Inside Jabba’s Palace

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Obi-Wan once told Luke that he’d never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley Spaceport. Well, Luke eventually found one when he arrived at Jabba’s Palace. Who knows all the things we didn’t get to see in that loathsome palace? Let’s take a look.

THE DROID DUNGEON

1148Deep within the bowels of Jabba’s Palace is where you’ll find EV-9D9, one of Jabba’s faithful worker droids. EV-9D9 checks out new “acquisitions” and puts droids to work where needed.

The close-up of EV-9D9 was apparently illustrated for the comic adaptation. This still was not used in the film and there’s a little bit of accompanying dialogue in the comic and novelization that somehow didn’t make it either. Here’s the short passage from the novelization which is slightly different from the comic:

“You’re a fiesty little one, but you’ll soon learn some respect. I have need for you on the master’s Sail Barge. Several of our astrodroids have been disappearing recently – stolen for spare parts, most likely. I think you’ll fill in nicely.”

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THE LIGHTMAN

1188In an interview I conducted with original trilogy stunt coordinator Peter Diamond, he mentioned something very interesting from a deleted scenes perspective:

Q: What’s the most dangerous stunt you yourself performed in a Star Wars film? How about the most dangerous stunt by anyone on your team on a Star Wars film?

A: My most dangerous stunt wasn’t even in the Return of the Jedi final cut – Jabba’s palace, I was dressed as a “Lightman.” I had over 100 electric bulbs attached to my body and had to walk across set. The heat was unbearable and I always had the problem of tripping up over the many wires attached to me as I could not see. The most dangerous stunt by any crew was in Return of the Jedi – the double for Han Solo fell off of Jabba’s barge and his harness snapped breaking his legs as he fell into the pit.

That’s one I had never heard of before conducting the interview. Here’s what he said in the follow-up:

All I can say is that I remember wearing a racing drivers jumpsuit, getting covered in hundreds of tiny light bulbs and plugged into the electricity supply. I had my face covered in them too so I didn’t need special creature make-up because the glow blocked out my face. I was then told to walk past the camera as it pans around Jabba’s palace which I found very difficult to do because of the heat and the cables hanging off the back of me.

When the original trilogy came to DVD in 2004, a photo of this “lightbulb man” finally surfaced.

 

THE RANCOR PIT

2432Before Luke took on the Rancor with a bone, he tried to escape the pit. After falling and seeing the beast, he does one of his super Jedi leaps, much like the one he used in Episode V and grabs hold of the grating on the floor of Jabba’s audience chamber. He hangs there, suspended, trying to figure out a way to escape. Two Jawas then proceed to bang on Luke’s fingers with the butts of their rifles, forcing him to fall onto the Rancor’s eye and then back to the floor. You can read this scene in its entirety in the novelization.

There’s a UK auction site called the Prop Store of London that sometimes features great and rare Star Wars collectible props and production materials. You can find storyboards there once in a while and one from this scene showed up. It’s December 1, 1982. The scene is labeled RC15 and the text reads:

Luke is on left. He jumps up to the grating. Rancor’s body is in extreme foreground on right. Rancor’s arm is coming down on the left side of the screen, to the left of Luke (Luke’s jump must be seen clearly). If jump can’t be seen, don’t add arm. Effect of shot is to have Luke look surrounded.

Another storyboard shows Luke hanging from the grate and dropping. It doesn’t mention anything about falling onto the eye of the Rancor. It looks like a straight drop that confuses the creature. The scene is labeled RC19 and the text reads:

Luke is in upper left of frame, hanging on grate. Rancor is on the right, looking up at Luke (turned away from camera). Luke drops from the grate through frame; Rancor continues looking up for a beat (slow to catch on), he recoils slightly from the edge of the light.

Note that in the call sheet for this day’s shoot there are boxes and mattresses requested for the stunt double’s fall.

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THE MAX REBO BAND & DANCERS

Before there were Special Editions of the films, the Max Rebo band was merely a power trio consisting of the blue-skinned Max Rebo, pig-faced Droopy McCool and Sy Snootles on vocals.

George Lucas maintained that he had always wanted a big musical number in the film but time and money kept him from doing it. In 1997, he finally got what he wanted and the Max Rebo band was expanded in a very big way. Lots of new band members and dancers were added. A whole new song (“Jedi Rocks”) was created and the existing music (“Lapti Nek”) was removed.

Click to downloadWhen the Original Trilogy came out on Laserdisc, it was loaded with lots of little goodies, one of them being a music video of “Lapti Nek”. It was edited together using actual film footage and B-roll – much of it unused in the final film. Therefore, it’s of interest to us. The clip was reworked by MMXP Arts and Crafts with new sound (from the Soundtrack CD), cropped image (excluding black lines and VHS static at the bottom) and improved contrast/color.

Starwars.com adds this bit about our favorite green dancer, Oola:

The filmmakers had originally intended an extended sequence of Oola tumbling into the rancor pit, which was cut for time and budgetary reasons. When the Special Edition RETURN OF THE JEDI was in pre-production, the musical number featuring Oola was one of the scenes to be revisited.

Special Edition Producer Rick McCallum had also produced THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES. An episode set in 1917 Austria starred actor Benedict Taylor, the brother of dancer Femi Taylor, who played Oola in Jedi. Learning of the Special Edition, Taylor told McCallum that his sister was in the same physical shape — if not better — she was years ago during the original early-80s shoot. Learning of this, the Special Edition scenes were restructured to take advantage of the original actor returning to the part.

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GUESTS AND/OR PRISONERS

Enjoy these images from all over Jabba’s Palace.

Skot wrote in with this observation:

I was watching Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi and I spotted a cut scene I don’t remember seeing before. Admittedly, it’s been a while (relatively) since I’ve watched JEDI, but I’m pretty certain it’s not in the film. It’s a very tiny scene, but it was amusing, nonetheless.

During the Jabba’s court scenes somewhere, there is a Jawa off to the side holding the leash of Bubo, the frog-dog thing with the spiky teeth. The Jawa is supposed to be standing there unaware when Bubo bumps into him with his sharp teeth causing the Jawa to jump back quickly. He then kicks at Bubo and curses at him, according to what was being demonstrated during the scene rehearsal. I can’t remember offhand if JEDI shows a Jawa holding Bubo’s leash, but I checked Star Wars Chronicles and it says, “Bubo has froglike eyes and sharp protruding teeth. Known as a frog-dog, he’s a pet of the Jawa tribe on Tatooine.”

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