Saturday, 21 October 2017
One of the Rebel Alliance's youngest hothead pilots, it's no surprise that Wedge Antilles and the recently arrived on Yavin IV Luke Skywalker would become friends so quickly, especially in this dangerous time speeding through the Death Star trench, though a malfunction ultimately proves lucky for Antilles, saving him from certain death at the trigger-happy hands of Darth Vader and his wingmen.
Now known as the second Wedge after prior filming with Colin Higgins, Denis Lawson's voice would ultimately be dubbed in this film by David Ankrum, during later post production completed in the States. Several extra lines of dialogue in and out of the trench between his character and Luke were lost in the final cut, and it was originally in the script that Wedge departed the trench run after Biggs death and not before, informing Luke that his friend has been killed.
Despite what will be a long and gruelling shooting schedule, disrupted from the start by a previous fire at Elstree Studios linked to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, the main cast of The Empire Strikes Back, shooting their Bespin scenes with welcome newcomer Billy Dee Williams, always found a way to share a laugh or two.
The scene being filmed in this image ended up being deleted. More info here: https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/deleted-scene-landos-guided-tour.html
Friday, 20 October 2017
POSSIBLE SPOILERS! A vital new supporting player for the Resistance struggle comes into play for The Last Jedi and likely Episode IX in Laura Dern's striking Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. Very much in the Mon Mothma mode, though not afraid to take arms in battle, she will surely be the torch bearer, alongside Poe Dameron, to the cause against the First Order passed on from the departing General Leia Organa at the end of VIII. It's great to see a new picture of this sure-to-be-popular character, clearly in a key meeting with other operatives and droids (of which this film will showcase a wide variety).
Laura Dern talks VIII: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcdTXpC9Xzo
We're used to seeing low life scum in the STAR WARS universe - bounty hunters, informants, killers and thieves of the Outer Rim, now The Last Jedi shows us a different but no less memorable side of villainy at the lush and decadent Canto Bight casino on Canto, bringing in a diverse and powerful variety of all-new corrupt evildom, whose distinguished clothes and wealth-on-tap peoples and patrons can't hide their true, petty, greedy veneers, and status as collaborators to anyone who'll widen their bank accounts, be it Resistance or First Order.
|A Panaflex camera with an illustrious filming history prepares to film Garrick Hagon at Elstree during July 1976.|
In his cramped cockpit and under bright studio lights, Garrick Hagon gets ready to film his scenes as Biggs Darklighter (aka Red Three), Luke Skywalker's best friend from simpler times on Tatooine, though you wouldn't really have known that proper if you were a generic audience member watching the film for the first time back in 1977, or hadn't seen the late 1976 MARVEL comic or the later published STAR WARS STORYBOOK,which gave the worldwide STAR WARS fan base its first and now legendary tantalizing glimpse of the film's deleted scenes visually, all of whose images were pretty much devoted to the Tatooine-based scenes of Biggs with Luke before the former's departure to secretly join the Rebellion.
|Colourized image of classic Garrick Hagon/Biggs B/W shot.|
In the lead-up to and at the Battle of Yavin, Biggs further suffered quite a few great little lost moments before his sad demise at the hands of Darth Vader. The April 1976 Revised Fourth Draft script used for filming refers to Biggs showing sadness at the loss of his wingman Porkins (Red Six), and, before Red Leader's trench run, he'd shoot down an attacking TIE fighter going after Luke (an earlier TIE attack on Red Five previously foiled by Wedge), followed by his doing a celebratory victory roll with his fighter. After the deleted first unsuccessful trench run made by Luke and his wingmen, we also would have seen him evading one of Vader's TIE support -reuniting with Wedge and Luke, telling them "Don't ever give up on old Biggs", whilst showing some speedy piloting alongside them. Though some of the script corresponding effects shots were likely never completed linked to his deleted scenes, you can bet that most of the actor's cockpit dialogue lines were filmed and survived, having been already pre-filmed before the official editing Post Production phase.
Prior to the space battle on Yavin, it's sad that his reunion scene with Luke, later restored partially to the 1997 Special Edition, in which he refers to himself and his friend as "a couple of shooting stars" was never filmed- a great regret according to Hagon, the line instead changed to the less impressive "They'll never stop us" by the time of lensing at Shepperton Studios, taking place several months before the cockpit scenes were filmed at Elstree.
