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The Making of The Empire Strikes Back

(Star Wars: The Making of #2)

4.63  ·  Rating details ·  913 ratings  ·  75 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: making-of, nostalgia, film
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
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
Empire Strikes Back

I like to think I'm pretty well versed in the making of the Star Wars films. I've watched countless documentaries, listened to audio commentaries and read various 'making of' books over the years.

But that's nothing compared to this book. Containing interviews with most of the major players, taken from the late seventies right up until the release of The Empire Strikes Back, this has a real fly-on-the-wall feeling. Nobody knew whether this was going to be as good as the first f
Mike Smith
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, J.W. Rinzler provides a detailed, backstage look at the creation of one of the most successful films of all time: the first sequel to Star Wars. The Empire Strikes Back was a huge, personal gamble for George Lucas. After the stress and strain of the first Star Wars, which was financed by studio 20th Century Fox, Lucas decided to finance the sequel himself, using the profits from Star Wars merchandising as collateral for the bank loans. This gave Lucas complete creative control, but a ...more
Mr. Fusion
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
To say this piece of work is extensive is an understatement. Rinzler covers (and uncovers) nearly every imaginable aspect of making The Empire Strikes Back, from an early story meeting with Lucas to the rigorous filming, and the massive special effects undertaking of post-production. It's an exhaustive amount of information and detail, not to mention the trove of rarely (and never-before) seen picture from the film's production.

One of the book's greatest sequences is a transcript of on-the-set
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rinzler, who wrote the Making Of for the first Star Wars film, once again does an excellent job telling the complete story, start to finish, of the monumental task that was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

He again utilizes period interviews, archived material, and internal memos to tell the as-it-happened story of Empire. Showcased with wonderful photography, this books gives the reader the inside look at what it took to make the sequel to the biggest movie of all time.

While there were many b
The Making of The Empire Strikes Back by JW Rinzler
Ballantine Books, 2010
351 pages
Non-fiction; Movie
5/5 stars

Source: Library

Like the previous book The Making of Star Wars, this book takes an in-depth look at the making of a film with new pressures. The success of "Star Wars" had many implications. Its financial success enabled George Lucas to retain more control as it was a proven commodity but no sequel had ever done as well as its predecessor so the entire operation was dicey. Lucas was draine
Adam Watson
Dec 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to find fault with this "behind the scenes" book; Rinzler gives you a detailed, almost daily diary of the production, from pre- to postproduction. As much as I've read about SW, it was full of fascinating anecdotes. One of my favorite moments comes from an audio transcription of Kershner working on the set with Ford, Fisher, and Williams on the pivotal "I know" moment (when Han is frozen in carbonite). To see how that scene artistically evolved through collaboration was illuminating. ( ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book about one of my ten favorite movies of all time, it boggles the mind that this movie was even half as good as Star Wars, let alone better than the original. This book gives an insider's perspective on the entire motion picture from brainstorm, script, production all the way through to final cut and release - with everything thrown in from location shoots in arctic temperatures, to set design, special effects, make-up, costumes and art direction. And the problems. To speak ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is not enough space or time to write a proper review for by far the best "making of" book that I have ever read. I considered myself someone who knew a few more things about the Best Sequel Ever Made than the next guy, but this book proved that I knew very little about what happened while this movie was being made: Lucas's struggles to create a financially stable ILM; David Prowse, the walking "spoiler alert"; the difficulties filming in the frigid cold and snow for the Hoth scenes; Alec G ...more
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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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