Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Origins Of Yoda — Grandmaster Of The Jedi Order

Strong is he with the force.
theKONGBLOG™ explore the origins of Yoda.

Stuart Freeborn (Grandmaster Make-Up Artist) + Albert Einstein (Grandmaster Genius Scientist) =
Yoda (
Grandmaster of the Jedi Order)
"After Ben in Star Wars had killed, I had to find a way to replace him. I did not want to put another person in his place, and so I decided to make him tiny, green, very strange, eight hundred years old, and in terms of Jedi power level quite different from Ben. Then I created the background story, which he had been Ben's teacher." — George Lucas

The makeup artist who became Yoda.

Stuart Freeborn built his reputation by staring deep into the faces of others, defining their best features and digging into his makeup kit to make sure everyone else noticed them, too. He learned how to accentuate a cheekbone from none other than Marlene Dietrich. The arch in Vivien Leigh’s eyebrow owed some of its impish charm to him. But decades into his career, when George Lucas asked him to create a centuries-old Jedi master, Freeborn took a long look at a face that he had never considered with much professional interest: His own.
The character of Yoda would become a fun-house distortion of Freeborn’s own reflection.
He designed plenty of prosthetics and masks in his day — the man-apes in Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” sprang from his workshop, as did Chewbacca and the menagerie of alien grotesques in the “Star Wars” cantina scene. Irvin Kershner, who was tapped by Lucas to direct “The Empire Strikes Back,” initially believed that Yoda should be a bearded Moses figure who towered above everyone else on set. But in his mirror, Freeborn saw a quirky man who was forever looking up at the world. After Freeborn survived a backbreaking car accident while working on “The Bridge on the River Kwai” in 1957, Alec Guinness speculated that the diminutive makeup man — who was about 5-foot-4 before the accident — had been robbed of an inch or two by the doctors who pieced him back together. Yoda, in the end, stood just over two feet tall.
In the mirror, Freeborn could examine the contours of the crown of his skull, fully exposed by a hairline that completed a retreat years before. Freeborn etched deep wrinkles into Yoda’s bald scalp that were exaggerated replicas of the lines that creased his own forehead when, for example, he zeroed in on the tight-focus particulars of Yoda’s physiognomy. The pointed chin, the compact nose and the thin, pursed lips all made the leap from the mirror to the model. The only feature he borrowed from someone else was the upper lip: It was a hairless version of Albert Einstein’s, Freeborn said. He hoped that it might trigger a subconscious association and that viewers might intuit Yoda’s extraordinary intelligence.
On-screen, Yoda’s eyes widened with delight when his Jedi protégé, Luke Skywalker, learned to harness the power of “the Force.” Michelle Freeborn said she saw that same delight in the eyes of her grandfather, particularly when the trainees in his workshop achieved something they had assumed was beyond their reach.
Before Freeborn died this year, all three of his children preceded him in death. But his indirect descendants are everywhere: villains in the Batman films, creatures in the “Alien” sequels, the wizards of the Harry Potter franchise. Many of them were designed by artists who got their start apprenticing alongside Freeborn, the wise little guru who taught them to be masters in their own right. — Monte Reel | The New York Times

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