Actor's official site: http://www.garrickhagon.com/
Find out what happened next in that short period between Princess Leia Organa and her ship's fast escape from Scarif to its arrival, under Imperial pursuit, above the equally far-off world of Tatooine, through screenwriter Gary Whitta's excellent short story, Raymus, a showcase within the fascinating collection/ homage to Episode IV: A New Hope, celebrating its many diverse supporting characters in 40 special adventures: A Certain Point of View, out now in UK hardback from CENTURY, and earning rave reviews from fans and critics.
More details here: https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/out-now-in-uk-hardback-star-wars-from.html
Get the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Certain-Point-View/dp/1846056837/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1508504961&sr=8-2&keywords=star+wars+certain+point+of+view
Thursday, 19 October 2017
The classic 1977 image soon used for marketing/promotion for STAR WARS which we all wish had been in the film- (we assume Luke's) X-wing fighter bearing down on Darth Vader's unique ship, with the Death Star lurking in the background. With very few optical shot frames available for publicity by the film's release, this was a special composite image by Richard Edlund and ILM, with laser fire airbrushed on by Ralph McQuarrie.
Truly a magical and exciting shot, I remember it being used effectively by Letraset UK stationery for 1978 ring binders, whilst Stateside as the very special cover for American Cinematographer magazine, for whom it was first conceived.
The subtle power and strong nobility of Liam Neeson's Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, from EPISODE I, shines through in this lovely art from regular artistic genius Tsuneo Sanda.
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Congratulations to Ron Howard and the cast and crew of SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY in wrapping up the film's principal photography stage at Pinewood. We look forward to seeing more teaser images, and, hopefully, a Christmas or New Year trailer showcasing our favourite Corellian scoundrel.
Compiled news: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/han-solo-movie-news-trailers-151520530.html
The Rebels hopes for survival against the destructive power of the Death Star now rest on a young and inexperienced boy with two X-wing fighter wingmen as support. A concerned Princess Leia keeps her faith in her new friend. But will it be enough?
Interestingly, the Revised Fourth Draft shooting script (19th April, 1976) has a small but interesting sequence between Leia and Dodonna, taking place before Luke's run, that was most likely filmed and cut.
This scene could have been part of this moment in the film seen below.
V223 (268) INT. MASASSI OUTPOST - WAR ROOM
Dodonna and Princess Leia listen intently to the talk between pilots. The room is grim after Blue Leader's death (*). Princess Leia nervously paces the room.
LEIA (to Dodonna): Can they go on?
DODONNA: They must.
LEIA: We've lost so many. Without Blue Leader, how will they re-group?
LUKE (Voice over): Close it up, Wedge. Biggs, where are you?
BIGGS (v/o): Coming in, right behind you.
WEDGE (v/o): OK Boss, we're in position.
Note * Blue Leader became Red Leader in the finished film.
|Image: Kurtz/Joiner Archive.|
Additionally the above posed shot taken at London's Shepperton Studios in the Rebel War Room shows both supporting artists Vass Anderson and Alan Harris with the main stars. Though a Rebel technician, we don't see Andersson in the base scenes at all in the completed movie, as far as I'm aware, whilst Harris also played a senior Rebel officer in scenes shot a few months later at Shepperton, alongside Carrie Fisher, on the Rebel Hangar set (he filled in for an unavailable for the day Alex McCrindle). It's possible that because of the background character change with Harris that his and Andersson's potential scene in the War Room was cut- a staged publicity shot like this with scene characters would not have been taken without a reason. It could be a moment set just before Leia and Threepio walk into the main monitoring area after the fighters have taken off, or possibly linked to this scene in the 19th April, 1976 Revised Fourth Draft:
137: INT. MASASSI OUTPOST - WAR ROOM
The princess sits quietly before the giant displays showing the planet of Yavin and her four moons. The red dot that represents the Death Star moves ever closer to the system. A series of green dots appear around the fourth moon. Dodonna stands behind the princess with several other field commanders.
CONTROLLER: The red signal is on the station, it's moving into the system.
