The Catacombs Connections

Star Wars (1977, and sequels)

George Lucas originally approached Brian Johnson in 1976 to do the special effects for the first Star Wars film. Johnson was busy with Space: 1999 Year Two, but in 1979 he was in charge of effects for the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back.

A long time ago, Gary Kurtz and George Lucas turned up at Bray Studios where I was doing the Space: 1999 series. They seemed to like what I was doing with the miniatures. A few days later, they asked me if I'd be interested in a picture they were planning called Star Wars. I told Gary that I liked the idea, but it conflicted with Space: 1999, and I had preferred to stay in England. So that was that. About two months after Star Wars came out, I got a call from Gary who asked me if I'd like to work on the planned sequel, which at the time was being called Star Wars: Chapter II. (Brian Johnson, 1979 interview)

The standard of effects in Space: 1999 was a stated benchmark for the special effects in Star Wars. Lucas insisted the models and explosions should be better than seen on the television series.

Ralph McQuarrie preproduction painting of the Pirate Ship- the

The early design for the Millennium Falcon was vetoed by George Lucas as it closely resembled the Space: 1999 Eagle (described in Robert Brown's detailed Star Wars ship commentaries; see also Roger Christian and Joe Johnston conversation, YouTube). Early designs and concept models featured side legs, rear engines, side docking ports and a cone shaped nose that looked even more like the Eagle. A hammerhead was added to the model and it appeared on screen as the Blockade Runner, the first ship seen in the film. The Millennium Falcon was redesigned as a saucer shaped craft, the rush job creating serious inconsistencies between sets and model. The name of the Millennium Falcon itself is possibly a reference to the Space:1999 Eagle (the Millennium being the year 1999+1, Falcon being another bird of prey).

Copyright Martin Willey