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What Color Is Jabba the Hutt? (Part 2: Jabba in Other Films)

In the first part in this series, I concluded that Jabba looked somewhat different on screen than he did in person. But either way, his general coloring was orange and green. Unfortunately, the question of Jabba’s coloration doesn’t end there, because we still haven’t looked at the various CGI-versions of the character.

JABBA IN THE SPECIAL EDITION OF A NEW HOPE (1997)

As I mentioned in my last post, George Lucas decided to reinsert a deleted scene into A New Hope when he released his “special editions” of the original trilogy in 1997. The new scene featured Jabba talking to Han Solo outside of the Millennium Falcon at Mos Eisley Spaceport. Click here for more screenshots from this scene, and here for video of the scene.

This CGI Jabba had a very dark green back and a tan or beige head and torso. (It also had an extra finger compared to the Return of the Jedi version — a trend that would be carried on in all of the subsequent CGI versions and in most of the Jabba toys released.) His eyes seem yellow in comparison with the reddish orange of the original puppet, and looked pretty strange and watery.

I’ll go on the record here as saying that I hate everything about this Jabba. Adding the scene in the first place was a bad idea, but doing it with ridiculous looking CGI makes this a catastrophe. However, I can’t really blame the people who created this, since they were constrained both by the existing footage from A New Hope that they had to work with, and by the the technology available to them at the time. I still have to shake my head when I watch this video, though. A year of work for this?!

JABBA IN THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)

Jabba also appeared in the podracing scenes in The Phantom Menace in 1999 (click here for screenshots). Although it was only a couple of years after the “special edition” Jabba, the design of this Jabba had improved dramatically. The hands and arms are completely different from the ROTJ puppet, though, and in general it’s a bit “cleaner” look for Jabba. It looks less much comical than the first CGI version and more reminiscent of the original design.

While  at first glance the color scheme seems different from the one used in Return of the Jedi, it’s not really that far from the original concept drawings and production shots I included in the first article, especially when you consider that he’s supposed to be in direct sunlight and not his dim palace or sail barge. However, his eyes appear to be yellow, like the first CGI version above. Jabba just doesn’t look right without his trademark reddish-orange eyes. While it doesn’t quite compare to the original puppet, this is definitely my favorite CGI Jabba.

JABBA IN THE DVD SPECIAL EDITION OF A NEW HOPE (2004)

They went back for the 2004 DVD release of the original trilogy and fixed up the terrible CGI they used for Jabba earlier (click here for screenshots). It does look quite a bit better. In fact, I have a hunch that they based this computer model directly on the version used in The Phantom Menace. However, the coloring is very dark. In terms of the coloration, this is the worst Jabba yet. I think maybe they were trying to match the dim lighting in the hangar bay, but it just ends up a mess. Still, I would take this over the first version.

 

JABBA IN THE CLONE WARS ANIMATED MOVIE

The color of Jabba in the Clone Wars movie is a little hard to pin down. Depending on the scene, he can look brown, tan, light green, or even gray. I only have the Clone Wars movie on Blu-ray and iTunes digital copy, neither of which make it easy to take screenshots, so I’ll have to use this Clone Wars trading card as an example. It seems fairly close to what I see on screen.

While I don’t care for the drab color scheme, I actually quite like the stylized design they used for this version of Jabba.

SO WHAT COLOR IS JABBA ANYWAY?

Someday I’d like to talk to some of the people responsible for the various CGI Jabbas to get their input about the apparent changes in color that Jabba undergoes. Were they trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to replicate Jabba’s look from the first movie, or did George Lucas actually want to make changes to Jabba’s look? Why did they add an extra finger to his hands? And what did they use for reference when designing the models? If anyone out there has any insight, I’d be happy to hear about it. It’s possible that some of this information has already been made public and I just don’t know about it.

Of course, some of the differences in coloration may be attributable to differences in lighting in different scenes, but I can’t help but think that Lucasfilm has made an intentional decision to move away from the Return of the Jedi version, portraying Jabba as tan and green (or even brown), rather than orange and green. It’s too bad, since I find the orange and green to be both more attractive and more believable as a coloration for an alien that is essentially a giant frog-slug.

As you may have guessed, I consider the Jabba in the Return of the Jedi to be the canonical version, so generally speaking I would say Jabba is orange and green. (If you want to recreate the on-screen version, it would be a darker reddish orange and dark green. If you want to recreate the actual puppet’s colors, it would be a light orange and olive green.) But of course if you want to portray Jabba as seen in other films, there are several other color schemes that can be called “accurate.”

As you might imagine, all of these different color schemes have led to some very different interpretations of character in art, collectibles, and toys. I’ll talk about that in the final part of this series.

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