During the shot in which Salacius Crumb (the small, annoying, rat-like thing that sits with Jabba in his palace) is chewing off C-3PO's eye, Anthony Daniels had a panic attack while in the C-3PO suit. While filming, he didn't actually say his lines (all of his lines were dubbed in post-production anyway), but repeated "Get me up. Get me up." over and over. This is the take used in the final cut.
According to Ian McDiarmid, George Lucas originally cast him simply as the physical performance of the Emperor (similar to David Prowse as Darth Vader). This became evident to him when a producer told him that if he was able to get his voice close enough to Clive Revill's (who portrayed the Emperor's voice in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)) Lucas would let him use his on-camera vocals in the final cut of the movie. However, McDiarmid felt he could conduct a stronger, more wicked and demonic voice for the Emperor as opposed to Revill's more aristocratic Emperor. Lucas, and even Steven Spielberg, were so impressed with his take that it ended up becoming a signature trait of the character.
Following the success of Boba Fett (appearing in comics and being a popular supporting character), George Lucas admitted that he had no idea that the character had become so popular. He mentioned that if he had known, he would have given the bounty hunter a more memorable death scene. Lucas even considered adding a shot of Boba Fett escaping the Sarlacc for the 2004 DVD release. Ultimately, he decided against it as he did not want viewers to be distracted from the intended storyline.
In the 2004 DVD release, George Lucas explained the reason behind why Yoda told Luke that Darth Vader was his father. Lucas had consulted with a child psychologist during the making of the film. The psychologist said that unless it was unequivocally stated that Vader was Luke's father, moviegoers age twelve and under would dismiss Vader's claim to be Luke's father as a lie.
Fake scripts were distributed to some cast members that were considered likely to leak information to the media. Some of these phony story elements were indeed leaked, such as Lando being revealed as the "last hope" for the Jedi mentioned by Obi-Wan and Yoda in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
The Emperor's chair was mechanized so that it could rotate when the scene called for it. However, the mechanism never worked properly, so Ian McDiarmid had to make it move by shuffling his feet. A piece of tape on the floor told him when to stop so it would not be visible to the camera.
Nien Nunb, Lando's co-pilot, speaks a Kenyan dialect called Haya. According to sound designer Ben Burtt, the lines were delivered by Kipsang Rotich, a Kenyan student living in the U.S., and are actually correct Hayan translations of the English text. Audiences in Kenya were reportedly very thrilled to hear their language spoken in proper context.
Endor is the name of a place in the Bible. It's a village found in Israel's territory of Isaachar, where King Saul went on the eve of his final battle with the Phillistines and came across "The Witch of Endor".
Carrie Fisher complained about her costumes in the previous two movies. She said they were so long, you could not tell "she was a woman". Those complaints led to the skimpy outfit she wore as Jabba's slave. The costume became something of a running joke among the crew, because the metal framework that held the top together meant that the costume didn't move well with her. Since Fisher didn't like the industry standard solution of using double-sided tape, it became necessary before each take to have a wardrobe person check to ensure that her breasts were still snug inside the costume top (and several scenes had to be re-shot when "wardrobe malfunctions" occurred).
The Endor shots were filmed near Crescent City, California. Forest work was especially hard on the Ewok actors. Production assistant Ian Bryce arrived on the set one day to find a note from the Ewok actors saying that they had all had enough and they were on their way to the airport. Bryce tried to drive to the airport, but got a flat tire not far from the set. He found another car and was about to leave when the Ewoks' bus pulled up, and all the Ewok actors got off wearing "Revenge of the Ewok" t-shirts.
Mark Hamill has said he took great issue with the revelation that Luke and Leia are brother and sister, going so far as to accuse George Lucas of making the idea up on the plane ride to set. Lucas, however, wanted to end the Star Wars saga to spend more time with his family. Lucas therefore opted to combine the character of Luke's unseen sister with Leia, thus resolving the Skywalker family storyline, and the Han-Leia-Luke love triangle in this movie, thereby making it the definitive end to the Star Wars saga. That would change years later with the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, and the production on Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), which would continue the story of the Skywalker family. The Disney-produced sequel trilogy, however, does not integrate any of Lucas' original ideas for post-Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) sequels.
Jabba's sail barge was filmed in Yuma, Arizona. The crew had problems avoiding the 35,000 dune buggy enthusiasts in the area. To preserve secrecy, the producers claimed to be making a horror movie called "Blue Harvest", with the tagline "Horror beyond imagination", and even had caps and t-shirts made up for the crew. A chain-link fence and a 24-hour security service could not prevent die-hard fans from entering the set and sneaking some photographs.
Mark Hamill pitched the idea of Luke donning Darth Vader's helmet after Vader's death, leaving the ending and Luke's character more ambiguous or ominous. George Lucas disagreed, opting for a happy ending.
Shooting the scene of Darth Vader's unmasking was handled with so much secrecy that Sebastian Shaw was not even told what he would be doing until he arrived on the set. He was spotted by his old friend, Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. He asked Shaw what he was doing there, and Shaw answered, "I don't know. They haven't told me anything about it except that it has something to do with science fiction."
