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Never Before Seen Empire Strikes Back Bloopers and Behind the Scenes Footage Are a Delight

Let's remember why we love Star Wars

Han Solo in Star Wars

There are some movies that have become such an indelible part of our culture and collective memory that seeing how they were made is almost a surreal experience. Seeing that these gods and heroes you grew up with on-screen were just regular people doing a job who laughed and messed up is wild sometimes, but also wonderful. That’s the case for The Empire Strikes Back today, as Good Morning America released some never before seen Star Wars bloopers and behind the scenes footage from the iconic film.

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Just looking at how brutal the shooting was for the Hoth sequences gives me a new respect for these filmmakers and actors, because shooting in an actual snowstorm at actual freezing temperatures could not have been easy, even though everyone seems to be keeping their senses of humor and doing the “Tauntaun dance.” It also maybe explains why George Lucas liked shooting with CGI and greenscreens so much later: less frostbite.

And that’s why these glimpses are great: it’s not the epic movie we’re getting, but the craft and cast behind it. What’s particularly moving here is of course the glimpses we get of the luminous Carrie Fisher as Leia and just having fun on set. She’s so clearly the heart of the set and full of joy. It makes me so happy and also makes me miss her so much. And I also love that the clips point out how very tiny Fisher was yet how she was able to command an entire rebellion.

But there’s more here: Billy Dee Williams discussing joining the franchise one movie in, and Mark Hamill digging into the physical demands of the epic lightsaber duel. I also love that we see Hamill rehearsing with the late David Prowse. Also delightful: Anthony Daniels sharing how he was worried 3PO would bite it!

Forty years and change after its release, it’s easy to take so much of this movie for granted but what this little retrospective does is remind us that The Empire Strikes Back pretty much invented most of the tropes we now take for granted in genre fiction—in movies and television and books and more. The idea of a blockbuster sequel in general and how it went deeper and darker … that was new. And maybe that’s why all these years later, few films manage to do what Empire did: surpass the first film in a franchise in quality.

What we see here in these rare behind the scenes moments is people who knew they were doing something special, and who maybe even knew how special, but who were still having fun and working hard on something they loved. Something that would become an iconic piece of art that we all love. And that’s wonderful.

(image: Lucasfilm)

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Jessica Mason
Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.

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