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"Star Wars" came out 40 years ago in May 1977. Relive the saga from its earliest moments to the latest films in these behind-the-scenes photos and stills from the original trilogy, the prequels and the new movies.

Here, writer and director George Lucas and the crew shoot "Star Wars" at London's legendary Elstree studios in 1976.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Alec Guinness, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi (centre, in "A New Hope") is the only actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the saga.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

George Lucas on set for "A New Hope" in Tunisia, with Anthony Daniels as finicky droid C-3PO.

Caption by / Photo by AccuSoft

The iconic opening text crawl was achieved by moving the camera, not the text.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Luke's landspeeder was based on the chassis of a Bond Bug three-wheeler car, with an angled mirror and a broom underneath to kick up dust and create the illusion of hovering.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher have fun in the Millenium Falcon cockpit while filming "A New Hope".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Modelmakers touch up the Millenium Falcon miniature.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Mark Hamill plays Luke Skywalker, with Tunisia standing in for his home planet of Tatooine.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Princess Leia loads the plans for the Death Star into R2-D2 in "A New Hope", kicking off the Star Wars story.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Peter Cushing played the villainous Grand Moff Tarkin in "A New Hope". Nearly four decades later, both he and the late Carrie Fisher were digitally re-created for "Rogue One".

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Luke Skywalker cruises Tatooine in his landspeeder in "A New Hope".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Darth Vader battles Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in a lightsaber duel in the Star Wars film that kicked it all off.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

The Empire's AT-ATs advance on the icy planet of Hoth in "The Empire Strikes Back".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Luke astride his trusty Tauntaun on Hoth. These "Empire" scenes were filmed at the Hardangerjøkulen glacier near Finse in Norway, where the crew struggled with the worst winter storm in 50 years.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Veteran director Irvin Kershner took over directing for "The Empire Strikes Back".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

George Lucas with the cast on the set of "The Empire Strikes Back".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

The modelmaking team with their AT-ATs, including Joe Johnston (left), who would go on to direct movies such as "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", "Jumanji" and "Jurassic Park III."

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

A model Star Destroyer filmed against a blue screen, known as the chroma key technique.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Luke Skywalker on the planet Dagobah, where he meets Yoda in "The Empire Strikes Back."

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Yoda trains Luke Skywalker in "The Empire Strikes Back".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader do battle for the first time.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Darth Vader reveals the famous news to Luke in "The Empire Strikes Back". Dave Prowse, the actor playing Vader, was given fake dialogue to preserve the secret.

Caption by / Photo by Krause, Johansen, Lucasfilm Ltd.

The Millennium Falcon chased by TIE fighters and a Star Destroyer. These models were all shot separately using the specially invented Dykstraflex motion control camera system, then composited together.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

"The Empire Strikes Back" ends with a cliffhanger, echoing the old-school adventure serials that inspired the saga.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Lucas and Richard Marquand (right) on the set of "Return of the Jedi". Perhaps bizarrely, famed directors David Lynch and David Cronenberg were both considered for the job.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill share a joke in Arizona's Yuma desert, which stood in for Tatooine.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Our heroes in the Ewok village.

Caption by / Photo by AccuSoft

Preparing a matte painting of the new Death Star.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Michael McCormick and Phil Tippett operate the Rancor.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Director Richard Marquand goes over the "Return of the Jedi" script with Mark Hamill.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

C-3PO and R2-D2 make their way along the road to Jabba's palace on Tatooine in "Return of the Jedi".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Bounty hunter Boba Fett, played by Jeremy Bulloch, has been one of the most enduringly popular characters in the saga despite appearing on screen for less than 20 minutes in total.

Caption by / Photo by Ralph Nelson Jr/Lucasfilm

In "Return of the Jedi", Luke Skywalker, now a skilled Jedi, battles Jabba's guards on the sail barge in the Dune Sea on Tatooine.

Caption by / Photo by Ralph Nelson Jr/Lucasfilm

"Return of the Jedi" scenes set on the forest moon of Endor were shot in the redwood forests of northern California, near Crescent City.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader in "Return of the Jedi": the re-match.

Caption by / Photo by Albert Clarke /Lucasfilm

It's a trap! Puppeteer Timothy D. Rose played Admiral Ackbar.

