Star Wars Weekend: Some facts about E4

Posted: May 26, 2013 in cinema, movies
Tags: , , ,

Continuing the Star Wars Weekend on All That I Love and to celebrate the 36th anniversary of “A New Hope” and the 30th anniversary of “Return of the Jedi”, here are some facts about “Episode 4” that I think you don’t know or just forgot… May the Force be with you!

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Official Website: http://www.starwars.com/.

Han Solo, the Reptile Alien Mercenaire

soloAt one point, George Lucas had planned the character of Han Solo to be a huge green-skinned monster with no nose and gills. Then Lucas changed the idea of Han Solo to a black human. He auditioned several black actors and even musicians (including Billy Dee Williams) until finally settling on Glynn Turman. But after this he decided to make the role white. Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Robert Englund, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta and Perry King were all candidates for the role of Han Solo.

George Lucas also wanted to stay away from any actors he had previously used in his films. James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro and Burt Reynolds turned down the role. Harrison Ford (who had played Bob Falfa in Lucas’s American Graffith) read the part of Han Solo for screen tests of other characters but wasn’t originally considered for the part. During these tests Lucas realized Ford was perfect for the role.

Stormtroopers

troopersMost of the Stormtroopers are left-handed. That is because of how the weapons are constructed. Their weapons are based on a real weapon, where the magazine is on left side of the weapons. This construction caused it to hit the troopers in the chest. Therefore they have to switch grip of the weapon, which made them look left-handed. The weapons the stormtroopers used were essentially the Sterling L2A3 9mm SMG (sub-machine gun) a military weapon developed in the late 1940s in the UK and adopted by the British and Canadian Armies in the 1950s. The curved left entry side mounted magazine was removed. And that was as much as it was modified for the film. The longer sandtrooper weapon was the MG-34 machine gun from Germany.

When the storm troopers enter the room where C-3PO and R2-D2 are hiding, one of the actors accidentally bumps his head on the doorway due to his limited visibility. When the Special Edition came out in 1997, a sound effect had been added to the scene to accompany the head bump.

C-3P0

C-3PO was originally scripted as a “used car salesman” type, and designed after the robot from the Fritz Lang 1927 movie “Metropolis”. George Lucas had not originally intended to use Anthony Daniels’s voice for the voice of C-3PO.

c3p0

He only changed his mind after a suggestion by Stan Freberg, one of the actors considered as Daniels’ replacement Daniels’ voice was altered in post-production. Ultimately, though, George Lucas was won over by the charisma of Daniels’ reading of the part as a “snooty British butler” and so Daniels has done the voice for C3PO ever since.

Vader

vaderDarth Vader was the first character that George Lucas created for the story. The famous Darth Vader suit was designed by production designer Ralph McQuarrie, who was concerned about the character being able to breathe while he was traveling from his spaceship to Princess Leia’s spaceship. It was not explained why Darth Vader wears the suit at all times until “The Empire Strikes Back”. The look of the Darth Vader suit was based on robes worn by Bedouin Warriors.

Ben Burtt created the sound of Darth Vader’s breathing by placing a small microphone in the second stage (mouthpiece) of a scuba regulator, and then recording the sound made by his breathing through the regulator. Darth Vader’s breathing was originally meant to be much more labored and raspy. The sound of this labored, raspy breathing would be used later on in “Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” during the movie’s climax when Lukes defeats Vader in a lightsaber duel.

The man behind the Darth Vader mask is the wrestiling fighter David Prowse. Though he was never going to be used as the voice of Darth Vader, he claims he was originally told that he would be seen and heard at the end of “Return of the Jedi” when Vader’s mask was removed. This did not end up happening as actor Sebastian Shaw was brought in instead.

prowse-guiness

Lucas claims he wanted a ‘darker voice’ (Lucas has stated that Darth Vader had to have a deep, reverberating voice) that Prowse could not provide and never intended to use Prowse’s voice, which had a West Country accent. Prowse, who was not a skilled swordsman, was doubled by the scene’s fight-choreographer, the stuntman and fencing coach Bob Anderson (photo bellow).

