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Empire Strikes Back Teaser Trailer Shows Off Ralph McQuarrie’s Gorgeous Artwork

While J.J. Abrams probably won’t actually begin teasing us with Star Wars footage for another year or so, that doesn’t mean the Star Wars camp isn’t up to releasing a teaser trailer for one one of their movies. In this case it’s The Empire Strikes Back, which opts for whip-pans and zoom-ins on the paintings created by the series’ conceptual artist and designer Ralph McQuarrie. There are a few screengrabs of the characters, including the quintessential Billy Dee Williams photo, and it employs a voiceover from someone who sounds like he just learned what Star Wars was on his way into the recording booth. In other words, it’s pretty fricking awesome, while also qualifying as terrible.

There’s no one saying Lucas needed to put footage in the film’s first teaser, and McQuarrie’s vision is unrivaled, but it feels more like the “Next week, on…” segment at the end of an old movie serial. Mostly because of the hammy voiceover. He’s letting people know that Luke Skywalker is going to face Darth Vader, which is a pretty ballsy spoiler for a teaser, but it’s also an immediate selling point. And he says it as if saying, “Yes, that general store is open right now.”

One also has to knock him for pronouncing Leia’s name as “Leah,” for his syllable stressing in C-3PO, and for calling the Cloud City backstabber Landau Calrissian. Whoever recorded this should have probably told him better. Maybe his name originally was Landau.

Even the font for the film’s title looks hokey. Can you imagine how insane it would be if The Hunger Games: Catching Fire would release a teaser like this? They would catch some fire all right, in the manner of an Internet ass-lashing. But for this, which is arguably the greatest sci-fi fantasy adventure that’s ever existed, as well as one of the best sequels of all time, we get to hear someone matter-of-factly say that Luke, Han, and Princess “Leah” must confront the “awesome might” of the Death Star. As if he’s narrating a pamphlet on the history of wax.

They stepped things up a notch for one of the film’s actual trailers, which you can watch below. There’s some oomph to the descriptions, and all the names are said correctly. But it’s still pretty awful by today’s standards.

Along with the though-to-be-lost short film Black Angel that was found last month, it’s a good time for long-unseen Star Wars-related footage. Here’s hoping there’s much more to come.

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