One of the big factors Star Wars fans cite when explaining why the “old” films are better than the more recent prequels is the loss of the charming practical effects, anchored by old-school puppets. Puppets like Yoda set the tone for the series, and were an integral part of its soul.
The creation of Star Wars’ puppets was helmed by visual effects wizard Phil Tippett, who won Oscars for “Return of the Jedi” and “Jurassic Park.”
Jabba the Hutt is one of Tippett’s most recognisable creatures, a Tatooine gangster whose slug-like appearance was allegedly influenced by the caterpillar in “Alice and Wonderland.”
On set, it took a whole team to bring the slobbery goon to life. Here are two diagrams of how they did it:
A helpful Reddit user named Ucanic explained what is going on in the diagrams:
- Two men inside each work one arm, and also have a second hand free to move the head or tongue. They have small screens that give them a bit of vision outside Jabba “so they can do things like elbow C-3PO,” according to Ucanic.
- The man in the tail is responsible for making it wiggle.
- The man lying below them all uses a bellows to make Jabba’s sides heave, and pulls strings to move Jabba’s mouth. He also smokes a cigar to create the fake hookah smoke when Jabba smokes.
- Radio operators work Jabba’s eyes. According to Ucanic, this includes “direction, pupil dilation, and wideness of eyelids.”
- Another crew (not pictured) rubs gel all over Jabba to give him that slimy look we all know and love.
If you want to learn more about the original Jabba puppet, see the video below:
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