The Star Wars universe, presented in nine movies and several spin-offs so far, animated TV series, comic books, novels and other media had much to offer. What the first three episodes, Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (that are still held in high esteem by probably the majority of the aged hardcore fans who think of these as the only “original” parts) had to offer from a behind-the-scenes perspective is presented right here on more than 600 pages.
Introduced by story writer, producer, and director of the first part of the saga in 1977 (originally called simply Star Wars) George Lucas, the many hundred film stills, sketches, story board details, illustrations, scene details, original script pages, concept art and motion studies, previously unpublished pictures, interior designs and drawings are perfectly put into place by author and film historian Paul Duncan.
Apart from a brief excursion into Lucas’s early years (to American Graffiti and THX 1138,) the entire publication is focused on the space opera featuring Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, the Emperor, The Millenium Falcon, X-Wing Fighters and tons of gear that was invented, given a very used look, and put into action for the film shootings.
And how in the first three episodes futuristic technology, film sets, special effects, blue screens and the overall positive aspects of “the Force” and the fight against the Empire were planned and realized by various production companies and altogether three directors.
(Lucas also directed all the movies of the second trilogy from 1999 to 2005; these, however, are not part of this book).
Like all the exclusive Taschen publications, this quarter-bound edition is a heavyweight, as the 18 x 3 x 12 inches of heavy photo paper on 604 pages finally result in 16 pounds of Star Wars archives. And as such, it comes at a price.
And there are also some glossy picture books, like the J.W. Rinzler series or the volumes on Ralph McQuarrie’s designs. But…. these “Archives” by Duncan really deserve the title, as the quality of the pictures, the many interviews, quotes and tons of set photographs actually form a very well-researched and elaborate making-of compilation of high standard.
Paul Duncan. The Star Wars Archives: 1977–1983. Taschen, 2018, 604 p., ISBN 978-3836563406 (English edition)