Dark Lord Of The Sith

Vader returns in new Episode III documentary

The latest Episode III 'Making Of' documentary is a particularly pleasing way to shepherd in the new year, even if it does do little to bring the finished product any closer. As ever this jewel of behind the scenes footage is only available to Hyperspace subscribers but here follows a tidy summation of the highlights, including the first glimpse of the new Darth Vader - or bits of him at least.

After panning across a plywood set and watching Lucas and Rick McCallum play 'draw' with blaster pistols, we are introduced to the challenge of segueing from the last of the prequel trilogy to the first of the original films. "We're in one world trying to link two basic films," explains McCallum. "We have to deal with Episode III but, much more importantly in a lot of ways, we have to make sure that everything we do in III rings true for Episode IV. "

Cut to Lucas surveying a table full of lightsabers. "Well, is this the one that's given to Luke?" He asks, while pawing a distinctly familiar weapon. "So this is the one that Obi-Wan takes, he takes it with him after that fight. So that's basically the way it works; we just have to go from Ewan to Alec."

A hop, skip and jump to the Creatures department reveals the eight foot (at least) hirsute frame of a wookiee character having his (her?) lustrous mane groomed by one of the modellers. "This isn't Chewbacca, I don't think," observes Lucas. "This is somebody else. It was funny because when we first did it [Peter Mayhew, who plays Chewbacca] was the tallest guy we could find in England. Now, just take any basketball team and they start at seven foot six."

We then take a look inside Ewan McGregor's dressing room as his make-up is applied and the director muses on the challenge of bringing the Scotsman's images one step closer to Alec Guinness's in Episode IV. Keeping with the grooming theme we are subsequently treated to a look at young Hayden Christensen sporting a wig that screams 'Def Leppard' louder than it does 'emergent Sith Lord'. "You know, I actually thought Mark Hamill's haircut was really cool," says make-up supervisor, Nikki Gooley. it takes all sorts.

Natlie Portman, Hayden and Ewan perform on-set read-throughs, the latter two engage in some lightsaber sparring and Anthony Daniels clunks around in his shiny Threepio outfit. This is all very entertaining but the highlight of the entire featurette has to be Costume Props Supervisor, Ivo Coveney's references to Anakin's final costume.

Leafing through photographs of a deeply familiar suit of black armour, Coveney muses on Vader's various incarnations. "You can start to tell the difference between some of them on these [chest] plates right here. For Return of the Jedi they'd resculpted this." We cut to a cast of Christensen's head placed within a cross-sectioned Vader helm. "Although we've got Hayden's head cast, until we start putting it on his body we just don't know exactly what's going to happen. But we know that George wants to keep the scale the same." Looks like some serious lifts will be in order to bring Christensen up to David Prowse's six foot seven frame.