threat begins. Asajj Ventress, General Grievous and an army of droids rise out of the planet’s oceans, determined to destroy the clone production facilities – and the clones themselves are the last line of desperate defense.

“This episode raises the stakes in a really spectacular way. This is big space opera; this is why you want to own an HD TV. It’s basically the scale of a Star Wars movie – on TV,” says Baker. “It’s awesome. I’m so very proud of this show; it’s exciting to make this kind of episode work. And it’s such a team effort. There’s an army of artists working to make this compelling and moving. This is extraordinary storytelling.”
New character Jedi Master Di (left) makes his first appearance in SUPPLY LINES

And it’s just the beginning. In a galaxy far, far away…much to learn there still is.

"I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS!" CHAPTER ONE

I thought I'd launch a new occasional humorous spotlight on this blog that looks at classic mistakes in the press and other general media linked to STAR WARS over the years. And there are some absolute crackers that will eventually appear. It's all just a bit of fun and nothing to be taken too seriously.


This week, we launch with a brand new mistake from this weeks esteemed UK TV listings magazine RADIO TIMES (cover date 23rd October). Kudos to them for a great weekend highlights summary (above) for the third new season of THE CLONE WARS series, which starts in the UK on SKY MOVIES PREMIERE HD this Saturday, but its a shame they got the wrong animated series picture with it! Obviously, a group of people working there didn't see the unfortunate error or weren't aware that there were two types of animated adventure series.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

CLASSIC IMAGE: NICE VIEW UP THERE!!


A maskless Des Webb, wearing the entire Wampa body suit created for filming by Stuart Freeborn and his team, has a look about on a filming day outside the 1222 hotel and a Winter environment that is not yet encompassed by blizzards and dangerous white-outs. In the end, much of the outdoor footage linked to the beast was never used, either re-shot at the end of EMPIRE's studio shooting (at the ELSTREE backlot) or with additional material (like a new facial close-up from ILM near the end of 1979). Note the sled next to him that would often be used by the crew to transport him around whilst he was in the costume.

Look out on our main site for an upcoming photo feature on the Wampa and its missing EMPIRE scenes, accompanied by rare images not seen in the new MAKING OF book.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

IRVIN KERSHNER: CREATING A FINE SECOND ACT...

EMPIRE director Irvin Kershner has some fun on the Falcon set with Harrison Ford

VANITY FAIR scores another hit-a very palpable hit!- with their great new interview with EMPIRE director Irvin Kershner.

Check it out here: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2010/10/irvin-kershner.html

And then enjoy all of its fine coverage related to the recently released THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK book, written by J.W. Rinzler, published by RANDOM HOUSE and AURUM PRESS.

STAR WARS BLUEPRINTS: REBEL EDITION


If you love all the cool fighter craft and technology of the Rebel Alliance, especially from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, then you're gonna want to get hold of DORLING KINDERSLEY's recently released STAR WARS BLUEPRINTS: REBEL EDITION book/posters.

Here's our review link: STAR WARS AFICIONADO WEBSITE: CLASSIC REVIEW: 'STAR WARS BLUEPRINTS - REBEL EDITION'

Monday, 18 October 2010

CLASSIC IMAGE: DIRTY DAGOBAH!


At ELSTREE Studios during August/September 1979, the UK production technicians and dressers constantly alter/re-dress the misty and atmospheric bog world set of Dagobah to make it look like a new area of swamp land, as well as dirtying up Luke's X-wing further for the scene where Yoda, watched by his incredulous new Padawan, has used the Force to rescue it from the water. Note the empty Artoo Detoo shell far right which will house Kenny Baker in the scene/s to be filmed. Once the ship has safely touched down, a scene was filmed, but ultimately cut, in which the little droid hoses it down with water and begins cleaning it up.

Deleted scene of Artoo cleaning Luke's X-wing.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

ILM CLASSIC IMAGE: A HELPING HAND!


Monster creator and all round effects genius Phil Tippett gives a little bit of support to the head of a cute, beautifully detailed, Tauntaun during stop-motion filming (or as they called their new variation: "Go-Motion") for the exterior Hoth scenes being recreated and filmed at ILM during EMPIRE's late 1979 Post Production phase .

Saturday, 16 October 2010

CLASSIC IMAGE: ACTIVATING A BOUNTY!


