Fans have been watching and re-watching the original Star Wars trilogy for over 30 years now, and for some of us, it has become a point of pride that we can recite every line because we have gone through the original films frame by frame just to know the Star Wars universe a little better. In the time that we’ve been watching these films, it’s become clear that they’re not perfect. Everyone has noticed objects disappearing between shots and little mistakes made by the actors, but despite Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope being released in 1977 and Return of the Jedi being released in 1983, some of the biggest mistakes of the original trilogy went unnoticed by fans and George Lucas alike for years!
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Even the most eagle-eyed of fans might be surprised by some of the original trilogy mistakes in this list because despite George Lucas going back half a dozen times to “improve” his Star Wars films, even he hasn’t been able to catch them all! If you think you know all there is to know about the original Star Wars trilogy, then prepare to be surprised with these 15 huge mistakes that went unnoticed for DECADES!
In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, there are two moments on the Death Star where the lightsaber special effects aren’t fully rendered, revealing the clear tube that serves as the “blade” of the lightsaber prop. First, Obi-Wan’s blade disappears at certain angles during the battle with Darth Vader.
Later on, as Luke, Han and Leia escape from the Death Star, Darth Vader’s red blade is missing in a wide shot where he’s carrying his lightsaber. The red lightsaber was added back in digitally by George Lucas to the special edition edits of Star Wars, and although a minor glowing effect was added to Obi-Wan’s lightsaber in the shots in question, you can still see the plastic tube beneath it, even in the blu-ray release.
At the end of Empire Strikes Back, Luke escapes the fight with Darth Vader by dropping down a chute and catching himself on a scaffolding. Leia communicates with Luke using the Force and they turn around to rescue him. In order to save money for the shot, rather than constructing a full-size panel that could open up and lift Lando, they made a model of the top part of the Millennium Falcon and shot it close up.
However, maybe they should have shot it further away because when Lando opens the top hatch of the Millennium Falcon to rescue Luke from the scaffolding, there’s a shot where it’s clear that he has been replaced by a plastic action figure to fit the size of the model ship.
THE EWOK SHUFFLE
In Return of the Jedi, after the Death Star explodes, we get a few shots of Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO surrounded by Ewoks and some other rebels on the forest moon of Endor. In the first shot, a grey Ewok is standing next to Chewbacca. In the next shot, this Ewok is gone, and a black one is standing next to C-3PO.
In the following shot, we see Han and Leia with Chewbacca, C-3P0 and R2-D2 in the background, this time with a new brown Ewok, who was nowhere to be seen in the previous shots, now standing in front of Chewbacca. Also, throughout the scene C-3PO, Chewbacca and the rebel next to him keep standing in different positions relative to each other between shots without enough time in between to conceivably actually move.
It’s one of the most infamous movie mistakes in the world now, but when A New Hope was released, it went unnoticed for years by most Star Wars fans. For the uninitiated, there’s a moment in Episode IV, when the stormtroopers break into the control room to go after Han, but the door doesn’t open all the way and the one on the right bumps his head on the door as he tries to walk through.
Over the years, it became such a popular movie slip-up, that George Lucas even added in a thunk sound effect in the Special Editions to call attention to it. There are a lot of people who hate most or all of the changes George Lucas made including this one, but just be happy he has a sense of humor about it. He always could have digitally removed the door and shortened the stormtrooper.
In Empire Strikes Back, after Luke escapes from the cave on Dagobah, he talks to Yoda before trying and failing to lift his X-Wing out of the swamp with Yoda standing next to him. Dejected, Luke goes off to pout under a nearby tree, and we see Yoda standing on the ground while he walks away.
It cuts over to Luke as he sits down, then it cuts back to Yoda, who is now sitting up on a clumping of swamp tree roots several yards away when he lifts the X-Wing himself. We can tell how far away he’s moved, because there are shots of Luke as he comes out to watch and we can see the distance between them, much too far away for Yoda too have sprinted over there in the space of two seconds.
It must be hard to be a tall guy on the set of a Star Wars movie. Everybody has seen the infamous clumsy stormtrooper as he bumps his head into the door, but you’ll have to look a little closer to see the always smooth Lando Calrissian do the same thing in Return of the Jedi.
As Jabba has Han taken away to the dungeons of his palace, he’s followed out by a mysterious guard in a horned helmet who we find out to be Lando. Just before Lando tilts his mask down so we can see who he is, he walks through the doorway and bumps his helmet into the ceiling so that it pulls the mask back. It’s a pretty subtle moment, and Billy Dee Williams has never looked uncool in his life, so he plays it off well, but it’s there if you’re watching.
THE EXPANDING METAL GRATE
One of the tensest and most memorable scenes in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is the garbage compactor scene where Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca are about to be crushed as the walls close in, before R2-D2 finally manages to shut down the system.
Leia takes one of the guns and blasts a hole in the metal grate near them to escape into the garbage compactor room, but what you may not have noticed is that when she makes the hole, it’s a bit too small for all of them to fit through, especially Chewbacca. This turns out not to be a problem though, since the hole they use to escape gets bigger in the shot when they actually have to climb through it.
