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Exclusief: 16 pagina’s van het nieuwe boek van Dark Empire auteur Tom Veitch

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Dark Empire

Voor velen is het wellicht moeilijk voor te stellen maar eind jaren ’80, begin jaren ’90, was Star Wars ‘dood’. Films stonden niet op de planning, de Droids en Ewoks animatieseries behoorden (net als de Marvel comics) tot het verleden, de Expanded Universe bestond nog niet en in de speelgoedwinkels was ook niks te vinden.

In 1991 kwam echter een ommekeer toen Lucasfilm de franchise nieuw leven in blies: een boektrilogie én een nieuwe stripboekenreeks waarin de avonturen van Han, Leia en Luke in de jaren na Return of the Jedi te lezen waren.

Voor de stripboekenreeks (die Dark Empire) heette werden tekenaar Cam Kennedy en schrijver Tom Veitch ingehuurd. Samen met Timothy Zahn (die de befaamde Thrawn trilogy schreef) zijn deze heren als grondleggers belangrijk geweest in deze Star Wars Renaissance.

In de volgende jaren zou Veitch nog meer doen: scenario’s voor de comics Dark Empire II, Tales of the Jedi en Empire’s End en daarnaast ook nog het korte verhaal over Greedo voor het Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina boek.

Enige tijd geleden heb ik meermaals contact gehad met hem en tot mijn verrassing vertelde hij dat hij bezig is met een boek waarin zijn Star Wars memoires te lezen zijn. Dit boek zal later dit jaar verschijnen, maar… Star Wars Awakens heeft (samen met mijn eigen site StarWarsInterviews.com) een speciale wereldprimeur: van Tom mogen we (als eerste!) een selectie van 16 pagina’s uit dit boek publiceren.

Hieronder doet Tom Veitch uit de doeken hoe Dark Empire tot stand kwam. Hoe met de kritiek van Timothy Zahn op zijn verhaal werd omgegaan, hoe een oudere Luke, Han en Leia werden neergezet, de creatie van Anakin Solo, waarom Thrawn onorigineel was en waarom de clone van The Emperor een goed idee was.

Een absolute must-read voor fans van Dark Empire, de oude Expanded Universe en alle andere Star Wars fans.

The following is a section from my new book about my experiences creating expanded universe Star Wars comics in the 1990s. (Dark Empire & Tales of the Jedi). The book will be released later this year. ~ Tom Veitch

A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY NOT TOO FAR AWAY…

For about five years in the early 21st century I owned a bookstore in Bennington, Vermont. We specialized in old and rare books. But our shop also had lots of interesting books in every category, about forty thousand books altogether.

One of the highlights of those years was a series of talks I gave on the Star Wars movies and my experiences working on Star Wars comics. Guests at these talks generally numbered about ten, sitting in captain’s chairs around a big rustic mahogany table that was a replica of a table where Ernest Hemingway entertained guests at in his house in Key West.

These were free-wheeling talks, focused mainly on my ideas about the Jedi Knights and the two sides of the Force — light side and dark side. The talks also morphed into question and answer sessions in which my “students” would argue Star Wars trivia. And frankly, that was a lot of fun!

What follows is based on a transcript of a session in which we discussed Tim Zahn (author of the best-selling Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire) and the back-and-forth he and I had while we were writing our respective works.

__________________________

Q: So how did Dark Empire evolve, from your first proposals to when it was finally published by Dark Horse Comics?

TOM: As I already mentioned, I first approached Mr. Lucas in November of 1988. After a year of discussion, negotiation, and story treatments, on September 25, 1989 I submitted to Lucasfilm a 50 page synopsis for 144 pages of Star Wars comics, to be drawn and painted by Cam Kennedy and published as three 48 page books.

Q: This was before Tim Zahn proposed his novels?

TOM: Yeah. In terms of the creative timeline, the basic concepts for Dark Empire were proposed and accepted a year before Tim was hired by Bantam. And our project was fully outlined and plotted and approved by Lucas about a month before Zahn came on board.

Q: Can you give us more detail?

TOM: Sure. The way it went was like this: After our outline for three 48-page issues was approved, in October 1989, Lucasfilm told me they were going to approach Bantam about doing a new Star Wars novel, and they asked me if I would like to write a novelization of Dark Empire. I said sure, absolutely, and got very excited about the prospect.

Then, when they talked to Bantam, the editors there said they would love to do a new Star Wars book, but they would prefer to have one of their contract writers invent his own Star Wars story. In fact they had somebody in mind — Timothy Zahn, who was a rising star in the world of science fiction.

Zahn is quoted as saying, “It was just after four o’clock on November 6, 1989, and I was three days into writing my first novel for my new publisher, Bantam Books, when the phone rang. It was my agent. ‘Tim,’ he said after the usual pleasantries, ‘we have a very interesting offer here.'”

After that, Lucasfilm called me and said that Bantam had hired Zahn to do a book, also post-ROTJ, but different from Dark Empire. I was disappointed, but I offered to talk with the new writer and co-ordinate ideas and plotlines.

That didn’t happen. Instead, as I gather, somebody at Bantam suggested to Lucasfilm that they be allowed to generate their own comics and graphic novels, beginning with an adaptation of Zahn’s book! At the time it was public knowledge that graphic novels were making a lot of money — DC’s Arkham Asylum (by Grant Morrison, published October 1989) reportedly grossed $4.5 million in direct market sales.

Thankfully Lucasfilm honored our agreement. Besides, they were already in contract negotiations with Marvel at that point, so Bantam’s suggestion was a non-starter.

Q: So Dark Empire was still at Marvel at that point?

TOM: Yes it was. Archie Goodwin was our editor and we were rolling. …But then a curious chain of events began.

Bantam decided to keep Zahn in the dark about the existence of Dark Empire until he had finished plotting Heir to the Empire. My suggestion that we collaborate on the post-ROTJ timeline fell on deaf ears.

Indeed, when he turned in his own synopsis for Heir to the Empire, he was apparently unaware that the comics project even existed. Then, once his synopsis was approved, somebody got the idea of asking him to critique the story treatment I had written for Dark Empire.

Q: That sounds like one of those situations that people in the movie industry like to get into – everybody “giving notes” on projects that are already in motion. …Was that a big problem for you?

TOM: Not really. It was just a pain in the ass. And it reminded me that the “carte blanche” we had received initially had caveats – even after our outline was fully approved!

Anyway, one fine day I received a copy of Zahn’s detailed notes on Dark Empire. Along with it, I received a copy of his synopsis of Heir to the Empire. And Lucasfilm asked if I would respond to Tim’s critique and as write my own comments on his plot!

Q: Amazing.