Here's a rare April 1979 ELSTREE shot - and if anybody has this in its full photo entirety, and in better quality, please get in touch- that I don't remember in the film, with Darth Vader (David Prowse) in the assembled bounty hunter line stopping near Bossk (Alan Harris), whilst an intimidated Admiral Piett (Kenneth Colley) looks up. I'm assuming the pic was taken in final camera rehearsal for the interior Imperial Super Star Destroyer bridge scene, but its great nonetheless.

Friday, 15 October 2010

FIRST LOOK: "IT'S A TRAP!"

Image: FOX.

Here it is - one of the first officially released FAMILY GUY: IT'S A TRAP! images from their upcoming celebration of RETURN OF THE JEDI (coming December 2010). Image: copyright FOX TV.

I shudder to think whats going to happen when Quagmire/Threepio sees the Sarlaac Pit!

THE FORCE UNLEASHED: "THE CLONE WARS" SEASON TWO CONTINUES...

Mace Windu deflects an attack in THE CLONE WARS episode CHILDREN OF THE FORCE

Its not long now until the third season of THE CLONE WARS explodes onto the UK's SKY MOVIES HD platform, but until then SKY MOVIES SCI-FI AND HORROR continue to well represent the series fans, offering us the chance to catch up with multiple episodes of Season Two across Saturday and Sunday mornings this weekend. Tune in for further brilliantly animated slices of epic adventure, lightsaber combat, clone battles and lots of fun.

CLASSIC IMAGE: SNOW RAGE!


Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) braves the outside sub-zero temperatures of the icy planet Hoth and barks out his dissent to the nearby Imperial Probe Droid, for a scene filmed by Irvin Kershner and his EMPIRE first unit crew on location at Finse, Norway in March 1979.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

CLASSIC IMAGE: A PRINCESS AND A SCOUNDREL!


An early version of Roger Kastel's 1979/80 art for the homage GONE WITH THE WIND style poster of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Its a wonderful, timeless piece, and works beautifully in summing up the more sophisticated nature of the first STAR WARS sequel within its black and white reproduction.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

"THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK" - AN IMAGE EXTRAVAGANZA

Left to right: Irvin Kershner watches Ford, Fisher and Billy Dee Williams in a break before filming our heroes infamous dinner with Darth Vader. One of many great rare images in THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK book, out now in the UK from AURUM PRESS.

VANITY FAIR have a lovely picture gallery of rare colour and B/W behind the scenes images from the new THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK book by J. W. Rinzler, which is in bookstores now.

Check out the gallery (which includes the great above image) here:

CLASSIC IMAGE: IMPERIAL ARRIVAL!


As our Rebel heroes within the Millennium Falcon try to blast away from the dying remnants of their once Echo Base, a force of newly arrived Imperial Snowtroopers wades into the deserted hangar, setting up their heavy weaponry in an attempt to stop their targets from escaping. Lord Vader wants them alive!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

CHRONICLING AN "EMPIRE"


Author/film historian J.W. Rinzler gives another fine interview linked to THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK book (out now in the UK from AURUM PRESS), this time to the elite VANITY FAIR magazine website:

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2010/10/jw-rinzler-talks-about-the-making-of-star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back.html

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (OF HOTH)

On the Hoth set at ELSTREE, Carrie Fisher plays with a more normal type of white powder!

Classic Carrie Fisher talks about being "out there" on the 1979 set of EMPIRE:


Monday, 11 October 2010

REMEMBERING THAT FIRST LOOK AT "THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK"

Vader in flames! - Ralph McQuarrie's evocative cast and crew logo art for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in 1979 
I think of all the early pre-release trailers for the THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK during 1979 and 1980, the second is pretty much everyone's favourite, with the Harrison Ford narration and lots of tantalizing clips of lost moments or alternate takes, though I have to say I'm very, very fond of the first release trailer, which showed/debuted all of Ralph McQuarrie's stunning production paintings of what was to come on such a grand scale with the first STAR WARS sequel. In the UK, the trailer was shown with a re-release of STAR WARS around Summer 1979 and I remember my mum - fortunately for the world a fellow STAR WARS fan! Primarily due to Harrison Ford!- taking me one mid-evening to see the film for the gazillionth time at the ACE CINEMA in Brixton-our then local run down cinema (now an exotic dance/gig venue), but one which always showed classic children's films during the summer holidays all day (with everything from PETE'S DRAGON, THE RAILWAY CHILDREN, to the two-part TV SPIDERMAN episodes released theatrically here, Ray Harryhausen classics, and PLANET OF THE APES being shown to exhausted mothers with kids whom they were desperate to keep entertained and quiet for a couple of hours). I remember seeing the McQuarrie trailer (if I recall rightly it was actually shown after STAR WARS end credits had come up) and being absolutely blown away by the visions running across my eyes. I knew of McQuarrie from the very beginning of the original films release locally in suburban London from Jan 1978-and my brother had bought me the paintings set as a birthday present from a Brighton sci-fi convention- so seeing all the new movie paintings of his made it doubly exciting, especially on a  pretty large cinema screen, with the camera skillfully going in and out of the rapidly moving montage and generating excitement. I was totally hooked for EMPIRE.

