Hoth – Finse, Norway.
The freezing location of Finse in Norway was used in the star wars film The Empire Strikes Back as the planet Hoth. Here the rebel regrouped after their small victory over the first Death Star. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo ride Tauntaun’s across the Hardanger glacia and this is where the best opening to a movie takes place with the rebels holding off the Empire and the towering AT-AT’s. The Norwegian Army and mountain rescue skiers played the rebels.
Finse is the name of the highest railway station on the railway line connecting Bergen and Oslo.
Finse isn’t a city – it’s made up of one hotel, the railway station and a number of surrounding buildings.
The railway station is located on the highland plateau named Hardangervidda / Hardanger Jokulen Glacier.
This huge mountain area divides Norway into the western and eastern part, and it contains several different mountain ridges and peaks of great interest for both skiers and hikers.
The village’s population almost doubled as more than seventy American, British and Norwegian visitors crammed themselves two to a room in the Finse Ski Lodge.
On March 5th,1979, filming on TESB began. The film’s opening sequence on the ice planet of Hoth placed exceeding demands on its cast and crew.
Temperatures grew unseasonably cold, dipping down to minus 26 and accompanied by the odd blizzard or two! It was so cold cameras seized and film became brittle.
No sooner had Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher arrived, a series of snowstorms and avalanches completely cut off the outfit.
Scenes where Luke has escaped from the Wampa and is reaching out to the spirit of Obi-Wan were shot from the back door of the lodge so Irvin Kershner and the crew could stay reasonably warm.
During the filming of the battle sequences the rebel troops were actually Norwegian mountain rescue skiers who spoke little English, acting against an imaginary Empire to be added later by ILM.
It was then on to Elstree for the studio shooting.
(Note – not visited yet, but is an idea for the near future).