Chewing Gum Solved A Tricky VFX Problem For Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi

The space sequences in the original “Star Wars” trilogy had to be created without much in the way of digital assistance, which meant putting models and paintings on panes of glass in various formations. This helped create depth, but it could also be a lot of work putting it all together, which led to Ralston getting really creative with the Mon Calamari starcruisers in the distance during the Battle of Endor from “Return of the Jedi”:

“I would call those oddball thingamajigs the ‘pickle ships,’ and when you see a bunch of them in the background, for a couple of those shots, I just took wads of gum and stuck them on glass! That cracked me up ’cause it worked; it had the same kind of bulbous quality. I thought, ‘This is great — who needs models?’ It was funny. The tense thing was George [Lucas] saw most dailies, so if some of those shots came up, I just hoped he wouldn’t catch on as to what I was doing — if something slipped by, then it was in the movie.”

There was probably a lot on Lucas’ mind when he was watching those dailies, so catching the tiny blobs in the background being anything other than tiny blobby ships would be pretty tough. Chewing gum wasn’t the only everyday item to end up becoming a “Star Wars” spaceship, either, and some of the other objects are really silly. 

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