George Lucas fired his friend and producer of the previous two Star Wars movies, Gary Kurtz, before production began (although some sources say he simply quit on his own). Their relationship had deteriorated during the making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), when the movie went wildly over budget and fell behind schedule. With Lucas self-funding both movies as independent productions, he opted to part company with Kurtz in favor of taking on active executive producer duties himself to ensure that this movie stayed under budget.
Hayden Christensen mentioned in an interview that he didn't fully know what George Lucas was up to when he was inserted into the Special Edition, otherwise he would have played the scene totally different.
The point-of-view shots for the speeder bike sequence were achieved by having a camera operator walk through the forest at normal speed with a camera filming at one frame per second. When the footage was played back at twenty-four frames per second, it gave the appearance of flying through the forest at high speeds.
This was originally to be titled "Revenge of the Jedi", but producers thought the Jedi wouldn't seek revenge, due to their ethical code. Some posters and theater stand-ups were made early, but then quickly pulled when the title changed names. Also, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) was originally to be called "Star Trek II: The Revenge of Khan", but the title for that movie was changed to avoid confusion with this movie back when "Revenge of the Jedi" was being considered.
Ian McDiarmid, a prolific stage actor, based his character's unusual voice on the Japanese method of using your stomach to project yourself. The result was a strange, guttural croak that Lucas decided was perfect for the character of Palpatine.
When George Lucas originally mapped out the plot of the entire "Star Wars" saga, he refined the backstory he'd used writing Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), and concocted further stories for sequels. Initially thinking the series would run two trilogies, he eventually settled on three. The original trilogy would follow Luke Skywalker as he became a Jedi and fought Darth Vader. The second prequel trilogy would follow young Obi-wan Kenobi, and the fall of Anakin Skywalker. The third, a sequel trilogy, would follow Luke's twin sister, Nelleth Skywalker. Originally, this movie would have ended with Luke defeating Darth Vader and embarking on the search for Nelleth. However, with the production of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and this movie taking an enormous toll on Lucas' health and personal life (he and wife Marcia Lucas divorced shortly after the release of this movie), he opted to end the franchise here by making Leia into Luke's sister.
Another reason for filming under the guise of non-descript horror movie title, "Blue Harvest" was partly to put off any snoopers, and also because the production found out that if they mentioned they were working on the next Star Wars movie, suppliers would automatically ramp up their prices, assuming that money was no object for Lucasfilm.
When preparing to work on the Special Edition, one of the Industrial Light & Magic employees was talking to a friend and mentioned in passing that they were extending the musical number in Jabba's palace. The friend happened to be the brother of Femi Taylor, the dancer that played Oola (the slave girl/dancer who is fed to the Rancor) and suggested that they get in contact with her, as she was in even better shape than she was when they originally shot the scene. They ended up using her, and the scene is a combination of footage that they already had, and the new footage recorded fifteen years later. Femi Taylor also has the distinction of being the only cast member from the original movies to reprise her role for the Special Edition.
According to Gary Kurtz, the original treatment ended with Luke Skywalker walking off alone and exhausted like the hero in a Spaghetti Western, going into seclusion by walking out into the Tatooine desert. George Lucas opted for a happier ending to encourage higher merchandise sales.
David Prowse only portrayed Darth Vader completely for the first half of the movie. In the second half of the movie, the character was played by Bob Anderson (stuntman) during the fight sequence, and Sebastian Shaw after the character is unmasked. James Earl Jones voiced the character throughout, with the exception of the unmasking scene.
Originally, George Lucas was disapproving of Richard Marquand's choice in casting Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor. The choice eventually grew on Lucas, as he eventually went on to cast McDiarmid as the younger version of the same character in the first three episodes of the saga.
This is the only Star Wars movie where Darth Vader does not Force choke someone. A scene did exist in the initial cut that showed him Force choke an Imperial officer in order to gain access to the Emperor's throne room. This scene was cut because George Lucas felt that this point had been made clearly enough in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
In the most recent Special Edition, the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker, portrayed by Sebastian Shaw, was replaced with one by Hayden Christensen from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005). George Lucas felt the Force ghost should represent Anakin as he was before he succumbed to the Dark Side. Also, in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), Anakin was horribly burned and lost both legs and his left hand, an aspect added after the original trilogy. Despite the explanation by Lucas, or perhaps because of it, many fans were outraged over the change, and wrote angry letters to Lucas.
According to the documentary "Empire of Dreams", Steven Spielberg, who is a life-long best friend with George Lucas, was Lucas' first choice to direct, and even though Spielberg would have loved to direct a Star Wars movie, he was forced to decline because he is a member of the Directors' Guild (Lucas dropped his Guild membership over disagreements about Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). As a result, Lucas hired the relatively unknown (and at the time, non-union) Welsh director Richard Marquand. Lucas was also impressed by Marquand's ability to bring in a movie on time and on budget, a very real concern of Lucas after the budget overruns experienced on Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
The raspy, labored breathing heard from Darth Vader after he kills Emperor Palpatine was originally meant to be how his breathing sounded when he was first introduced in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). The sound of this labored breathing was kept and used for this movie.
In the Battle of Endor, many of the "ships" and other objects far in the background are actually things like chewed-up gum. The crew knew there was so much action going on that people would not notice things like this use to fill up the picture in the background.
