Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy (2004)

Video  |   |  Documentary, History, Sci-Fi  |  20 September 2004 (UK)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 2,315 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 6 critic

An in-depth making of documentary about the original Star Wars trilogy, covering the productions of the three films and their impact on popular culture.


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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Narrator (voice)
Himself - Journalist
Himself - Filmmaker
Himself - Filmmaker
Himself - Director
Himself - Producer (as Howard Kazanjian)
Gary Kurtz ...
Himself - Producer
Leo Braudy ...
Himself - Professor and Cultural Historian, University of Southern California
Himself - Journalist (archive footage)
Herself - 'Princess Leia Organa'
Gareth Wigan ...
Himself - Former Production Executive, 20th Century Fox
Alan Ladd Jr. ...
Himself - Former Studio Chief, 20th Century Fox
Ralph McQuarrie ...
Himself - Conceptual Artist
Himself - Cameraman, Miniature and Optical Effects
Steve Gawley ...
Himself - Model Maker


This documentary chronicles the making of the original Star Wars trilogy from start to finish. We get some background on George Lucas' start in the business and then continue with the making of Star Wars (1977), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). The visual/special effects and financial problems are explained as well as casting, editing, scoring and releasing the films with tons of archival footage and interviews with plenty of cast & crew members. Written by Rhyl Donnelly

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Release Date:

20 September 2004 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El imperio de los sueños. La historia de Star Wars  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


This feature-length documentary is featured on the 4-Disc Star Wars Trilogy DVD set, released in September of 2004. See more »


During a segment on merchandising for the original Star Wars, pictures of Princess Leia dolls wearing 'space fashions' are shown. However, this clothing line never made it into production. See more »


Carrie Fisher: We signed away our likeness so when I look in the mirror, I have to pay George a couple of bucks.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Bloopers, outtakes and deleted scenes shown during the end credits: George Lucas and Richard Marquand clowning around inside the AT ST cockpit. Rough black and white footage of the Death Star Trench. Luke's medical face mask being removed by 21B. Han kissing his girlfriend (Jenny Cresswell) in the Mos Eisley cantina. Early bluescreen tests in the Millenium Falcon cockpit. Behind the scenes footage of Solo firing at Vader in the Bespin dining room (also used on the blooper reel). Kenny Baker inside R2D2 in Tunisia. Mark Hamill falling over in the Finse snow wearing a blue ESB parka over his orange flight suit. Hamill and Carrie Fisher relaxing on Jabba's tummy. Lucas and daughter Amanda on the sail barge. Jack Purvis and Mike Edmonds enjoying a cigar on a break in their Ewok costumes. R2D2 picking up a squirrel with a mechanical arm. More shots on location in Tunisia. A stormtrooper costume and R2 Unit under construction at ILM. Closeup of a Jawa's glowing eyes. Ewok mask under construction. Lucas on the sail barge. Fisher and her stunt double sunbathing on the barge set. Alec Guinness' birthday party in Tunisia. X-wings and a Taun Taun on location in Finse. A model Snowspeeder being blown up. See more »


Features Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB (1967) See more »


Star Wars: Main Title
Composed by John Williams
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User Reviews

Albeit full of itself and avoiding any serious dissent, this is mostly a fascinating look at the making of the three films
3 January 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

For the release of the three original (albeit updated) films in the Star Wars series, this documentary was provided as the main extra on a fourth DVD. Starting with the difficult production of Star Wars and looking at the completely unexpected success it turned out to be, we examine the making of the two sequels, the puppets, the effects and the actors with recollections and insight from cast and crew.

At the start of this documentary it appeared to be heading down a very bad road where it looked at the national mood at the time the original film was being produced; it appeared to be suggesting that the film itself was a major event and was some sort of saviour of the world! Now, the influence and knock-on effect of Star Wars in the film industry is undeniable but if the documentary was going to be just a big love-in then I would have struggled to finish it. Fortunately the film manages to move away from this for the majority and the slight tone of awe and respect afforded to the films can perhaps be forgiven. Likewise the film avoids any significant dissent aside from some of the crew acknowledging that they didn't share Lucas' vision or like the film they were making (but admit they were wrong); but it brushes over things like Guinness' dislike for even the finished film and the cold direction by Lucas and never lets anyone ever share stories that could come across as damaging.

However, outside of these minor complaints the documentary is an impressive look at the films in a mostly very interesting and honest way. Back stories, personal memories, personal experiences, onset trouble and footage from the production all combine to produce a story that is very interesting and full of nuggets to the point where I could easily sit and watch it again. Of course you probably need to be a Star Wars fan to care about such things but, considering this was provided as a companion to the three films, then it is more than likely playing to a friendly crowd. The involvement of so many of the cast and crew is a real bonus but I would have liked a bit more from some of them – for example I would have liked to hear something from Prowse, considering he thought he was a central character only to find himself totally dubbed out of the film! Lucas himself is a bit full of his own self-importance and the documentary does get better with Empire and Jedi because his contributions are reduced to make way for the other directors.

The film touches on Phantom Menace but wisely says nothing of it. In fact the documentary does shed light on why Menace may have failed as a film – at one point in the writing of Star Wars, one contributor says that the Force had to be carefully written to be present but to never be too serious or heavy or it would suck the fun out of the film. This made me smile because I believe that the weight of self-importance is a major reason that Menace is lacking in entertainment value. Overall this is an impressive documentary that looks at so many issues that it will be difficult to be bored by it – sound effects, visual effects, writing, production, casting, marketing, development, studio pressures and so on – it is a must for fans and it puts to shame many of the ten minute "making of" featurettes that pass for documentaries on some dvds.

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