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The sound effects are also something of a wonder, and Soundman Ben Burtt has conjured up noises never before heard on earth. To find a voice for Chewbacca, reports TIME Correspondent James Willwerth, Burtt combined bears growling, a walrus grunting, a seal barking, a tiger roaring and a lizarda big lizardhissing. The result, as anybody who has ever traveled to the planet Kashyyyk knows, is pure Wookie. For Darth Vader, Lucas wanted a sinister sound. Burtt put a tiny microphone inside a scuba tank regulator and found what Lucas wanted: the sound of labored, but mechanical breathing. "The biggest dilemma," he says, "is always to create a sound which sounds familiar and has an association with reality but yet is not identifiable."
The actors, more certain of who they are supposed to be, seem more comfortable in this film, though life on the set was not always celestial. Captured at the beginning by one of Hoth's furry ice monsters, Mark Hamill is hung up inside the monster's cave like a side of beef. "I hung seven days upside down in that snow cave," he says. "I had to do it for both the first and second unitsall for about 90 seconds worth of film." Real snakes were used in the Dagobah swamp scenes Once when Hamill brushed away a snake from his dinner bowl in a scene with Yoda, the reptile slithered down the Muppet's costume onto a very surprised Frank
Oz, who jumped right off the set, yelping loudly enough to be heard throughout the thousand worlds.
In some scenes Artoo Detoo is played by a real robot; but in closeups little Kenny Baker is the brain and motor within. Baker had a hard time moving that heavy tin can in Star Wars, and his new model Artoo Detoo was a big improvement; it was lighter and easier to push, and it did not have the bruising nuts and bolts the old model had inside. Unfortunately for Baker, he is fast becoming obsolete. The real robots were much smarter than they were in Star Wars, and they were able to do many action shots better than the Baker-controlled Artoo did in that film.
One thing stayed the same in both movies: the security on the set of The Empire would put the CIA to shame. Several of the actors were given their own lines only, with the speeches of other actors neatly crossed out on the script. The biggest surprise comes in the climactic duel. Prowse was given dummy lines to say, and the real lines were later dubbed by James Earl Jones, the voice of Vader in both movies. "I don't know much about what happens in the picture," admits Prowse. "I have no idea what occurs in a sequence before I appear or after I leave the screen. They were paranoid, really paranoid, about security."
Sequels of giant hits, like children who follow Daddy's favorite, always have an unfair burden. They are not examined on their own merits but in relationship to the picture everyone loved. In many ways Lucas and Kershner have overcome that handicap. The Empire Strikes Back is a more polished and, in some ways, a richer film. But to imitate Yoda's way of speaking, and to answer the obvious question, as much fun it is not.