The first screening of this movie (using an early cut) was reportedly a disaster, with George Lucas deriding the editing, and the fact that it didn't feel like a Star Wars movie. Eventually, editor Sean Barton did his own cut that Lucas preferred a lot more, and it was this cut from which the final version was crafted.
In the March 1997 issue of Nickelodeon Magazine, James Earl Jones admitted that he didn't believe that Darth Vader truly became a good guy at the end. When asked, he replied with, "Not necessarily. I didn't want to believe him. I thought he was lying."
Before filming began, it was discovered that all of Darth Vader's light-saber props had either been lost or stolen. Thus, one of Luke Skywalker's "stunt" saber props from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) had to be quickly cannibalized into a "Vader-esque" saber for this movie.
Originally, the color of Luke's new light-saber was blue, the same as the one he lost in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Luke can even be seen wielding a blue light-saber in early movie trailers. However, when a scene of Luke assembling and activating his new light-saber, (still blue), was cut, George Lucas thought the audience might not understand that Luke's new light-saber was not the same one he lost on Cloud City. To avoid confusion, Lucas decided to change the color from blue to green, making it clear that Luke was using a new light-saber. (As part of the Expanded Universe, Legends, Luke's original light-saber, used by his father and given to him by Obi-wan, was recovered (along with his severed hand) from Cloud City and was later wielded by a Luke clone. Luke later recaptured this light-saber and presented it to Mara Jade, his love.) (The cover art for this movie shows Luke wielding a blue light-saber though.)
Everything Jabba the Hutt says has the same amount of syllables as the English translations. This is due to the fact that the puppeteers said all of the lines in English when they were controlling the Jabba puppet.
The script described a little more detail about Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia's mother. She was disguised as Leia's adoptive parents' handmaid. She died when Leia was about four. This was contradicted by Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005), which showed Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) as Luke and Leia's mother, who died in childbirth.
There are several women amongst the rebel pilots seen during the briefing aboard Home One (one can be seen just behind Lando's shoulder in his conversation with Han), who never appear in the actual sequence, though at least three were known to have filmed cockpit scenes for the battle. One of these actresses did survive into the final cut: one of the A-wing pilots is actually a woman redubbed by a male actor. The most significant cut was French model and actress Vivienne Chandler, who played an unnamed female X-wing pilot (later named Dorovio Bold). What made her cut surprising was that it appeared that she would have played a significant role in the battle, as she recorded over a full page of dialogue. Footage of her in the cockpit of her X-wing recently resurfaced, indicating she was amongst the pilots to assault the Death Star, and her dialogue (in which she makes a distress call about a fatally-damaged stabilizer) suggests she would have been killed after crashing, much like Red Leader had in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). It's unclear exactly why the women were cut, but it's been speculated there were concerns that audiences would be made uncomfortable by the thought of women being killed during a battle sequence.
For security reasons, when this movie was sent to the lab, it was sent under the title "Blue Harvest". The title was inspired by the Dashiell Hammett story "Red Harvest", which was the inspiration for Yojimbo (1961), directed by Akira Kurosawa, one of the favorite directors of George Lucas. When you go to www.blueharvest.com, you'll get the official Star Wars website.
During pre-production, executive producer George Lucas and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan would constantly argue over story beats and setpieces, with both of them getting into heated discussions over whether to scrap Endor entirely in favor of setting the climactic battle on Had Abbadon, the supposed Imperial "home planet".
Many ideas from the original script were left out or changed. For instance, the Ewoks were going to be Wookiees, the Millennium Falcon would be used in the arrival at the forest moon of Endor, and Obi-wan Kenobi would return to life from his spectral existence in the Force.
While attempting to film Luke Skywalker's battle with the rancor beast, George Lucas insisted on trying to create the scene in the same style as Toho's Godzilla movies by using a stunt performer inside a suit. The production team made several attempts, but were unable to create an adequate result. Lucas eventually relented and decided to film the rancor as a high-speed puppet.
In the Special Edition release, when Emperor Palpatine is trying to kill Luke Skywalker with the Dark Side lightning, Darth Vader has an added short line: "no, NO!" and then picks up Palpatine and drops him down the shaft. In all other video releases, Darth Vader says nothing during this scene.
The screenplay was not finished until rather late in pre-production, well after a production schedule and budget had been created by producer Howard G. Kazanjian and director Richard Marquand had been hired, which was unusual for a movie. Instead, the production team relied on Lucas' story and rough draft in order to commence work with the art department. When it came time to formally write a shooting script, Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, Marquand, and Kazanjian spent two weeks in conference discussing ideas. Kasdan used taped transcripts of these meetings to then construct the script.
David Lynch was originally offered the chance to direct this episode of the franchise. He turned it down because he believed it was "Lucas' thing". He went on to direct Dune (1984) instead. Despite this, his career was able to recover.
On what was dubbed "Black Friday", 100,000 feet of film stock containing visual effects shots that couldn't be read in an optical printer were unceremoniously dumped by George Lucas. The crew at Industrial Light & Magic were forced to go back to the drawing board and start again from scratch, with many getting drunk when they heard the news.
