By now, the creation process of the Star Wars movies is almost as legendary as the movies themselves. Thanks to the passion those films have ignited, a lot of geeky ink has been spilled discussing just what makes them good or bad, who contributed to which classic moments, and the best way to continue the original trilogy’s legacy.
Movie legends have a tendency to lose the fine details and develop untrue elements along the way. That’s why, over my many years of Star Wars fandom, I’ve gotten to be a bit of a snob when it comes to behind-the-scenes. There are two sources that continue to impress me to this day: the official “making of” books written by J.W. Rinzler, and the “filmumentaries” edited by Jamie Benning.
If you’re wondering what a “filmumentary” is, hold your horses, I’m explaining right now. Benning takes the original film and inserts the various clips, photos, and sound bites throughout it without disrupting the flow. This means that sometimes you’re watching the movie with a commentary, sometimes you’re being taken away to alternate viewpoints, and other times you’re seeing the same scene played out in many different ways. What’s nice about this is that it’s easy to follow the flow of the story while you’re watching, and you can also skip to your favorite parts of the movie and easily find out interesting trivia!
You can watch all of the filmumentaries at Benning’s Vimeo channel, and if you’re more than a casual Star Wars fan, I urge you to do so. They’re full of fascinating facts that put new lenses on your favorite moments, and show you how different some of the characters and setpieces might have been. Best of all, though, they offer exposure to all the small but important contributions that made the original trilogy feel as lovingly made as it was.
I’m sure everyone’s going to have their favorite trivia tidbits, but I thought I’d put you on the lookout for some of mine. Did you know that when Obi-Wan defends Luke from that creature in the cantina, there were shots filmed that were much gorier than what made it into the finished movie? Would you like to know more about the debate between George Lucas and Harrison Ford about Han’s famous line “I know,” ? Or see all the inner workings of the amazing Jabba The Hutt puppet?
Actually, the latter tale is so fascinating that Benning recently edited a shorter, more traditional documentary all about puppeteer Toby Philpott’s experiences inside the great slimy gangster. He also did one on Biggs Darklighter, a name that should be familiar to superfans. If not, know that he was practically one of the most important characters in A New Hope until the editing team made one very deep round of cuts.
As we look forward to The Force Awakens, it’s great to look back and see classic Star Wars from a new angle. Thanks to Jamie Benning and his conspirators, we can do just that.
All images credit of: Lucasfilm Ltd.