TOM: One problem was that neither Archie Goodwin nor Cam and I liked Tim’s plot. It seemed rather pedestrian and unexciting. It wandered through a lot of scenes that were a rehash of the movies, but the pacing was non-cinematic and not much fun, visually speaking. Worse yet, the new characters were clearly knock-offs of characters from the films. For example, the character “Talon Karrde” was a Han Solo/Lando Calrissian clone. And “Admiral Thrawn” was a substitute for Darth Vader and Peter Cushing (as Grand Moff Tarkin). Another character, the dark Jedi “Jorus C’baoth” shared the qualities of both Vader and The Emperor.

Substitute villains who are similar to well-known villains can be o.k., but usually you have to spend a lot of time making people believe in them. Our idea was to build on the tremendous power that the Emperor, Jabba the Hutt, and Boba Fett already held over the viewer’s imagination. And rather than having a new character try to convert Luke to the Dark Side, we would show that the very essence of the Dark Side — the Emperor — still lives, more powerful than ever.

Q: And Luke falls under his spell. Which is cool, but as you know, some people didn’t like that you brought back the Emperor.

TOM: I sympathize…but these folks were probably unfamiliar with the history of movie serials and comics, where great villains never completely die — they always return. Star Wars, as you know, was partly based on Flash Gordon, a movie serial and comic strip in which the principal villain, the evil emperor Ming the Merciless, is never completely killed off. For instance, consider the 1980 Flash Gordon movie where Max von Sydow as Ming is impaled by his own war rocket (of which Flash had taken control). After a vain attempt to stop Flash attacking him, Ming ultimately points his ring at himself and he vanishes. Then, just before the credits begin, his ring is retrieved by an unknown individual, and the words “The End” and a question mark appear, as Ming’s evil laughter plays in the background, hinting he isn’t really dead. (from Wikipedia)

Q: Zahn said in an interview that bringing back the Emperor goes against the story of Return of the Jedi, where we see the Emperor destroyed by Darth Vader.

TOM:  Zahn misses something essential about that ROTJ scene: When the Emperor dares Luke to “strike me down”, he seems utterly indifferent to his own death! He feels that whatever the outcome of this confrontation with Luke, he, Palpatine, will conquer:

EMPEROR: Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenseless.  Take your weapon!  Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.

It was my thesis that in ROTJ the Emperor chose this moment to come out of his deep seclusion in the Imperial City, because he no longer feared for the safety of his physical body. His mastery of the Dark Side had become such that he was now ready to make a transition he had been working toward for many years — namely the replacement of his aging, diseased, and crippled body with a young clone! Tempting Luke to strike him in anger with a lightsaber could thus accomplish two things: It would bring Luke over to the dark side…and it would mark the moment when Palpatine made the transition to his clone body.

Luke, as we know, resisted the temptation to kill the Emperor. Then Vader hurled the Emperor down the deep reactor shaft, and we saw a series of blue flashes marking the Emperor’s demise. The blue flashes represented the Emperor’s living energy, his conscious dark force, leaving his body. And according to our story, his consciousness was translated across the Galaxy almost instantaneously and entered a new youthful body. Using cloned bodies Palpatine could live forever…and rule the Empire for thousands of years!

Q: It’s interesting, I think Palpatine alludes to living forever in the prequels.

TOM: That he does. Here’s a quote from Revenge of the Sith:

ANAKIN: Just help me save Padme’s life. I can’t live without her. I won’t let her die. I want the power to stop death.

PALPATINE: To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.

I believe Palpatine is referring to his own Sith master, Darth Plagueis, a canonical character who is supposed to have manipulated the midichlorians to achieve immortality and even create life.

Q: If the Emperor was going to continue to rule the Galaxy, he obviously was going to have to do something about his aging flesh.

TOM: Exactly. And if you ask me, the films nicely foreshadow Dark Empire and the Emperor’s scheme to live and rule the Galaxy … forever.

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GALAXY IN CHAOS

Q: Are you going to cover any more of Zahn’s criticisms?

TOM: Sure. He raised a few interesting points, as did some of the readers of the finished comic. I’d especially like to address the question of “Force Storms”, which appear right in the first chapter of our story.

Q: I thought the “Force Storm” worked, because it cuts to the chase regarding Luke and the Emperor confronting each other. But if the Emperor can make these energy storms, what does he need a Deathstar for? He could control the Galaxy by striking with raw Force energy!

TOM: Exactly. And that was one of the questions that Tim Zahn raised as well. But as a logical writer, he should have realized that since the Empire built two Death Stars, obviously the “Force Storm” must have limitations as an instrument of destruction!

In fact, in the Dark Empire Glossary which we provided to Lucasfilm (and to West End Games, for their Dark Empire Sourcebook), a Force Storm is defined thus:

Tornado of energy released by great disturbances in the Force. Also called Energy Storm. Unpredictable, but powerful Dark Side adepts have had limited success in purposely creating such storms.

And in my response to Zahn, I said:

“What is the mechanism of a Force Storm? I would suggest that it is a function of two powerful minds focused on each other: Luke and the Emperor. It’s as if a wormhole in the Force has opened between them, causing a massive release of energy. The Emperor, unlike Luke, has learned how to use this rare event to his advantage.”

That’s the explanation we used in the finished comic book. But in my letter to Zahn, I also mentioned there could be other explanations, equally as valid — for instance having to do with something (such as a Sith holocron) Luke found in the Imperial Palace. That’s just part of the fun, you know — dreaming up imaginative special effect sequences — and then figuring out the logic of how and why they can happen. If the logic can’t be found, then yes, the effects should be jettisoned.

Q: What if the use of the Force in this way was a recent discovery by the Emperor? He might have unearthed that bit of sorcery from ancient Sith archives, or from powers locked in Sith temples.

TOM: Sure. That works. And speaking of logic, I’ll tell you something else. In the films the Death Stars are portrayed as the ultimate technological weapon you would use to control a Galaxy of thousands (or even millions) of inhabited star systems. But did you ever consider that the logic of the Death Star is deeply flawed?

Q: You mean it was vulnerable to being destroyed by a tiny X-Wing?

TOM: No, not just that. The Death Star is an extremely impractical use of hyperspace travel. The realistic way to control a Galaxy (if I may use the word “realistic” relative to a science fiction fantasy) is by firing hyperspace missiles from stationary bases. You can build an untold number of such projectiles, each capable of destroying a planet. And when a system gets uppity or joins the Rebellion, you simply launch one of these faster-than-light missiles and they are obliterated.

Q: That sounds like your “Galaxy Gun” from Dark Empire!

TOM: Yes. My theory is that Lucas was so focused on the Death Star idea, that he missed the flawed logic and the impracticality of it.

Q: But so did everybody who saw the movie. I mean, it was so cool. And so big.

TOM: Definitely awesome. But once the Galaxy Gun concept hit the light of day in our comics, Death Stars became obsolete. In fact, in the J.J. Abrams film, The Force Awakens, they used our concept as the basis for the hyperspace superweapon mounted on Starkiller Base. This weapon is described as “capable of destroying entire star systems halfway across the galaxy.” It is also described as the result of an evolution in “hyperspace tunneling.”

Q: Then it’s really an adaptation of the Galaxy Gun?

