One of the many reasons fans have embraced The Mandalorian is that it feels like the original Star Wars trilogy. Baby Yoda is another reason, sure, but executive producer Jon Favreau and his team took every precaution to make sure the look, feel, and sounds of the show fit right in with A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
In some instances, in fact, the fit is so good you wonder how it’s even possible. Well, it turns out, it’s because actual elements from those classic films were used in the production of the Disney+ series.
ICG Magazine has a fascinating, wildly detailed piece about the technology and cinematography of The Mandalorian. Most of it is about the way screens were used to project real-time sets in controlled environments. But there’s also a mention of how the team used elements from the original Star Wars in their effects.
“There has been an enormous number of practical elements shot for previous Star Wars films, so we leveraged as much as possible from ILM’s asset library,” ILM VFX supervisor Richard Bluff said to ICG. “For example, there’s a scene in episode five when Mando sees two Banthas off in the distance. I was adamant we shouldn’t build a fully animated and rigged furry Bantha for just two shots and suggested we pull out the plates from A New Hope’s dailies. I knew I could come up with a shot design to leverage the Banthas from that.”
Here’s the image, screencapped from the show.
Why make new Banthas when you already have them leftover from previous films? Image: Disney+
There’s more too:
“When Mando flies toward Tatooine, we are actually seeing the [Ralph McQuarrie] matte painting seen early in the original film,” Bluff said. “We reused another painting of Mos Eisley for a fly-in; in that case, I sent a photographer out to the exact spot George shot his original plate, capturing high-res elements so we could up-res as necessary.”
Here are those moments:
The Mandalorian flies into Tatooine. Image: Disney+
The Mandalorian flies into Mos Eisley. Image: Disney+
Those are just the examples Bluff uses in the piece – but with almost probably 12 films worth of assets at his team’s disposal, there are surely other instances too.