The Star Wars fans have spoken. Upon asking which version of Jedi Master Yoda from the films they prefer, puppet or CGI, puppet Yoda achieved victory.
To quickly recap; two polls were conducted, one on Facebook and the other on Twitter asking Star Wars fans whether they prefer CGI Yoda or puppet Yoda from the film franchise. The Facebook results were as follows: CGI Yoda 31 percent, Puppet Yoda 69 percent. The results on Twitter were as follows: CGI Yoda 41 percent, Puppet Yoda 59 percent.
There was no wrong answer as Yoda can be seen as a very wise and sometimes humorous character on more than one occasion. This was a tough poll to conduct due to the multitude of factors involved.
On the one side, it wasn’t surprising that fans preferred the puppet version of Yoda. He was very lively and animated. There were limitations to what could be done cinematically when Yoda was first introduced in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. However, years later CGI was able to give the tiny Jedi Master more realistic movements as seen in the prequels.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker travels to Dagobah in search of Jedi Master Yoda as per a deceased Obi-Wan Kenobi’s instructions. With R2-D2 in tow, he roughly lands on the very dark and swampy planet when alas Yoda appears.
Small and strange, with pointy ears, big eyes and a walking stick, Luke is perplexed by the creature who does not identify himself as Yoda immediately. With his odd speaking pattern, he is quick to irritate Luke until he says he can take him to see Yoda. Luke follows him, impatient to begin his training. When Yoda reveals his identity he is unsure if Luke can be trained as a Jedi.
While the effects at that time were incredible, it is understandable why fans really like CGI Yoda. The first time we see him in his CGI glory is Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Yoda is seen multiple times throughout the film. He is present during Jedi Council meetings and battles Count Dooku. He experiences Anakin’s pain when Shmi Skywalker dies while being on a different planet. Yoda is well versed, not only instructing fellow Jedi in their tasks but teaching younglings as well.
In Attack of the Clones, the change is immediately noticeable. While the digital effects are stunning and lifelike there is still an element of artificiality. While in A New Hope, he was obviously a puppet, he was still on set, voiced and performed by the talented Frank Oz. In Attack of the Clones and then Revenge of the Sith it is very clearly CGI which for some is either loved or hated.
The CGI Yoda moves smoothly, and while always appearing elderly, still has a slightly younger appearance than he does in the later films. Ultimately CGI has more advantages than puppetry. Even something as simple as a slight head turn or movement of a hand is natural, not restrained. However, there was one thing very unmistakable. The puppet version of Yoda was able to emote from quirky to mad and even serious. The CGI version always seems to have a permanent frown. Very rarely did he seem to smile.
Though all of this may be hard to picture, the All Yoda Scenes Comparison – The Phantom Menace video on YouTube, which already has over four million views is a great way to see the comparison. Originally in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, released in 1999, Yoda was a puppet. In 2011 he was replaced with a CGI version for the Blu-ray release.
For more about Yoda, including quotes and videos visit StarWars.com.
What do you think of Yoda? Which film version do you prefer? Write your answers in the comment section below! I’d love to read them!