Jedi at 40 | Into the Rancor Pit

The Official Star Wars SiteHere’s the latest from: StarWars.Com

By Kristin Baver

The longtime friends and colleagues, who worked for Industrial Light & Magic on the film, discuss collaborating on the rancor sequence and beyond.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi arrived in theaters on May 25, 1983, bringing an end to the original trilogy in memorable fashion. Marking its 40th anniversary, presents “Jedi at 40,” a series of articles celebrating the film that brought us Jabba’s palace, Ewoks, Luke Skywalker’s final confrontation with the Emperor and Darth Vader, and so much more.

The rancor looms large for a creature whose appearance on screen in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi lasts for a mere three minutes. In a scene that brings suspense, terror, and action into the dimly lit dungeon beneath Jabba the Hutt’s dais, the ravenous beast lumbers into view, crunching through a Gamorrean guard before turning its formidable and fearsome visage toward Luke Skywalker.

Jedi at 40 | Into the Rancor Pit

Roaring fully into camera with a snarling maw of jagged teeth, the rancor reaches its grimy talons toward Luke and the audience, ready for its next meal. Then with not a second to lose, Skywalker desperately grabs a skull and lobs it at the control panel that sends the door crashing down upon the beast, ending the heart-pumping battle. Jabba is outraged. The rancor keeper is in tears. And Luke Skywalker lives to fight another day.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Return of the Jedi’s debut, recently sat down separately with Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett, one of the VFX supervisors on the film and the head of the monster shop, respectively, to talk about their collaboration on the rancor pit, their enduring friendship, and the legacy of Star Wars…

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