TOM: Yes it is. But it’s not that difficult to understand that all kinds of hyperspace weapons are inevitable, once you posit hyperspace travel. Lucas overlooked that fact because he was hypnotized by the Death Star idea.

Q: You could say the same about Star Trek. I don’t think they have used lightspeed weaponry yet, but they could. If they haven’t, it might be because they are more about characters than technology.

TOM: I believe phasers and photon torpedoes can be fired while a warp speed. But as far as I know nobody has fully explored the implications of that. …The fact of the matter is that faster-than-light missiles or projectiles could truly master a galaxy. But they would also result in galaxy-wide wars between competing technological cultures. Sort of like the situation we have on earth right now, with a number of countries already armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. Extrapolate that situation to a galaxy – or THE Galaxy – and you have a truly explosive situation.

As a matter of fact, that’s another of the built-in flaws of the Star Wars saga. Thousands upon thousands of independent planetary systems would be functionally autonomous and hidden from the prying eyes of “the Empire”. It would take an unthinkably massive surveillance and control network to bring a Galaxy under a central government. You think we have trouble with Iran or North Korea developing nuclear weapons deep inside a mountain? Imagine the technologies of war being developed in secret — or even in the open — by independent civilizations on thousands, or perhaps millions, of planets!

Q: And then there is the “illegal” arms trade. Out of sight out of mind. The possibilities are mind boggling.

TOM: Yes, I can imagine that in a real Star Wars Galaxy hyperspace weapons would be developed and traded all over the place. And every peaceful planet would have to worry about planet-busting missiles popping out of hyperspace at any time…with nobody knowing who launched them!

Q: I wonder if anybody on Star Trek ever thought a beaming a bomb aboard the Enterprise or from the Enterprise to another vessel?

TOM: I believe the concept was used at least once on Star Trek Voyager. Google “Star Trek transporter bomb” for lots of discussion on this.

Q: With the proliferation of nukes here on earth, what do you think is going to happen?

TOM: Oh, I think there is going to be a nuclear war. A big one. I have no idea when, but I think it is inevitable. Probably in this century. …Did you know they are already developing autonomous submersible nuclear torpedoes that will circle the earth’s oceans undetected? Imagine a coastal city suddenly demolished, and nobody knows who did it!

Q: That’s terrible.

TOM: And we are all praying it doesn’t happen. But it will. And we need to believe that, in order to do something to prevent it. …Now, can we get back to Star Wars?

Q: Definitely. Real life is too scary! … Can you say more about Zahn’s plot for the post-ROTJ Galaxy?

TOM: Sure. What’s especially interesting, from my point-of-view, is that Zahn’s plot provides a basis for saying that without the thousands of Jedi Knights who once formed the backbone of the Old Republic, the new confederation is a precarious one and “long years of struggle ensued.”

Q: I liked that you have the Rebels using captured Star Destroyers against the remnants of the Empire.

TOM: That idea was original with us. One of these captured Star Destroyers, commanded by Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian, crashes on the Imperial planet (now named Coruscant by Tim Zahn). And as our book opens, Princess Leia and her husband Han Solo, together with the Wookiee Chewbacca and the protocol droid C-3PO, are on a mission to rescue Luke and Lando.

Q: Tim didn’t like the idea that you could crash land a Star Destroyer?

TOM: Right. In his critique of my 50-page synopsis, he took a proton torpedo to that idea:

“A Star Destroyer is a mile long. If something that size crashed into the Imperial City, the city and more of the surrounding county would be gone, devastated by a combination of the direct impact, the ground and atmospheric shock waves, and the firestorm and probably earthquake. There most certainly wouldn’t be any fighting going on around it.”

TOM: Tim’s critique was interesting, but I strongly disagreed. I explained to Tim that hugely expensive Star Destroyers would be equipped with anti-gravity devices (also called “repulsor lift”) for emergency touch-downs and surviving crash-landings. The technology is widely available, and the ship designers would use it. Deflector shields (and even tractor beams) could also be incorporated into braking devices.

Q: I guess he hadn’t seen The Force Awakens.  (laughs)

TOM: Or Rogue One. My main point, however, was that the image of a Star Destroyer lying broken and helpless on the surface of a planet is just too cool not to use. All that technological power — now become so much junk. The creators of The Force Awakens clearly agreed, for the opening scenes of the 2015 movie show the heroine, Rey, scavenging parts for resale off a crashed Star Destroyer.

Q: And in Rogue One we see a Star Destroyer hovering over a city. That means they were definitely deploying anti-grav technology on those giant ships.

TOM: Tim had another argument about ships of very large size having to stay in space “well away from planet-sized bodies.” As he put it, “It takes an incredible amount of energy to move a quarter cubic mile of metal up and down a gravity well.”

Q: That sounds rational.

TOM: It’s based on the physics of energized propulsion and repulsion. …Nobody knows how anti-gravity will work, once it is discovered or invented. But it is very easy to theorize that it will involve some yet to be understood law of physics that allows you to reverse an existing gravity field. So, if you are over a planet, you potentially have the planet’s entire gravity field as your “power source”.

Q: Right. It also seems like Tim was inclined to give precedence to old-fashioned Newtonian physics over imagination!

TOM: Keep in mind nobody yet knows what we will ultimately learn about gravity waves. Will they be manipulated like electromagnetic waves?

Q: Yeah, and what about all the strange possibilities of quantum physics?

TOM: To give Tim his due, not every Star Destroyer would be able to survive a crash-landing. For example, can you imagine a ship that size hitting a planet point first!

Q: Cool Star Destroyer crashes have been used all over the place, in games, animated films, comics… I think I saw one or two in your comics.

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AGING THE CHARACTERS

TOM: Since Dark Empire takes place five or six years after the end of Return of the Jedi, the characters have matured quite a bit. Luke is now a fully realized Jedi, manly and battle-hardened.

Han and Leia are married. We wanted to move beyond the kind of teenage feuding that characterized their earlier years and bring out a new theme: the never-ending war has given them little time to enjoy their relationship. Indeed, months pass where they don’t see each other at all, and the brief reunions are intense and passionate. They care about each other.

Q: That’s interesting. They kind of used that in The Force Awakens too.

TOM: To good effect, I thought. These are people who have been fighting a never-ending war. They are both battle-hardened and battle-weary.

Q: But Han and Leia were estranged in The Force Awakens. I didn’t care for that.

TOM: Me too. …In any case, in Dark Empire Leia’s Jedi powers, under the guidance of Luke, have begun to develop — although she has yet to take up the lightsaber. My plan was to give Leia more intuitive and mental or psychic powers rather than the athletic abilities that Luke demonstrated. She didn’t really take to the idea of cutting off arms and legs in battle. That said, she would come to own a lightsaber, bestowed upon her by the “fallen Jedi” Vima Da Boda.