COMMANDER: The ships are away.
On one of the secluded mountain peak islands of Ahch-To, Rey continues to develop her lightsaber mastery, hoping that, if Luke Skywalker chooses not to train her, that the nature and power of the Force on this unique planet might at least help shine a light on her future abilities and destiny, in this moment from The Last Jedi.
Tuesday, 17 October 2017
|Luke and his wingmen speed over the exhaust port after their original first failed attempt with torpedoes. A 1976 storyboard.|
With the demise of Red Leader, Luke and his team begin their attack run on the Death Star trench. However, as originally scripted and filmed, he, Wedge and Biggs actually made two attack runs- the first attempt proving a failure as Luke uses his targeting computer (and not listening to Ben's advice in his head) to launch his weapons and missing- the torpedoes going astray and detonating near the shaft. Darth Vader and his wingmen are close behind but fail to catch the fast escaping trio, pursuing them instead into space, with Luke (his X-wing fighter slightly damaged) and Biggs pursued by TIEs (Darth chillingly telling his pilots: "Take them") before both shake off their attackers to re-group with Wedge for another assault.
|Luke's missiles go off course in the original conception.|
|TIE fighters descend to attack Blue (Red) Leader. Back then, in mid 1976, there was no plan to give Vader his own unique ship. That came later and evolved in the design process.|
|Luke and his wingmen rush to Red Leader's singular aid. It is unknown if this shot was ever completed.|
At this point in the film's 1976 conception the idea of setting the sequence to a countdown hadn't been properly worked out-most of that ultimate suspense was created in post production by Marcia Lucas and Paul Hirsch's editing, to give the film more excitement-though the opening portion of the X-wing trio's first trench entry was cleverly sequed into the finished sequence (up to Luke's talking to Wedge about the enemy laser tower), the ultimate omission of Red Five's first unsuccessful torpedo attack did not affect the storytelling- indeed, the loss tightened it up and strengthened it, what with the young Luke now not ignoring Ben's ethereal advice and going on to trust his former mentor and his own instincts in the Force.
With ILM effects/model filming of the Death Star trench run going on until Christmas of 1976, in conjunction with the post production editing, it's likely that the majority of the first trench run sequence by Luke was mostly abandoned by that point, with the technicians concentrating on the adjusted finale instead.
Paul Hirsch brief talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fo3UvNtpMs
In their Republic Cruiser hangar bay, Anakin, Artoo and Ahsoka discuss their planned attack/bombing strategy against the massive and dangerous Malevolence cruiser with Plo Koon and Admiral Yularen, in a scene from THE CLONE WARS early Season One episode, Shadow of Malevolence.
Monday, 16 October 2017
His missile having impacted on the surface of the exhaust port, we barely see the damage caused by Red Leader's torpedo in the original STAR WARS, apart from the explosion as the X-wing pulls out of the trench. But a lot of effort went into creating that damage and the model of the port itself, as seen in these pictures taken at ILM in late 1976/77.
|Model maker Steve Gawley at work.|
|The hand of the Empire, indeed!|
Steve Gawley and Lorne Peterson talk about the model making of the Classic Trilogy:
As the interior of the Erso farm homestead on Lah'muh is turned into a fireball, the chilling bleak visage of an Imperial Death Trooper, part of an elite killing machine, searches the nearby environment for the missing child Jyn, in this moment from ROGUE ONE.
Sunday, 15 October 2017
Late in 1976: with filming of STAR WARS halted at London's Elstree Studios, a returned to the US Mark Hamill, with friends Robert Englund and an unknown female, visit ILM at Van Nuys to see the models and model filming then in progress. It must have been a tremendous buzz for Hamill, always a big fan of special effects and stop motion animation fantasy film-making, now partaking in an ambitious undertaking fusing those genres superbly.
|Mark checks out the stored Falcon model, whilst Englund looks around.|
Its interesting to remember that it was Englund's testing for STAR WARS (Han Solo) in 1975 that informed Hamill about the auditions then taking place in Hollywood, whilst he was staying in his apartment. We owe Mister Englund a debt, indeed.
