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Lost ‘Star Wars’ Documentary Gives an Inside Look at ‘The Empire Strikes Back’

Empire Strikes Back doc
LucasFilm/Fox

Now that ‘Star Wars: Episode 7‘ is on the way, you’d think that we’ve officially exhausted the original trilogy…but it looks like we’re just getting started. Just when you think that you’ve seen everything to ever come out of ‘Star Wars,’ a fascinating thirty-year-old documentary about the making of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ emerges and you suddenly feel like you’ve seen nothing. Watch if for yourself below.

Unlike the vapid promotional featurettes of today, this ‘Star Wars’ documentary is actually interested in showcasing the hardworking men and women on the cast and crew of ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ letting the talking heads speak for more than a second at time. The result is not an extended advertisement with a bunch of quick and easy soundbites, but rather a truly fascinating look behind the scenes. You get to hear director Irvin Kershner describe ‘Star Wars’ as a fairy tale and how he makes all of his creative decisions based on whether or not they serve this idea. You get to see Mark Hamill, out of character and in his street clothes, rehearsing his lightsaber duels with a stuntman. And then there’s Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, comparing the love/hate relationship between Leia and Han Solo to old school Hollywood romances (although you can’t help but giggle when they include Luke in their “love triangle”).

More than that, you get to see the crew scurrying about the iconic sets and handling now-famous props. Unlike the green screen filled sets of today, these ‘Star Wars’ sets are remarkably physical and complete — seeing camera crews in Cloud City feels genuinely surreal. Seeing all of these men and women lugging lights and equipment around Echo Base somehow makes it seem more real and alive.

Sure, this is a nice nostalgia trip for ‘Star Wars’ fans, but it’s also a beautiful glimpse into a world of filmmaking (and a world of promotional docs) that simply doesn’t exist anymore.

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