bob-adnerson-vader

Darth Vader has only 12 minutes of screen time. George Lucas originally wanted Orson Welles to do Darth Vader’s voice, but decided against it, feeling that Welles’ voice would be too recognizable. James Earl Jones supplied the voice of Darth Vader, but specifically requested that he not be credited. At the time, the reason he cited was that he felt he had not done enough work to get the billing, but he later admitted that he didn’t want his name associated with the film because he was still an up-and-coming actor, and didn’t want to be typecast. Jones does receive billing in the 1997 “Special Edition”.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Before casting Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi, George Lucas considered casting Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune. Before Alec Guinness was cast as Obi Wan, George Lucas briefly considered using Peter Cushing, who plays Tarkin. Alec Guinness always recalled the experience of making the movie as a bad one, and consistently claimed that it was his idea to have his character killed in the first film, so he “wouldn’t have to carry on saying these rubbish lines”. Reportedly because he hated working on “Star Wars” so much, Alec Guinness claims that Obi-Wan’s death was his idea as a means to limit his involvement in the film. Guinness also claimed to throw away all “Star Wars” related fan mail without even opening it. Contrary to this, George Lucas has said he made the decision to kill off Kenobi, that Guinness was “less than happy” his character was dying earlier than expected, and that Guinness appeared to enjoy his time on set.

lucas-guiness

While Alec Guinness made no secret that he disliked the dialogue in George Lucas’s script, he claimed that he accepted the role for two reasons: 1). He was an admirer of Lucas’ previous film Loucura de Verão and 2). The narrative compelled him to read the whole script through to the end, in spite of not liking the dialogue and not being a fan of science fiction. The character name Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to allude to the following definitions. OBI – a form of belief involving sorcery, practiced in parts of the West Indies, South America, the southern U.S., and Africa. And a charm used in this belief system. WAN – Archaically meaning dark or gloomy; also pale in color or hue, meaning decline in ability (referring to dotage of the aging Jedi). KEN – knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception. range of sight or vision.

Luke Starkiller

Luke Skywalker went through several changes. Lucas toyed with the idea of changing him into a woman after cutting Princess Leia from the script. He also entertained the notion of casting the principal characters as a dwarfs. In an early screenplay, Skywalker was a 60 year-old general.

luke

In the shooting script, he was called Luke Starkiller but this was changed to Luke Skywalker during production later, when filming moved to Elstree Studios in London. This did not cause a problem, as Luke’s last name had not been used in the scenes already shot. According to an interview with George Lucas, originally Luke was a girl, Han Solo was an Alien, the wookiees were called Jawas, and R2-D2 and C-3PO were called A-2 and C-3.

The Sound of the Force

George Lucas planned to score the film with existing classical music like Stanley Kubrick had done on “2001 – A Space Odyssey” before Steven Spielberg introduced him to composer John Williams. Lucas and Williams agreed on a classical 19th-century Romantic music style with liberal use of leitmotif for the score. Since the movie would show worlds never seen before, the music had to serve as an “emotional anchor” for the audience to relate. Click here to listen the Star Wars Open Theme.

Lightsaber

lightsaberA “laser sword,” it consists of a polished metal hilt which projects a brightly lit blade about 4 feet or 1.33 meters long. The Lightsaber is the signature weapon of the Jedi order and their Sith counterparts, both of whom can use them for close combat, or to deflect blaster bolts. Its distinct appearance was created using rotoscoping for the original films, and digitally for the prequel trilogy. The Lightsaber’s blade cuts through most substances without resistance. It leaves cauterized wounds in flesh, but can be deflected by another Lightsaber’s blade, or by energy shields.

The Lightsaber sound effect was developed by sound designer Ben Burtt as a combination of the hum of idling interlock motors in aged movie projectors and interference caused by a television set on a shieldless microphone. Burtt discovered the latter accidentally as he was looking for a buzzing, sparking sound to add to the projector-motor hum. The pitch changes of Lightsaber movement were produced by playing the basic Lightsaber tone on a loudspeaker and recording it on a moving microphone, generating Doppler shift to mimic a moving sound source.