A final stand for the Mandalorians against the Empire, the return of Thrawn, the fate of brothers in the Force as a new hope dawns, and an ending that will surely tie-in to Rogue One, if not directly. Yes, the hotly anticipated sweeping and emotional wrap-up arcs finale season of STAR WARS REBELS arrives on US TV this Monday, following on the UK's DISNEY XD from the 28th, at 9am.
New trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q9pJ15m7T4
Dave Filoni talks Season Four:
Trying without success to fully break down the mental barriers around her mind to retrieve the memory map locating Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren soon discovers a shocking indication of the captured Rey's powers in the Force, in a great scene from The Force Awakens that will continue to have repercussions for VIII.
Saturday, 14 October 2017
Once more echoing that original behind the scenes shot from The Empire Strikes Back's filming from April 1979, our main 'Legacy' heroes played by Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (plus their super pooches) gather with current keeper of the Lucas flames in Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy, for The Last Jedi, in another great image taken at Pinewood Studios that first appeared in VANITY FAIR earlier this year, taken by the prestigious lenswoman Annie Leibovitz.
New TV spot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=46&v=3y3Ufjlo1Qo
His proton torpedo run in the Death Star trench unsuccessful, and with no surviving wingmen to protect him, Red Leader soon finds himself at the end of Darth Vader's targeting computer. Initiating Luke into action for his attack run, the brave leader's starboard engine damage suffers further attack from the lethal and merciless TIE pilot, sending him crashing down to the surface of the planet killer...
Filming Red Leader's demise at ILM: https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/star-wars-at-40-death-star-surface.html
UPDATE: From the Revised Fourth Draft script of 19th April, 1976, Red Ten (played onscreen by Robert O'Mahoney) died in space, following Red Leader out from the torpedo surface detonation. It's quite possible that Mahoney filmed his death scene in the cockpit at Elstree against a star background rather than blue screen (as both options were used in studio), hence in the finished film, when his character's demise was instead changed to the inside of the Death Star trench, a substitute pilot's death - Red Twelve - was used instead (noticeable for his different helmet, if you pause the moment).
The Volcanic backgrounds of Mustafar may be a year away from being added on by ILM's gurus, but this filming image of Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen duelling at the Fox Studios, Australia, after months of happily intense training supervised by Nick Gillard, clearly shows the actors and characters adept skills in lightsaber duelling, for the climactic finale of EPISODE III.
Friday, 13 October 2017
He/it has mixed with a whole host of varying sized and diverse lifeforms from across the galaxy, from the likes of Jawas to Ewoks to Gungans, but is cute Artoo Detoo ready for the even cuter Porgs of Ahch-To? We'll find out when The Last Jedi debuts this December.
Amidst heavy fire, two X-wing fighters speed through the Death Star trench on their way to target-point detonation, in this lovely piece of stylish and beautiful classic production painting art by Ralph McQuarrie. McQuarrie's eternally-gorgeous THE STAR WARS PORTFOLIO released in 1977 describes this art piece as an "action" and "atmosphere" conception, and is surely just as perfect and representative for Red Leader and his last surviving wingman's attack run as it to Luke's later, more successful run.
Don't forget, there's a stunning collection of 100 postcards available of McQuarrie's STAR WARS work, out now from ABRAMS:
More info: https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/out-now-from-abrams-star-wars-ralph.html
Get the set here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Wars-Art-Mcquarrie-Postcards/dp/1419728091/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507896171&sr=8-1&keywords=ralph+mcquarrie+postcards
Our heroes' stolen shuttle is now approaching the second Death Star and a nearby Imperial convoy. Time to start worrying? Han Solo's maintaining his daring bravura (as always!), but Luke soon senses the presence of Darth Vader. A rare image from a critical scene, during RETURN OF THE JEDI.
Thursday, 12 October 2017
Our key heroes of The Force Awakens are en route to Maz Kanata on Takodana, but first there's the little problem of an explosive tracking device hidden on the Millennium Falcon to be taken care of, as the second season of the Dave Filoni overseen, all-eras-crossing Forces of Destiny arrives online via DISNEY.
Can't say I like all this 'Elderly Han' naming stuff, though, Lucasfilm/Disney!
