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Behind the Scenes: Creating Hoth for 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back'

Posted on Monday, July 8, 2019 1:10 PM

Photo: Phil Tippett manipulates stop-motion puppets of the tauntaun and AT-AT walkers.

The official Star Wars web site published an article recently that details the efforts that went into creating the ice planet Hoth featured in the beginning of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back.

A top-down look at the practical effects used on the Hoth sets begins with why the Star Wars sequel ended up on the snow planet in the first place. George Lucas recruited science fiction writer Leigh Brackett to pen a first draft based on his original story. She detailed the ice planet, the attack by the wampa, and the Imperial assault that forces the Rebels to flee. Lucas’s second draft changed the tone and some detail, but much of Hoth remained the same.

That script had a lot to live up to. By late 1977, the same year Star Wars: A New Hope released to incredible success, development on Hoth concepts was in full swing. Far from evoking warm hearths on a peaceful snowy afternoon, Hoth was designed to be a place where the rebel heroes would face an unwinnable battle. Concept artists, including the legendary Ralph McQuarrie, began work on the rebel base. Some of the initial ideas for it were adapted from a location from Brackett’s script called “Vader’s Castle,” which would later become the rebel base. McQuarrie and model maker Phil Tippett both worked on the design of the tauntaun, which McQuarrie originally drew as a scaly dinosaurian creature, adapted for the desert. Lucas told him that it needed to suit a snowy environment and that instead of a dinosaur, it should look more reminiscent of a rat. The furry creature seen on screen eventually was developed from these concepts.

Click the Read link below to view the full article.

Photo above: Phil Tippett manipulates stop-motion puppets of the tauntaun and AT-AT walkers. © Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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