Princess Leia

P.J. Soles, Sissy Spacek and Nancy Allen, Farrah Fawcett, Glenn Close, Barbara Hershey, Bernadette Peters, Bonnie Bedelia, Dianne Wiest, Margot Kidder, Jessica Lange, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Cybill Shepherd, Christine Lahti Jane Seymour, Anjelica Huston, Catherine Hicks, Christine Baranski, Kay Lenz, Kim Basinger, Kathleen Turner, Debra Winger, and Geena Davis all auditioned for the role of Princess Leia. Linda Blair, Jodie Foster, Pamela Sue Martin and Jill Clayburgh were considered.

leia

Due to the limited budget the American cast members and crew (including George Lucas) all decided to fly coach class to England, rather than first class. When Carrie Fisher’s mother Debbie Reynolds heard about this she called Lucas, complaining about how insulting it was for her daughter to be flying coach. Fisher was in the room with Lucas when he took the call, and after a few minutes asked if she could talk to her mother. When Lucas handed her the phone she simply said, “Mother, I want to fly coach, will you f**k off?!” and hung up. In the Star Wars saga, despite she cries for his help, Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi never actually meet. The closest they get to meeting is when she sees him from a distance during the lightsaber duel with Darth Vader.

R2-D2

George Lucas came up with the name R2-D2 during post-production of “American Graffith”. One of the sound crew wanted Lucas to retrieve Reel #2 of the Second Dialogue track. In post-production parlance, this came out as “could you get R2-D2 for me?”. Lucas liked the sound of that and noted it down for future use. The origin of R2-D2 can be found in the “drones” Huey, Dewey, and Louie from the film “Silent Running”. Upon meeting Douglas Trumbull, director and special effects chief on “Silent Running”, George Lucas commented on how much he liked the designs of Trumbull’s two-footed robots in the film (which were operated by bilateral amputees).

r2-d2Four years later, a functionally similar design appeared as R2-D2 in “Star Wars”. Universal Studios, the distributor of “Silent Running” noted the similarity between the robots (and the similarity of “Star Wars” to the Buck Rogers serials of the ’30s), and promptly sued 20th Century Fox for infringement. The lawsuit was eventually settled when Fox counter-sued over “Battlestar Galactica” Pilot, which bore a striking resemblance to “Star Wars”.

R2-D2’s vocal patterns largely contain sound designer Ben Burtt’s own voice. In trying to create the beeping, whistling noises of the droid, Burtt found that he was vocalizing a lot of what he was trying to achieve, so he recorded his voice – mainly making baby noises – and then fed it through a synthesizer.

Chewbacca

mayhewThough the only thing Chewbacca can say from start to finish is a Wookiee growl, he has the last line in the film. The name Wookiee came about as a result of an accident. When San Francisco DJ Terry McGovern was doing voice-over work on “THX 1138” for George Lucas, he made a blunder and exclaimed, “I think I ran over a wookiee back there”. George Lucas, confused, asked what he meant by the term. Terry McGovern admitted that he didn’t know and added that he simply made it up. George Lucas never forgot the cute word and used it years later in “Star Wars”.

chewbacca-leia

Peter Mayhew worked as an orderly in a Yorkshire hospital prior to being cast in the movie. He won his role ten seconds after meeting George Lucas for the first time; all the 7’2″ Mayhew had to do was stand up. According to Ben Burtt, the sounds Chewbacca makes have been made from a compilation of large mammals, mostly bears (he said one particular zoo-kept Grizzly Bear was an invaluable source of Chewbacca sounds). According to Mark Hamill, studio executives were unhappy that Chewbacca has no clothes and attempted to have the costume redesigned with shorts.

Biggs, Fixer and Cammie Deleted Scene

Several scenes were filmed of Luke with his friends on Tatooine in an effort to introduce the main character earlier in the film. First Luke watches Princess Leia’s ship battle with the Imperial cruiser through his Macrobinoculars and later he meets his best friend Biggs Darklighter in Anchorhead, who has left the Imperial Academy and plans to join the Rebel Alliance. Also present in the Anchorhead scenes were Anthony Forrest as Fixer and Koo Stark as Fixer’s girlfriend Cammie. All these scenes were later cut, leaving Luke’s mention of Biggs to his aunt and uncle as the sole reference to his character early on.

biggs-1

biggs-2

biggs-3

The scenes have never officially appeared in any release of the movie, but stills were included in “The Story of Star Wars” (a book-and-record set), and the scenes also appeared in the comic book and novel adaptations. This has lead several people to believe they actually saw the scenes on the silver screen. All of the scenes were included on the CD-Rom “Star Wars: Behind the Magic” in 1998. A reunion scene between Luke and Biggs at the Rebel base was included in the Special Edition re-release of the movie. However, a line by Red Leader about having once met Luke’s father was cut from this exchange.