Tim Zahn complained about this too, saying that Leia should have a lightsaber at the beginning of Dark Empire, and be fully trained in its use. He also objected to Leia using the Force “to blow up droids”. I explained to him that the Jedi don’t “blow up” things, but they do use telekenisis to move the inner components of droids and assault weapons, causing them to self-destruct.

This is the same power Yoda used to raise the X-Wing in The Empire Strikes Back. So it follows that Luke doesn’t blow up AT-ATs. He uses his lightsaber to deflect and return their fire. Then he uses telekinesis to tip them over.

Q: I wonder if using the Force to blow up stuff should be totally off limits?

TOM: The question of “blowing up” came up in meetings I held early on with a local Star Wars club — a group of enthusiastic guys and girls who were deeply into the West End Star Wars roleplaying game. As we discussed and agreed, the Light Side of the Force is not explosive — although it is likely it could initiate a powerful concussion wave.

Q: O.K., but what about the Dark Side? The Emperor’s lightning bolts ought to be able to blow up a few things.

TOM: Agreed. The electrical discharges emitted by the Emperor, which seem to be a major power of the Sith Lords, could easily ignite rocket fuel or even start a fire in garbage compactor! So let me ask everybody here today — can the Dark Side “blow things up”?

Q: Well, we know that Luke blew up the Death Star using the Force to guide a torpedo. Does that count?

Q: Concussion waves are good. A Jedi of the Light Side could hit something with one of those.

Q: Dark Jedi Exar Kun killed people with “Force blasts” in Tales of the Jedi, as I recall. I don’t know if good Jedi ever did that.

TOM: Not to my knowledge.

Q: I am thinking that the Dark Side of the Force could interfere with matter at the atomic level … maybe even cause a small nuclear explosion. Why couldn’t advanced Light Jedi do that?

TOM: Maybe a Jedi could do that in special circumstances, with highly focused meditation. Or by mastering the physics of Force Storms. This goes along with the idea that Dark Side powers are available to very advanced Jedi, if the need arises. Since the Force “surrounds and penetrates us”, terrible things may be possible to one who learns the Dark Side of the Force.

Q: There’s a rumor going around that Luke will create Force explosions in Star Wars VIII. But that is just fan speculation at this point. [Note: He didn’t.]

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CHILDREN OF THE JEDI

TOM: To continue, our plan from the get-go was that Han and Leia would have a child. The Jedi lineage will continue! As it turned out, Zahn beat us to it, giving Han and Leia two children, Jacen and Jaina. So our Solo child was the third, a son named after his grandfather Anakin.

Q: Ah, the famous Jedi Anakin Solo! …Why did you name him Anakin?

TOM: My idea was to call him “Anakin” because he would embody both the light and dark aspects of the Skywalker lineage and suffer great inner conflict in his life. As it turned out, this was how Kasdan and Abrams came to visualize Han and Leia’s son Ben aka Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. In their story, the Dark Side takes over the personality of Ben Solo.

Q: That doesn’t happen to Anakin.

TOM: My plan was that the Light Side would win out in Anakin after inner battles between the two sides of his being. As I understand it, subsequent Expanded Universe writers chose to make the Light Side consistently strong in Anakin, and that he died a hero. I have no problem with that, but a lot of stories about Anakin’s inner conflict didn’t get told!

Q: What about Chewbacca?

TOM: Our intention was that Chewie would appear essentially the same as he did in the films. So would Boba Fett for that matter! And the R2D2 and C3PO are in good shape, and fully functional, although C3P0 would complain about his “aging joints”.

Q: Did Tim Zahn have any more complaints about Dark Empire?

TOM: A few. One thing he didn’t like was my statement that “the power of all the Jedi who have gone before is focused in Luke Skywalker.” …Now, I can see how one could argue with that statement. But Tim’s critique was, I thought, curiously out of touch with the nature of both the Force and the Jedi. He said: “Knowledge of the Force is a highly individual and personal thing, coming from one’s OWN talent and efforts to develop that talent. To say that dead Jedi can pass on their power is to infinitely cheapen the concept, reducing it to little more than a spiritual bank account with transfer privileges…”

Q: And you disagreed?

TOM: I certainly did. Here’s my full response, which was passed to Tim. I’d be happy to argue it here, if you like:

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MY RESPONSE TO TIM

Now Tim doesn’t like the idea of “the power of all the Jedi who have gone before” being focused in Luke. I think it follows logically from the fact, shown in the films, that the Jedi don’t break off communication when they die. There would be a tremendous need, among the fallen Jedi, to right the great wrong done to their Company. They wouldn’t just drift off to the Elysian Fields (as Zahn shows Obi-Wan doing in his plot outline).

Thus the idea of focusing on Luke, the last of their kind — the last hope for the Jedi.

I disagree that knowledge of the Force is merely “a highly individual and personal thing”, a kind of talent that one develops. Indeed, we know the Force is “an energy field created by all living things that binds the universe together”. The Jedi Knights were trained to tap into this collective energy, and use it in combat or for other magical purposes.

Yes, that takes a certain talent and skill — and an individual relationship to this vast well of power… But the ultimate talent for using the Force comes not from the ego or “one’s own efforts”, but from “letting go” the ego’s need to control. The Force then “becomes strong in you”, suggesting a kind of mystical sharing, through feeling — a conscious relationship to this collective and all-pervasive energy.

I think it’s Tim who misses the mark when he reduces knowledge of the Force to a “highly individual and personal thing, coming from one’s OWN [his caps] talent and efforts to develop that talent.” He would (it seems) reduce what is essentially an Eastern idea to the ordinary Western struggle for heroic identity.

Needless to day, Tim’s idea contradicts the way Luke learned to let go of the need to control and to “feel the Force” in the very first Star Wars film.

Q: Hard to argue with that. Luke gives up his personal effort when he battles the remote aboard the Falcon … and when he destroys the Death Star.

Q: It sounds like Tim was on a mission to change Star Wars into an old-fashioned outer space shoot-em up.

TOM: I have no comment on that. But I would remind folks that the idea of “collective mind” goes back to the beginnings of science fiction, and was wonderfully expressed in the movie Forbidden Planet — a movie that had a big effect on George Lucas.

Q: You mean with the planetary machine that brings to life your unconscious demons?

TOM: Exactly. And who can forget all the stories of super-brained aliens whose shared consciousness is far beyond the knowledge and talent of earth’s greatest scientists. …Tim apparently wanted to reduce everything back to a safe and highly predictable level in which spiritual or transcendent forces are no longer part of the picture.

Q: Did you guys argue about any other things?

