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SP FX: Special Effects - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the special effects in the second Star Wars installment.

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Princess Leia Organa (archive footage)
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Han Solo (archive footage)
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A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the special effects in the second Star Wars installment.

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22 September 1980 (USA)  »

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The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX  »

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Features The Black Hole (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

a tour through ILM, the history of visual effects, and kid's fan films!
22 January 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Having just read the wonderful JW Rinzler book on the making of Empire (which is just about, along with the books on the other two films in the trilogy, incredibly comprehensive), I thought I'd check out what was done at the time to show audiences what went into 'making' all of this. It turns out to only be focused on the special effects, but perhaps that's enough. You get to see how the ILM creators made so many of the innovative moments - how the Hoth battle was staged with a combination of mattes, puppets, stop-motion animation (Good God Tippet and Muren did incredible work), the sound effects and how they originated (Ben Burtt is one of the only ones to be interviewed here), and the other animations and techniques used like optical printing and blue-screen work - and that's it. Oh, not really, there's also some clips from movies kids made around or before that time showing off how influential Star Wars but also fantasy films in general were (I'd love to get a copy of Hardware Wars).

Though not as comprehensive as I might like, I did enjoy the variety of going between the fan's works and the details of the production, even if it's less interview-dependent than most other docs I watch (in that way critic Richard Shickel's narration is closer to older docs, with Hamil narrating). Worth checking out, but if you know some of the details already then it may not teach you anything new; if nothing else to see the likes of the great VFX director Richard Edlund getting things painstakingly ready for shots often only lasting a second of film (or less), and some terrific clips from work by Willis O'Brien, Kubrick and Harryhausen to emphasize the work laid by previous artists.


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