Wedge Antilles

Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles (his name is misspelt in the credits as “Dennis Lawson”), is the uncle of Ewan McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels.

wedge

Wedge is the only one rebel pilot to survive at the Two Death Star battles.

Jedi

The word “Jedi” is derived from the Japanese words “Jidai Geki” which translate as “period adventure drama.” A period adventure drama is a Japanese TV soap opera program set in the samurai days. George Lucas mentioned in an interview that he saw a “Jidai Geki” program on TV while in Japan a year or so before the movie was made and liked the word.

ILM

Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) was founded in May 1975 by George Lucas. Lucas wanted his “Star Wars” to include visual effects that had never been seen on film before. After discovering that the in-house effects department at 20th Century Fox was no longer operational, Lucas approached Douglas Trumbull, famous for the effects on “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Trumbull declined as he was already committed to working on Steven Spielberg’s film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, but suggested his assistant John Dykstra to Lucas. Dykstra brought together a small team of college students, artists and engineers who became the Special Visual Effects department on “Star Wars”. Alongside Dykstra, other leading members of the original ILM team were Ken Ralston, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, Joe Johnston, Phil Tippett, Steve Gawley, Lorne Peterson and Paul Huston.

lucas

ILM spent most of the production period in chaos, attempting to create special effects that had never been created before. They blew half their budget on four shots which George Lucas rejected. Ultimately, around $5,000,000 of the $8,000,000 budget was spent by ILM. Was originally scheduled for a Christmas 1976 release, but was pushed back five months as post-production (especially special effects) took longer than expected. George Lucas had ILM watch archival footage of World War II dogfights as reference material for the final battle over the Death Star. This method would evolve into pre-visualization “animatics” in common use today. Former fighter pilots were also employed as technical advisors, and audio recordings of radio communications made during dogfights were studied, to help with the dialogue.

x-wing

millennium-falcon

The terms “X-wing” and “Y-wing” and “TIE fighter” were used by ILM effects guys to distinguish the fighters. These terms are not used in this film, though they were incorporated into the sequels. They also became popular with the public after the toys and the Making of special aired on tv. In addition, ILM’s special effects staff nicknamed the Millennium Falcon “The Porkburger” but this never caught on.

Death Star

escape-sceneDeath Star (officially the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station) is a moon-sized space station commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing), it is the Galactic Empire’s “ultimate weapon”, capable of destroying a planet with one shot of its superlaser. The Death Star was created by the dean of special effects, John Stears. The buzzing sound counting down to the Death Star firing its superlaser comes from the Flash Gordon serials. The first Death Star’s schematics are visible in “Attack of the Clones”, and is shown early in construction at the end of “Revenge of the Sith”.

During the escape sequence from Death Star, stunt doubles were not used for the scene in which Luke and Leia swing to safety. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill performed that stunt themselves, shooting it in just one take.

In an earlier version of the script, the Millennium Falcon lands on not the Death Star but at a Cloud City that floats above the gaseous surface of the planet Alderaan. The rescue of Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s duel with Darth Vader take place at this base, not on the Death Star. A cut in the budget for the movie forced George Lucas to bring in the Death Star early, and in the finished film the scenes that would have take place in the Cloud City take place there, instead. The Cloud City, of course, was later used in “The Empire Strikes Back”. Since Alderaan was destroyed, however, it obviously couldn’t be the location of the Cloud City. So a new planet was created to house the Cloud City: Bespin.

The Death Star explosions featured in the special edition of “A New Hope” and in “Return of the Jedi” are rendered with a Praxis effect, wherein a flat ring of matter erupts from the explosion.

Jabba

Jabba the Hutt was originally supposed to appear in the film, dropped in optically on top of stand-in actor Declan Mulholland. However, the effect was not acceptable and the scene was cut until CGI allowed it to be completed for the 1997 ‘Special Edition’.

Source: IMDb and Wkiipedia.

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