Caption by / Photo by Albert Clarke /Lucasfilm

The Millennium Falcon, piloted by Lando Calrissian, heads into the second Death Star in "Return of the Jedi".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Emperor Palpatine finally appears in person, played by Ian McDiarmid in "Return of the Jedi".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Liam Neeson is Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn in "The Phantom Menace".

Caption by / Photo by Keith Hamshere /Lucasfilm

Ewan McGregor is the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in "The Phantom Menace".

Caption by / Photo by Keith Hamshere /Lucasfilm

Natalie Portman plays Queen Amidala, mother of Luke and Leia, in "The Phantom Menace".

Caption by / Photo by Keith Hamshere /Lucasfilm

Darth Maul, one of the saga's most memorable bad guys.

Caption by / Photo by Keith Hamshere /Lucasfilm

Released in 1999, "The Phantom Menace" was at the forefront of cutting-edge digital effects.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

In "The Phantom Menace", Jake Lloyd played the young Anakin.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Darth Maul and his mysterious mentor plot the destruction of the Jedi in "The Phantom Menace".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

George Lucas once again wrote and directed the prequels.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

The prequels reveal the origin of Boba Fett.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

"Attack of the Clones" was filmed in Tunisia, Spain, Italy, China, Canada and Australia.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Send in the clones.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Hayden Christensen played the growing Anakin in "Attack of the Clones".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

The prequel version of Yoda was created entirely digitally, instead of as a puppet.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

After "The Phantom Menace" was shot on 35mm film, the other two prequels were shot on high-definition digital cameras.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

As the prequels progressed, more and more scenes were shot against greenscreen rather than on real sets.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

The villainous Palpatine fulfills his plan to become Emperor in "Revenge of the Sith".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

As Jedi Master Mace Windu in "Revenge of the Sith", Samuel L Jackson requested a purple lightsaber.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Gary Oldman was considered for the voice of General Grievous, but refused to violate acting union rules.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Actual footage of a volcanic eruption at Mt Etna in Italy was spliced into the backdrop of scenes on the volcanic planet Mustafar for "Revenge of the Sith".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

The prequels culminated with the birth of one of cinema's greatest villains: Darth Vader.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

"The Force Awakens" co-writer, producer and director JJ Abrams gives Daisy Ridley a pep talk.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Location shooting for "The Force Awakens" began in Abu Dhabi.

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The saga returned in 2015 with new stars including John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.

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Oscar Isaac is rebel pilot Poe Dameron.

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Abrams directs the late Carrie Fisher, who returns as General Leia in "The Force Awakens".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Lupita Nyong'o dons a motion capture suit to play the digitally created character Maz Kanata.

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The adorable BB-8 was a breakout star of "The Force Awakens".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

The villainous Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, and his deadly lightsaber.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

"The Force Awakens" was shot on location around Britain in the Lake District and Forest of Dean.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Kylo Ren and Rey clash.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

JJ Abrams directs Harrison Ford, who injured his leg during filming of "The Force Awakens".

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

The Millenium Falcon returns.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

"The Force Awakens" was shot on 35mm film, like the original trilogy.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

2016's "Rogue One" introduced a rogue's gallery of new stars including Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Felicity Jones, Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.

Caption by / Photo by Jonathan Olley & Leah Evans

Felicity Jones is Jyn Erso in "Rogue One", the first spin-off from the main Star Wars saga.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

"Rogue One" re-creates the rebel base from the original film.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Rebel craft take on digitally created AT-ATs on Scarif.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm

Darth Vader returns.

Caption by / Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

"Rogue One" scenes set on the tropical planet of Scarif were filmed in the Maldives.

Caption by / Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

New-look Death Troopers in "Rogue One" scenes filmed in Iceland.

Caption by / Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

Mads Mikkelsen plays Galen Erso, who helped design the Death Star.

Caption by / Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

Ben Mendelsohn is the villainous Director Krennic in "Rogue One".

Caption by / Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

Brothers-in-arms Baze Malbus, played by Jiang Wen, and Chirrut Imwe, played by Donnie Yen, give us a glimpse at other parts of the Star Wars universe.

Caption by / Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

Phelgmatic droid K-2SO, played by Alan Tudyk, was a "Rogue One" breakout star.

Caption by / Photo by Lucasfilm
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