43

I've read, in many places, and heard in interviews, that while filming the Battle of Endor sequence in Return of the Jedi that in the "It's a trap!" scene, when an overwhelming number of Imperial ships are flying at the Rebel Fleet, that there are at least two interesting things in the shot:

1) There are two ghost TIE fighters that show up over the Millenium Falcon due to a compositing/matte issue.

2) That there is a tennis shoe or sneaker that shows up for one frame.

The story is that the FX people were having a very tough time with all the matting and compositing work for that shot (which, supposedly, is the most complex matte shot ever done in film) and at one point one of the guys took off his shoe and shot it as a space ship and this ended up in the shot for one frame.

I've seen forum discussions claiming this is true, but I have never seen a screen shot or been able to find either of these events on my own.

I have the new blu-ray edition of SW as well as the DVD edition. I don't know if these two shots were fixed along the way.

Are there screenshots of them anywhere on the web (I've been Googling, but haven't found screenshots)?

Where are they on the DVD edition or on the blu-ray edition?

(Is asking to see a screen shot encouraging a violation of copyright law? I would think 2 or 3 frames of a 2 hour movie would be fair use.)


Since asking this question, I've found a screenshot that includes a tennis shoe and a potato in the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back. Does anyone know if this is the only "shoe in space" and that the shoe in Return of the Jedi was a misplaced reference to the one in Empire?

8
  • 8
    Anything on the DVD or Blue-Ray editions likely have been heavily edited, knowing Lucas. So probably those shots, if they existed, are not there. In fact, if they only showed up for one frame I would bet you'd have to have the original release film to find and see them. I'd be surprised if even first run VHS releases would have them.
    – Xantec
    Dec 17, 2011 at 6:55
  • @Xantec: The original release is on the DVDs and there are some things that have not been remastered along the way.
    – Tango
    Dec 17, 2011 at 7:11
  • 3
    The legal concept of fair use is a pretty poorly designed handwavey solution to our overly-aggresive copyright laws. It doesn't hold up well in reality because it's evaluated (using a set of vague/subjective factors) on a case-by-case basis with no objective standard or test. A screencap would seem to fit with the spirit of fair use to most people, esp. for noncommercial purposes, but there have certainly been cases of equally innocent and negligible uses of copyrighted materials not being given protection under fair use. Dec 17, 2011 at 8:03
  • @Lèsemajesté: Yes, it's a quagmaire and Lucas is capricious, which is why I included that comment instead of just asking for a screenshot outright.
    – Tango
    Dec 17, 2011 at 8:06
  • IANAL but from what I've seen I wouldn't be too concerned about it - I don't think there's been a specific precedent set, but I'd guess it's fair use. See davidbordwell.net/blog/2008/04/23/… for lots of details. Dec 17, 2011 at 13:40

5 Answers 5

23

The FX artist says that the shoe is in there you just cannot see it.

From a 2003 Star Wars insider interview with Ken Ralston (Visual Effects artist on ROTJ):

Which brings us back to Ralston’s tennis shoe – among other things – and the fact that it’s an amazing accomplishment just to see how many ships there are buzzing around the moon of Endor, or how many ships there seems to be.

"I was always trying to stick stuff into shots,” Ralston laughs. “JEDI has my tennis shoes and also a yogurt container as part of the ships in the background! Who would know? It’s like there’s all this stuff going on – and I thought, ‘Hey, it’d be fun.’ It was my way of just saying, ‘See what you can get away with?’ Some people noodle this stuff so much, fretting about it, but it’s like, you know, you can’t tell what this stuff is – just stick it out there!”

And from “Making of Return of the Jedi” by J.W. Rinzler

Ralston describes showing the scene to George complete with the shoe, wads of gum, and a yogurt container in it.

Lucas vetoed the yogurt container because he said it looked “odd”, but even he wasn’t able to spot the shoe and gum.

So there was a shoe (and gum) in the scene but you cannot see it, and neither could George Lucas, you'll just have to take Ken Ralston's word for it. Providing a screenshot as evidence might prove difficult as anything that looked too out of place and obvious (like the yoghurt pot) were removed.