In the familiar theatrical one-sheet poster advertising the movie, forearms assumed to belong to Luke Skywalker are shown raising an ignited light-saber upward toward the starry sky. But the unidentified arms pictured are not those of Mark Hamill, they belong to George Lucas.
The inside of Jabba the Hutt's palace is deliberately styled to resemble the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). George Lucas wanted to redo the scene, but with a bigger budget, and without having to rely on stock masks.
George Lucas has admitted to being on the set frequently due to director Richard Marquand's relative inexperience with visual effects. Marquand joked, "It is rather like trying to direct King Lear with Shakespeare in the next room!"
Many viewers commented about Princess Leia's inability to see the Force ghosts of Obi-wan Kenobi, Yoda, and most importantly, her father, Anakin Skywalker. In the Star Wars novel, "Truce at Bakura", which takes place immediately after this movie, Anakin appears to Leia, to ask for her forgiveness.
Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and executive producer George Lucas initially wanted to include the "victory over the Empire" shots on the imperial city. However, they were unable to get a satisfactory name for the capital planet of the Empire. In May 1991, author Timothy Zahn wrote a Star Wars spin-off book, Heir to The Empire, and came out with the capital planet's name as Coruscant. Lucas was happy with the name, and as the result, CGI shots of victory celebration sequences of other cities, including Coruscant (where the statue collapsed) was included in the 1997 Special Edition.
David Prowse has said that he did not take part in any of the light-saber fighting sequences. As with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the movie's sword master, Bob Anderson played Darth Vader during the duel sequence, wearing platform shoes and careful filming to make up for the height difference.
At one point during the battle on Endor, Princess Leia turns towards an AT-ST walker and shoots a man who is either standing on or leaning out of the top. This man is rumored to be director Richard Marquand, who also did the voice for the interrogator droid EV 9D9. His voice was run through a ring modulator to give the proper mechanic-sounding effect.
In the 2011 Blu-ray release, Ewoks blink. According to Warwick Davis on the Blu-ray commentary, a mechanism was invented to make the actual costume blink, but this was determined to be faulty, and was later aborted.
Before the Special Editions, this was the only movie of the original trilogy that mentioned the name "Anakin". There was a deleted scene in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) where Luke meets Biggs and Red Leader, where the latter mentions that he had once met Anakin. The scene was restored in the Special Edition, minus the line mentioning Anakin, though.
The deleted sandstorm scene involving all of the actors and actresses was the first scene shot on the first day of shooting. This made Mark Hamill the only Star Wars actor or actress to work the first full day of shooting on the first three Star Wars movies.
Reportedly, when Steven Spielberg was unavailable to direct this movie due to his membership of the Director's Guild, he suggested Dutch director Paul Verhoeven to his friend, executive producer George Lucas, as a potential director. Spielberg had been impressed by Verhoeven's Dutch movies, especially his war epic Soldier of Orange (1977), and knew that Verhoeven was searching for an American project. However, when Spielberg saw Verhoeven's latest movie, the sexually explicit Spetters (1980), he decided to withdraw his recommendation.
The main chamber of Jabba's palace is connected to the entrance by a short flight of steps. When filming the scene where R2-D2 enters the chamber it was discovered that the droid could not roll down the stairs. In the movie, we see R2-D2 approaching the stairs, then the camera moves to the left past the steps and the droid re-enters the field of view, having been manually hauled down the stairs.
Originally, Moff Jerjerrod was written as Grand Moff Jerjerrod, and was Emperor Palpatine's personal representative, and schemed with him to turn Luke Skywalker and betray Darth Vader. When Vader finds out, he breaks Jerjerrod's neck.
WILHELM SCREAM: As Luke slashes an enemy with his light-saber and he falls into the Sarlacc pit. It can also be heard again a second time as Luke slashes another enemy into the pit soon afterward, but it is barely audible. Additionally, in the Special Edition, a Wilhelm can be heard during one of the huge celebration scenes, on Coruscant, after the Death Star is destroyed (an Imperial Stormtrooper is crowd surfing and the Wilhelm is heard as he passes to the right of the film frame. Since this is a celebration scene rather than a fight scene, the Wilhelm was presumably included as a joke).
Sound designer Ben Burtt got the opportunity to operate the mike boom in the dialogue scene between Luke and Leia on Endor. He didn't know the entire scene would take almost three minutes to shoot, so he got very tired holding up the microphone, and nearly dropped it on Carrie Fisher's head.
It is rumored that a different ending was shot, but discarded later on. It featured the (long awaited) marriage between Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo. In the Star Wars "Expanded Universe" books, they go on to marry and raise a brood.
The Ewoks were originally supposed to be a tribe of Wookiees. In pre-production, though, the decision was made to go to short creatures with short fur rather than very tall creatures with longer fur and, hence, the Ewoks were created (Ewok may very well have been created by rearranging the sounds in the word "Wookiee").
The Ewok battle was modelled after George Lucas's original idea for the climax of Apocalypse Now (1979), a project he was once interested in directing before leaving it to his mentor Francis Ford Coppola. Harrison Ford appeared in both movies. In the Star Wars saga, his character is based on Coppola. In the other movie, his character was named "Colonel G. Lucas".
