A lot has happened in 2020. It's been a chaotic, nerve-wracking, often surprising year, so you'd be forgiven if you forgot a few key pop culture anniversaries along the way. That just means that here, at the end of the year, you get a few helpful reminders — and today one of those reminders comes for The Empire Strikes Back. The first Star Wars sequel and arguably the greatest film in the history of the Star Wars franchise turned 40 back in May, and now as its birthday year comes to a close we've got a peek at some never-before-seen footage from the making of a classic.
Good Morning America dropped the new compilation of clips, more than six minutes of footage that range from outtakes to alternate line readings to home movies from the set, in a new video Tuesday morning, and it's all a reminder of just how massive the filmmaking effort behind Empire was in the wake of Star Wars' surprise success in 1977. As George Lucas himself explains in a voiceover early in the video:
"Everybody's sort of more enthusiastic than they were the first time," Lucas said. "The first time everybody was very confused by the whole thing, and didn't know what they were up against. Now they had a better picture of what it was we were making."
The montage, which you can check out above, begins with footage from Norway, where the film's Hoth exteriors were shot in the midst of punishing snowstorm conditions. As Lucas explains in the voiceover, the snow was so heavy that a train carrying Harrison Ford couldn't even get to the area where they were shoot, and some of Luke's single shots were filmed just feet from the crew's snowswept hotel. Still, that didn't stop Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (who wasn't shooting those exteriors but came out anyway) from having fun on set, including Hamill's attempt to invent a new dance centered around dying Tauntauns.
From there, the video includes everything from Hoth interior shots to footage from the Millennium Falcon set (featuring alternate takes from Han and Leia's first kiss), outtakes from the Cloud City set, and much more. It's all backed up by voiceover memories from Lucas, Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, and more.
Check it out and see if it doesn't fill you with the urge to rewatch Empire again tonight.