You CAN see the ghost TIEs in the original film

With regards to the "Ghost TIE fighters" these are visible in the original but have been corrected in the later releases.

Original Film: Original Ghost TIEs

But they are removed in the special edition

Special Edition: Ghost TIEs removed

22

I found a website with some screenshots from the old VHS version:

VHS screenshot 1: The Falcon, seen from the rear, flies above a large asteroid with a medium-sized asteroid ahead of it and a grouping of three to its left; one is labelled "shoe" and another "potato"

VHS screenshot 2: The Falcon, still from the rear, rolls to port to dodge the medium asteroid as two others pass by; "shoe" is headed towards where the Falcon would have been before initiating the roll and "potato" has almost passed out of view in the foreground

VHS screenshot 3: The Falcon now flies "beneath" the medium asteroid as "shoe" leaves the frame in the foreground

And this image posted on Imgur by the user “cakeman147” shows the exact shot in a clearer format.

In the sequence above this frame is between the first and second; the Falcon is rolling to port, the medium asteroid is approaching but not yet passing.  "Shoe" is near the Falcon, passing just to it's left (from the viewer's perspective, while "Potato" is in the foreground already past the Falcon

3
  • 2
    I saw some of those - they have the show in TESB, bu I still haven't found anything stills confirming the shoe in Return of the Jedi.
    – Tango
    Jan 2, 2012 at 21:39
  • 2
    Don't have a still, but issue 67 of Star Wars insider has an article with one of the FX artists from Jedi - and confirms that it was in the original (pre-SE) version. A quote from it can be read at the bottom of this page
    – phantom42
    May 13, 2012 at 15:39
  • 2
    This is from Empire Strikes back, the question is asking about Return of the Jedi Feb 4, 2016 at 13:19
5

It's been 11 years, but EC Henry on YouTube thinks he found the shoe:

Attaching screenshots of the scene where it appears (Akbar's view of the Executor about to crash into the Death Star) along with a closeup.

Click for larger view:

Full frame of Akbar, from behind, looking out at the stricken Executor; a red arrow in the upper left points to a spaceship that is circled in red

Closeup of shoe at left

1
  • ...It's a shoe!
    – Mohirl
    Apr 21, 2023 at 13:15
2

Urban legend territory:

I had heard that the shoe made it into Jedi's original release. And, that it is visible in the laserdisc version. But, the shoe too far to the side to show in any standard definition release, such as on VHS. I know they took it out for the Blu-Ray release, but haven't heard one way or the other for older DVD releases that were in letterbox format.

I also read an article back in the '90s (discussing how the brain sees what it expects) that the shoe is clearly visible for much longer than a single frame. But, it's far enough in the distance and off to the side, that it's very difficult to recognize unless it's pointed out.

I actually had borrowed the laserdiscs and a player, at one point. But, that was before I'd heard about the shoe, so I never got to look for it.

2
  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! This seems like a comment rather than an answer, since it doesn't (except in the vaguest possible terms "it's there but way off to the side) actually say where the shoe is in that scene.
    – DavidW
    Aug 25, 2019 at 3:51
  • I was just adding a little information on the topic that I'm aware of. It explains why it has been impossible for anyone to produce a screenshot using any release besides the actual theatrical release or the laserdisc.
    – Mighty
    Aug 26, 2019 at 7:27
-2

It is true. It is in the original VHS version. If you advance frame by frame after Ackbar's line you will see it. It's a Nike shoe. It's been a long time, but I think it has a red swoosh logo on it.

3
  • 1
    You do mean after the, "It's a trap!" line, right? Ackbar has more than one line in that sequence. And do you know how soon after the line?
    – Tango
    Nov 9, 2015 at 16:07
  • 1
    @Tango, according to internet memes he did not. ;) No, but really, when referred to as "his line" without further specification, there's only one line that could possibly be meant.
    – Wildcard
    Dec 19, 2017 at 20:03
  • 1
    @Wildcard: Are you sure? I suspect this a trap...
    – Tango
    Jan 1, 2018 at 8:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.