TOM: There were a few minor points, such as whether the spires on the Pinnacle Moon were geologically possible. And there was another big dispute about the Dark Side and the relationships of “dark Jedi” on planet Byss — the secret throne-world of the Emperor in the Galactic core, permeated with the Dark Side of the Force. Again, according to Zahn:

“The dark side of the force is a path of selfishness, a seeking for personal gain above all else. There cannot be, by definition, any kind of genuine friendship or cooperation between Dark Jedi; only mastery and subservience based on power. A stable society of them simply cannot exist. …An entire world of dark-side adepts would be embroiled in continual, violent war with itself as each member sought for power over all the others. There would be temporary alliances which, after achieving power, would disintegrate in internal battle and in turn be overthrown by a new temporary alliance of its enemies. Given that, there are only two ways that the Emperor could hold onto any kind of permanent power: either he is so powerful that NO combination of the others is stronger (which seems unlikely with a whole planet full of them to choose from) — or else he must be powerful enough to destroy all the others, in which case the whole concept of Byss goes out the window. …[Veitch] ignores the reality of what the dark side is. The “adepts of the dark side” would never have helped the Emperor get a new body and thus regain power over them.”

Q: I guess Tim never heard of Nazi Germany!

TOM: Yeah, in fact there are so many historical precedents of stable societies permeated by evil, what he says just seems silly.

Q: And who can forget Lord of the Rings, for godsakes! The One Ring holds a mystical dark power to bind whole populations. In a way, a Dark Lord of the Sith, such as Palpatine, is a mirror of Sauron, ruler of Mordor.

TOM: We could have a long discussion about the parallels of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars …In any case, Tim and I disagreed. And I tried to ground my answer to him in the Star Wars movies themselves, which, curiously enough, are built around the idea of a stable society ruled by the Dark Side — a society called “The Empire”!

Q: Whoops. Sorry, Tim. No Death Stars for you!

TOM: To complete the discussion here’s a portion of my long response to Tim:

______________________

RESPONSE TO TIM ON COOPERATION OF DARK JEDI

Tim says there cannot, by definition, be any kind of cooperation between Dark Jedi, and a stable society of them cannot exist.

I disagree. The attempt to create a stable society based on the power of the Dark Side is what the Emperor — and STAR WARS — is all about.

The Emperor clearly has an ongoing relationship with Vader (”my friend” he calls him). The Emperor also confers with other strangely garbed figures in Return of the Jedi. Like all “dark side politicians”, he is a man of relationships — when he needs them.

The respect the Emperor shows for anyone who can use the Force is based on the hope that these powerful people will capitulate to his will and become useful to him.

The same principle would be behind the “society of Dark Adepts” on Byss.

Now, why would a whole group of Adepts submit to the Emperor, when they could overthrow him, etc., as Tim suggests?

Why did the Assassins Guild submit to Hassan I Sabbah? Whey do the dark angels serve Satan? Why did the Gestapo serve Hitler? Why did Caligula reign over Rome? What about Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great, the Pharoahs, etc. etc.?

A dark magician can have trusted servants. Lesser power users will serve one who is clearly their superior. Sometimes, yes, they will scheme against him, attempt to bring him down, and so forth. But from the three existing STAR WARS films we get a distinct impression that the Emperor is secure in his inner circle. And it is this security that gives him the confidence to reach out to control a galaxy.

A strange peace reigns on Byss … the peace of satiated vampires. All rewards flow from the center — and each Adept receives exactly what he desires. If he should desire too much, then yes, then he can be eliminated.

It’s all written in human history. Byss can be nothing more than the experience of men. (And, it should be noted, not everyone on Byss uses the Force, although all (or most) are under the spell of the Dark Side. Most of the inhabitants of the Emperor’s throne world are ordinary galactic citizens who have “earned the privilege” to move to Byss … or else were lured here by the promise of an “idyllic refuge”.)

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THE SECRETS OF THE FORCE

TOM: Tim had what I considered to be a conflicted understanding the hero and his quest. For him, being a Jedi came down to “individual talent and effort”.  But Tim also understood that “learning dark side secrets” meant surrendering to the dark side of the Force:

“The dark side has no ‘secrets’ that Luke can learn and use, not  unless he goes to the dark side himself. The dark side is about motivations and ethics, not something as simple and neutral as technique. It would be like Luke deciding to learn judo from the Emperor…”

Q: I get the feeling Tim wouldn’t approve of the blind warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe, the character in Rogue One who takes on opponents with his staff, with great skill, despite being blind.

TOM: Good point. It seems that for some writers, Eastern martial arts are “techniques” separate from a spiritual and moral core. The opposite is the case, of course. And that’s the essence of Star Wars. That connection between inner and outer worlds was what our story is about. It was always about mental and spiritual conflict — not simply learning tricks and techniques.

Q: But in your story, Luke believed he could apprentice himself to the Emperor and not “surrender to the dark side”.

TOM: Exactly. But Luke also knew that he carried the heritage of Darth Vader in his blood. From The Empire Strikes Back onward, his struggle was very much about human psychology and “the inner war with the Shadow” — the Shadow being an aspect of himself !

Q: Who can forget Luke’s confrontation with himself in the Dark Side Tree on Dagobah? He saw his own face inside Darth Vader’s helmet!

TOM: It’s all there in the films, in the relationship of Luke and his father, and the teachings of Yoda. The war of good and evil is as much inner as it is outer. If it is only outside yourself and your “techniques”, there is only endless combat and numberless deaths.

Star Wars is as much about a war in the mind and spirit as it is about ships blasting each other with death rays. That’s what makes it the films the huge success they are. Star Wars is about the use of cosmic energies — the Force — through the awakening of intuitive knowledge.

Q: One thing your exchange with Zahn proves to me — Star Wars is many things to many people. Everybody finds what he wants in it.

TOM: That’s very true. And in fact, if you read a lot of the Expanded Universe stories, you can see how most writers project their own psychology and personal narratives into the work.

_____________________

LIGHT MIND / DARK MIND

TOM: At the time I sent in my original proposal, I didn’t quite know how the story would end, except that Luke and Leia would overpower the Emperor by joining their minds in the Force. Tim had a problem with that, of course. He said my idea was “an insult to the Star Wars philosophy”. He said that the idea that Luke and Leia would use mental power to destroy the Emperor was “completely and absolutely WRONG.” [his caps]

Q: Weird.

TOM: Well, I think he might have misunderstood what I wrote in the proposal, about “whole areas of the dark mind falling to the light side of the Force…” I also said that at that moment “everything Luke has learned about the dark side is transmuted and turned against the Emperor.”

Q: He must have missed the word “transmuted”.

TOM: I don’t know. He accused me of violating the code of the Jedi by “tampering with the very soul” of the Emperor — as if Palpatine had a soul!

Q: You know, your feisty exchange with Tim Zahn makes me think of a couple of twelve-point bucks battling for dominion in the forests of Endor.  (laughs)

TOM: No doubt there was some of that in it. But basically it was a clash of two different views of life … and of Star Wars. Readers will have to decide the argument for themselves.

Q: And did you write a critique of Heir to the Empire?

TOM: I wrote a short critique. I really didn’t like the idea of subjecting Tim to a long list of “notes”. Overall, I was disappointed with his book. As a story it seemed derivative and uninspired. But my main problem, which I wrote to Lucasfilm, was that I found his book curiously uncinematic. I felt (and still feel) that all Star Wars novels need to be highly visual and give you the impression you might be sitting in a theater. I told him Heir to the Empire didn’t feel at all like watching a movie. Fortunately Tim took that criticism to heart and his subsequent work was a definite improvement.

