Friday, 6 July 2018

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 6th July 2018: "The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" by Phil Szostak and Rian Johnson (Lucasfilm / Abrams)

Our first Book of the Week this week once again celebrates the amazing talent that Disney / Lucasfilm gather every time a new Star Wars movie is announced...
"The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" by Phil Szostak with a foreword by Rian Johnson is a real smorgasbord of amazing designs, concepts, character creation and beautiful works of art put together for the latest movie in the onrunning Star Wars saga - "The Last Jedi".

It's going to be a bit difficult to write up this book without delving into spoilers (so be warned if you haven't seen it yet), suffice to say that the movie ended up being one of the most controversially divisive in the history of the franchise.

Despite that sticking point, there's absolutely no doubt that the art teams pulled out all the stops to once again make the movie a visual spectacular par excellence (even if you didn't like the story or direction it took the series in).

With huge chunks of the action taking place on Ach-to, tons of the concept art draws on this rugged rock for inspiration
Many of the artists who have been with the series for a considerable amount of time now seem to be settling into their roles in answering the key question that Rian Johnson opens this book with. "What makes something 'Star-Warsy'?"

It's not actually that easy a question to answer and if you get a bunch of artists in a room who are inspired by the movies, everyone will have their own hot take on what they consider to be a defining style for the series.

BB-Hate - Not a droid to mess with. 
For me, Star Warsy-ness always meant "The Art of Ralph McQuarrie" - the sadly departed genius who, unquestionably, effectively wrote the visual 'bible' on what Star Wars looks like. I grew up with his artwork plastered all over my wall, particularly his work for "The Empire Strikes Back". His paintings were amazing, beautifully finished works of art that chronicled his genius.

His designs are still scrutinised and used in the movies and passages in the book that describe artists being given access to the Lucasfilm archives to go through his original art just make my mouth water as a rank amateur who'd love to be able to paint like that.

It's also interesting to read how engaged with the whole process Rian Johnson was. Of all the directors attached to the 'new' movies, he seems to be the one who could accurately be described as a 'fanboy' who really seemed to understand what was required, what would work and what wouldn't.

Hooray! It's Rey! Or is it Kira? I'm still not sure. 
With the timeline of production actually kicking off around the same time as the world first got to know about the new movies, it's also interesting to see the evolution of characters in initial art vs what came afterwards once "The Force Awakens" was out there and successful. No pressure for the teams then!

This is like all the other Abrams "Art of" books, a luxurious, sumptuous feast for artists to be inspired by and movie buffs to pore over. Glorious stuff.

"The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is out now, published by Lucasfilm / Abrams (self purchased - not provided for review).