Here's a link to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjRyczNO7UY

There are few artists out there that can pull off making you want to see a trailer with no live action footage at all and just a few character stills- McQuarrie didn't just achieve it (and kudos too to whoever it was that hit upon the idea for the trailer), he went beyond it by creating individualistic cinematic magic. And millions of STAR WARS fans around the world are indebted to him.

Friday, 8 October 2010

J.W. RINZLER ON WRITING "THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK"

With the upcoming release of THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (published in the UK by AURUM PRESS, and the US by RANDOM HOUSE), its author, J.W. Rinzler (pictured), who previously penned the superb best-seller THE MAKING OF STAR WARS, very kindly spared some time to speak to STAR WARS AFICIONADO about its writing and development.


STAR WARS AFICIONADO: Jonathan, congratulations on your new book. Like THE MAKING OF STAR WARS before it, I'm sure it will be a bestseller for a long time to come. Is THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK your favourite STAR WARS movie? And do you have a favourite moment from that film?

J.W. RINZLER: The first one - STAR WARS - is my favourite movie. Because it came out of nowhere. I was able to attend a sneak preview. It was a mind blowing event. Its the only one that has a beginning, a middle and end. And they (the other SW films) all sort of have beginnings, middles and ends, but the first one is really the only one. The second one is a very close second favourite. I love THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Its a great film, and if I have a favourite part in it - there are so many great parts in it - I'd have to say where the Falcon is being chased through space by the TIE's and Star Destroyers - the choreography is so beautiful there - particularly when they dive down and then you have the Star Destroyers up above. That's almost abstract art. And yet it works in the context of the film. Its really, really interesting and superbly done. And in my mind it has yet to be surpassed, except perhaps by the waterfall scene - that's what we call it - in EPISODE III (the final part of the Obi / Anakin duel on Mustafar) as well. There's some great stuff in JEDI. In all the films. I love them.

SWA: How long did you have to work on the new book? With all your other projects at LUCAS BOOKS how did you find time to put it all together?

JWR: Well, its not easy. The STAR WARS and EMPIRE books took about two years to do, and my main job here (at LUCASFILM) is as an editor, as my day job is working on projects like STAR WARS: FRAMES and STAR WARS: VISIONS, and the DK book YEAR BY YEAR, and so on. The books that I write and research, especially the writing, only takes place early morning, when I get up, between 6 and 7 am, and then 6-7 hours a day at weekends. But over the years in doing them I've also gotten pretty good at knowing which parts to keep and what not. I can do it pretty quickly. And the fact that I laid out this new book myself made things a lot more efficient.

SWA: What lessons/handy hints did you learn from the writing process for THE MAKING OF STAR WARS book that you could apply to THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK? 

JWR: Well, with EPISODE IV I read the scripts early, and was doing research on them and reading them at the same time. And that made it harder. For EPISODE V, and if we do (a book for) EPISODE VI, I read all the scripts - all five drafts - just to begin with. It makes all the subsequent research a lot easier to understand and follow with the different scenes and characters in each script draft. Its fascinating, and one of the most rewarding things to do.

Filming in Norway in 1979.


SWA: Was there anything included in this book that you weren't able to do with THE MAKING OF STAR WARS?

JWR: To get a lot more images into the first book. It was a little bit frustrating on the first one. It certainly ended up looking great, but I felt we could have had a few more images there. But sometimes you run up against production and design and they have their way on doing things. And also we added fifty pages late into the game on that first book, but this time RANDOM HOUSE said we've got 372 pages to begin with, so I was determined to get as many images possible in there. Sometimes the design may have suffered a little bit but we got around 1,200 images into it. I really wanted to tell the story, and the images have to be there with the text for the whole behind the scenes experience for the readers - something that hopefully the readers will enjoy. There were no great images for the first book that didn't get left out - all the best images were there - but the problem with the STAR WARS book was that it was low budget picture in a weird way - it was a big budget picture but not enough money - but I think they only had the one on set stills photographer available every third day of filming. On EMPIRE, Gary Kurtz was taking a lot of pictures, as was George Whitear - he was the official photographer for the movie and on set. He took many, many great pictures.