Q: You saw those books before publication?

TOM: Yes, they sent me the manuscripts, so that I’d make sure our stories were coordinated. But I wasn’t asked to give any more notes — nor was he. The one good thing from our spirited exchange in 1990 was that everybody backed off and let Cam and I finish Dark Empire. A couple years later somebody at LucasArts complimented me on my responses to Zahn’s critique. “Boy, you two guys really got into it,” she said. “It was like a lightsaber duel. He was out to destroy you, but your comebacks to Tim were spot on.”

______________________

Geboren toen de opnames van A New Hope van start gingen. Voormalig assistent van Anthony Daniels. Auteur van de 'Star Wars Interviews' boekenreeks waarvoor hij 180+ cast en crewleden interviewde. Trots op zijn vermeldingen in de credits van de boeken The Making of Return of the Jedi, Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor, The Star Wars Historical Sourcebook, The Star Wars Archives en Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

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Behind the Scenes: Sarlacc Pit

In deze – voorlopig – laatste editie van Behind the Scenes nemen we de beruchte Sarlacc Pit scène uit Return of the Jedi onder de loep. We bekeken wat er allemaal aan voorafging en wat er op de set gebeurde…

De buitenkant van Jabba’s Sail Barge werd als grote set gebouwd in de Buttercup Valley in Yuma, Arizona. Nevada, Colorado, Spanje, Algerije en zelfs Tunesie (waar A New Hope en de Prequels deels werden opgenomen) waren ook mogelijkheden. Gekozen werd dus voor Arizona, waar het filmen startte in april 1982. Ondanks de hitte die tijdens de opnames heerste (meer dan 30 graden) was er een onverwachte regen vlak voor de opnames begonnen.

Het bouwen van de set was een enorm project. Het duurde vijf maanden voordat een van de grootste sets uit de filmgeschiedenis gebouwd was. De set was 76 meter lang (gemeten vanaf de Sarlacc tot de hoogste mast); deze masten konden omlaag ‘s nachts in verband met de wind. Goedkoop was het bouwen ook niet: Zo kostte de eerste lading hout (nodig voor het bouwen van de Sail Barge) maar liefst $100.000 en was er voor 6400 kilo aan spijkers nodig.

Een zichtbaar relaxte Harrison Ford geniet van de brandende zon in de Buttercup Valley bij Yuma, Arizona.

Special Effects expert Joe Johnston was het brein achter de ‘looks’ van Jabba’s Sail Barge. Hij wilde dat het op een soort archaïsch plezierschip zou lijken. Tegelijkertijd zou het er praktisch en modern uit moeten zien. De kleine skiffs (zoals die waarop onze helden vervoerd worden) dienden gezien te worden als een soort van ‘reddingsboten’. Dit resulteerde is eenzelfde soort looks als hun ‘grote broer’.

Producent Howard Kazanjian:”Tijdens Thanksgiving was het noodzakelijk de set af te schermen. Er waren namelijk dune-buggy rijders in de buurt van de set die mogelijk in de verte tijdens de opnames te zien zouden zijn. Verder dienden we het geheim te houden dat we de nieuwe Star Wars aan het verfilmen waren. We zeiden tegen iedereen dat we bezig waren met een horror-film: Blue Harvest: Horror Beyond Imagination. Dit hield ik ook vol nadat ‘s nachts iemand voorbij de security was gekomen en foto’s van de set had gemaakt. Velen geloofden dit, op 60 die-hard fans na. Gelukkig gingen deze rustig weg nadat er wat handtekeningen waren uitgedeeld. Verder verliepen de opnames perfect.

Volgens regisseur Richard Marquand gingen de opnames ook prima: “Met uitzondering van twee dagen waarop we vanwege zandstormen niet konden filmen verliep alles naar wens. Overigens kon ik zelfs op die twee dagen enkele bruikbare shots maken.

Producer Howard Kazanjian (uiterst links) en George Lucas (zwarte jas) overzien een miniatuurset van d Sarlacc. Production designer Norman Reynolds (uiterst rechts) en regisseur Richard Marquand (2e van rechts) zijn zichtbaar met Lucas in discussie.

Trivia:

  • Oorspronkelijk wilde George Lucas een gevecht tussen Lando en Boba Fett. Uiteindelijk werd dit aangepast in de ‘lucky kill’ van Han, die per toeval Boba Fetts jetpack activeert.
  • Scenarioschrijver Lawrence Kasdan had vanaf het begin al het idee om Leia een einde te laten maken aan Jabba the Hutt. Lucas daarentegen wilde een dramatische dood, maar besloot om mee te gaan met het idee van Kasdan. De huidige scène is een ode aan The Godfather, waar het karakter Luca Brasi op dezelfde manier wordt omgebracht.
  • Ongelukken op de set waren er ook: Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) vatte vlam tijdens een explosie, maar kwam er zonder verwondingen vanaf. Minder geluk had effectentechnicus John Cabot op 13 april 1982 toen een boiler explodeerde. Cabot liep 1e en 2e graads verwondingen op.
  • Er waren drie camera’s voor de belangrijke shots aanwezig, maar voor enkele scènes werden er zes ingezet.
  • Hevige wind zorgde ervoor dat er overal zand in kwam. Dit kon funest zijn, want één korrel zand kon het hydraulische systeem van de Sarlacc defect maken. Zelfs na twee weken zat in diverse props nog zand, waaronder de R2-units.

Herken je deze scene niet? Dat komt omdat hij is weggeknipt uit de film. In deze scene (die zich afspeelt na de ontsnapping aan de Sarlacc) betreden de helden de Millennium Falcon.


Bekijk ook de overige delen in de Behind the Scenes reeks!

Cloud City

Dagobah

Endor

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Behind the Scenes: Endor

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Behind the Scenes: Endor

Voor de derde editie van ‘Behind the Scenes’ gaan we naar The Forest moon of Endor, die in Return of the Jedi een belangrijke rol speelde. We bekeken wat er allemaal aan voorafging en wat er zoal op de set gebeurde…

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Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa) en George Lucas op de Ewok village set.

Locaties

De scènes die in de studio opgenomen werden zijn gefilmd in de oude vertrouwde Elstree Studios in Engeland. Enkele jaren daarvoor werden de meeste ‘Cloud City’ scènes uit The Empire Strikes Back daar opgenomen. De buitenscènes werden opgenomen op locatie in Crescent City, Californië. Deze locatie werd echter geteisterd door enorme takken van soms 21 meter lang die los in de bomen hingen en er zo uit konden vallen met alle gevolgen van dien. De hele shoot werd verplaatst en men ging pas weer naar de originele plek terug toen houthakkers de takken verwijderd hadden.