According to a magazine interview with Irvin Kershner in May 2004, Kershner states that Richard Marquand didn't direct all of this movie, it was Kershner's assistant director and George Lucas who took over after the actors and actresses didn't respond very well to Marquand. The relationship between Marquand and George Lucas was said to be bad. On the DVD commentary, however, George Lucas claims he worked quite well with Marquand.
Howard G. Kazanjian's schedule pushed shooting as early as possible in order to give Industrial Light & Magic as much time as possible to work on visual effects, and left some crew members dubious of their ability to be fully prepared for the shoot.
The only movie where Luke famously wears black clothing. Iconally, despite being a Jedi Knight, many fans found this foreshadowing, as black is a color of the Dark Side, which Luke almost joined. The other characters to wear black in the franchise are Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, Darth Maul, and Kylo Ren.
Prominent U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail ran a story shortly before this movie's release, revealing that Darth Vader might die at the end. It was suggested that David Prowse was behind the leak, which led to his subsequent strained relationship with Lucasfilm (he wasn't interviewed for the DVD release of the original trilogy, and hasn't made any appearances at official Star Wars-related events, as of 2016). Prowse has denied being the one who told the newspaper about Darth Vader's death, since he was unaware of it. It later emerged that unnamed crew members were responsible for the leak.
Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), played Wedge in this movie, despite the rumors to the contrary which were caused by his name being misspelled ("Dennis Lawson") in the credits of the first two movies. Intense debate on Usenet prompted Jarod Nash to write a letter to Lawson, asking for clarification. Lawson confirmed that he played in all three movies, this being the only one that spelled his name right.
Endor scenes were filmed on a soundstage in London, and then on-location in a Redwood forest. According to Warwick Davis, Lucas decided to spotlight six of the Ewoks, and to have the same British actors play those parts in England and America. All of the others were replaced with Americans for the location shoot.
The Twilek dancer/slave in Jabba's palace has two "wardrobe malfunctions" throughout her appearance. Once while Jabba the Hutt pulls the chain attached to her, and once while falling into the Rancor pit.
This movie originally included a sandstorm scene that occurred after Han's rescue. It was cut because it was unnecessary, and was hectic to shoot, but the idea for the scene was used in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999).
In the part where Paploo was barely hanging onto the speeder bike, Paploo was played by stuntman Tony Cox. The crew propped the bike up vertically and filmed Cox dangling from the handlebars, then simply rotated the camera.
Principal photography was beset with numerous delays and clashes between executive producer George Lucas and director Richard Marquand, with the former wanting to use multiple cameras during each take so he could have more material in the editing room, and the latter wanting only one or two cameras with no fallback option. The filmmakers inadvertently used old film stock that caused many shots to have a bizarre blue tint, which forced Industrial Light & Magic ILM to fix the color timing on many shots in post-production. At a certain point, Lucas essentially took over the majority of directing duties from Marquand.
The visually-distinct B-wing fighters apparently had a substantial amount of footage filmed for use in the final battle. However, it was realized that the fighter's thin profile meant that it was incredibly difficult to pick up on-screen, so all shots of the B-wings in action was cut after the rebels break off when they realize the shield is still up.
In the 2004 DVD release, Sebastian Shaw (older Anakin Skywalker) was replaced in the celebration scene by Hayden Christensen, the actor that portrayed Anakin in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
The design of Luke's new light-saber is directly based on the one used by Obi-wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). In fact, one of Obi-wan's "stunt" saber props was re-used in this movie as Luke's.
Originally, Princess Leia was not Luke's twin sister. Luke's twin sister would be called "Nellith Skywalker", and that she had been taken to the other side of the galaxy to be trained as a Jedi. George Lucas had originally planned the sequels to follow Luke's search for Nellith.
The scenes showing the Empire firing the new Death Star super laser for the first time, and the Empire escaping before Darth Vader is unmasked by Luke Skywalker are "recycled" scenes from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), but the scenes were mirrored.
The Millennium Falcons used for this movie were either models or matte paintings. The full-sized mock-up used for the other movies was only used for the deleted sandstorm scenes, and therefore doesn't make an appearance in this movie.
Light-sabers and blasters in this movie have opposite colors for each side of the Force. For example, the rebels have a green light-saber and red gun lasers, and the Empire has a red light-saber and green gun lasers.
George Lucas had a script policy which was carried over to the novel-writing policy today. Any characters from the trilogy cannot be killed off by any means, which explained the reason he overruled Harrison Ford's suggestion of killing Han Solo off. However, he consented R.A. Salvatore's idea of killing Chewbacca off in the novel Vector Prime (set twenty-one years after this movie).
George Lucas directed some of the second unit work, as the shooting threatened to go over schedule. This is a function Lucas had willingly performed on previous occasions when he had only officially been producing a movie. He did operate a B camera on the set a few times.
Luke Skywalker never fired his own blaster in the course of the movies. In Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), he lost his rifle to the Sand People, and only used weapons taken from Stormtroopers. In Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strike Back (1980), he never fired his handgun, and in this movie, he only used the deck cannon on Jabba's barge.
With the release of the Digital Movie Collection in 2015, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare was removed from this movie and its predecessor. The ending of the track "The Rebel Fleet/End Title" from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) now plays over the Lucasfilm logo. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) retained the fanfare, as Twentieth Century Fox owned distribution rights to the movie at that time. However, the June 2018 buyout of Twentieth Century Fox by the Walt Disney Company means that Disney now owns everything relating to Star Wars, lock, stock, and barrel.
