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The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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*Starred Review* For Star Wars fans looking for a way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, this book will seem heaven sent. Rinzler follows up his magnificent The Making of Star Wars (2007) with this in-depth account of the production of the second act in George Lucas' original three-act epic. The author distills information gathered from a variety of sources: interviews with the actors and filmmakers recorded while the movie was in production; archival records; newspaper and magazine articles; new interviews; and books (including the now-rare Once upon a Galaxy, Alan Arnold's 1980 making-of book). Rinzler explores every aspect of the production, from the writing of the screenplay to casting to location filming to special effects to composing the score and designing print ads. The book is profusely illustrated with preproduction sketches, on-set photos, excerpts from various script drafts, reproductions of Lucas' handwritten notes, and more. Even fans who consider themselves quite knowledgeable about the movie might be surprised at some of the information here (Jeremy Bulloch, who played bounty hunter Boba Fett, was the half-brother of associate producer Robert Watts; the design of one of Empire's classic posters was modeled on a poster for a rerelease of Gone with the Wind). A splendid, comprehensive, and utterly indispensable book. --David Pitt
Advance praise for The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
“These books are the acid flashback they’ve been promising us without the mess and fuss of dropping acid . . . again. A trip worth taking.”—Carrie Fisher, actress/author
Praise for The Making of Star Wars
“Rinzler’s books sort of freak me out—because I feel when I’m reading them that I’m right back there!”—Robert Watts, Star Wars production supervisor
“The Making of Star Wars is perhaps the most insightful account of what it’s really like to make this kind of movie. The untainted perspective from the pre-release interviews offered inspiration when I found myself in the uncertainty brought upon by the chaos of day-to-day filmmaking.”—Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man, Zathura, and Elf
Top customer reviews
It sounds like the making of this film was arduous, and, as such, the book can be an arduous read at times. Every time it got back to the topic of developing the character of Yoda, I thought, "Oh no, not Yoda again." That having been said, the book does what it sets out to do, and gives the reader what I can only assume is the complete story of the making of this film. It's a well-written book and definitely worth your time if you're a fan of the film.
A warning about the embedded video and audio clips: they're a worthy addition to the book, but did not work for me on anything other than my iPhone -- not my Android tablet, and not my PC. At the time I purchased the book, the description stated it would work on Android (and I think PC as well), but this was not the case.
Warning: this book, like all of his "making of" books and the blueprints book, is cocaine for Star Wars enthusiasts. Make sure you have enough money to buy the whole set, because you won't be able to stop after the first one...
Wish list for Jedi: please put the narrative into electronic form. Reading this book is a physical challenge-- I would have loved to have been able to thumb through the narrative on my Kindle.
One of the included quotations from Kershner regarding his approach to the making of "Empire" illustrates why this movie is so well-loved by Star Wars fans, and in my opinion reflects what exactly was so frustrating to many fans about the Prequels:
"The thing that you learn in directing is that when you're on the floor, no matter how complex the shooting is...you have to remain absolutely sensitive to every nuance of the behavior of the people around you. Because, ultimately, if you don't keep in mind the overall humanity, then the machine takes over and suddenly all you have are technically fine shots, technically good performances. The story's being told, but something's lacking, something mysterious, indefinable." --Irvin Kershner
"Empire" had this "indefinable humanity" in spades, and the book really shows how the director was able to craft such a tale. Kershner really played with the tensions between Luke and Vader, and between Leia and Han. He (along with Frank Oz and Mark Hamill) made us all believe there is a soul underneath that puppet (Yoda). The lack of this "indefinable humanity" in the Prequels is what made me so sad about how the those movies ultimately came out (but perhaps this should better be saved for another review).
Back to the book: I highly highly recommend this. From the inclusion of amazing archival behind-the-scenes photos, gorgeous concept art and sketches (most notably by Ralph McQuarrie), to in-depth first-hand accounts by most of the important cast and crew, it really brings you so close to what everyone went through in the making of the movie.