Deze set was vrij eenvoudig te beveiligen omdat deze alleen via een smalle brug, die over een stroming ging, te bereiken was. Bij deze brug was een checkpoint, zodat iedereen die over de brug wilde gecontroleerd kon worden.

In de traditie van Star Wars films zat ook nu het weer niet mee: vlak voordat de crew arriveerde was er 22 dagen lang regen en sneeuw geweest in Crescent City, terwijl de meteorologen anders voorspeld hadden. Toen de opnames begonnen moest men met aarde zelfs de sneeuw bedekken. De temperatuur bleef rond de 15 graden schommelen en hoewel de gehele cast en crew speciale regenkleding gekregen had bleek deze niet nodig te zijn.

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Cast & crew: George Lucas, Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Richard Marquand (regisseur)

Acteurs

Eigenlijk zou Kenny ‘R2-D2’ Baker de rol van Wicket de Ewok op zich nemen. Helaas was Kenny op de dag van de opnames ziek, maar al snel zag de crew in de pas 12-jarige Warwick Davis de ideale vervanger. Later zou Davis de hoofdrol krijgen in een andere Lucasfilm productie: “Willow”. Wellicht dankzij de ziekte van Baker?
Niet alleen Anthony Daniels droeg het pak van C-3PO. Toen de crew Anthony een dag verlof had gegeven kwam men er achter dat ze heb alsnog nodig hadden voor wat scènes. Een lokale bewoner kreeg de eer om het pak aan te trekken voor enkele scènes waarin 3PO op de achtergrond te zien is. Er waren trouwens meer bewoners van de regio betrokken bij de film als acteur: de meeste Stormtroopers werden namelijk gespeeld door werkloze houthakkers!

Omdat het script vol verrassingen zag die zelfs sommige acteurs niet mochten weten werden enkele acteurs bij sommige scènes van de set verwijderd. Dit overkwam Anthony Daniels ook, waarop hij besloot in de bossen te gaan wandelen. Hij viel echter in slaap tegen een boom, en toen hij wakker werd hoorde hij de stemmen van Harrison Ford en Carrie Fisher die met de scène waarin Fisher verteld dat Leia de zus van Luke is bezig waren. Daniels wist dat hij vlak achter hen zat en besloot zich maar gedeisd te houden en vooral niet te laten merken dat hij ook aanwezig was.

Tijdens het filmen van het grote eindgevecht waren er 325 individuen nodig: 130 Imperials, 40 Ewoks en 150 overige cast en crew. Het coördineren van dit alles was ook niet simpel: de eerste bruikbare opname had men pas om 11:45. Kenny Baker werd het te veel en viel bijna flauw, en een boom vatte vlam vanwege een explosie. Uiteindelijk werden alle noodzakelijke shots opgenomen, maar deze filmdag kostte uiteindelijk $ 100.000.

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Een stijlvolle Harrison Ford en George Lucas in Crescent City, USA.

Kostuums

De helmen die Luke en Leia dragen zijn gemodelleerd naar helmen uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog; iets wat in de Star Wars film wel vaker voorkomt. De parka’s die ze dragen zijn trouwens laboratoriumjassen (maar dan wel met een camouflageprint). De duster die Harrison Ford draagt was een idee van hemzelf; tijdens een passessie stelde hij dit voor aan de crew, waarna er meteen een jas voor hem gemaakt werd.

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Imiteert Warwick Davis (Wicket) nou Harrison Ford’s zonnebril look?

Special Effects

Voor de shot waarin de Ewok Paploo aan een Speeder Bike bungelt werd gebruik gemaakt van een bluescreen. Een stunt-Ewok werd op een Speeder Bike geplaatst en vervolgens gefilmd. Voor de shot waarin Paploo zich louter aan de hendels vasthoudt werd de Speeder Bike gekanteld en leunde de Ewok naar de zijkant. Vervolgens werd de film horizontaal gekeerd om het effect te creëren dat de Speeder Bike zou snel gaat dat Paploo er bijna af valt.

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Twee Ewoks met een ‘Blue Harvest’ bord (de codenaam van de film was ‘Blue Harvest’)


Bekijk ook de overige delen in de Behind the Scenes reeks!

Cloud City

Dagobah

Sarlacc Pit

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Behind the Scenes: Dagobah

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In deze tweede editie van Behind the Scenes bekijken we Dagobah en hoe de opnames voor The Empire Strikes Back in werkelijkheid verliepen…

De set

De Dagobah set duurde weken om te bouwen, men was letterlijk 24 uur per dag bezig met de bouw ervan in de Elstree Studios. Op deze set stonden maar liefst vierentwintig bomen, die soms meer dan twaalf meter hoog waren. Verder werd er honderdtwaalf ton gips en achtenveertighonderd meter grof linnen gebruikt om de bomen goed te laten lijken op echte. De set van de binnenkant van Yoda’s hut was de kleinste set die men voor de film gebruikte en was gevestigd op Stage 9 van de Elstree Studios.

De opnames van de Dagobah scènes waren tevens de laatste van de film. Op 31 augustus 1979 was er een groot feest op de set, hoewel er toen nog wel een paar scènes een dag later gefilmd moesten worden. De set moest dus na het feest weer klaargemaakt worden voor de laatste ronde. De scène waarin Yoda Luke’s X-Wing omhoog heft is een combinatie van een miniatuur, een matte painting en live-action. De X-Wing was een miniatuur met moeras alg. Yoda, Luke en R2-D2 waren live-action, en de achtergrond was een matte painting. De scène waarin R2 door een opening in Yoda’s hut probeert te kijken stond oorspronkelijk niet in het script en was een ter plekke verzonnen improvisatie.

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Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), R2-D2, Gary Kurtz (producer) en Irvin Kershner (regisseur) op de Dagobah set.

Yoda

Het visualiseren van Yoda was een lang proces. Irvin Kershner vond bijvoorbeeld dat Yoda langer dan Luke moest zijn. Toen besloten was dat Yoda juist klein zou zijn zat men er aan te denken om een aap Yoda te laten spelen en in de postproductie zijn mond te animeren. Ook werden zijn ‘looks’ besproken en zat men te dubben tussen reptielen uiterlijk en dat van een amfibie. Joe Johnston en Ralph McQuarrie kwamen uiteindelijk met het definitieve Yoda design en Stuart Freeborn was verantwoordelijk voor de Yoda pop. Later zou Freeborn laten doorschemeren dat de pop een soort van zelfportret was. Ook zouden de ogen van Yoda gebaseerd zijn op die van het genie Albert Einstein, al vindt Carrie Fisher dat een vergelijking met de ogen van actrice Bette Davis beter op zijn plaats is. De kleren van Yoda waren gemaakt van een soort zijde dat men uit India gehaald had. Regisseur Irvin Kershner vond dit materiaal zo fraai dat hij van de overschotten een jas voor zichzelf heeft laten maken.