Behind the scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOxxBK6oeLY
Ahsoka and Yoda: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIKip_fiJRw
Padme and Ahsoka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zEbEQ0LDWI
Falcon trouble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEWaQdRd2-o
Gold squadron's run was a failure, now its Red Leader's turn to begin the trench attack on the Death Star, but under General Dodonna's instruction that half of his remaining squadron be kept out of range as a further back-up team. Red Leader trusts his instincts to give the brave and spirited Luke Skywalker his first command responsibilities for the second X-wing trio, which includes Biggs and Wedge as the boy's wingmen.
|Dennis Muren readies Luke's X-wing trio for filming at ILM.|
In her plush apartment on Coruscant, Senator Amidala now has no choice but to leave the planet for her own safety, though at least she has her friend and Jedi protector in Anakin Skywalker, showing a personal interest in her that goes beyond mere bodyguard status, in this scene from EPISODE II.
Wednesday, 11 October 2017
The analysis of the Rebels attack strategy has been completed and a weakness to the Death Star battle station has indeed been found. Chief Bast informs Grand Moff Tarkin of his concerns, whose steadfast trust in Imperial firepower and the skills of Darth Vader leads his superior to confidently ignore him, despite the potentially huge risk and the advantage of a ready escape ship.
A shame for Peter Cushing, too, really, who, several years after the film had come out, told an interviewer he would have loved to have come back for the first STAR WARS sequel!
|Leslie Schofield as Bast with an Imperial technician, ready for shooting on a brief scene later deleted.|
The Trade Federation control ship has been destroyed and the war for Naboo has been won. As Queen Amidala's brave pilots return to the Theed hangar, the identity of the pilot who took down the enemy with such bravura skill and bravery is surprisingly revealed to Ric Olie: that boy Anakin Skywalker!
A nice little scene filmed at Leavesden Studios, UK in 1997 for the finale to EPISODE I that was deleted but ultimately made its way to the 2011 Blu-ray set.
Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Intense, bold and full of drama, coupled with a gorgeous visual style, the second and final US trailer for The Last Jedi is here, accompanied by this striking all-new burgundy red poster showcasing our heroes, villains and new hardware.
American box office open: https://www.fandango.com/star-wars-the-last-jedi-189929/movie-times?cmp=ST_Disney_TheLastJedi
UK box office also open: http://www.odeon.co.uk/films/star_wars_the_last_jedi/17133/
Exclusive US IMAX items: http://www.cbr.com/star-wars-last-jedi-imax-opening-night-giveaway-poster-ticket/
Fierce and determined, Darth Vader begins his systematic termination of the trio of Gold flight pilots as the first Rebel attack run through the Death Star trench is soundly defeated, and time begins running out for our heroes.
They'd been quietly ignored when the original film was in its stratospheric release into cinemas the first few months of Summer 1977- early FOX publicity indicated that Threepio and Artoo were both robots, and that they didn't have human operators in Anthony Daniels or Kenny Baker, whilst early stills photographs failed to credit Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca or Dave Prowse as Darth Vader. Thankfully, by the time of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, this situation for the Classic Trilogy's all-important supporting cast was mostly rectified happily (as seen in the above publicity image), especially for Anthony Daniels, who received a bigger credit for his role from the first sequel onwards.
Monday, 9 October 2017
SPOILERS. His unique X-wing fighter now fitted with additional booster power, Poe Dameron, on a secret mission, must make a speedy entrance into an area controlled by enemy forces, in this effects shot from The Last Jedi.
From the cockpit of his advanced TIE fighter, Darth Vader, accompanied by loyal wingmen, prepares to target the Y-wing fighters speeding the trench ahead of them. He knows they must be destroyed as soon as possible, in this great early ILM storyboard with a slightly different looking but no less intimidating, quite ferocious looking Vader...
Partaking in, and filming, the Ark of the Covenant quest can be hungry and thirsty work, as the cast and main crew of Raiders of the Lost Ark settle down for a break during filming in Tunisia, for scenes set in Cairo.
Sunday, 8 October 2017
On the bridge of her Resistance ship base, General Leia Organa studies intergalactic maps looking for a potential new base and the best way to evade the overwhelming First Order fleet, in this scene from The Last Jedi.