When the original Star Wars trilogy was released on Blu-ray, the extras included some behind the scenes footage shot by French journalist and director Michel Parbot. In 1979, Parbot spent time on the set of The Empire Strikes Back, chronicling the making of George Lucas’ second Star Wars movie. The result was a documentary that aired on US television in 1980 (and was ultimately added to the Blu-rays). But Parbot also made a second documentary meant for Dutch television which, after it aired, essentially disappeared (read: it was locked up in a LucasFilm vault). However, the diligent fans at StarWarsArchives.com, a site dedicated to cataloguing all things Star Wars, have managed to unearth a full 26 minutes of footage from the lost film.
In addition to interviews with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher, there’s plenty of footage of the massive Empire Strikes Back sets being built, including the impressive, ten-foot wide trees that populate Yoda’s home planet of Dagobah. The actual making of Yoda gets some screen time too, with one of the technicians (rather lovingly) describing the mechanics that went into creating a character that could move and talk in a realistic manner.
One of the funniest scenes in the documentary occurs while Parbot is filming the making of the battle on Hoth. The crew struggled with the glacial Norwegian climate: fighting in vain to protect their equipment from the snow, having to heat both the cameras and the actual rolls of film in order to use them, and constantly digging themselves out from under snow drifts. But the man with the hardest job on Hoth had to be the actor (or stunt guy) inside the Wampa suit. Never mind the arduous process that is getting into the Wampa suit, how about trying to walk through the snow in it? The Wampa doesn’t do too well—after just a few steps, he face plants and it takes five guys to get him on his feet again. Poor Wampa.
Check out the video below for more Empire Strikes Back insight (including footage of Mark Hamill’s lightsaber practice and weird Princess Leia innuendos):