In an episode of Storage Wars (2010), one of the stars of the show discovered a Star Wars jacket in a storage locker with the original title, "Revenge of the Jedi", printed on it. The jacket was ultimately appraised to be worth over $3,000.
The first appearance of the Death Star was originally supposed to be in this episode. Lucas changed the Death Star in this movie to the Death Star Two after having been forced to introduce the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) due to budget cuts imposed by the studio.
Visual effects work at Industrial Light & Magic quickly stretched the company to its operational limits. While the research and development work and experience gained from the previous two movies in the trilogy allowed for increased efficiency, this was off-set by the desire to have the closing movie raise the bar set by each of those movies. A compounding factor was the intention of several departments of Industrial Light & Magic to either take on other movie work or decrease staff during slow cycles. Instead, as soon as production began, the entire company found it necessary to remain, running twenty hours a day on six-day weeks in order to meet their goals by April 1, 1983. Of about nine hundred visual effects shots, all VistaVision optical effects remained in-house, since Industrial Light & Magic was the only company capable of using the format, while about four hundred 4-perf opticals were subcontracted to outside effects houses. Progress on the opticals was severely slow for a time, due to Industrial Light & Magic rejecting about one hundred thousand feet (30,480 meters) of film when the film perforations failed image registration and steadiness tests.
Michael Carter was cast as Bib Fortuna in this movie after casting director Mary Selway saw him appearing in the play "The Streets of London" in 1981. It took over eight hours of make-up to first transform him into Jabba the Hutt's Twi'lek advisor. By the end of his five-week shoot, make-up artist Nick Dudman had streamlined the process down to fifty-eight minutes. Removing the make-up took another twenty-five minutes.
When Luke first enters Jabba's palace, he Force chokes two guards. At other times, he used the Force to pick up weapons or see targets clearly, but this is the only time in the original trilogy he uses it to directly harm someone.
When Han and Leia are trapped by two troopers as they attempt to access the shield generator, Han confesses his love by saying "I love you", to which Leia responds with "I know". This is a reverse of the conversation that took place in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), when Han is about to be frozen.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER TRADEMARK: (George Lucas): (THX-1138): Boushh's (Leia in bounty hunter disguise) helmet has "1138" written on it. THX 1138 (1971) was Lucas' first theatrical movie, and is referenced many times in the film franchise.
Paploo (Kenny Baker) was supposed to find Princess Leia unconscious after the speeder bike sequence, but Baker got a case of food poisoning before the scene was going to be filmed, so Wicket (Warwick Davis) became the Ewok who finds Leia.
From an engineering perspective, both Death Stars were poorly constructed, because they did not have either safety or redundancy systems. When Wedge Antilles and Lando Calrissian shot out the power regulator, the entire reactor exploded. A properly engineered power generator would have multiple back-ups and safety protocols to prevent such an occurrence.
One of the songs that the Ewoks sing sounds like: "Det luktar flingor här", which is Swedish for "It smells of cereal here." (In fact, that line's lyrics are supposedly, "G'noop dock fling oh ah.") Another song sounds identical to a song sung in Caveman (1981).
With the addition of Darth Vader's "No! No!" in the Blu-ray Edition, every live-action Star Wars movie except for Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) has a powerful "No!" Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) - Obi-wan Kenobi Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) - Anakin Skywalker Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) - Darth Vader Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) - Luke Skywalker Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - Luke Skywalker Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) - Darth Vader Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) - Rey
In his book "Sculpting the Galaxy", Lorne Peterson reveals that all shots featuring the second Death Star are flipped horizontally. The original model was unfinished on the left side, while in the movie, it appears to be unfinished on the right.
Extras comprising of one hundred thirty Imperials, forty Ewoks, and a cast and crew of one hundred fifty were used in the scene where the rebels are rounded up outside of the shield bunker, just before the final battle starts.
This is the first Star Wars movie to show a light-saber combat something other than another light-saber. Luke fights guards with staffs and blasters on the sail barge. In Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), a light-saber is seen only fighting another light-saber. It should be noted that Obi-wan Kenobi's removal of Ponda Baba's arm does not count as a fight, but could be considered a combat between a light-saber and another weapon.
This is the only movie in the original trilogy in which Chewbacca fires his Wookiee bowcaster (on Endor, at a fleeing biker scout). Although Luke refers to it in this movie as a "crossbow", Chewie's weapon was given its proper name by author Brian Daley in the 1981 National Public Radio dramatization of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Originally, when George Lucas had planned on making nine Star Wars movies, Emperor Palpatine was not slated to appear in this movie, and would in fact not appear until Episode IX. However, Lucas decided to cut the franchise down to six movies, and have Luke Skywalker defeat Palpatine in this movie. Because of this, when Episodes VII, VIII, and IX actually were made, a new villain had to be created to take the place of Emperor Palpatine.
General Madine was not scripted to have a beard, and Dermot Crowley showed up on-set with a shaved face. The producers discovered that the Kenner toy based on the character had a beard, and presented Crowley with a prosthetic beard he would have to wear to match the figure. Alternate takes were shot of the rebel briefing in which he delivered Admiral Ackbar's exposition, but they were not used.
