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The Empire Strikes Back’s long-lost making-of documentary surfaces on YouTube

Go back almost 40 years to see how sci-fi’s greatest sequel came together

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, a documentary partially referenced on the internet but otherwise believed incomplete and lost, has made it to YouTube in full.

The film lingers on the special effects required for the Hoth battle opening the 1980 flick, but also includes backstage interviews with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and the late Carrie Fisher. At this point in history, all three were bought into the love triangle set up in the original Star Wars, before everyone figured out Luke’s parentage — and then Leia’s, as well.

The highlight of the documentary is probably the wampa — as in, the human inhabiting the costume and then the beast staggering around in the Norwegian snow while the filming crew figured out what they wanted it to do. says the footage was recently recovered after a DVD was bought at auction and the winner uploaded it to YouTube.

It’s a peek into how hard everyone had to work in an age before CGI. Prosaic establishing shots like a Star Destroyer bridge or the Rebellion’s ice cavern hangar required matte paintings, for example. It’s also useful to remember that, though the success of 1977’s Star Wars made a sequel a lead-pipe cinch, neither the actors nor the writers and directors had much to go on. George Lucas had some reference material in his original treatment, but that was it.