Written by Richie Pepio
During the 124 days before the release of The Last Jedi, I’m reviewing all 124 minutes of the theatrical version of
The Empire Strikes Back. Join me and together we will watch Star Wars….
Luke's funny feeling gets justified by the appearance of this little green guy, one of the most important figures in both the plot of Star Wars and blockbuster filmmaking in general. Although he doesn't reveal his true identity just yet, Yoda stands out above other puppets and animatronic characters, ironically enough, for his humanity. The designers hoped for him to appear more lifelike than any previous cinematic puppet and they went to themselves to bring out the details. The inspiration for Yoda's facial features was the head designer himself, Stuart Freeborn - with a bit of Albert Einstein thrown in for that aged wisdom vibe.
Often confused for a Muppet, Yoda is actually a puppet designed by Lucasfilm, with consultation from Jim Henson. When Henson couldn't devote any time to Star Wars outside his many Muppet projects, he leant Frank Oz to help bring Yoda to life. Lucas always envisioned Yoda as a frog-like being and although he purposely refused to divulge much of the Jedi Master's backstory (for years, Yoda's upbringing, species and origin were kept a mystery), we know that Yoda's physicality is the offspring of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy...
In a time before the internet, when spoilers weren't as well-guarded, Yoda was one of the more closely kept elements of this secret-filled film shoot. He doesn't even appear in the first trailer for the movie - the only new introduction is reserved for Lando Calrissian.
In the second trailer, he appears for a split-second, in a shot from this 48th Minute, but it's just one of many big moments from Empire revealed, sans dialogue. In fact, they spent more time showing unfinished shots and un-colored lightsabers than getting us acquainted with the oldest living Jedi Master.
In the scene itself, Yoda asks Luke, "away put your weapon, I mean you no harm," and so begins the pop culture obsession with Yoda's speech. His specific speech patterns were never fully consistent, but Lucas and Kasdan generally wrote his lines in an object-subject-verb order to give him that archaic air. With Kenobi's ghost haunting the cosmos, Yoda is the Light Side's last living link to the Old Republic.
But Yoda doesn't reveal his identity just yet. Instead, he gets to know Luke by playing a pushy and curious stranger. And also going to town on Luke's hot dog supply/Tauntaun dung/whatever garbage the Alliance gives Luke for lunch.
Best Performance by a Human: Luke, having to sell interactions with inanimate objects.
Best Performance by a Non-human: Yoda, the most life-like Muppet* around.
Best Line: Yoda's response to Luke's "I'm looking for a great warrior" -- "Wars not make one great."
Rating: 3.8 out of 4 puppeteers operating Yoda on set.
*Even though he's not technically a Muppet.
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com