Copyright 2015 by Mario Vaden
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There are several versions online about where Star Wars Episode VI Endor scene was filmed. The following should be correct based on a reliable sources including Dr. Silllett redwood researcher, news sources and more. It was not done in Redwood National Park Tall Trees Grove nor Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
When I first read hearsay about Jedediah Smith Redwoods or Redwood National Park for Star Wars Endor it seemed hard to believe so much impact would be permitted in state or national redwood forest.
Also, Tall Trees Grove is not in Jedediah Smith Redwoods for those who may have read something along those lines. That grove is farther in Redwood National Park, requires a permit and gate lock combination and would be difficult access for gear. The best known grove in Jedediah Smith is Stout Grove but thats not the place either.
California State State Parks Facebook page had wrong locations as late as winter 2013 - 2014 using old data remaining in files. Incorrect information has been propagating online for years now.
Del Norte county California provided the land of Endor backdrop where rebels and Ewoks fought the evil Empire in Star Wars Return of the Jedi. Lucasfilm shot scenes for moon of Endor near Smith River on Miller-Rellim Redwood Company land April to May, 1982.
In commentary producer George Lucas said he wanted a primitive look. To take down a technological super-power, rebels and Ewoks used natural resources like stone and wood. "A jungly kind of place, the color of life, a cradle of life environment."
The crew was on Morrison Creek Rd., where old-growth redwoods were slated to be logged. Before filming, some ground had to be leveled. "We came in about 11 months ago with bulldozers to level the ground and replant ferns and seeds so we had an area that looked natural" (Kazanjian).
Filming included a chase scene through redwoods, shot by a cameraman walking through the forest. Actors shot their sequences in front of green screen. Throughout battle scenes, redwoods smash to the ground and the shield generator is blown up amidst giant redwoods. "Here it is on film and at least the process entertained everyone before it had to be cut down"
One person relayed from Dennis Muren who worked on the film that some sideview speeder filming was done along the Avenue of the Giants. A few side by side photos & screenshots online suggest some steadycam sequences at Owen Cheatham Grove in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. That's not Avenue of the Giants, but is close to the NE of it.
See also Triplicate News: Redwood Film Making
While websurfing I stumbled upon several images someone posted of the original drawing of the Endor set in the redwood forest. They appear to be hand drawn on large drafting vellum, multiple sheets. Apparently to copy as blueprints and distribute to the cast and crew.
The image at right is a small crop of that posted artifact photo to illustrate. And here is a link to the page where those Star Wars Endor artifacts were displayed: Endor Hand-Drawn Movie Set for Blueprints
The top image at right, is Howland Hill Giant in Jedediah Smith redwoods. That's not the area of the movie, but about 10 miles away south of the filming location and shows the general look of the forest in that area.
Unlike Jedediah Smith redwoods which still remains as protected old growth, the redwood forest seen in Return of the Jedi for Endor was completely logged and harvested. More or less what you would call a clearcut.