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Star Wars: The Magic of Myth Paperback – November 3, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0553378108 ISBN-10: 0553378104 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Star Wars
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; First Edition edition (November 3, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553378104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553378108
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #902,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The companion to the Star WarsR exhibition at the Smithsonian.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Scientific American

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."The fairy-tale opening of George Lucas's 1977 movie Star Wars set the stage for a blockbuster trilogy that has become the stuff of cinematic legend. And through October 1998 the eclectic enchantment of Star Wars is re-created at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. In Star Wars: The Magic of Myth, the museum plays host to a cosmic menagerie of Jawas, Tusken raiders and Imperial storm troopers, not to mention the ludicrous droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. The exhibit and the companion volume by its curator offer insightful commentary on the luxuriant symbolism of Lucas's "alternative universe." The costumes and production models on display illustrate Lucas's cleverness in creating not just a futuristic world of gleaming metal and overfriendly machines but one that is also ancient and battered, filled with characters drawn more from the imagery of medieval romance than from science fiction. The strategy works. We recognize the wizened guards and the virginal princesses from stories we have heard. Leather bindings, wooden accoutrements and frayed sackcloth are more prominent than Lycra and precision robotics, and Lucas ensured that the spaceships in his tale were well rubbed with dirt before he let the cameras roll. Only Princess Leia remained unsullied. In the forms of the strange creatures that lurk behind every pillar, too, Lucas borrowed shapes and textures familiar from a trip to the zoo. Greedo's face is a cross between that of a tarsier and a hatchet fish; Chewbacca is a friendly orangutan. And surely Jabba the Hutt's amphibian squint and bulging belly are made all the more abhorrent by his taste for live toads. Naturalistic touches such as these remind us that what we are seeing is really not so implausible. Mythological interpretations of the elements in the hero's journey of Luke Skywalker are outlined at appropriate points in the exhibit and explored at greater length in the book. This decoding of the story, expanded (with due credit) from the late Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth, shows that the fairy-tale quality of the saga is far from coincidental. Indeed, Lucas, in a taped interview that visitors can watch, explains how he spent two years studying mythology when he was writing the Star Wars scripts. No wonder we feel the hand of fate at work when a plea for help serves as Luke's call to adventure. It was ever thus with damsels in distress, as Perseus learned with Andromeda. And it should be no surprise when a fatherly magician gives Lucas's hero an Excaliburesque light saber. High technology, of course, appears in the Star Wars movies in the horrific, labyrinthine Death Star, a space battle station capable of exploding entire planets. In the exhibit, a few malevolent minions serve as tokens of the dehumanizing dark empire and the wheezing prince of evil incarnate, Darth Vader, whom Luke battles as a rebel fighter pilot. The fascist symbolism in the empire's force is blatant, as is the significance of our gunslinging rescuers' leather holsters. The mystical, invisible Force is not on display, but its message is nonetheless clear: we want technology on our human terms, not its own impersonal ones. Whatever is lacking in subtlety in Lucas's cinematic creations is more than compensated for by their exuberant inventiveness. Nostalgia is worth a visit.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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A MUST HAVE BOOK to complete your collection of great STAR WARS merchandise.
Larry Russo
Yup . . . there's a good reason for why this book has a perfect rating thus far (at the time I write this).
reviewer
How Lucas was influenced with all these ideas and made the films what they are today.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you've been lucky enough to see "The Magic of Myth" in one of its many permutations, this book is a great supplement to and a wonderful reminder of just how cool that exhibit was. If you haven't seen the exhibit, this book is still great to have for it's back-story on the origins of the trilogy.
I'm not the most well-read person around so it was a lot of fun to learn how Lucas' characters and story were shaped by (or copied from) myths and legends of other times and cultures. Reading this book has led me to explore some of the material that Lucas borrowed from in creating Star Wars. I'm a big SW nut, but it's nice to get my head out of the SW universe and out into other forms of art and literature.
If you don't feel like reading, this book is also full of GREAT photos from the trilogy.
I keep this one on the shelf next to Joseph Campbell's "Power of Myth." It is a nice complement to Campbell's book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
Within this book I would say this incredible look into the mix of Mythology, History and Star Wars that I have ever seen. A great companion Book to the "Magic of Myth" exhibit.. and it would make a great companion book to the Joesph Campbell books "The Hero with a Thousand faces and "The Power of Myth."

Basically giving the impression of the origin of the Star Wars Films. How Lucas was influenced with all these ideas and made the films what they are today. How timeless the story really has been. Also available is some of the pre production artwork from the Classic Trilogy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By hannibalsmith on March 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book attempts to explain Star Wars in the context of patterns found throughout the mythology and legends of various cultures. The success of the film, the book claims, is due in no small part to the fact that the film's story is a composite of all the things that make mythical stories endure as myths.
To my suprise, however, I found the book to be an excellent commentary on mythology itself - the book is almost as informative in pointing out elements that repeat themselves in mythical stories - the concept of the "hero's journey" - with Luke being our hero - mystical forests as a place of healing (Degobah), etc, as it is in relating these elements to the story of Star Wars.
This book was written to accompany an exhibit of the same name at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC, and I was fortunate enough to see the exhibit on tour in San Diego last year. While the exhibit itself was amazing, and filled with various props and spaceship models used in the film, this book is actually more informative than the exhibit and stands exceedingly well on its own.
I love the Star Wars films, though I am certainly no hard-core Star Wars buff. I feel that just about anyone who, like me, loves these films will get a lot of enjoyment from this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Star Wars Trilogy is one of the most profound series of our time. This book shows how George Lucas put together many ingredients from history, mythical and factual, to create one of the best stories of good vs evil ever told. And the pictures and illustrations are beautiful. A "must have" for any Star Wars fan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I don't wish to repeat the words of others, but want to agree that it is an incredible book; that is not only fun to read as a Star Wars fan, but it is very informative and thought provoking. I truly learned a lot about mythology and its application in our world. Read it, and you will appreciate the genius of George Lucas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you love star wars, and would love to see it analyzed seriously, but without being to heavy and dry, this is perfect for you. It discusses the correlations between myth and Star Wars, influences from around the world, etc. Its facinating, and beautifully laid out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mart Grams on July 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ms Henderson has taken from many, many sources to present a succinct analysis of myths from the past, works by many scholars, and today's world in order to show the need for all of us to have myths in our lives. Beginning with George Lucas' journey to creating Star Wars, moving into the cultural milieu in which the films were made to the that which the audiences brought and continue to bring, the author gives us the "reasons" for the motivation and then success of the 3 and later 6 movies done by Lucas. The book is well-illustrated with scenes from the movies, storyboards of its development, and art representing other myths, stories and legends of many cultures and times. A fantastic book for anyone looking for the core ideas of Lucas and his greatest work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Geaslin on February 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you enjoy any of the books by Joseph Campbell and are a Star Wars fan, then this is the book for you. It covers everything from Greek mythology and Zen Buddhism to the Cowboy archetype and the uniforms of World War 2. Most of the artwork is incredible (many pics from the "Art of Star Wars" books), and there are tons of detailed photos from the Smithsonian tour, which I was lucky enough to catch at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts many years ago. I only wish they had waited a few years until the entire Prequel Trilogy was completed before they published this book!
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