LEIA’S QUICK COSTUME CHANGE
This is one of the more baffling mistakes in the entire saga, simply because there are people on set whose sole job is to look for inconsistencies from shot to shot, yet that person (and everyone else involved in the movie) didn’t notice that one of the main characters wears a completely different outfit between two scenes with no justifiable explanation.
In Empire Strikes Back, Lando leads Han, Leia and Chewbacca down the hall for “refreshments” where he’ll turn them over to Dart Vader. When they get captured, Leia is wearing a red outfit, but in the next scene, she has changed into the white jumpsuit that she wears for the rest of the movie. Was Darth Vader really that concerned about a single prisoner’s look?
In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, after Luke, Lando and Leia manage to rescue Han from Jabba’s palace, Luke decides to go back to see Yoda on Dagobah one last time. When Luke is in his X-Wing preparing to make the jump to Dagobah, we get a quick shot of red text appearing on the viewer screen in the cockpit.
It’s no surprise that it went unnoticed for so long, since the red text isn’t in English, but if you look closely, you can see that the red text has been superimposed onto the screen, which you can tell as it remains stationary relative to the frame even when the rest of the cockpit panel is moving around. It’s surprising that George Lucas didn’t even stabilize this for the Special Edition, but then again, maybe he still hasn’t noticed it.
MAN INSIDE THE CAN
It wasn’t widely known at the time the original Star Wars was released, but R2-D2 was actually played by an actor named Kenny Baker, who got inside of the R2-D2 canister to operate him and move around. However, if audiences had been watching closely, they might have gotten their first clue in the theatre in 1977.
When R2-D2 wakes up on the Jawa Sandcrawler after being captured, he starts looking around at the other droids, and as his head whips around you can clearly see actor Kenny Baker’s face through R2-D2’s eyehole with a light on inside. It’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, and it’s nearly impossible to adequately make out in a screenshot, but go back to the DVD or blu-ray and watch frame by frame, and you can see it.
VADER’S NOT GOOD AT KILLING PEOPLE
Darth Vader is one of the most menacing and merciless figures in the history of pop culture. When another character has an interaction with him, you genuinely fear for their lives, but maybe you shouldn’t because the only person we can confirm that he actually killed in the original trilogy is Emperor Palpatine… probably. What about Captain Needa, from the famous “Apology accepted, Captain Needa” scene, you ask?
When Captain Needa is “killed” by Darth Vader, two guards come to take him away and Vader starts to walk away, but if you watch the two guards in the background as they start to pick him up, you can clearly see the dead captain sit up and start to stand by himself with little assistance from the two helpers.
THE GHOST X-WINGS
The digital effects of the Star Wars saga were pretty next level at the time, but that doesn’t mean they were perfect. One of the more commonly known ones is the shot where you can see the outside landscape through Luke’s ship in Empire Strikes Back, due to the way these effects are rendered on screen, but Return of the Jedi has one that’s even worse, yet infinitely harder to spot.
After Wicket tells the rebels where the secret entrance to the shield generator base is on the forest moon of Endor, there’s a shot of several kinds of spaceships flying in space. Through the course of the sequence, we see one X-Wing pass through the Millennium Falcon and another one through a Calamarian cruiser above it. The reason for this is that the models of the ships were recorded separately, then superimposed into a single shot.
SERIOUSLY, VADER’S REALLY NOT GOOD AT KILLING PEOPLE
Is Darth Vader secretly a pacifist, or are all the actors playing people he supposedly kills just really terrible at playing dead? The very first innocent person we see him interact with is in the opening scene when he’s holding one of the rebels by the neck to interrogate him. We hear a nasty crack, indicating his neck is broken, before Vader tosses the body against the wall.
However, then the “dead” rebel puts his hands up to protect his face from hitting the wall. Then he lands on his feet and spins around before falling to the ground where he can pretend to be dead. The way he lands, it almost looks like they were just rehearsing the shot, because even if he wasn’t supposed to die in the scene, he still wouldn’t agilely land on his feet before spinning around and falling.
Leia wasn’t the only person in Cloud City with wardrobe accuracy problems on the set of Empire Strikes Back. Han Solo spent most of his time wearing a dark leather vest over his white shirt, but when the time comes for him to be frozen in carbonite so Boba Fett can deliver him to Jabba the Hutt, the vest has been removed and he’s just in the white shirt. The problem happens in a single shot just before Han is lowered into the carbonite chamber.
In a closeup shot of Han’s face and shoulders, you can see that his vest or jacket is back on over the white shirt again, then it’s gone in the rest of the scene. This was slightly altered for the DVD release, lightening Han’s jacket, but it’s still clearly darker than his shirt and shiny like leather.
The Ewoks. They were as divisive as Jar Jar Binks in their time before Jar Jar made the Ewoks look as cool as Shaft. People might have hated them even more if they had noticed the mistake that completely spoiled the immersion of the movie.
Most of the Ewoks originally had black glass eyes, but in Return of the Jedi, when Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO first encounter the Ewoks on the forest moon of Endor, they start bowing to C-3PO, believing him to be a god. One of the Ewoks is missing the black costume eyes, and the actor’s eyes can clearly be seen through the eyeholes of the costume. Lucas later went in and added wonky-looking CG eyes, which is still better than seeing the guy in the costume.
Can you think of any other mistakes that Star Wars fans have missed all these years? Let us know in the comments!
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