For Star Wars fans looking for a way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, this book will seem heaven sent. Rinzler follows up his magnificent The Making of Star Wars (2007) with this in-depth account of the production of the second act in George Lucas’ original three-act epic. The author distills information gathered from a variety of sources: interviews with the actors and filmmakers recorded while the movie was in production; archival records; newspaper and magazine articles; new interviews; and books (including the now-rare Once upon a Galaxy, Alan Arnold’s 1980 making-of book). Rinzler explores every aspect of the production, from the writing of the screenplay to casting to location filming to special effects to composing the score and designing print ads. The book is profusely illustrated with preproduction sketches, on-set photos, excerpts from various script drafts, reproductions of Lucas’ handwritten notes, and more. Even fans who consider themselves quite knowledgeable about the movie might be surprised at some of the information here (Jeremy Bulloch, who played bounty hunter Boba Fett, was the half-brother of associate producer Robert Watts; the design of one of Empire’s classic posters was modeled on a poster for a rerelease of Gone with the Wind). A splendid, comprehensive, and utterly indispensable book.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, June 2010.