See Inside the Jabba the Hutt Puppet in Rare 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi' Footage

Do you sense a disturbance in the Force? Maybe that’s because May 25 will be the 40th anniversary of the original release of Star Wars in theaters in 1977. To celebrate this auspicious occasion, we’ll be posting Star Wars stories all month, including choice vintage interviews, original videos, and some of our favorite pieces from years past. Just keep coming back here all month to see what’s happening in our galaxy. 

If George Lucas made Return of the Jedi today, Jabba the Hutt would no doubt be a digital creation. But the third Star Wars film was made in the early 1980s, when Jabba represented the height of creature-making technology: an incredibly complex puppet that weighed two thousand pounds, cost half a million dollars to make, and required three puppeteers to operate. The 1983 TV documentary From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga went behind the scenes of Jabba’s palace, offering a detailed look at the inner workings of the slug-like beast. Among the responsibilities of the puppeteers inside Jabba: smoking a cigar in order to send smoke through Jabba’s nostrils, using radio controls to make his eyes blink, and pumping a foot-operated bellows that made him “breathe” in and out. Watch a clip above, via the official Star Wars YouTube (which also includes an appearance by Carrie Fisher, joking around on set in her infamous metal bikini).

The full documentary offers plenty of behind-the-scenes treats for Star Wars fans, including a peek into the creature workshop where the aliens of Jabba’s Palace were designed. In this second clip, George Lucas looks at early versions of the Max Rebo Band and decides that the puppet known as Sy Snootles should be promoted from dancer to lead singer. (Later, for the Special Edition of Jedi, all of the puppets were booted from the band and replaced with digital characters.)

From Star Was to Jedi is worth watching in full, particularly for fans who grew up on the Special Edition and may be curious about the original creature effects. The full documentary is available for streaming in 9 parts on the official Star Wars YouTube account.

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