From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga (Part 2 of 9)

In part 2 of From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga, we learn about the genesis of the Jabba’s Palace sequence and creature creation in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. George Lucas says that he was disappointed with the cantina scene from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. He wanted it to have more exotic creatures, but production problems and a lack of funds prohibited this. Jabba’s Palace — “The monster rally of George’s dreams” as described by narrator Mark Hamill — gave him another chance. It featured more than 80 creatures, including the Max Rebo Band (designed by Phil Tippett), which was more monsters than had ever been assembled for a single movie. They all began life as maquettes, sculpted over and over until the designs were right, and then built into full-scale puppets and masks. Muscles controlling expression were accomplished with either wire cables or air tubes hidden inside the masks, giving aliens like the Gamorrean Guard the ability to emote.

Lucas made frequent visits to the creature shop, and is seen in the documentary advising on how the Sy Snootles puppet could convincingly work for the film. Ultimately, it took three puppeteers — two below, one above — to bring the singer to life.

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