Muppeteer Frank Oz was de animator en de stem van Yoda, al kreeg hij bij het animeren de hulp van onder anderen Dave Barclay (die in Return of the Jedi een van de puppeteers in Jabba the Hutt was). In sommige scènes is Yoda geen pop, maar zit er een acteur in. Niemand minder dan Deep Roy (die later faam verwierf in Tim Burton’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory als Oompa Loompa) speelde Yoda in deze scènes. Aangezien Frank Oz van onder de vloer Yoda moest animeren kon hij niets horen en niemand kon hem horen. Alleen met Irvin Kersher had hij via een hoofdtelefoon contact. Mark Hamill moest dus continue tegen een ‘dove en zwijgzame’ Yoda praten.

muppets-strike-back

Naast Yoda was Frank Oz (met bril) ook de ‘puppeteer’ van Miss Piggy. Het was dus eigenlijk logisch dat ze samen met Kermit (gespeeld door Jim Henson, 2e van rechts) even bij Yoda langs kwam. Verder op deze foto: regisseur Irvin Kershner en producer Gary Kurtz.

De acteurs

Omdat men nog niet wist of Alec Guinness in zijn rol als Obi-Wan zou terugkeren werden de scènes van zijn personage met een stand-in gefilmd. Pas op 5 september 1979 kwam Guinness om zijn scènes op te nemen, iets wat in maar zes uur al gebeurd was. Mark Hamill zat het niet mee: hij was niet alleen de enige acteur op een set die verder uit puppeteers en reptielen bestond, hij moest ook nog eens de scène waarin hij zijn hoofd stoot tegen het plafond van Yoda’s hut veertien keer overdoen! Daarnaast kreeg hij ‘bezoek’ van een Afrikaanse koningsslang die tijdens de opnames zijn broekspijp in kroop. Gelukkig voor Mark liep het veilig af.

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Uiteraard was George Lucas (met Luke’s X-Wing op de achtergrond) ook bij de opnames aanwezig.


Bekijk ook de overige delen in de Behind the Scenes reeks!

Cloud City

Endor

Sarlacc Pit

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Behind the Scenes: Cloud City

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Cloud City Star Wars Awakens

De komende tijd gaan we je achter de schermen meenemen in een serie Behind the scenes artikelen. In elke editie nemen we een bepaalde scene of planeet uit de Star Wars films en gaan we wat dieper in op de totstandkoming van deze scenes middels leuke trivia en weetjes.

In deze eerste editie van Behind the Scenes nemen we een kijkje in Cloud City, de fraaie stad in de ruimte, die in The Empire Strikes Back een vervelend tintje kreeg voor Luke, Leia, 3PO en Han…

Cloud City

Cloud City zat oorspronkelijk al in ‘A New Hope’; het was bedoeld als de gevangenis waar Leia zat (later werd dit de Death Star).

Torture chamber

De martelscène van Han was oorspronkelijk langer en bevatte meer geschreeuw en electroflitsen. Regisseur Irvin Kershner vond dit echter te eng voor kinderen en besloot er in te knippen en de intensiteit wat te verminderen. In de scène buiten de martelkamer wordt Boba Fett niet door vaste vertolker Jeremy Bulloch gespeeld maar door Jon Morton, beter bekend als ‘Dak Ralter’, de gunner van Luke die in het begon van de film wordt neergeschoten.

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Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) kijkt toe terwijl de crew het carbonite blok van Han Solo in gereedheid brengt.

Carbon Freeze chamber

Voor het ontwerp van het carbonite wilde Kershner een wilde Solo, vechtend voor zijn leven. Dit betekende dat de eerste versie (waarin een nogal statische Solo werd afgebeeld) werd afgekeurd. De opnames in de carbonite chamber begonnen op 21 juni 1979 om 8:00 AM. De eerste scène stond echter pas om 1:45 PM op tape. Zowel Kershner als Harrison ‘Han Solo’ Ford wilden dat Solo “I know” zou zeggen op Leia’s “I love you“. Oorspronkelijk zou Solo “I love you too” zeggen. George Lucas was nogal bezorgd dat deze aanpassing de spanning van de scène niet ten goede zou komen. Het tegendeel werd echter bewezen na de eerste screening, en later zou deze zin uitgroeien tot een van de bekendste van de trilogie.
De scène was ook een van de meest veeleisende van de trilogie. De stoom en felle lampen zorgden voor een temperatuur van meer dan 32 graden. Vanwege deze temperatuur én het feit dat ze een masker droegen vielen enkele acteurs die Ugnaughts speelden flauw. Wat er ook nog eens bijkwam was dat de set op tien meter hoogte gebouwd was. Door de stoom en het vreemde licht liep de cast het risico naar beneden te vallen. Volgens Irvin Kershner kreeg de crew die beneden zat regelmatig metalen voorwerpen op hun hoofd.

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Regisseur Irvin Kershner instrueert Carrie Fisher (Leia) tijdens de opnames in de Carbon Freeze chamber.

Weather Vane

De scène waarin Lando Luke redt uit Cloud City was oorspronkelijk langer. Lando klimt op het dak van de Falcon. Deze scène is echter zo geknipt dat het lijkt alsof Luke in de armen van Lando valt. Op de dag dat deze scène werd opgenomen was er overigens geweldig nieuws voor Mark Hamill (Luke): zijn zoon Nathan werd namelijk geboren. Ondanks het feit dat Hamill de hele nacht op was geweest verscheen hij toch bij de opnames.

Chewbacca en C-3PO

De scène waarin Chewbacca het losse hoofd van C-3PO vastheeft is een duidelijke verwijzing naar ‘Hamlet’ van Shakespeare. Even later heeft Chewbacca het hoofd van C-3PO achterstevoren bevestigd. Deze scène werd opgenomen door C-3PO acteur Anthony Daniels het hoofd van C-3PO achterstevoren te laten dragen. Er werd simpelweg een gat in de achterkant gemaakt zodat Daniels kon ademen. Ondanks dat C-3PO bestond uit een hoofd, romp en een arm moest hij toch bewegen en geloofwaardig overkomen. Dit kreeg men door middel van electronica voorelkaar. Irvin Kershner bestuurde C-3PO met een joystick. Minder gelukkig was Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) die een week lang C-3PO op zijn rug moest meeslepen, een totaal gewicht van meer dan dertien kilo, terwijl zijn eigen pak bijna zeven kilo woog.

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In het echt viel Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) geen duizenden meters de diepte in, maar kwam hij op zachte matrassen terecht.

Luke & Vader

Alleen George Lucas en Irvin Kershner wisten dat Darth Vader zou onthullen dat hij Luke’s vader is. Vlak voordat de scène gefilmd werd kreeg Mark Hamill dit van Kershner te horen. Dave Prowse (Darth Vader) wist van niets. Hij sprak de zin “Obi-Wan is your father”. Later sprak James Earl Jones de uiteindelijke dialoog in.


Bekijk ook de overige delen in de Behind the Scenes reeks!

Dagobah

Endor

Sarlacc Pit

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