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The Making of The Empire Strikes Back

(Star Wars: The Making of #2)

4.64  ·  Rating details ·  970 ratings  ·  83 reviews
In this lavish thirtieth-anniversary tribute to the blockbuster film Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, New York Times bestselling author J. W. Rinzler draws back the curtain to reveal the intense drama and magnificent wizardry behind the hit movie—arguably the fan favorite of the Star Wars Saga.
Following his The Making of Star Wars, the author has once again
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Del Rey (first published October 1st 2010)
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Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Star Wars and making of books
Shelves: film, nostalgia, making-of
Having read Rinzler’s excellent “The Making of Return Of The Jedi” earlier this year, I decided I wanted to go back into the wonderfully informative environment he created and asked for this for my birthday. Luckily for me, since I’m so difficult to buy for (apparently), it was gratefully bought.

Using mainly contemporary interviews (from late 1977 through to 1980), with a few conducted in the 90s and 00s, this covers the whole of the production from the opening of “Star Wars” (which took everyon
William Johnson
This book is not just a loo inside the making of a movie ... this isn't the fluffy 30 minute studio 'documentaries' that air on HBO that have canned talking points and the same 'ol, same 'ol behind the scenes look ... this is a step by step, almost to a fault, look at a movie's creation from idea on a napkin to its delivery on a movie screen.

I mean EVERYTHING: people talking about concepts, putting them down on paper, getting together and putting them on typed paper, formulating a script, revis
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-hold, large-format
Another great entry in this series. Rinzler’s narrative is addictively readable and gloriously detailed, from conception of the sequel to post-release.

Really shows the craft and technique that Kershner brought to the film and helped elevate it. The step-by-step walk through of how the carbon freezing sequence was modified is especially insightful.

Also, while I don’t know much about Kurtz’s falling out with Lucas, the budget and schedule overruns that happened under his watch would be pretty cl
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you love the movie, you will love this book.

Beautifully written, beautiful photos and an amazing story behind the story.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: movies

(More pictures at

This book is finally out after being postponed for a few times. It's actually 362 pages, slightly thicker than the previous book, The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film, which is already a massive book. It seems that no paperback edition is available yet at the launch.

Once again, I'm marveled by the amount of information packed into the book by author J.W. Rinzler. I can't even begin to imagine the amount of research and effort
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
The second in a trilogy of extensive "making of" books dealing with the original Star Wars films. Once again, an extremely difficult film to make. Despite having learned how to do many things in the first film, the ambition behind its sequel was to make it even better. The pressure was on as sequels normally don't do as well as the originals, and as Star Wars had become a huge phenomenon by itself. It is now considered one of the greatest films ever made, and fans are pleased that Lawrence Kasda ...more
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You may have heard of this movie. It is pretty okay.

The main thing you learn, again and again, is that the reason this film is the best of the trilogy is because Irvin Kershner was at the helm. (Kasdan's contributions were few and Brackett's were nonexistent.)

I find the behind-the-scenes struggles to be really captivating: Lucas trying to build his own artistic empire 500 miles from Hollywood, the crew shooting in the frigid snowdrifts of Norway, Stuart Freeborn praying his radio-controlled Mup
Dec 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: star-wars
The Making of The Empire Strikes Back isn’t a fluffy coffee table book celebrating Empire’s 30th anniversary with behind the scenes pics and recycled stories. It’s an epically detailed tome which completely covers every aspect of the movie, from the corporations Lucas established to finance the movie to Lucas luring talent away from Battlestar Galactica (and the changes he asked Universal to enact) to detailed breakdowns of almost every shot (with special attention to the Han and Leia’s scene in ...more
Anika Claire
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic look at every aspect of the making of The Empire Strikes Back - from the preparation and development of the script (including the way the story and names evolved), the filming itself, script changes, special effects, to post-production and release!

Each chapter contains a mixture of interviews with George Lucas and other major players in the movie's production, as well as recorded conversations, script drafts and other articles. There are plenty of photographs and stills from the movi
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Like "The Making of Star Wars", "The Making of The Empire Strikes Back" stands as the only single book to contain everything a person could ever desire to learn about the epic motion picture. After receiving a copy of the book from Del-Rey SWAT (, I was not surprised to discover that this volume contains a greater amount of information than its predecessor, just as the film "The Empire Strikes Back" possesses a greater length than the first Star Wars movie. If you have be ...more
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book... wonderful pictures. Perfect for any Star Wars fan!
Tim Johnson
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think that Empire Strikes Back is the BEST of the Star Wars universe. Period. Dark, mature, love, death (or possible), secrets and new discovers.
Jack Herbert Christal Gattanella
"I'm just as used to having things fail as I am to having them succeed," says Lucas. "It's a reasonable risk that I'm willing to take, being a reasonably cautious person. But I usually have to bet the store in order to make it work, so everything either sinks or we swim. There is no in-between." (p. 346)

"It was a darn good story dashingly told, and beyond that I can't explain it... failure has a thousand explanations. Success doesn't need one." - Alec Guinness (p. 2)

When I was much, much younger
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: star-wars, favorites
Like the first book in this series, this book is a treasure trove of information and behind the scenes stories. This second book was much easier to get into because it pretty quickly jumped into the filming and story of this movie, while the first book spent quite a bit of time on the events leading up to the idea of Star Wars.

