Peel back the curtain on the creation of the ''Revenge of the Sith'' behind-the-scenes doc, ''Within a Minute''

Star Wars didn’t just forever change movies — thanks to the archival-nugget nature of DVD, it also helped change what we, the moviegoers, understand about the filmmaking process. So, with the saga-completing Episode III — Revenge of the Sith soon hitting DVD, George Lucas wanted to provide an inside look at its creation that was different from any other behind-the-scenes featurette that had come before. The result is Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III, a new 78-minute documentary that follows one 49-second snippet of the film’s climactic lightsaber duel?between Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker and Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi on the roiling lava planet of Mustafar — from its inception at the tip of Lucas’ pen to the director’s final cut. ”The focus was to cover it in a very intimate way from the start,” says the documentary’s director, Tippy Bushkin, who conducted more than 150 interviews and shot nearly 1,000 hours of footage to deconstruct each moment that went into creating the important sequence. ”You’re blown away thinking, ‘Wow, this is what goes into 49 seconds’ — and yet I kept thinking, ‘If people could only see everything else that was done.”’

”Because our films are in postproduction for so long, we have up to 2,000 people working on them,” says producer Rick McCallum, who has been Lucas’ right-hand man for the entire prequel trilogy. ”We thought, ‘God, it’d be really interesting to explain what all those people do, and most importantly, how they’re all interdependent.”’

Until the DVD drops on Nov. 1, fans can content themselves with this sneak peek at the secrets that lie Within a Minute.

After Lucas finished the script for Episode III — written, as always, in longhand on lined paper — a team of concept artists got to work, starting the herculean task of getting images that had been simmering in the writer-director’s head for decades onto the screen. Artist Iain McCaig sketched Anakin’s costume, while Ralph McQuarrie and Doug Chiang, among others, felt the heat while trying to visualize the nooks and crannies of Mustafar.

Because much of the duel takes place on a massive mechanical arm that eventually breaks and drops into a river of magma below, the first order of business is designing that mechanism. Lucas and production designer Gavin Bocquet go over a scale model version that will, in no time, be built by members of Episode III‘s 600-person construction crew.

Since the lightsaber battle takes place amid erupting lava geysers, costume designer Tricia Biggar and her crew fabricated dozens of different versions of Anakin’s and Obi-Wan’s tunics to reflect the degradation of the material thanks to showers of embers and blasts of heat.

It can’t be easy making someone who looks like Christensen appear to have been through the molten-rock ringer — and it isn’t. Over the course of the duel, Anakin goes from being merely sweaty to, finally, a charred remnant of a man. It ultimately took Revenge of the Sith‘s makeup crew hours to apply the prosthetics necessary to achieve Anakin’s final pre-Vader look.

Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith
  • Movie
  • 148 minutes