The Dark Road of Trials

By Ron Salvatore
Photography by Bill Karp and Ed Albano

Midway through the hero's journey comes a long and perilous path of trials, tests, and ordeals that bring important moments of illumination and understanding. Again and again along the way, monsters must be slain and barriers must be passed. Ultimately the hero must undertake the fearful journey of the descent into darkness.

Although the Death Star has been destroyed, the powers of darkness have not been conquered. The Empire has pursued the Rebels to the ice planet of Hoth, where the heroes face new dangers from predatory creatures and the harsh climate and are forced to flee during an Imperial attack.
--from the Smithsonian introduction

This is the outfit Luke is first seen wearing as The Emprire Strikes Back opens.

Part of what makes Star Wars at once so alien, and yet so familiar, lies in the inventiveness of its hardware. Though they are foreign in design and detail, these pieces of Luke's Hoth gear--his lightsaber, sensor pack, and macrobinoculars--suggest definite uses and look as though they have been handled in a real environment.

One of the few props in the exhibit made exclusively for the 1997 Trilogy "Special Editions," The Wampa costume is also one of the most impressive. Surprisingly, the costume, with its grizzled, blood-stained fur, looks more real and much more threatening in person than it does on film.

This is a prototype model of the Taun Taun which stands about a foot tall. Though I am unsure whether or not any full-scale, film-used Taun Taun puppets have survived, the detail on this model is quite amazing, and it does an adaquate job of representing the creature for the exhibit.

Standing about 21/2 feet tall, this production model of the probe droid would have been used for the animated sequences in which the droid is seen moving across Hoth.

As the Rebels' principal weapon against the giant Imperial Walkers, snowspeeders were among the most visible of vehicles in The Empire Strikes Back.

The AT-AT assault on Hoth is one of the Trilogy's most unforgettable moments. Here you see one of the primary production models, beside a smaller-sized version of the Rebel Snowspeeder, and a tiny, Micro-Machine sized AT-AT model which must have been used for distant horizon shots.

One of my personal favorites, this Imperial snowtrooper costume is just the epitome of coolness. As is the case with many of these props, when seen up-close, the model-makers' utilization of every day objects becomes apparent. Who knew the Hoth Stormtroopers wore ordinary gardening gloves!?

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