Wednesday, August 25, 2010


ILM storyboard showing the Tatooine cave where Luke is about to place his lightsaber into the care of his trusted friend, Artoo Detoo.

The Thirtieth Anniversary of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was certainly the focus of this years Celebration V, but the deleted scene clip of Luke building his lightsaber from RETURN OF THE JEDI - the subject of much fan speculation over the last twenty seven years as to what was ultimately filmed for the sequence - almost single-handedly stole its thunder during its short duration play as part of George Lucas’s promotion of the upcoming STAR WARS films on Blu-ray.

Seeing the clip - the first old (but new) footage of the Classic Trilogy - was exhilarating stuff, and now, more than ever, I, alongside millions of other STAR WARS fans, are totally primed for the box set Blu-ray release of all six films next year. There has been some controversy, however, within fan circles, that this clip, which LUCASFILM last week said: “made it all the way to postproduction before it was cut, so it is a rare example of a cut scene with completed visual effects and music “, was not totally the real deal, and that it had been reconstructed from source material footage encompassing both JEDI and EMPIRE, with some CGI tailoring. Mark Hamill himself, a year ago, had also previously gone on record and denied filming that scene (though he also stated that an insert double could have been used for the shooting without his knowledge):

Whatever the ultimate truth is behind the deleted scene, of which debate will no doubt continue long after the films Blu-ray release, it was just wonderful to see it after all these years, and, as a special treat, RETURN OF THE JEDI’s producer Howard Kazanjian, who was the subject of an exclusive, and very thorough, AFICIONADO interview last year (if you haven’t previously seen it, check it out here: ), has once more very kindly shared with us his behind the scenes information - this time on the newly shown footage - as we break it down scene by scene.

Jedi pic 1: Darth Vader (Dave Prowse) walks down a corridor of DEATH STAR 2.

It looks like this moment was taken from another cut scene from JEDI (mentioned in the 1983 MAKING OF RETURN OF THE JEDI paperback by John Phillip Peecher) - scene 70 - where Vader walks down a corridor to the elevator to the Emperor's Throne room and is stopped by Moff Jerjerrod (Michael Pennington) and the Emperor's Royal guards. The corridor set looks the same here as in existing still photographs of that scene, which was eliminated from the film in the editing stage during November 1982. Kazanjian: "I don't recall the look of this corridor but we did shoot the scene (of Vader, Jerjerrod and the guards) on 2/19/82 at Stage 6 of Elstree Studios."

An image exists of Darth Vader in the Second Death Star Docking Bay, with Stormtroopers behind him (presumably after his film opening talk with Moff Jerjerrod), which shows him looking upwards, of which a STARWARS.COM caption says: "Darth Vader pauses aboard the Second Death Star as he picks up a stirring in the Force"- is it possible that this image/scene of him walking through the docking bay was the original lead-in to Luke in the cave? There have also been persistent fan rumours over the years that, in the telepathic exchange, Vader warns Luke of the Emperor. "I've never heard this before and couldn't find it in any draft of the script. I don't think it true. Why would Vader do such a thing?"

Jedi pic 2: Vader (Prowse) enters an elevator.

Again, I think this is from that same cut scene 70 - his lone arrival in the Emperor's chamber is a deleted scene shown in one of the earliest JEDI trailers. "We shot several takes of Vader in and out of the elevator."

Jedi pics 3-5: Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) is meditating in his chamber, using the Force to telepathically call out to Luke. He bends his head down and says: "Luke...Luke...join me in the Dark Side of the Force. My son, it is the only way. Luke...Luke...Luke."

This scene was comprised from out-take footage from EMPIRE- from the officially sanctioned Lucas books I've read there was no indication that Vader's chamber set was resurrected at ELSTREE for JEDI between Jan and April 1982. Some of the dialogue by Jones may have been culled from previous ADR dialogue sessions for EMPIRE, too. The official RCA re-issue of the almost complete JEDI score from 1997 has this to say for track 2 called TATOOINE RONDEZVOUS: "Vader uses the Force to contact his son, Luke Skywalker. The tone of the music changes with the appearance of a synthesizer and dissonant strings, which Williams uses to gracefully transform the setting to the desert planet Tatooine.”  

