Empire at 40 | How Ben Burtt Turned a Bathtub of Raccoons and Industrial Noise into a Star Wars Soundscape


On May 21, 1980, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back made its theatrical debut. To celebrate the classic film’s landmark 40th anniversary, StarWars.com presents Empire at 40,” a special series of interviews, editorial features, and listicles.

Inside Ben Burtt’s home office, he’s flipping through a notebook from his time working on Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in search of the name of the farm where he recorded the sea otter behind the bleating vocals of Hoth’s tauntauns and a bathtub full of raccoons for Dagobah’s unseen wildlife. Among the copious notes and audio tapes from his more than four-decade career is a detailed record of the nine months Burtt, the sound designer on the film, and his team spent on road trips across the United States where they recorded everything from a squeaky dumpster

Your Focus Determines Your Reality in The Jedi Mind — Exclusive

Breathe. Just breathe. Reach out with your feelings. What do you see?

Mindfulness is as much a part of the fabric of Star Wars as the Force itself, guiding characters to pause, reflect, and get in touch with their feelings as well as their surroundings. So it seemed like a natural fit as Amy Ratcliffe was exploring the topic for her new book, The Jedi Mind. Part self-guided mindfulness primer and part appreciation of the practice of mindfulness woven throughout the Jedi teachings, the book is paired with beautiful illustrations from artist Christina Chung to give readers bite-sized meditations on everything from letting go to looking inward.

StarWars.com is pleased to give you your first look at the cover as well as pages and passages on gratitude and more! Plus,