During filming, this movie was called "Blue Harvest" in order to throw people off. It was said to be a horror movie and advertisement products, such as t-shirts, were made. Family Guy (1999) season six, episode one was called "Blue Harvest", which was an episode that spoofed Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Co-producer Robert Watts doubled as the scout walker driver who is thrown out of the AT-ST walker by Chewbacca. This role was written for General Veers, who was played by Julian Glover in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Since he looks nothing like Glover, Watts was credited as "Lieutenant Watts".
Carrie Fisher really cared about Warwick Davis' well-being during filming, as he had to spend it in a hot Ewok costume. She also provided him with cookies and chocolate milk between takes. Davis later commented "She was everything an eleven-year-old Ewok could possibly wish for."
One year after this movie's release, the Ewoks had their own spin-off movies, The Ewok Adventure (1984) and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) which came out a year later. In the movie, the Ewoks agree to help the Towani siblings rescue their parents from the Gorax giant, after their spaceship crashes on Endor, leaving them stranded.
Draws themes from the Hindu epic, "Bhagva Geeta". Luke's conflicting emotions about going against his own father are similar to Arjuna's emotions on waging a war against the Kauravas, who are his close and dear ones like his cousins, relatives, and teachers. Arjuna seeks counsel with Lord Krishna, who advises him that he has to do what he has to do, similar to the advice Obi-wan Kenobi gives Luke Skywalker after his last visit to meet Yoda.
Many times in the trilogy, characters speak to each other in different languages, yet they seem to understand each other perfectly. The most famous example is Han Solo, who speaks English, and Chewbacca, who speaks in a series of growls.
On the official poster, Luke is holding a blue light-saber but in this movie, he wields a green light-saber. The shift from a "pure" blue to a more neutral green could be perceived as representing Luke's increased moral ambiguity in this movie. As the franchise progresses, he is seen to more and more resemble Darth Vader, dressing in black with a darker hair color, artificial right hand, and facial scarring.
David Lynch, who was once offered the chance to direct this movie, directed his own space epic, Dune (1984). That movie also featured a desert planet, sand worms, and an evil Emperor. The Emperor in Dune (1984) was played by Jose Ferrer. Ferrer, like Ian McDiarmid, has played the role of Iago from Shakespeare's Othello. Ferrer's youngest son, Rafael Ferrer, voiced one of the Emperor's Sith fore-bearers, Darth Malak, in Knights of the Old Republic.
There are four scenes with one or more characters swinging from a rope or vine. Luke and Leia swing on a rope to escape Jabba's sail barge. As the Ewoks bring the captured rebels to their village, an Ewok swings from one tree platform to another. Paploo, the Ewok who famously steals a speeder bike, abandons his ride by grabbing and swinging from a hanging vine. Finally, Chewbacca and two Ewoks swing from a vine to commandeer an AT-ST Walker.
Seven years after this movie's release, Debbie Lee Carrington appeared in another science fiction movie about rebels titled Total Recall (1990). In the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a construction worker, who, after he undergoes a memory implant procedure, discovers he is a reprogrammed Mars Intelligence Agent turned traitor who sided with Martian rebels on the colony on Mars.
Three of Darth Vader's scenes in this movie parallel scenes with Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999). The first line in this movie is one of Darth Vader's henchmen in his shuttle asking to board the Death Star. The first lines in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) are of Qui-Gon Jinn and his pilot asking to be let aboard the Trade Federation Control Ship. Vader's last scenes involve him throwing Emperor Palpatine down a chasm to his death, and being mortally wounded in the process. Qui-Gon Jinn's last scene involved him being mortally wounded by Darth Maul, who was then cut in half by Obi-wan Kenobi, and falls down a chasm. In Qui-Gon Jinn's death scene, he predicts Anakin Skywalker will bring balance, which he did in the former scene. The last shot is an overhead view of Obi-wan Kenobi holding his body next to the chasm into which Darth Maul fell. The second-to-last scene of Darth Vader still alive is an overhead shot of Luke Skywalker holding his mortally wounded body, next to the chasm into which Emperor Palpatine was cast. The two shots are mirror images of each other. In this movie, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are on the right, with the chasm on the left. In Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-wan Kenobi are on the left, with the chasm on the right. Qui-Gon Jinn and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader are given a funeral by cremation. The shot of Darth Vader's funeral pyre has his head on the left side of the screen. The shot of Qui-Gon Jinn's pyre has his head on the right. The music from Qui-Gon Jinn's funeral is also played in the scene were Darth Vader is released from surgery in his new armor.
In a personal letter to friend Henry Dibling, Lindsay Anderson said that a role in this movie was offered to him (a "Prince of Evil" role, in his own words). He turned it down because he was busy with his own movie, Britannia Hospital (1982), by then. Coincidentally, Mark Hamill appeared in that movie as well.
The illusion for the speeder bike chase scene is a clever trick. A cameraman walked through the woods with a Steadicam that filmed at one frame per second. Played back at twenty-four frames per second, a calm stroll looked like a hair-raising ride.
