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The Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back may well be the most well-known movie battle scene this side of the storming of the beach at Normandy. Star Wars geeks have meticulously studied the sequence ever since Empire first roared into theaters and know its in and outs like they were generals on the field of battle. All in all, it is an awesome sequence – although we have to wonder why the Empire thought having AT-ATs on those giant spindly legs was a good idea – and one of our pop culture touchstones.
Now, fans are able to experience the iconic scenes in an entirely new way – thanks to Guy Van Gompel, who’s been kind enough to show off his rarely-seen collection of storyboard art for the Battle of Hoth and even some of the scenes leading up to it. Needless to say, this is a treasure trove for Force fanatics.
Storyboards can run the gamut in Hollywood – some directors just want vague, stick figure-esque drawings to serve as a reminder of how they want shots to be staged, while others prefer incredibly detailed sketches that could serve as the basis of an animated series. Is anyone surprised George Lucas falls into the second camp?
Joe Johnston is the man responsible for these boards – and astute film fans will remember that Johnston not only came up with the design for Boba Fett’s armor, but also directed The Rocketeer and Captain America: The First Avenger. Some of the work was also done by Nilos Rodis-Jamero.
The drawings are spectacular – highly detailed, and in many cases, almost perfect recreations of actual scenes from the film. Even Wedge Antilles turns up in a few of the drawings! The boards were inspired by the fifth draft of the Empire script, so they weren’t final, meaning there are some variations from what’s shown in the drawings and what actually appeared onscreen. Lucas would eventually commission yet another set based on the final shooting script for the film, but as io9 points out, those are almost assuredly hidden away in a tightly guarded vault at Star Wars Geek Mecca aka Lucas’s ranch.
While we may never get to drool over those drawings, we can all gawk at this earlier set – which are more exciting in some ways since they’re based on an earlier script draft. Check out some of our favorites below.