The ice planet Hoth - Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Photo documentary from HOTH, Finse, Norway.




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March 5th 1979, Lucasfilm lighted the fuse on what would turn out to be not only a moviemaking masterpiece, but also — a very demanding shoot. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, most peoples favourite Star Wars film, chose the icy plains of Finse and the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier in Norway as location needed to portray the frosty outback of the planet HOTH. They encountered the worst snowstorm in over 100 years — together with a crew consisting of norwegian filmworkers. It made history. To put it mildly.

Some of the speakers from past HOTH events

Bjørn Jacobsen

Former Chief executive officer at 20th Century Fox Norway back in 1979 when they filmed The Empire Strikes Back at Finse (Hoth). He also was the one that suggested Finse as the location for the Iceplanet.

Bjørn T. Jacobsen holding the original map of the area, used during filming of The Empire Strikes Back.

Bjørn telling the story about why this particular spot in Norway was chosen for filming Empire — and he reminisces about filming in the harsh conditions of that legendary March shoot in 1979.

Left: Bjørn T. Jacobsen and Teodor Bjerrang outside Finse 1222. Right: Carrie Fisher and Bjørn T. Jacobsen at Finse during the shooting The Empire Strikes Back in 1979. Photo: Privat

The hotel itself (Finse 1222) and the environs are synonymous with Star Wars lore as various scenes were filmed there. Crew members and Norwegian producer Bjørn Jacobsen hosted a tour, pointing out different filming locations / anecdotes. Where Luke witnesses the vision of Ben Kenobi and Han Solo slices the Tauntaun open to save Luke in the environs of the hotel as well as where Luke was dragged by the Wampa. Also, where he ascended on a tow cable into the underbelly of an AT-AT.

Craig Miller

Craig Miller was Director of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm from 1977–1980. He created and oversaw the Official Star Wars Fan Club.

Craig talked about his role as Director of Fan relations for Lucasfilm from 1977–1980 as he was there at the birthing of Star Wars publicity. A cursory glance at his IMDB will indicate how astonishing the list of fantastic movies that Craig has worked on, everything from Alien to Superman!

Craig Miller on the set of The Empire Strikes Back
San Diego Comic-Con 1976

Andreas Frølich, Knut Vadseth and Christian Berrum

Andreas Frølich opens the event with some movie history.
Knut Vadseth — Photographer on the sets back in 1979
Christian Berrum looking at a photo of himself from 1979 when he was a part of the Star Wars crew at Finse

Alan Tomkins

Art Director, Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back.

Mr Tomkins was nominated for an Oscar for his work on The Empire Strikes Back (Best Art Direction, 1980). He has worked on more than 100 movies, including a huge number of stand-out films such as 2001: A Space Oddysey, A Bridge Too Far, Cleopatra, JFK, Lawrence of Arabia, Summer Holiday, Dr No, Trail of the Pink Panther, Batman Begins, Natural Born Killers, Saving Private Ryan, Casino Royale

Alan tells stories from his time at Finse back in 1979
Some of Alans slides from the presentation.
Teodor Bjerrang and Alan Tomkins outside Finse 1222, 19th February 2018.
From Alans book — Stars and Wars

In the book “Star Wars — The blueprints” you can find several of the amazing creations of Alan Tomkins.

Right: Alan Fitting Anthony Daniels into C-3PO
Star Wars: Blueprints: Inside the Production Archives- Limited to 5,000 hand-numbered.

The T-47 airspeeder, also known as the T-47 light airspeeder, was a craft manufactured by Incom Corporation. They were modified by the Rebel Alliance into snowspeeders. (Wookieepedia)

Viper probe droid at the locating Echo Base.
“I think we’ve got something, sir. The report is only a fragment from a probe droid in the Hoth system, but it’s the best lead we’ve had.” ―Captain Firmus Piett, to Admiral Kendal Ozzel

Photos from 17th — 19th February 2017 and 16th — 18th February 2018

Thank you to the amazing people from The 501st Nordic Garrison and Rebel Legion: Nordic Base for creating a real HOTH experience.

(If you are on one of the photos and want your name/nickname/handle under do send me an email and I will add it.)

Photos: Teodor Bjerrang
The Galactic dinner at HOTH
Photo: Teodor Bjerrang
Photos: Teodor Bjerrang
seen my speeder….?

Finse 1222

In 1979, the entire Star Wars crew stayed at Finse 1222, including Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and local film extras. “The Empire Strikes Back” was partially filmed outside the hotel and on the glacier, and it was a huge production. Finse represents the snow planet “Hoth” for thousands of Star Wars fans.

