The 30th anniversary of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Before Ewan McGregor took over Alec Guinness’ role as Obi-wan, before the four ‘prequels’ were made in the last decade and before it was announced that the three original STAR WARS films, Episodes 4, 5 and 6 would soon be released theatrically in 3D, George Lucas and his team at Industrial Light and Magic were working through the particulars of the then cutting-edge special effects of STAR WARS: EPISODE V, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980). Celebrating its 30th anniversary, EPISODE V is a STAR WARS fan favorite, as well as the 12th highest grossing film in history. There’s the epic snow-covered battle between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, the fight scene between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the Millenium Falcon’s narrow escape through the asteroid field, Han Solo’s carbonite freezing and the introduction of Yoda into the series.

In honor of the film’s anniversary, Vanity Fair unveiled some of the film’s behind-the-scenes photos (one featured earlier by Matt Rodriguez here), which reveal some surprisingly lo-fi techniques. Note the mattresses used as a precautionary measure in case Mark Hamill should fall during his fight scene, and check out how they filmed the infamous opening credits (above) – who knew it was just a camera panning over a printout? One can assume that James Cameron, with the 3D cameras he invented for AVATAR, would never employ such a layman’s approach to filmmaking, but Lucas’ more humble beginnings continue to hold a power over audiences that’s stronger than his latest and flashier endeavors.