"Production or ILM did not build or shoot Vader's chamber for JEDI. That (footage) was a lift from EMPIRE. The Vader chamber scene was attached to the building of the lightsaber footage early in the original editing of JEDI. It was not something that George recently attached for the Blu-ray or Celebration V. The ADR of James Earl Jones voice would have been new and recorded for JEDI, not a sound lift from EMPIRE. I've checked early drafts of the script and cannot find, nor do I ever remember, Vader sending a telepathic message to Luke. That would be a crazy move on his part. 

We always planned on using (the Vader) footage from EMPIRE, as we did in one other sequence - scene 108 in the Death Star Control Room - where the controllers pull back on several switches ready to fire the laser. We just "flipped" this scene.

Just to clarify, ADR is not done to a completed picture. ADR is done in strips of film per scene that we think will be in the picture. This is done months before the final lock or negative cutting. Williams names the cuts. The soundtrack album is not always direct lifts from the soundtrack. Williams records many tracks for the album without viewing the film. Often times scored music does not quite work for an album."

Jedi pics 6-9. There's a circular wipe. In his Tatooine cave, a cloaked Luke, hearing Vader, finishes his building of the lightsaber and ignites the green blade.

Howard, was it (the saber) still blue in the original version, before Lucas changed his mind about the colour and had ILM rotoscope it green? One early trailer for JEDI shows Luke wielding the blue saber in battle on the skiff and Sail Barge).

"Trailers sometimes have scenes or shots, and may in this case had one color blade before any final decision is made. Remember, trailers come out months, sometimes six months, before the film. Music and information in a trailer can change. ILM did not do the lightsaber blade. It was farmed out to another special effects house. Eighty thousand frames had to be hand painted. Today, CGI makes that much more easier."

Prior to Celebration V’s announcement, and despite his returning to film a sequence in his X-wing fighter, and Vader’s burial, for JEDI at ILM/ SKYWALKER RANCH six months or so after principal photography had been originally completed, is it possible that Mark Hamill did not film this deleted scene? Is it possible that Mark was superimposed onto it? "There has been some question and rumors that Mark Hamill did not shoot the interior cave of the building of the lightsaber in post production at ILM. I was there. And I've never said he did." So, was the footage of Mark cgi’d into the deleted scene? "No. It was not digital. It was a human being (doubling for Luke), but not Mark."

"As a side note, Scene 132 in the script - the finale celebration - called for the "shimmering figures" of Ben Kenobi and Yoda only. I suggested to George that Vader (now Anakin) should be there as well."  

Jedi pics 10-11. With Threepio outside the cave, Luke prepares to insert the saber into Artoo (which we didn't see in the CV clip-it fades out with Luke reaching out to Artoo).

I'm assuming the Anthony Daniels background footage was superimposed from the Second Unit footage filmed at the end of 1982 at Death Valley? Superimposed is not quite the word. This was a matte shot. Hiro Narita was the DP, but Lucas was the director. The Death Valley shots were shot on December 11th, 1982 (Scene 5). The crew was ILM.  We had a very small crew. Richard Edlund shot the "glass shot" of the two droids walking towards Jabba's Palace. It was the only glass shot in the picture. Marquand and his editor (Sean Barton) had left before the picture was finished." Marquand had departed JEDI and was working on his next movie UNTIL SEPTEMBER (with Karen Allen), meaning that he wasn't available for the extra footage filming or the later editing after delivering his original directors cut of JEDI in 1982.   
Finally, as one further side note, the deleted scene clip doesn't use the ILM establishing matte of Luke's X-wing and the Millennium Falcon, which, I've read over the years, was a last minute addition to the ILM matte team's painting list, and was then scrapped after completion. There’s an additional storyboard image (above) linked to that unused matte shot from January 83. It looks like the cave entrance was to have been the black spot in the painting and that the part of the live action plate work with the droids that was filmed in December 82 was to have been superimposed onto it. Howard, I recall you telling me in your excellent interview last year: "The exterior entrance to the cave was shot at Death Valley at the same time we shot the establishing shot of C-3PO and R2-D2 walking towards Jabba's Palace."

"Yes. I have the storyboard. There are always storyboards that never make the cut. Cut being in the script or in the actual shooting. I've never seen this (matte) plate (shown above). I have no idea when and why it was made. It never appeared in the picture or rough cut. Why would Luke and Lando have their ships so close to Jabba's Palace when these characters were undercover - and a surprise to the audience when they appeared? The blacked out area on the left looks like it was never finished - whatever it might have been. I can only surmise ILM began this particular storyboard and George put a stop to it."

Howard, thank you once again for your invaluable time and your help.

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