The only Star Wars movie to contain nudity (unless you consider the fact that Chewbacca is nude, yet covered in fur). Although it was accidental, and is only visible to viewers who pause the scene, the Twi'lek dancer at Jabba's Palace, that falls into the Rantcor pit, has her outfit come partially undone and expose her right breast.
Despite being a Jedi, Luke shows several traits that could lure him to the Dark Side, such as force choking, getting angry at Darth Vader after the latter threatens to turn Leia to the Dark Side, and wearing black. Another thing Luke did that could show signs of being lured to the Dark Side is at Jabba's sail barge, when he aggressively attacked all of Jabba's henchmen. However, despite Yoda teaching Luke that Jedi's never use their powers for attack, according to the original novel, attacking is only permissible when a Jedi is outnumbered.
David Lynch was considered to direct this movie. He ended up directing Dune (1984), which may itself have influenced Star Wars, as Alejandro Jodorowsky's script was in circulation in the late 1970s. Although Lynch ended up not directing the movie, Duwayne Dunham became his regular editor.
The attacks on the Death Stars in this movie and in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) were based on the World War II Royal Air Force mission "Operation Chastise", also known as the dam buster mission. In order to destroy dams in the Ruhr Valley, R.A.F. bombers dropped bombs that bounced over the surface of the rivers and then sank to the riverbed next to the bases of the dams before exploding. In this movie, "Bothans" acquired intelligence to complete the destruction of the Death Star. In "Chastise", a group of technicians developed the bouncing bombs that destroyed the dams. These technicians were known as "Boffins".
It has been considered that J.R.R. Tolkien's classic and influential fantasy story "The Lord of the Rings" may have been a major influence behind the "Star Wars" saga. The final installment of the "Lord of the Rings" was titled "Return of the King".
This movie had the working title of "Blue Harvest", with a tagline of "horror beyond imagination". This disguised what the production crew was really filming from fans and the press, and also prevented price gouging by service providers, as had happened in Norway while filming Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
A scene was filmed, but cut and edited from Yoda's death scene, which Yoda confesses to Luke about the truth about Darth Vader, and keeping it from Luke, and that he admits that Obi-wan Kenobi would have told him, if he had let him, and that he fears for Luke, who now carries a great weakness, and apologizes to Luke.
The Gungans in the underwater Gungan City was based on Jabba the Hutt since Jabba eats bullfrogs. He's seen in this movie eating a bucket of bullfrogs, and opens the pod race in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) by biting the head off of a frog and spitting it onto the gong to start the race. Their skin tones also match the environment in which they live.
As seen in the theatrical trailers, Luke's new light-saber had a blue blade instead of the green one that appears in the finished movie, as it had been in the first two movies. The blade was changed to green, it was difficult to make out against the sky during the attack on the sail barge scene.
According to Eric Walker, who played Mace Towani in the spin-off movies, The Ewok Adventure (1984) and Ewoks: Battle For Endor (1985) in an interview, Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) was to play Wicket. But, before filming could begin, Anthony Daniels was ill, and Warwick Davis took the role.
In the familiar theatrical one-sheet poster advertising this movie, hands that supposedly belong to Luke Skywalker are shown raising an ignited light-saber upward toward the starry sky. But the unidentified arms depicted are not those of Mark Hamill. The hands are actually George Lucas'.
If you look closely during the scene which C-3PO tells the Ewoks the story of the Rebel Alliance's battle against the Galactic Empire, Wicket is purring like a cat when he rests his head against Han Solo's leg. Cats make a low continuous vibratory sound expressing contentment if, and when they rub themselves against people's legs.
At one point during production, it was heavily rumored that Luke would die in some way over the course of this movie. This was an especially common schoolyard and playground rumor among the franchise's younger audience.
An uncredited John Altman, who played a rebel pilot in this movie, played antagonist Nick Cotton in the soap opera EastEnders (1985), which he played from 1985 to 2015, the year Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) was released.
The second time in the film series that Anakin/ Vader ever ignites a green lightsaber. In this when he ignites Luke's when Luke surrenders himself. The previous time was as Anakin in the Attack of the Clones scene on Geonosis.
Ben Burtt: The Imperial officer in the bunker who says "Freeze!" and gets knocked into the generator room by a thrown satchel. When he falls over the edge, he attempts to emulate the Wilhelm scream, which he made famous.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Listen very carefully as Darth Vader picks up Emperor Palpatine and throws him down the Death Star shaft. This is the only time the Jedi theme music plays over a shot of Darth Vader, reflecting his return to the Light Side of the Force.
When Darth Vader saves Luke Skywalker by killing Emperor Palpatine, he fulfills the Jedi prophecy. He destroys the embodiment of the Dark Side and returns to the light. In doing so, he brings balance to the Force, just as the prophecy predicted.
Harrison Ford had wanted Han Solo to die at the end of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and that he didn't want to play the character again. But, George Lucas had at a different idea, Lucas opted to have Han Solo frozen in carbonite and have him revived in this movie, in case Ford changed his mind about playing Han Solo for a third time. Ford finally got his wish when Han got killed in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015).
Just before Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, he saves Chancellor Palpatine's life in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). Just before Darth Vader dies in this movie, he throws Emperor Palpatine down a black hole to his death. This creates a birth and death parallel with Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.