As much as the “Star Wars” series of films were (and J.J. Abrams’ will definitely be) adept in keeping details close to the vest, the extensive documentation of all things to do with the franchise was nothing short of astounding. However, “The Empire Strikes Back” yielded some fly-on-the-wall footage that, while entertaining, remained largely locked in a vault. Luckily not for too long more, though, as a great deal of it has come to light.
Michael Parbot, a French journalist who gained unprecedented access to the ‘Empire’ production, contributed his footage to two documentaries: “SPFX: The Empire Strikes Back,” a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s special effects, and a 1980 Dutch TV program showcasing lightsaber rehearsal footage and interviews with the cast.
The first made it onto the trilogy’s Blu-ray release in 2011, but the Dutch program has only been seen in near-unwatchable snippets, appearing last in 2012 with 15 minutes available. Finally though, our clearest and most extended (30-minute) look has arrived, and it features fascinating conversations with Irvin Kershner, Mark Hamill, and a bashful Harrison Ford.
George Lucas himself is notably absent, but the doc shows instead the incredible technical work done by both the actors and crew, facing such situations as shooting in Norway’s extreme weather to depict Hoth, and also how to wrangle Tauntauns and Wampas as well.