SWA: Which part of the book are you most proud of? 

JWR: I guess overall its hard for me to say proud, but I hope the overall flow of the book works and that people get a real sense of the epic story behind the scenes - that it all flows together - words and pictures.

SWA: What was the most difficult part of the book to research?

JWA: It's the beginning of the research. Its physically difficult to be in the archive, after three or four hours going through boxes and boxes of inter-office memorabilia. And then your mind begins to dull over and you don't want to miss something crucial. Then I got the notes that Miki Herman did - the weekly reports at ILM - all there in one box in a Eureka! moment. And then there was the same Eureka! moment with Ralph McQuarrie - all of his material should be in one section, but there was a box full of office reports and with them were two rare original art pieces of his - it was part of the licensing rather than the film, actually. That was a mini coup. Research - that's the hardest and the most fun.

The original concepts for the snow castle on Hoth.

SWA: What pieces of research linked to the book surprised you the most?

JWR: I found in one drawer five or six colour studies by Ralph that were misfiled about twenty/thirty years ago, where Ralph was testing out the colours prior to the full on production paintings - there's one that I think is early Coruscant, nobody's quite sure - and there was one of the battle with Darth Vader and Luke in the carbon freezing chamber. So that was all great. There was also finding a lot of great production drawings from Norman Reynolds - he doesn't get a lot of credit, but he was the one who designed the carbon freezing chamber set for the film. And then the legal archive came up to me one day and they had boxes and boxes of interesting material - all of which was great for the first part of the book.

SWA: Were there any behind the scenes filming myths that can finally be shot down?

JWR: Well, I personally am someone who loves cinema, who ended up working here at LUCASFILM, and got to know George and love the STAR WARS films, but I approach it from the big picture. I know that there had been rumours about Wampa attacks and so on, and they did film some Wampa attacks, and they did film one of them getting shot by the Rebels with a bazooka. And General Veers was supposed to get killed. Those come to my mind. ILM did film his (Veers) Walker getting blown up and then they decided to change that whole beginning sequence. It didn't make a whole lot of sense originally because you had Darth Vader landing on Hoth before they blew up the energy generator, and at some point George must have said, "Y'know, we should probably change this." Veers survived, they blew up the generator, then Vader came down. It makes a lot more sense. I know that ILM did it (Veers death) from their storyboards. Rebel pilot Hobbie - in a suicide run -flies straight into the head of the Walker. That shot of the Walker missing its head is still in the film. Its just used in a different part of the film. That's what I remember from doing the writing for the book.

SWA: Are there any rare photos/behind the scenes material on the film that you weren't able to find? Are there any other STAR WARS movie Holy Grails that you're still eager to track down?

JWR: Not really. There were some little mini-mysteries I got involved in whilst in the writing, because there were certain books that said that George had written the Third Draft of the EMPIRE script. George wrote the Second Draft after Leigh Brackett died. And it seemed that things were not as organised as sometimes people would imagine, and the Third Drafts that I had said the writing was by George. But reading that draft the writing seemed like it was by Lawrence Kasdan. I asked George about this. The Yoda dialogue between the two drafts was a lot better, and George said, "Probably Larry wrote it, then!" (laughs) and "Why don't you just follow it up and ask him." So I did, and Lawrence Kasdan had the title page for his script version that had his name on it so he faxed it to me and that cleared up that mini-mystery.

The Bespin duel.


SWA: With all the photography and artwork in the archives, how did you go about making your selections? It must have been very tough to be disciplined in your editing?

JWR: There's always a few moments like that. I even had more pictures in it at one point but then I showed it to the art director here (at LUCASFILM), Troy Alders, and he said, "Y'know, this is a little too much here, and you don't need to use two pictures when one will look better." And he was right. I did a second layout of the book and made it a lot more reader friendly. Its not fun to use a great picture too small and not see whats really happening in it. So we cut out some and blew up other pictures. Text-wise I got everything in there. I found the original Alan Arnold tapes so we were able to go back to the original transcriptions and stuff they couldn't say back in 1980 that we were able to say in 2010. It was a pretty satisfying experience. Thanks to Don Bies we managed to get those tapes re-transcribed - he managed to preserve those tapes in the archive as somebody had almost thrown them away.

