The Making of The Empire Strikes Back Showcased on Long-Lost Dutch TV Documentary

Note: The film switches to English about 45 seconds in.

Earlier this month, we featured the launch of The Empire Strikes Back Uncut, a fan-driven attempt to re-create the most beloved Star Wars movie of them all. But for an insight into the creation of the original film, have a look at the Dutch television documentary above, The Making of The Empire Strikes Back (part one, part two). The broadcast focuses on the painstaking creation of the film’s special effects, most of which still hold up 32 years after audiences first glimpsed them. We see the models, the matte paintings, and even the phalanx of performers and technicians needed to execute the Norway-shot battle on the ice planet Hoth. It took $18 million, so producer Gary Kurtz tells us, to pull all of this off. Surely that seemed an extravagant, no-expense-spared figure in 1980, but today, in light of the profits, dedicated fanbase, and place in the zeitgeist, it sounds like a bargain.

Alas, The Making of the Empire Strikes Back exists on the internet only in an incomplete form, but the story behind its rediscovery turns out to be interesting enough to compensate. Star Wars fan site offers a detailed four-part article on this, “one of the most lost documentaries about The Empire Strikes Back.” Though directed by famed French “grand-reporter-cameraman” Michel Parbot, it fell into obscurity soon after its initial broadcast. But reading of the subsequent search for a distributable copy, we realize that we underestimate the completist ardor of the Star Wars fandom at our peril. A fascinating read indeed, but perhaps, like the MetaFilter commenter who could only exclaim “I HAVE SEEN A MAN IN A WAMPA SUIT,” you prefer simpler pleasures.

Related content:

Hundreds of Fans Collectively Remade Star Wars; Now They Remake The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars as Silent Film

Mark Hamill’s Star Wars Screen Test (Featuring Harrison Ford)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

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