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Chip_douglas from Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands
28 May 2004
Of the two documentaries promoting Return of the Jedi, this is the one
without the deleted footage of the original Jabba (Declan Mulholland).
Although it starts and ends with space battles, a husky voice over by
Carrie Fisher explains that Star Wars is no longer just about hardware,
but about rubber creatures and monsters too. Therefore this show
focuses on the creation of the Ewoks and Jabba the Hutt's menagerie of
monsters while offering a nice retrospective of movie monsters of
yesteryear from 'King Kong' to 'Dragonslayer' in between.
Looking slimmer than ever before (or after), Carrie is wearing a
mismatched jacket and T-shirt in what is supposed to look like her
dressing room. Meanwhile Billy Dee Williams does some schtick with
Salacious Crumb (Tim Rose) surrounded by maquettes. Both the stars are
bothered by Gammorean Guards and other creatures and later there is
more clowning around with people in costumes going to the airport.
Remember, this was in an earlier age when 'The A-team' and 'The Dukes
of Hazzard' were considered prime time entertainment. Like them, Star
Wars has always been aimed at ages 10 and up, something a lot of fans
seem to have forgotten when they grew up and the prequels didn't.
Classic Creatures reminds us of the days when we could do without all
that newfangled CGI. In 1983 a blue screen and a set were two separate
things and all the creatures were right there in front of you. It is
revealed that Jabba was born in a bakery and we meet all the men who
operate him (including medicine Ewok Mike Edmonds in the Hutt's tail).
The incredible Sail barge/Sarlac Pitt is still a sight to behold
(before they went and stuck Audrey II in it's mouth). Meanwhile this
documentary goes out of its way to mention all the men beneath the
rubber by name, while Han and Luke are passed over. Even though none of
the supporting cast is interviewed on camera, at least they don't
insist Threepio and Artoo are completely mechanical any more.
Toy collectors will be thrilled to get a good look at many of the more
obscure aliens like Cane Adiss, Wol Cabasshite and the Spider droid
(later dubbed B'Omarr Monk). Likewise regular convention goers will
recognize many familiar faces. We even see Amanaman (Alisa Berk)
unmasked for a split second (and a Jawa too). The 1985 documentary
"From Star Wars to Jedi: The making of a saga" featured most of the
same material (plus some added footage) and George Lucas' observation
that a good SF film does not need to dwell on the environment for too
long. Shame he didn't remember that when adding all those establishing
shots to the Special Editions and the Phantom Menace DVD.
What was not repeated in the latter documentary was the sight of little
people having to endure Carbon freeze plaster casts and being otherwise
tortured in order to create Ewoks magic (blink and you'll miss
superstar in the making Warwick Davis). We also learn there were 153
sketches rejected before they finally decided on the rather unoriginal
teddy bear look. No special about movie creatures would be complete
without mentioning Jim Henson, and footage from the Dark Crystal's own
making off feature is neatly edited into this one. E.T. is also
mentioned, but in 1983 it was still strictly forbidden to show any
moving images of him outside the cinema, so we have to make do with the
Halloween sequence and little kids wearing E.T-shirts.
Many fans are hoping to see these shows released on DVD (Not to watch
of course, just to keep them wrapped up in mint condition). But since
this one features some stuff that according to the Special Editions
simply does not exist anymore, namely disco number Lapti Nek (Huttese
for "Working out"), the odds are against it. They may reuse bits and
pieces in new retrospectives (Lucas always includes at least one unique
segment in every release), but the CBS/Fox "All Time Greats" video
releases of these specials will probably remain the only available
copies. If only their slogan 'Yours to keep forever' was a bit more
accurate. Shot on and transfered from video, the special already began
to deteriorate by the time it hit the market (and that includes the
8 out of 10
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