SWA: In research, did you get to see any of the lost footage from EMPIRE, like the Wampa sequences?

JWR: For each book I go to our film archives and Sterling Hedgpeth basically cues up the different material - he does a lot of pre-research for me and he goes through the differences and shows me all the differences in cut. I pretty much see everything. I've seen the deleted scenes but I've also seen variations of other scenes and its very interesting. He was also able to dig up George's notes on the films first edit so that was a big help as well.

SWA: Will any of the material from the book also be working its way onto the upcoming 2011 Blu-rays?

JWR: They have access to the images that were found for the book. They could use them for the discs photo section.

SWA: You've penned a US released INDIANA JONES original novel. I was wondering if you might create an adventure for STAR WARS? 

JWR: Not for now. I'm probably more suited to the non-fiction side. We have a great stable of STAR WARS authors. I don't think they need me! The INDY original novel I did was supposed to be released in England but something happened and the publisher backed out. But you can still get it via AMAZON US.

SWA: Jonathan, thank you very much for speaking to us. We know the book will be superb.

JWR: When you get your copy of the EMPIRE book I hope you enjoy reading it.

SWA: We look forward to the MAKING OF JEDI, too!

JWR: We'll see if if that happens. This ones got to sell a few copies first!



THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is released on October 12th.

With thanks to J.W. Rinzler, Chris Argyropoulus at LUCASFILM, and Jodie Mullish at AURUM PRESS. 

UPDATE 10/10/2010. Check out the new extended six minute trailer for the book here:

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR!

The UK's SUNBIRD and PENWIZARD children's book publishing companies have joined forces to create a lovely new idea for STAR WARS publishing: the first personalised tale for THE CLONE WARS, where you, the reader, can become a major part of the action and adventure in both visuals and text, either as a hero or baddie (see the above image examples of personalised covers). The book is now available online in the UK and will be available to the US very soon.

Head over to our AFICIONADO review for more information:

Or visit www.penwizard.co.uk/clonewars

OBI-WAN KENOBI - THE MAN, THE JEDI


George Lucas on Obi-Wan Kenobi, talking to film publicist Alan Arnold in 1979: "The character started out as Luke's father and became the friend of Luke's father. I wanted a character who was an old warrior, very stately, a father image for Luke. He evolved out of that. He wasn't meant to be Christ-like, but rather a thoughtful and intelligent man with a noble bearing- a symbol of goodness and mystical power."

With thanks to Chris Baker for the image of Sir Alec Guinness.

Monday, 4 October 2010

THE CLONE WARS RAGE ON. SEASON THREE - SECRETS REVEALED!

Let's hope we see a lot more of Yoda in Season Three.
Its not long now- mere weeks- until UK viewers get to see the brand new third series of THE CLONE WARS exclusively on SKY MOVIES PREMIERE and HD. In the meantime, SKY has very kindly sent AFICIONADO some great new LUCASFILM ANIMATION images from the new series as a little taster.

Cad Bane makes an appearance at Jabba's Court. Does this signal the start of the Hutt Clan war?

A Republic gunship heads towards Tipocca City with urgent news.

Keep checking the AFICIONADO blog for more THE CLONE WARS updates.

CLASSIC IMAGE: THE MASTER AND AN APPRENTICE!

George Lucas and Hayden Christensen confer on an important scene leading to the fall of Anakin Skywalker in this 2003 image taken at the FOX STUDIOS in Australia for the finale of the STAR WARS movie saga- REVENGE OF THE SITH.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

RED TWO (AND JAR JAR) STANDING BY...


In a major coup, the upcoming London COLLECTORMANIA event of 27th and 28th November have two great STAR WARS guests attending. The first is popular UK film and TV actor Denis Lawson (who played fighter pilot Wedge Antilles) - his first ever UK signing appearance - and Jar Jar Binks himself - Ahmed Best! Great news for STAR WARS fans young and old.


Interestingly, over the last ten years or so, Lawson had previously been very reluctant to sign STAR WARS autographs, and even told family member Ewan McGregor not to play Obi-Wan in the Prequels!, so it'll be intriguing to see if he does a guest talk about his film/career and what he thinks about the saga these days. As for Ahmed, we're sure he'll be a big hit at the convention, especially with the kids who love Jar Jar.

Check out the COLLECTORMANIA website for more info: http://www.collectormanialondon.com/
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