FINSE — 19 feb 2017
The Hotel — Finse 1222, was the production home of The Empire Strikes Back — I can imagine Finse also looking a bit like this at the arrival in 1979

Locations exterior scenes of the ice planet Hoth

Original production map showing the main shooting locations.
Map locations HOTH, Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back
  1. Jøkulhytta — Red Cross / DNT hut
  2. Rebel Trenches and Turrets
  3. Echo Base entrance and Turret — Blue Ice
  4. Camp Sharman
  5. Appelsinhytta — Red Cross / DNT hut
  6. Luke watches Millenium Falcon
  7. Probot spots shield generators
  8. Various camera angels of Probot craft landing
  9. Probot emerges and flies off
  10. Lots of smoke and rebels running around
  11. Long shot back across the lake, AT-ATs emerge
  12. Han Solo vs Probot
  13. Back of Finse 1222 Hotel, many different shots

Likely locations

A. Han waves to Speeders — I’ve found them

B. Lighter brown hut structure

C. Luke radios in at the start of the movie

Books and HOTH

The journey to reach HOTH takes time, so here you have some great books to prepare you for the cold.

The book “Once upon a Galaxy: A Journal og The Making of Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back by Alan Arnold gives you a great on how it was at Finse under production.

The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler is a must have before your first trip to HOTH.

The book “The Star Wars Vault: Thirty Years of Treasures from the Lucasfilm Archives” by Stephen J. Sansweet and Peter Vilmur contains many smal details not seen in any other book.

Want to deep dive into the nitty-gritty details you need “The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia” by Stephen J. Sansweet, Pablo Hidalgo, Bob Vitas and Daniel Wallace.

The Star Wars: Frames by George Lucas, Guillermo del Toro and J. W. Rinzler gives you great reference photos from the movies and the location HOTH (Finse)

Star Wars Icons: Han Solo by Gina Mcintyre — Harrison Ford tells stories from his trip to Finse in 1979. Sources says that he may not have all his memories sorted out in the correct order ;-)

The Star Wars Archives: 1977–1983 by Paul Duncan, a massive book (7,7 Kg, 17 pounds) covering the first three movies in detail.


The “Lost” Empire Strikes Back Documentary by Michel Parbot (1980)

External links:

Star Wars Insider #185 — Journey to Hoth” by James Floyd

Check out Star Wars Insider issue #185 featuring “Journey to Hoth” by James Floyd — James visited Finse in February 2018.

40th anniversary

The Empire Strikes Back started production the 5th of March, 1979. So that makes 2019 the 40th anniversary of the production that took place in Finse, Norway. Join The 40th Anniversary event at VISIT HOTH 2019–8th to the 10th of March 2019.

Norwegian newspaper clips from 1979. Visit Finse 1222 to have a look at the originals.
View from FINSE 1222 — February 2018

The Empire Strikes Back — Norway Crew Parka

The limited-edition parka based on the ones the cast and the crew filming Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Finse, Norway wore on the set in 1979.

this one will keep you as warm as a Wookiee
FINSE 1979 — Filming at the back of the hotel.

The story behind the jacket told by Columbia

In 1979, a small but hardy group of cast and crew were on location in the frigid wilderness of Norway accessible only by rail. There, they would film the iconic scenes from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back set on the ice planet Hoth.

The producers knew that the bitter cold and breathtaking expanses of Hoth couldn’t be replicated on a sound stage, and they searched the globe for a location where the audience could feel the cold. They identified the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier near the small town of Finse, Norway as the ideal setting for the epic scenes. For several weeks that winter, the close-knit group of actors, crew, and hired locals filmed Tauntaun scouting missions, Wampa attacks, and an epic battle between Rebel snowspeeders and Imperial AT-AT walkers on the frozen tundra.

The conditions were brutally cold. The cast and crew needed serious winter gear to keep them protected on the treacherous terrain, and in icy winds, white-out blizzards, and subzero temperatures. They looked to Norwegian designer Per Frølich Poppe to create a jacket that would stand up to the harsh conditions and stand out with a design unique to the shoot. It’s estimated that fewer than 100 of the original jackets were made and the few that remain have become treasured memorabilia for serious Star Wars fans.

Having previously collaborated on exclusive Star Wars-inspired Columbia gear, Columbia designers jumped at the chance to bring you behind rebel lines — and deep behind-the-scenes — by offering the limited-edition Star WarsEmpire™ Crew Parka modeled directly after the original.

But what makes collectors’ hearts beat faster are meticulously recreated details like the bold blue design, shoulder stripes for heightened visibility, the Darth Vader chest patch, Star Wars logos, and a removable and customizable name plate on the chest pocket. And to honor the exact location where the intrepid cast and crew braved sub-zero temperatures to film some of the most memorable scenes on film, we’ve incorporated the coordinates of the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier into the lining of the jacket.

Where can I find HOTH, and Finse?

Check the map.

75259–1: Snowspeeder — 20th Anniversary Edition

Soon to be released. May?

HOTH — Snowspeeder

Toy Photography

After looking at the amazing photos taken by Johnny Wu, I had to try some of my own. Here’s my first attempt.

Crash of a Snowspeeder on planet Hoth
Before / After
So many test shoots…

Check out the intervju with Johnny Wu at