***Think what you will about George Lucas. But in terms of Star Wars, it can all be traced back to him. That’s why I always find it so interesting to listen to him talk about it. His creative process, the reason certain decisions were made, and how these movies became the pop cultural staples they are. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***
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By Rob Siebert
The Scene: In the swamps of Dagobah, Luke encounters a small creature who we later learn to be Yoda, a wise Jedi Master.
George Lucas Says (via the Empire Strikes Back commentary track): “There was a huge challenge with this. I didn’t want Yoda to look like a man in a suit. So I made him two and a half feet tall, which would have been impossible to put anybody in [a suit that size]. … It was one of the scarier things in the movie. Because if he looked like Kermit, we would have been dead.”
I Say: I don’t think this risk gets talked about enough. I think the achievement that is Yoda has subsequently gotten lost in all the advancements in digital technology, many of which have ironically been spearheaded by George Lucas. Had puppeteer Frank Oz, puppet designer Stuart Freeborn, Empire director Irvin Kershner, and everybody involved in the creation of Yoda not been as talented as they were, the movie might have fallen on its face.
Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, deserves a lot of credit for the creation of Yoda too. It’s one thing to create a realistic-looking puppet. It’s another thing to act alongside that puppet, react genuinely, and make it feel like a living being that could exist in the real world. Without Mark Hamill, Yoda as we know him today doesn’t exist.
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