Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Scene Gems: Yoda's First Appearance in 'The Empire Strikes Back'



This is one of my favorite films of all time, and I love this hilarious scene between Jedi hopeful Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the grizzled Jedi Warrior. Created and voiced by Frank Oz (who has since become a fine director in his own right), Yoda was a fantastic puppet brought to life by Oz and his wonderful voice. The inverted speech patterns and throaty laughter helped make this character eternal forever after.

While the rest of the movie (as well as the series) paints Yoda as super-serious, here he is downright goofy and playful. I love this act he puts on for Luke, and that crazy laugh that has spawned several generations of imitators. I distinctly recall seeing this in the theater as a kid (yes, I'm old) and wondering why he was doing this--everyone knew he was a Jedi Master!

I also take great joy in the fact that 37 year-old puppet Yoda looks more convincing than the "younger Yoda" puppet in Phantom Menace and CGI Yoda in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Why is that? I've concluded it must be Oz' involvement and his attention to detail, superior craftsmanship and excellent character creation. See George? Sometimes CGI isn't the end-all be-all. Let's hear it for old school!

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