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All My Life I Thought This Scene From Return of the Jedi Was Real

By Jesus Diaz on at

I keep getting my dreams shattered. When I was a kid I thought the Rebel Alliance hangar could have been a real stage but it was just one of many matte paintings, an example of ILM's visual sorcery. But the scene of the Emperor coming to the Death Star? I was absolutely, 100-per cent convinced that it was real.

Real as in built at full scale, not a real Death Star. But real, tangible, a giant stage with some green screen on the back to show the TIE Fighers and TIE Interceptors flying behind.

I knew what matte paintings and green screen were back then (it wasn't green, it was blue), yet I totally believed it was real when I saw the film in the cinema for the first time. And I kept thinking it was real until very recently. Maybe it was an effect of my innocence being carried with me every time I watched the movie in later years. Or maybe I have been getting progressively blind. In any case, I thought that this...

I honestly thought this Return of the Jedi scene was real all my life

...was a real set built in a huge soundstage somewhere in Pinewood studios, in the United Kingdom. I believed that every single one of those stormtroopers, pilots, gunners and Imperial Navy officers were actual people, surrounded by giant prop columns lining the perimeter, and a full scale Imperial Shuttle in the middle of it all. In my defence, if 20th Century Fox built the giant sets for Cleopatra, why not this?

I didn't believe the entire movie was filmed in giant stages, though. I knew that some of the stuff I was watching wasn't real. For example, I knew that this...

I honestly thought this Return of the Jedi scene was real all my life

...was not real because it wasn't possible it could be real in any way. It could only be a model or this matte painting:

I honestly thought this Return of the Jedi scene was real all my life

I knew this wasn't real:

I honestly thought this Return of the Jedi scene was real all my life

Or this:

I honestly thought this Return of the Jedi scene was real all my life

None of the exteriors at the Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back felt real to me. But this?

I honestly thought this Return of the Jedi scene was real all my life

Totes real. In fact, fuck it, I have decided to ignore that matte painting. In my book, they built the bloody thing in an English film studio and that's the end of it.