Have you ever wondered what Star Wars: A New Hope would have looked like had Luke Skywalker been a woman? Have you ever day dreamed about what the film would have been like had Ben Kenobi not sacrificed himself to help our heroes escape the dreaded Death Star? While these sequences were never filmed, they were storyboarded. That’s the magical thing about Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy edited by J.W. Rinzler. Foreword by Joe Johnston. Introduction by Nilo Rodis-Jamero, from Abrams, New York.
This release is almost identical to the extremely awesome Star Wars Storyboards: The Prequel Trilogy by J.W. Rinzler. The artwork from these artists is presented in large size, often with informative anecdotes from the artists. Indeed, both books feature young artists who barely understood what a storyboard was having this huge project and task placed before them. We’ve seen the films and we know they succeeded. However, it isn’t until you see the books themselves that you see their artwork was often more than a suggestion for a shot, sometimes they created the iconic shots we see in the six films we have on our Blu-ray shelves at this time.
The best parts of these books is usually the first film, A New Hope and in the prequel release, The Phantom Menace. Those films are the most exploratory of their trilogies as the grounding for the trilogy they were to kick off. That is where you see Chewbacca looking a bit like Zeb from Star Wars Rebels and in the prequel trilogy release, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are one character. The second and third films in each trilogy usually differed very little from the films we saw. That said, they should not be discounted because in some ways, it makes a little more special. We see directly what the contribution of these artists like Joe Johnston and Iain McCaig brought to the films they worked on.
Most of the time, I loved the captions used beside the storyboards. They often contextualize the imagery in case you should get lost. 95% of the time, that is not an issue by my estimation. There was one moment while reading and analyzing the storyboards where I noticed the pit of Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer was manned by a pirate. Yes, a pirate. Not a space pirate, a dirty old pirate. I looked over and there was a note by Joe Johnston asking if we noticed the pirate. I laughed. Another board has Snoopy written on it and is signed as Charles Schultz. There are tons of Easter Eggs in Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy. Sometimes they boldly point them out to you, other times they don’t.
As a kid, I really loved the Star Wars Sketchbook by Joe Johnston. It had a lot of the art he did for the films. I cannot lie, as a child, I probably sat down with that book 100 times at least and just gazed at the work for hours. Reading Star Wars Storyboards takes me back to that time when I could just innocently admire the cultivation of what we now see as iconography. The beauty of this new release is we get to see the evolution of entire sequences, how shots evolved when the Millenium Falcon’s designed changed and so on.
If you enjoyed and admired J.W. Rinzler’s Making of Star Wars series, you really must own Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy. Having read that series only made my appreciation for this release stronger. It is in no way a prerequisite, the book stands on its own merit. But I could not help but think back to anecdotes and story evolutions which Rinzler elaborated upon in those books and I feel it deepened my appreciation for what I was seeing on the pages before me. I bet it works the other way too. I bet if you read Star Wars Storyboards and then moved on to Rinzler’s Making of Star Wars series, you would come into that book armed with another array of knowledge to deepen those books. The point is, Rinzler’s work is prolific and enlightening and I am beyond pleased with the work he has done for the historical side of Star Wars print.
I really cannot recommend Star Wars Storyboards enough. Granted, I run a website called Making Star Wars because I care about the history of the films, I can tell you it hits the spot. There are so many little details, some cracked me up. Yoda smoking a pipe while Luke fights his inner demons in the cave to name one. I not only recommend picking up Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy but Star Wars Storyboards: The Prequel Trilogy. I consider both releases to be must own books for Star Wars fans with an interest in the filmmaking process that birthed six of the best films ever created.
If I had one criticism about these books it is that each book encompasses an entire trilogy. I would have loved to have seen each film have its own release. I realize that is probably not practical. That said, with each book comprising of three films, I found them to feel complete and satisfying.
I would like to thank Abrams, New York for an advance copy of this release. It should be noted that I spend some time gushing about The Prequel Trilogy release of this series, which I payed for with my American cash monies.
From Abrams’ Website:
Authors: Edited by J.W. Rinzler. Foreword by Joe Johnston. Introduction by Nilo Rodis-Jamero.Imprint: Abrams BooksISBN: 1-4197-0774-4EAN: 9781419707742Availability: PrepublicationPublishing Date: 5/13/2014Trim Size: 9 x 11 7/8Page Count: 352Cover: HC-POB with JacketIllustrations: 1200 4-color illustrations