Like the previous book, I wish it spent a bit more time explaining the technical aspects for the special effects. I think the author didn't do a good enough job explaining
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly in-depth. Covers everything from writing, casting, directing, and SFX creation to the financial aspects of the film (and related Star Wars licensing concerns) and the Lucasfilm 4th of July picnic!

A special treat is a transcript of the recorded conversations director Irvin Kershner had with the cast around the filming of the Carbon Freezing scene. While I'm shocked that this was recorded, I'm even more surprised that it was published for public consumption. (The actors don't always come
Patrick Lum
May 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
I ordered this book a few weeks back and by some coincidence it was delivered on May 4th. Naturally, I took this as a sign to read the book in a marathon across the course of the day.

Rinzler again accesses the archives to tell the tale of the making of the Empire Strikes Back, and it's an interesting story to compare to the making of the first film. This time he's working largely from the notes and transcripts of Alan Arnold, the on-set author of the then-concurrent making-of book, to such an ex
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm glad this book, and one for Return of the Jedi exist. Empire of Dreams, maybe the definitive Star Wars, making of, documentary mainly talks about the trials and tribulations of the first film. It makes sense. Unfortunately, it means the meat of that documentary goes into Episode 4, with 5 and 6 being left in as an afterthought.

This book is huge. It's a 'coffee table edition', but it's bigger than a coffee table. For a Star Wars fan with an interest in behind-the-scenes material, it's a gift.
Scott MacBurnie
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As with the first book (about the first film), the narrative of the creation of "The Empire Strikes Back" is primarily sourced from interviews done at the time, and so there is no "retroactive" color applied to the recollections of the principals involved. Somewhat surprisingly, the book exposes a fairly testy production, with some relatively intense personality conflicts between cast and crew - along with a horrifying financial crisis that was bubbling behind the scenes. That all of this turmoi ...more
Mike Whiskey Bravo
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Darrell Reimer
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Continues the narrative that began with Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars, the better of these two books. That any of these movies made it to release is NOT a minor miracle. Heaps of detail, lovely photographs, gossipy insider intel. My only regret is I was forced to purchase this rib-crushing volume after Amazon pulled its Kindle version off the market. Reading this in bed is an invitation to injury. ...more
Megan Kammeyer
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is another great, great book of a great film. However, there are disturbing bits about Zen Buddhism that make me question the religious stance of characters in the film; there are probably some evil bits put into the film that others ignore. This is one of the reasons why I don't currently own this book, otherwise I might have ordered and asked for it. ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
There many books about the Star Wars phenomena, but very few are so detailed like this one. It is about the background of the movie, not only the filming but also about the plot development. I suggest the kindle version with the media extras.
Trent Hutzenbuhler
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read through it multiple times! Couldnt put it down!
Paxton Holley
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: star-wars
Exhaustive. This book drowns you in information. And I wallowed in it. Loved it. Can’t wait to start Rinzler’s Return of the Jedi.
Jay Gabler
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely astounding, completely engrossing.
Jacob Cox
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing pictures as well as in-depth look into the film-making process
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, pop-culture
One of my favorite books about one of my favorite movies. The first day I had it I read it twice. Lush photos and fascinating text.
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book from writing, visualizing, building sets, costumes, and cast.
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The financial parts in the beginning were pretty dull (to me) but once the production description starts. Whoah!
Quinn Rollins
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It's always a bit of a conundrum. My favorite movie of all time is The Empire Strikes Back. I know it's not the best movie ever made, but it is my favorite. I was seven when it came out in 1980, and it opened my eyes to a bigger world than I had experienced with the earlier Star Wars. Tragedy, romance, mysticism and adventure were all amped up in Empire, and every part of it put me on the edge of my seat.

Thirty years later, I still love it, and still claim it as my Favorite Movie Ever, even tho
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J. W. Rinzler has authored over 20 books including two New York Times bestsellers and a #1 best-selling graphic novel. With more than 600,000 copies in print, his books have been translated into seven languages.

J. W. Rinzler grew up in Manhattan, New York City, and then in Berkeley, California. He fell in love with old monster films, such as Dracula and Frankenstein, as well as Robin Hood and othe

Other books in the series

Star Wars: The Making of (3 books)
  • The Making of Star Wars (Star Wars:  The Making of, #1)
  • The Making of Return of the Jedi (Star Wars:  The Making of, #3)

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“I was constantly insecure about whether the tone was right—tone is everything, an indefinable thing, like quality,” Kershner says. “True discipline is from within. Every artist, every painter, every novelist, anyone who does anything must do it for himself, must have his own discipline. That is really what tempers the character. That’s what makes it possible to do something beautiful and to become something beautiful. That, ultimately, is what the film I’m making is about.” 2 likes
“He’s a slick, riverboat gambler type of dude. Han Solo is a rather crude, rough and tumble kind of guy; this guy will be a very slicked down, elegant, James Bond–type. He’s much more of a con man, which puts him more in the Mr. Spock style of thinking, being smart, cool, and taking tremendous chances. An emotional Spock, someone who uses his wits rather than his brawn.” 1 likes
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