Jabba’s Palace: Over 80 Characters and Counting

January 22, 2014 – From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga is a behind-the-scenes documentary released on VHS in 1987 and narrated by Mark Hamill. Thankfully, you can still find this video on YouTube and below.

Some fascinating trivia and factoids from behind the scenes:
♦ George Lucas was disappointed with the Cantina scene of Episode IV because a small budget and mid-70’s technology limited the articulation of the bar creatures. (0:11:30) His creature “dream” was fully realized six years later at Jabba the Hutt’s palace in Episode VI (1983).
♦ Over 80 characters were created for Jabba’s palace. (0:13:15)
♦ Over one million dollars were spent on creation of the 80+ denizens, which began as concept sketches, then maquettes, before becoming life-sized puppets and masks created by 15 artists and other craftsmen. (0:13:28)
♦ Tim Rose was the young puppeteer who animated both Salacious Crumb (0:18:58) and Sy Snootles. (0:16:46)
♦ George Lucas rejected the first mock-up of Jabba (too human looking), and the second (too wormy), but approved the third version. (0:19:25)
♦ Once the puppets and creatures were completed, they flew on Pan Am (defunct in 1991) from ILM’s workshops in Marin County, California to a studio in England. (0:17:58)
♦ Jabba’s massive head and neck were operated by two puppeteers, who hid inside the body (0:19:48), and additional puppeteers animated the rest of the body.
♦ Jabba’s eyes and facial muscles were radio-controlled by two more operators. (0:20:00)
♦ Construction of Jabba the Hutt took three months and cost nearly half-a-million dollars. (0:20:15)
♦ George Lucas originally wanted Jabba to be mobile, but early 1980’s technology made this unfeasible. (0:20:20)
♦ The actual Jabba creation weighed over 2,000 pounds. (0:21:45)
♦ Ten puppeteers, nine mime artists, 18 principal characters and 42 extras, supported by a crew of 90, spent almost a month filming the interior scene of Jabba’s palace. (0:24:32)
♦ During filming, one of Jabba’s operators spoke his lines in English, which were later dubbed over in Jabba’s native language, Huttese. (0:25:43)
♦ The Rancor monster’s cave is only about 30 inches high, and the Rancor puppet is only 18 inches, filmed in slow-mo. (0:29:13)
♦ Filmed in Arizona, Jabba’s barge was 212 feet long and 80 feet high (0:30:05). Construction took about four months.
♦ “Animatics” are moving story boards made by raw footage of the action figures and vehicles, interlaced with some sound effects (EXAMPLE: bikerspeeder chase at 0:40:00)
♦ The bikespeeder chase was filmed in a redwood forest in northern California (0:41:18)
♦ C-3PO: George Lucas had envisioned C-3PO to have the personality and character of a used car dealer. But once the actor, Anthony Daniels, put on the costume, his own personality altered C-3PO’s character forever. (0:45:28)
♦ The birth of Yoda (0:46:22)
♦ The birth of the Ewoks (0:53:22)
♦ Four-time Academy Award winner and sound designer Ben Burtt invented all the Star Wars dialects (Ewokese, Huttese, etc.)(0:50:00) as well as the sound of R2-D2’s “voice”, Darth Vader’s breathing-apparatus, the lightsaber hum and blaster gun sound effects.
♦ George Lucas’ decision on whether to unmask Darth Vader or not: “The film is about human frailities; it is not about monsters.” (1:06:00)

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