Star Wars: the big hassle of the snowy filming of The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: the big hassle of the snowy filming of The Empire Strikes Back

A look back at a phase of the filming of “The Empire Strikes Back” which saw the Star Wars film crew confronted with particularly capricious weather in Norway. A certain Mark Hamill probably still remembers it…

In Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, viewers can enjoy stunning footage of the ice planet Hoth, whose vast frozen plains and mountain ranges are constantly showered with meteorites from the nearby asteroid belt . Visually superb scenes, therefore, which feature quadripods in particular, but which represented a real nightmare to shoot… Fortunately, the Force was with them!

“The creation of the film posed a series of problems that we had not anticipated”says producer Gary Kurtz in the documentary Star Wars: The Empire of Dreams, available on Disney +. “The movie was a bigger deal than we had anticipated. The budget was bigger. Everyone who did visual effects said, ‘Never make snow because you won’t maintain the color.’ We ignored those warnings. and decided to film snow. (…) We were in Norway filming on this glacier and it was the worst winter in Scandinavia for 50 years. Minus 28 degrees, 5.5 meters of snow.”

“It was an awful place because we were on this icy thing, up on this glacier with these tracked vehicles to get there. We had stakes, big sticks stuck in the ground every two meters”adds production supervisor Robert Watts. “If it started snowing, we couldn’t see where we were going. And it snowed one night. I drove one of those vehicles. Without those stakes, I wouldn’t have come back.”

The final word on this hellish snowy shoot goes to Irvin Kershner, the director of the intergalactic film released in theaters in 1980. “We arrive in Norway and I couldn’t leave the hotel to film because there is a wall of snow that the wind had blown up that night”he says. “So we put the camera in the hotel door. The team was inside warm and Mark Hamill had to get out in the snow and run to get away from the ice creature.” Embodying Luke Skywalker is worth it!

Mismatch: the blunders and mistakes of “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”

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