Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: Some new details of the home planet of the 'Wookiee' in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith have been revealed in the latest issue of the official Star Wars website's newsletter, "Homing Beacon." Here are the details...

The Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk has the odd distinction of being a world established in detail by George Lucas, but that has only been explored thus far in the expanded universe. During the development of the original Star Wars, Lucas had planned a journey to the Wookiee homeworld but the evolving storyline and budget realities kept the arboreal world from appearing on the big screen.

Nonetheless, Lucas' detailed notes about Wookiee ecology and culture became the springboard for a number of authors and artists who weren't limited by fiscal restraints -- any planet can be visited in a comic book, for instance, for the same costs. The Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk appeared in the Marvel run, the Star Wars daily newspaper strips, and even on television in "The Star Wars Holiday Special."

Finally, the Wookiee homeworld will be given the movie treatment in Episode III. "It's a tropical, but cool planet," describes Concept Design Supervisor Ryan Church. "The only real directive we got from George is that they live in giant trees."

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In developing the look of Kashyyyk, the Art Department first turned to the much-maligned 1978 television special to see what had come before. "We watched that on a loop about four or five times, avoided suicide, and went back to work," laughs Church. Though produced on a variety show scale, the Holiday Special's Wookiee world (then called Kazhyyyk -- pronounced, oddly, as 'Kazook') did have an establishing shot of a Wookiee domicile rendered as a painting by Ralph McQuarrie. The set built for the show -- the inside of Chewbacca's home -- was a mix of flashy sci-fi tech and carved-from-wood naturalism.

"We wanted to have a sort of high-tech Frank Lloyd Wright feel where the Wookiees incorporated the natural environments into their living conditions," says Church. "George was very specific about not wanting to see the same thing over and over again. We're visiting a lot of planets in Episode III, so when we cut to Kashyyyk really quickly, you have to know where you are."

The end result will be a single city on Kashyyyk that straddles several massive trees. Though other published sources have explored the thickest areas of jungle canopy, Episode III's location is on the shore of a tree-lined lagoon, offering greater visual dynamics and story potential.

In Episode III, Kashyyyk will be at war, and as such, the Art Department needed to develop Wookiee instruments of warfare. "We wanted it to look distinct from what the rest of the cultures in the Star Wars universe use," says Church. "Feng Zhu did a lot of these technical illustrations, and came up with a very unique aesthetic. I wanted to come up with a type of vehicle that implied that only a Wookiee could handle it. Like they took some kind of technology that's out there, and they commandeered it and modified it for their own use."

Brian B.