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Mardji (19531995) was an Asian elephant who portrayed two banthas in the 1977 original trilogy film, Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Footage of Mardji was also used a reference for the movements of the AT-ATs in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back.

Biography[]

Mardji was an Asian elephant who portrayed the banthas in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.[3] She was transported from Marine World Africa USA in Redwood City, California, to a Star Wars shooting location in Death Valley, California. There, she was outfitted with a bantha costume, made up of layers of fur and a lightweight horned headpiece. Though Mardji was a well-trained elephant, she had difficulty adjusting to her costume, often trying to remove it while the cameras were rolling.[4] Since the filmmakers could only afford a single dressed-up elephant, the scene where Luke Skywalker spotted two banthas side by side was realized through optical compositing.[5]

Mardji being transformed into a bantha

During the production of Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, footage of Mardji was taken by a team including special effects artists Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, and Jon Berg. This footage was used as a reference for how the AT-ATs should move.[6]

Mardji spent the rest of her life as a Marine World attraction. She was euthanized in November 1995, after suffering from chronic bone inflammation.[1]

Several years after her death, she inspired the use of dog actors for the Corellian hounds of the 2018 Star Wars Anthology film Solo: A Star Wars Story, as revealed in The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story.[7]

Filmography[]

Year Title Contribution(s)
1977 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope[8] Bantha[5]
1980 Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back[9] Inspiration for how All Terrain Armored Transports should move[6]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

External links[]

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